Back in 2015, Bob Parsons burst onto the golf scene with PXG. Its ultra-premium pricing, eccentric CEO, and bombastic brand image have remained a lightning rod for attention in the golf industry for the last two years. Some people love it. Some people hate it. Nearly everyone has an opinion on the matter, and they will argue it until their face turns blue. There’s one thing it’s time for us all to agree on, though, regardless of which side of that fence you happen to be. Parsons started something. It has officially stuck. And it’s not going anywhere.
About a month ago, I wrote an article surmising that the vast majority of golf clubs are incredibly well priced. I also stated that some equipment manufacturers are looking to reach new heights in that regard, and ultimately, consumers will vote with their wallets as to the validity of those prices. After letting that idea marinate for a little bit, I think the aforementioned validity is already bubbling up to the surface. Consumers are buying it.
The obvious place to start is with TaylorMade, which launched its P-790 irons about a month ago. While their retail price is less than half of a comparable set of PXG irons, their construction (a hollow head filled with “Speed Foam” and tungsten to increase MOI) was strikingly similar to PXG’s 0311 (a hollow head filled with TPE and tungsten screws to provide perimeter weighting). The constructions are similar enough, in fact, that Parsons has elected to drag them to court over the matter. Time will tell on that one.
The company that’s probably most excited about that lawsuit is Callaway, which has been leaning pretty heavily on the accelerator pedal in its own right. In January, the company released the GBB Epic and GBB Epic Sub Zero drivers at a price of $499.999 each. Later came its Epic and Epic Pro irons at roughly $2,000 a set, and just recently, Callaway released an ultra-lightweight line of Epic Star clubs. Those will hit the streets at $699.99 for a driver and $2,400 for an eight-piece set of irons. Callaway isn’t filling its irons with SpeedFoam or TPE, but it is reaching for the same ultra-premium price points.
Even if you step outside of the “big boys,” you’ll notice that as long as a company is providing an exceeding level of technology, quality, customer service, fitting, etc., consumers are more than willing to open up their wallets. Examples include some names that have been around a long time in the “boutique putter” game such as Tyson Lamb, Byron Morgan, and MannKrafted, but can also be stretched into newer craftsmen such as Raybon Putters and Selfmade Flatsticks. I spoke with the owner of Bluegrass Fairway, a company that sells hand-made leather scorecard holders and yardage book covers, who recently told me he was “blown away” by how busy his business is.
If you read the forums and comments sections on GolfWRX and all the other sites across the golf world, you’ll find a lot of belly aching over the price of gear nowadays and also over the gear geeks that buy them. What’s starting to crystallize at this point is that regardless of your personal opinion, this level of gear has officially gained traction in the marketplace. In return, the consumer is getting a very high quality product with unprecedented attention to detail and technological advancement. Who knows how long PXG will be around, but its contribution to the game has already left an impression.