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With the success of the Kirkland putter, what’s next for Costco and golf?

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It was like a raging fire that started with just a single spark—Costco getting into the golf market with a private label Kirkland Signature ball that challenged the conventional consumer mindset about what was possible from a non-traditional golf brand.

Enter the Costco putter

Almost four years later, Costco took it another step further when they introduced their very first private label golf club, the Kirkland Signature putter, the KS1, and once again the golf market and consumers took notice.

Within days of showing up online and at warehouses around the U.S., the KS1 putter was officially sold out and they were being resold online for more than double the price.  At GolfWRX we had an exclusive interview with Tim Farmer, Costco vice president, and general merchandise manager, you can read the whole story here: The story behind the Costco KS1 Putter

This leads us to the question “What could be next for Costco’s private label in the golf market place moving forward?” Like many Kirkland Signature products, Costco saw an opportunity in the marketplace and created a product to meet demand. They’ve already done it with accessories including the Kirkland Signature premium Cabretta leather golf glove, and the recent release of hats.

Is the KS1 putter just be the beginning?

When I spoke with Farmer about the release of the Costco KS1 putter we talked about other potential products without ever going into specifics beyond a potential replacement for the current 3-piece urethane ball.

The only answer, when asked about other clubs beyond the putter was, “We are always working on new products that offer value to our members,” and to this day the answer still has my mind thinking of the many potential options for a club that could offer value to golfers.

If we look at the current golf club marketplace every segment has a clear leader or a couple of companies the take up a major part of the category sales. When thinking about the general consumer and a club that requires the least amount of customizing of at least can be done quickly after the fact, I continually think of wedges—and this could be Costco’s next step. Perhaps a set of three wedges sold in a box with distinct lofts—most likely being 52, 56, and 60 degrees.

Why Costco wedges?

In the current market, brand new wedges from major OEMs sell for over $150 each, and most are bought off the rack with small adjustments like lie changes and grips done after the purchase. This makes a new set of three wedges cost over $450 before tax, and with that in mind, is why you see most consumer golfers, only replace one wedge at a time instead of all three at once—and there you have the sales pitch!

If Costco introduces a set of three wedges under the $250 price point (my assumption would be they probably settle around $225), then you give golfers a huge opportunity to replace a neglected part of their bag with three new clubs for the price of one and a half major OEM products.

Costco and the Kirkland Signature brand have time and time again proven people wrong when they launch new products in spaces where they are newcomers. In golf, it was the ball, and then the putter, and if my hunch is right, you may one day be able to buy yourself some KS wedges.

 

 

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Ryan Barath is part of the Digital Content Creation Team for GolfWRX. He hosts the "On Spec" Podcast on the GolfWRX Radio Network which focuses on discussing everything golf, including gear, technology, fitting, and course architecture. He is a club-fitter & master club builder with more than 17 years of experience working with golfers of all skill levels, including PGA Tour players. He is the former Build Shop Manager & Social Media Coordinator for Modern Golf. He now works independently from his home shop and is a member of advisory panels to a select number of golf equipment manufacturers. You can find Ryan on Twitter and Instagram where he's always willing to chat golf, and share his passion for club building, course architecture and wedge grinding.

21 Comments

21 Comments

  1. Bill Barker

    Jun 25, 2020 at 11:21 am

    Well the balls seem to work well if you don’t mis-hit them and leave a cut which I haven’t seen on a ball in years.

  2. Charlie

    Jun 24, 2020 at 4:08 pm

    I have been very happy with the Kirkland golf balls. For me, they perform as well as name-brand pro model golf balls that cost 2-3 times as much. At my grip-it-and-rip-it local GC near Austin, TX, I lose very few balls but seems like every month I find lost Kirkland balls more often. Must be more and more golfer are using them.

  3. Delbert

    Jun 24, 2020 at 3:21 pm

    A bag deal with Justin Rose or John Daly is next. We find those Kirkland balls in the range bucket every day. They are taking over. Run!

  4. boydenit

    Jun 24, 2020 at 10:11 am

    Go Costco Go! Enough of the overpriced China stuff! Golf Shafts $399, Drivers $500, Bags $250, Putter $299, Golf Balls $52/12 that are off center! Kirkland balls are 24 for $30, Gloves are 4 for $20 and now a Kirkland putter! Golf needs healthy dose of Deflation!

  5. Brian

    Jun 24, 2020 at 8:56 am

    The Kirkland stuff prior to the putter would suffice, but I have to imagine this will be the start of more clubs. Can’t wait to see what irons or wedges the come out with

  6. Cody Reeder

    Jun 23, 2020 at 10:21 am

    So who is going to end up more disruptive? PXG with their ultra premium price strategy or Kirkland with the budget strategy??

    • simms

      Jun 23, 2020 at 6:16 pm

      PXG is playing the low end game also, where you been.

  7. jgpl001

    Jun 23, 2020 at 4:07 am

    Why would anyone want to buy this stuff when OEM’s last model and mint second hand clubs are heavily discounted – M5/M6, SM7 wedges, Cobra F9, Callaway Epic, Ping G400, Ping i200, etc.

    Would you rather bag a mint M5 with a top notch upgraded shaft for $250 or a Costco driver?

    If the answer is the Costco driver than you are on the wrong website…

    • Ryan Barath

      Jun 23, 2020 at 9:06 am

      It’s a very valid point, but we have to remember that there are a lot of regular golfers that don’t want or like to buy used equipment, and also want to be able to buy a club/clubs and immediately use them.
      Costco has built one of the biggest businesses in the world by delivering exceptional value and building a strong relationship with its members. “If Kirkland is on it, then it must be a great product” is how many shoppers view Costco products and if they do deliver something as I have hypothesized then it will sell and it will be a great value for those golfers looking for new wedges.

      • jgpl001

        Jun 24, 2020 at 9:31 am

        And you make a good point also, but the look of a bag and the clubs you play means a lot (snob value is alive and well) and a Kirkland bag with Costco clubs leaves me a little flat. For me the point is if you go into any golf shot there will always be bargains in OEM lines, discontinued models, etc., just pick them up, pay and go out and play

  8. je

    Jun 22, 2020 at 1:02 pm

    Not sure about it. Many good major brand clubs will be heavily discounted a couple of years later. I even got mint callaway 2019 wedges for $60 from callaway preowned. Last year, it was $160. I know many were curious and bought ks1. But aren’t those good odyssey putters half off years later? And aren’t those odyssey putters better? For wedges, they lost values even quicker as new wedges will give more spin (at least they claim so). Looking at the price of a few year old vokey wedges, the most popular brand in wedges, I’m not sure how many would buy kirkland wedges.

  9. gwelfgulfer

    Jun 22, 2020 at 11:53 am

    If they want to change opinions, do a 50/54/58 set rather than 52/56/60 given the jacked lots of things, it would better suit gapping. Well, unless you have one of those sets that has 2 ‘wedges’ before you even get to a the 50/52 degree range…

  10. Carolyn

    Jun 22, 2020 at 11:15 am

    At my Costco they are selling 2 dozen VICE 3 piece urethane balls for $29.95…the last issue of the 4 piece ball was a flop…they still had a few putters this week but I did not see it as such a great deal, just an Odyssey putter with a different name plate. What next maybe a Driver from the same company that makes the Tommy Armour for Dick’s they can sell for $199?.

  11. Fredo

    Jun 22, 2020 at 11:11 am

    There is 2 chances I would game any big box stores equipment, slim to none, and slim left town. Sorry had to get that in. The real reason is that I want my local golf retailer (Alameda GolfWorks and Corica GC) and golf courses to stay open, so I support LOCAL!

    • Tyler Durden

      Jun 22, 2020 at 12:28 pm

      NOBODY CARES

    • brian

      Jun 22, 2020 at 1:47 pm

      I’ll support my local golf courses by playing more rounds with the money I save on golf balls, gloves, and gear from Costco.

    • Larry

      Jun 22, 2020 at 8:45 pm

      Alameda Golfworks is a blatant trademark infringement of The Golfworks. I will not support illegal business practices.

      • Michaele

        Jun 24, 2020 at 3:30 pm

        Are you a patent and trademark attorney? No? Zip it junior.

        • Larry

          Jun 29, 2020 at 3:10 am

          Great, now I can fully commit to my new business venture, a restaurant called Larry’s McDonald’s. Thanks for the legal advice.

  12. brian

    Jun 22, 2020 at 9:33 am

    I have to say, I’ve been very happy with the Kirkland golf products I’ve used. The original 4 piece ball was fantastic and the 3 piece is a great value proposition and performs very well. However, in my opinion, the Kirkland gloves are the real winner. The sizing is a little bit inconsistent, but the quality for the price ($5 per glove) for a piece of equipment you replace with regularity cannot be beat. They’re also very durable, from my experience.

    • Brandon

      Jun 23, 2020 at 12:05 am

      Agreed. I have enough K Sig gloves in the closet to last a few years.

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One-length wedges are holding Bryson DeChambeau back

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Bryson Dechambeau is a golf anomaly and has been for his entire competitive golf career.

The most recent example has been his single-minded focus to get bigger, stronger, and hit it farther. And if his early results are any indication, he has succeeded in his goal to seemingly reduce most golf courses on the PGA Tour to pitch and putts.

The other well-known example of Bryson’s unique approach is the single length irons and wedges that he has used since college.

This one-length approach allows Bryson to set up the same way for every shot, but when going deeper into his stats, there seems to be one part of his game that is glaringly below-average: his wedge play. Specifically, his proximity to hole: 124th on tour.

I believe his one-length wedges are to blame.

If we go one step further, his approach proximity from 50 – 70 yards of 17’10” ranks him 152nd on tour, an abysmal ranking for one of the top players in the game.

Breaking down the dynamics of a wedge shot

Hitting short irons, particularly wedges, close is about creating consistent dynamics at impact and controlling dynamic loft, launch, spin, and friction. The higher the loft on a club, the more potential friction and spin can be created, depending on player dynamics, to the point of diminishing return where the trajectory becomes more of an influencing factor for low-speed shots where less spin can be generated.

With single-length wedges compared to standard length wedges, it is more difficult to create consistent impact dynamics because the longer wedges don’t offer as much flexibility at setup, especially when you consider how much more ground undulation is generally found closer to green areas. But don’t just take my word for it…

I reached out to one of the top fitters in the industry, Ian Fraser from Tour Experience Golf, aka TXG, to get his take on how single length wedges could be effecting Bryson’s game.

“Playing his sand wedge at 2.25” over standard would lead to a shallower angle of attack which is detrimental to increasing spin loft—also being shallower with a low point closer to the ball increases the likelihood of picking up debris (moisture, grass etc) prior to impact which also reduces friction and spin control.

“We look for around 45-47 degrees of spin loft to achieve maximum friction, so unless Bryson can get steeper, the ball will launch higher due to the loft portion of that ideal spin loft.”

A further explanation

  • Single-length (longer) wedges: Longer wedges lead to less control as lofts get higher because of the naturally shallower angle the club wants to approach the ball. This extra length also leads to the inability to fluctuate ball position as lies differ greatly as you get closer to the green resulting in less control of launch and spin, leading to poor distance control.
  • Standard variable-length wedges: Standard wedges allow for greater control because it is easier for golfers to change ball position, which leads to greater control of impact dynamics which in turn offers better control of launch and spin, resulting in improved distance control. Not only that, but when you combine the shorter lengths with flatter lie angles into the sand and lob wedge (a setup recommended by most fitters) you get even more versatility.

Conclusion

Bryson is currently ranked 11th in the Official World Golf Rankings, and if he continues his fantastic form, that ranking is bound to improve as he puts himself closer to the green with every tee shot and in better scoring positions—he just needs to take better advantage of these shorter approach shots.

As someone who boasts about his willingness to experiment, Bryson has certainly tinkered with a number of wedges from his club sponsor Cobra as well as others in search of improvement, including PXG and Artisan Golf, within the last year.

I believe the next step for Bryson should be to experiment with a combination set that is single length until his 9-iron and progresses down to more standard lengths in his wedges to rein in speed and gain greater control of his wedge dynamics at impact. With his current ranking of 152nd on tour from 50 to 70 yards, he really only has one direction to go: up.

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What GolfWRXers are saying about the best irons for a sweeper

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In our forums, our members have been discussing irons and which models are the best for sweepers. WRXer ‘bigD77’ reaches out to fellow members and has a preference for players irons. Our members discuss.

Here are a few posts from the thread, but make sure to check out the entire discussion and have your say at the link below.

  • Frisco Kid: “I’m a sweeper/picker, really enjoying the PXG 0211 irons. I believe they fit in the hollow players distance category. The feel is outstanding and consistent distances. Since distance is not a requirement, I found Maltby DBM (or TE) forged irons superb for feel and accuracy. A sweeper’s dream with slim sole and thin top line. My only gripe with them was I was much shorter with them. My miss is usually thin, and the DBM irons are very good at covering up that miss.”
  • Hougz79: “Ping i210 here. Came from mostly AP2 (712, 716, 718). I don’t have an issue with the slightly thicker sole. I play in MN so pretty “average” conditions, I guess.”
  • scooterhd2: “Srixon Z785. Sweep away my friend, sweep away.”
  • NTCgolfnut: “There are a few that I have used / currently play in rotation that works well if you are a sweeper like me: MP-20 HMB (and most hollow-headed players irons like PXG 0311 range), J15 CB and Miura CB1008 top the list. If you like Blades, then MP5 works well.”
  • cjblake09: “Hogan PTX Pro and ICON combo set. Came from the AP2 718 and the turf interaction with my Hogans is much better.”

Entire Thread: “Best irons for a sweeper?”

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What GolfWRXers are saying about Odyssey/Toulon putters at the Rocket Mortgage Classic

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In our forums, our members have been commenting on the array of Odusser/Toulon putters on show at this week’s Rocket Mortgage Classic.

For more photos, check out the entire thread here.

Here are a few posts from the thread, but make sure to check out the entire discussion and have your say at the link below.

  • MaineMariner: “Backstryke is BACK! Is the lighting playing tricks on me, or does that Madison have a Versa paint scheme? If that’s offered by the Toulon Garage… welp, my wallet is going to take a beating.”
  • pga43: “It does” (In response to MaineMariner)
  • Bigjim1022; “Is that a bronze finish on the first one? Can’t tell if it’s the lighting or not. If it is that looks sweet!”
  • double or triple?: “Looks like the chocolate finish to me.” (In response to BigJim1022)

Entire Thread: “Odyssey/Toulon putters at the Rocket Mortgage Classic”

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