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Why Today’s Clubs Are More Affordable Than You Think



If you’ve read my previous ramblings pieces, you’ve probably noticed where I see myself fitting in as a writer on this site. I’ve fantasized about a career in golf, but ultimately I’m just a regular hack with a sincere passion for the game who one day thought to himself, “You know what? I’m going to give this a go. I’m going to follow a passion and see what happens.” Look at me now, riding this whole blogging roller coaster.

With that being said, I now feel like we can all be friends and I can come to you with the following confession: I originally set out to write this piece by pointing my finger at the equipment manufacturers. “Look how much these golf clubs cost!” I thought to myself. “Who do you think you are? People have real concerns like mortgages and college funds!” Then as I sat down to write with literally a blank screen, the engineer in me took over and I thought to myself, “Let’s do this the right way. Let’s collect some data so that we can make an informed, objective decision.” Below is what I found on this journey.

The first place to start was by establishing a benchmark from which to evaluate the prices of today’s golf clubs. That part didn’t take long to figure out. It’s got to be the Ping Eye 2’s. Nearly every golfer from every walk of life (myself included) had a set of Ping Eye 2 irons in the 80’s and 90’s. Heck, tons of people still game a set today. Calling it a successful set of irons would be the understatement of the century. So, I proceeded to call up Ping and make my first official contact in the industry: its internal company historian. Yes, they have one of those.

I called Ping HQ and explained that I was a writer and I was looking for information on the Ping Eye 2’s. The voice on the other end said, “You should probably talk to our company historian. Hang on, I’ll transfer you.” A very polite man picked up the phone. I introduced myself and explained that I was working on a piece for GolfWRX. We exchanged some small talk and I learned this gentleman started working as a photographer for Ping in 1986 and has been the company historian since 2005. I proceeded to ask him if he could tell me what the retail price was for Ping Eye 2’s when they were released. “Hmm,” he said. “No one’s ever really asked me that one before.” That’s when I figured I was on to something.

He rummaged around his office and found some old price books. Some of the highlights I jotted down were that the Ping Eye 2 Plus irons cost $90 per club in 1996. Ping Eye irons were $55 each in September of 1981, and in 1980, a Ping Anser would have set you back $34. He was unable to find a price book from 1982 (the year the Eye 2 was released), but we exchanged some more small talk.

“I have it in my mind that the price of that club was $65 with a steel shaft,” he said. “I feel pretty confident about that.” After some more chit chat, he offered an anecdote: “I remember not long after I started working here, they asked me to come down to the shop floor to take some pictures because they had just gotten to a point where they were making 10,000 irons a day!” This was in 1986, which was probably very close to the peak of popularity for the Eye 2’s. Everything about that conversation told me I’d found my benchmark.

OK, story time is over. WARNING: MATH CONTENT FOLLOWS!

According to the U.S. Census, the median household income in America in 1982 was $20,171. I’ll skip through the boring details (though I do have the calculations if this causes an uproar) and say that household was left with $15,733.38 in their pockets after they paid taxes (assuming they were “married filing jointly”). Now, if said median household contained a golf addict who chose to splurge on a set of Ping Eye 2’s, an eight-club set (standard 3-PW, for example) at $65 each would have cost him or her $520. This would’ve been 3.3 percent of net income at the time. If you’re not a numbers person and all this just whizzes right by your head, just remember 3.3 percent. That’s how much of annual income the average guy (or gal) in America would have had to shell out to get the best golf clubs in the world in 1982.

I feel like I need a quick side note here. Please don’t make this about taxes and/or politics. This website is not the place for that discussion. I included that data only because it’s relevant to the actual topic at hand. Stay focused.

OK, let’s fast forward to today. In 2015 (I’m using the most recent data I could find here), the median household income in the U.S. was $56,516, which came out to $48,961.10 after paying taxes (again, assuming “married filing jointly” status). As previously discussed, the Ping Eye 2 essentially set the benchmark at 3.3 percent of net income 33 years earlier. That same percentage of the median household’s net income in 2015 comes out to $1,618.20.

Kind of surprising, isn’t it? At least that’s higher than what I thought. Ultimately, what this means is that if the “average Joe” in the U.S. spent less than $1,600 on his new set of clubs in 2015 (which I’ll wager the vast majority did), it was a smaller piece of his annual income than what his father presumably spent in 1982. See? Look at me now. I basically just justified your next club purchase for you. You’re welcome. I knew we could be friends.

Most of you already know this, but here’s a quick cross section of some things that are hot today:

  • TaylorMade’s new P-790 irons were announced this week. They cost $1,299.99 for an eight piece set with steel shaft.
  • The new Mizuno MP-18 range is set to be released to the public next month will cost $150 per club, which comes out to $1,200 for a set.
  • Titleist’s 718 iron lineup was just announced this week, and it ranges in price from $999.99 (AP1) to $1299.99 (MB, CB, AP2, AP3) with steel shafts. The company’s premium T-MB irons will cost $250 per club, or $1999.99 per set.

What does that say about the really high priced jobs? Glad you asked!

  • Callaway Epic and Epic Pro Irons are priced at $250 each, so an eight-club set comes out to $2,000. This is approximately 4.1 percent of the median household’s annual income in the U.S.
  • PXG irons will set you back about $300 each, so an eight-club set would come out to $2,400. This comes out to 4.9 percent of the median household’s annual income in the U.S.

I understand this isn’t completely apples-to-apples because these are 2017 prices evaluated against a 2015 income, but it gives you a pretty good feel for where they stand.

It goes without saying that the market ultimately determines a price for everything… you know, that whole supply and demand thing. Everything from golf clubs to toilet paper is ultimately worth what the customer is willing to pay. Only you can decide if you think it’s worth the premium that Callaway, PXG, Titleist and others are charging. Some companies are definitely aiming at a price point that our market has not previously seen before, but in the end, it’s the wallets of consumers who will decide if they’re off their rockers or not.

As for the vast majority of products on the market today? All things considered, they are incredibly well-priced. The product you’re getting for your money in this day and age absolutely smashes arguably the most ground-breaking set of irons of all time, especially when you factor in the overwhelming amount of custom fitting options available today. It’s a great day to be alive… and playing golf!

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Peter Schmitt is an avid golfer trying to get better every day, the definition of which changes relatively frequently. He believes that first and foremost, golf should be an enjoyable experience. Always. Peter is a former Marine and a full-time mechanical engineer (outside of the golf industry). He lives in Lexington, KY with his wife and two young kids. "What other people may find in poetry or art museums, I find in the flight of a good drive." -Arnold Palmer



  1. BC

    Sep 22, 2017 at 8:23 am

    Great, fun article.
    Something I did to offset the higher prices was purchased custom clubs…but only the longer irons. 5 iron – 9 iron… If purchased at the correct time, the options are more affordable for the “feel” irons like the PW, 50º, SW and 60º… and for the 4 irons, I replaced that with a driving iron… The prices are still insane, but if you can time the purchase of the “feel” irons and get them on sale or at golf shows, you can really cut down the costs. Take a year or two to get the set to where you need it. But, that gives you plenty of time to master each club. Usually takes a good 100-200 solid hits with a club before you really start to call it your own. I agree with many of the comments to not believe the hype. Get the clubs that make you play at your comfort level. Confidence is so much more important that ego. I’m in marketing… I understand what these big name companies try to do each year. 20 MORE YARDS! pbbbbt…….no. More forgiving?… yes.

  2. JR

    Sep 21, 2017 at 8:57 am

    More to the point is that these new irons that come out every year are obsolete before they’ve even hit the shops. I’ve worked in R&D and I know that truly innovative products do not come along three times a year. All the big manufacturers are doing is tinkering with the tech, throwing some jargon around to explain it and giving the aesthetics a make-over. Foam-injected clubheads, for example – they’re nothing new. I had a set of Taylor Mades in the late 80’s that featured this technology. That’s what makes this tussle with PXG all the more amusing – Taylormade were doing this stuff when Bob Parsons was still dreaming of making his own clubs.

    At the end of the day, equipment is only as good as the guy using it but if you can afford this super-expensive kit and that’s what you want to do with your cash then good luck to you. Personally, the best money I’ve ever spent on gear and the only thing I can honestly say has definitely taken shots off my score is my laser range finder. If you haven’t got one you should.

    • BC

      Sep 22, 2017 at 8:25 am

      awesome. I agree with the rangefinder! Great call.

  3. Chris

    Aug 30, 2017 at 8:15 am

    Woods are even “cheaper” than Irons today compared to before. I remember paying more than 700 dollars for a TP driver and around 550 dollars for a Callaway hawk eye Ti 3-wood on SALE.

  4. birdy

    Aug 29, 2017 at 1:43 pm

    Few things to also consider…

    Technology improvements also come with a more efficient manufacturing process and reduced costs. OEM’s can now produce superior equipment at lower costs. Their profits may actually be higher even as the pace of cost of equipment hasn’t kept up with inflation or increased wages. Its not like you look at a flat screen tv and think, it should cost $6k today since wages have increased from the days when a tv used to cost 4k.

    Also, there is something call substitution in economics. If costs of golf increase to a point where an alternative activity becomes more more reasonable you may lose golfers. just because clubs are ‘cheaper’ now doesn’t mean that other suitable substitutes for golf have also increased in price.

    And what about things that we buy that have outpaced inflation. this factors into our disposable income. for example….cost of kids sports and their equipment, healthcare costs, cost of food, and college tuition.

  5. J Zilla

    Aug 28, 2017 at 11:14 pm

    I’d be kind of curious to know what percentage of golfers were buying high end clubs like Ping Eye 2’s at the time.

    In my completely uninformed opinion it seems like golfers today of all skill levels are buying expensive clubs from the top manufacturers.

    I feel like back in the 80s and before, a larger percentage of golfers would be playing cheapo full sets from the local sporting goods store or hand me downs (forget about getting fit back then!) and not typically buying high end sets like the Ping Eye 2.

    Nowadays the cheapo set doesn’t really exist. You have to buy a minimum $750 Titleist, TM, etc. (well new at least)

    I suppose as things were more hand made and there were less technological jumps or exotic materials being used, there probably wasn’t all that much difference between a premium set and a cheapo set of Spaldings or even clubs that were 20 years old.

    • Brad

      Aug 29, 2017 at 10:46 am

      I remember what a golf store owner told me about the new Ping Eye clubs when I asked him the same question in the early 1980s. He said he just sold 4 sets to a Japanese man who ships them back to Japan and sells them at triple the cost. Ping had to ration the clubs internationally while selling to the domestic market in the early days. The world is awash in USD and the Japanese were on top of the world in the 1980s.

  6. Jim

    Aug 28, 2017 at 3:46 pm

    What dennis said. (Way up top) Don’t ever buy new clubs. Buy good used ones for 1/2 the price or less.

  7. Jiminy

    Aug 28, 2017 at 2:12 pm

    Who buys these clubs? Idiot gearheads so they can brag how good they feel and how much farther they hit the ball, which is all neurotic lies. And the filthy rich who don’t have to look at the ticket prices on the clubs. Everybody else is saying no or giving up on golf because it’s too expensive and too time consuming. Golf participation is plummeting and the OEMs are just skimming off the last $$$$ from what’s left in the marketplace.

  8. dennis

    Aug 28, 2017 at 2:06 pm

    I have to laugh every time I hear any type of golf associated person discuss the price of clubs and try to justify it. I worked for a golf shop for 3 years. I became a Callaway VIP and bought a set of Apex clubs for a great price. When I moved I stopped working altogether and after a few years decided it was time for new sticks. I coukd not believe the prices…………average of $900 for a set of 8 steel irons. I sold my Callaways on Craigs List, bought heads, shafts and grip components, and built my own “custom” clubs. I compared them with my old Callaways and the only difference was I hit my custom made clubs a bit longer (loft increase issue I am sure) and straighter. Now, pricing as follows:

    Head $15.00
    shaft $9.00
    grip $6.00

    Total cost per club = $30.00 each, or $240.00 for 8.

    No way can anyone justify overhead of $660.00.

    • Ron

      Aug 28, 2017 at 4:20 pm

      The extra you’re paying for is the ridiculous player contracts

  9. Shanks Happen

    Aug 28, 2017 at 12:50 pm

    Let’s be honest. They are charging that much for a set of irons or a driver because they can. The guys who demand to get the newest will buy it. The guys who either don’t want to or can’t pay for it now will wait 6-8 months and get it for $50-250 less. All of this is factored in. For all the “new” technology in clubs, the tooling methods and (for the most part) materials remain the same. At this point, the biggest part of the cost of a golf club is marketing and over-padding to make money on the club in 6-8 months when you drop the price or drop a new club on us.

  10. Peter Schmitt

    Aug 28, 2017 at 11:24 am

    Thanks for the comments, folks. I expected this to gather some of the reactions seen here. I will agree with many of you in that there are many different ways to go about calculating this and tons of factors to consider. However, no one would’ve wanted to read a PhD thesis (myself included). It is interesting food for thought, however, which is why I thought it worth sharing. Cheers!

  11. Tom54

    Aug 28, 2017 at 9:22 am

    There have always been pricy clubs. I recall paying $750 for some Ping eye 2 beryllium model in the mid-80’s which was a lot. Even in early 90’s I was a huge Nick Faldo fan and had to have a set of Mizuno mp-29’s. Those were $1000. Also the early model of Snake Eye wedges were $200 which is more than a current Vokey wedge which are the best out there. I even recall getting a Taylormade 425 tp driver which retailed for $799. Some models have stayed relatively expensive and some have sort of stayed within reason. It is still exciting to see new clubs coming out Everyone has an idea what they are willing to spend. Look in any bag at your average course and you will truly see it all.

  12. John Krug

    Aug 28, 2017 at 8:34 am

    Can we have an article on the increasing cost to join a Trump golf club?

    • Peter Schmitt

      Aug 28, 2017 at 11:17 am

      I am in no way saying I am the standard by which all others should be measured in this department, but I am a former Marine, and therefore not a complete wimp. Having said that, I’m not touching that one with a 10-foot pole haha!!!!

  13. Steve S

    Aug 28, 2017 at 8:18 am

    Interesting article. As a fellow ME I appreciate the approach and expected the criticism of that approach. You could have used a much more complicated analysis and probably come up with a similar answer. For me the cost component that is not usually considered the additional cost of doing business today. Advertising and marketing costs are a greater percentage of most businesses today along with human resources costs. These were much lower as a percentage of your business in the 1980’s. I still won’t buy a brand new set of irons because the technology really doesn’t have that big of an effect on my game. 10 year old irons are about the same as current models as far as results with my swing speed. I do see a difference if I go back to a 20 year old set, however.

    So if you can have the discipline to buy a new set every 10 years your really only spending the equivalent of 2-3 rounds of golf a year on clubs.

    • Michael

      Aug 28, 2017 at 5:56 pm

      I’m a retired professional engineer and I still play a decent game with my green dot, +1″ Ping Zing 2’s, and the only thing I do to them is change the grips. I laugh at my playing buddies struggling with their new clubs and assuring us they have to get used to them.
      I know my game and can control my clubs for consistent results. I don’t need an extra phantom 12 yards costing me $2000 and bragging rights with my new play toys. I play and perform; and not showing up with brand new toys to impress and intimidate. Men can revert into childhood with new toys.

  14. Rich Douglas

    Aug 27, 2017 at 10:28 pm

    Adjusted for inflation, something that cost $520 in 1982 would cost about $1350 today. A set of Ping G irons costs $700 today, and a set of Ping G400s are $900. So, a vastly superior club at a remarkably lower cost. Nice.

  15. Ken Y.

    Aug 27, 2017 at 7:38 pm

    I don’t think affordability is simply just a % of median income. Although that may be the way manufacturers price their products. You have to consider the costs of necessities. You obviously have your food, water, and shelter, but I doubt mobile phones and internet were common household expenses; which I would argue is a necessity in modern society. And speaking of shelter, how much is the average rent now vs. 80s? Basically, the point I’m trying to make is that people now have greater income, but a smaller discretionary budget. Thus, making golf clubs seem much more expensive even though it may track closely with inflation and median income. The article is a good start, but I think it’s only scratching the surface and too early to say “all things considered.” I don’t know if I’m right, but just my guess.

  16. Mike

    Aug 27, 2017 at 12:52 pm

    $56,516 median income per household? You must split that number.
    Husband’s income = $30,000. Wife’s income = $26,000. Get the picture?
    Millennials will not justify buying such expensive sport equipment and then get dinged for another $50+ for one round of golf taking 5 hours (30 minutes playing and 4.5 hours standing around and gossiping and complaining about slow play). Besides, the wife will not permit such a purchase where she and the kids gets nothing from it.
    Non-athletic millennials prefer to play video games, watch TV and playing Texas Holdem Poker and sitting on their butts. Get the picture?
    Golf is dying from self-inflicted wounds and economic reality.

  17. AceW7Iron

    Aug 27, 2017 at 8:22 am

    IMO…The tool itself can only carry so much value to the golfer and over a certain price point for a player to game overly expensive equipment is just to show others you can afford it (much like owning a new Tesla)
    Ive been out gunned by partners playing A GGB Warbird driver,irons produced in 1977 and a bullseye putter. My point? Equipment has a set value to each and every player out there and there are not many that see value in a $2000 set of irons when they can play just as well with a $300 set.

    One other thing…Everything else has gone up in price since those Ping Zings and some things more than others. Think housing…In 1996 you probably had more expendable income because shelter was more affordable. In todays market you will fork out a greater % of your income on the “necessities” which in reality leaves “less” for golf equipment. Why do you think Dicks,Golf Galaxy and the now defunct Golf Smith are/were struggling to stay afloat?

    • Rich Douglas

      Aug 27, 2017 at 10:30 pm

      Actually, the opposite is true. Take food. A few decades ago, the average family spent 25% of its disposable income on food. That is now down to 10%.

    • ROY

      Aug 28, 2017 at 12:44 pm

      Dicks,Golf Galaxy and the now defunct Golf Smith – the internet

  18. Mat

    Aug 27, 2017 at 6:05 am

    Hey Schmittie,

    Just a suggestion… stop being so patronising.

  19. Woody

    Aug 26, 2017 at 9:48 pm

    This article confirms what I’ve been saying for years, golf is an expensive sport. This is from hand crafted wood clubs to what we have now. It always will be, get over it. I don’t have a lot of money, but pinch pennies in a lot of areas in my life to play. thank god I live in America which affords the middle class the ability to play.

    • birdy

      Aug 28, 2017 at 9:32 am

      Few things to also consider…

      Technology improvements also come with a more efficient manufacturing process and reduced costs. OEM’s can now produce superior equipment at lower costs. Their profits may actually be higher even as the pace of cost of equipment hasn’t kept up with inflation or increased wages. Its not like you look at a flat screen tv and think, it should cost $6k today since wages have increased from the days when a tv used to cost 4k.

      Also, there is something call substitution in economics. If costs of golf increase to a point where an alternative activity becomes more more reasonable you may lose golfers. just because clubs are ‘cheaper’ now doesn’t mean that other suitable substitutes for golf have also increased in price.

      And what about things that we buy that have outpaced inflation. this factors into our disposable income. for example….cost of kids sports and their equipment, healthcare costs, cost of food, and college tuition.

  20. ADIDAG

    Aug 26, 2017 at 8:28 pm

    Did you say golf(works) or golf w.r.x.
    when you called Ping….
    I just gotta know

  21. ADIDAG

    Aug 26, 2017 at 8:24 pm

    This is some bull schmitt

  22. Bert

    Aug 26, 2017 at 7:59 pm

    Let’s see move manufacturing to China, Taiwan, and assembly in Mexico and you increase your profits. Since it’s so much better to manufacture off shore, perhaps the prices should have actually gone down.

    • Caroline

      Aug 27, 2017 at 12:22 am

      Add to that the fact the casting process is much more efficient now, and the specs for clubs are basically in every companies computer..just move the weight a bit, put in different pieces of plastic every year, cut the groves a bit different each year….may as well just give in and come back out with the Eye 2 because irons have NEVER really got any better…if it cost $10 to make an Eye 2 iron the first year they could have that down to $5 dollars now.

      • Rich Douglas

        Aug 27, 2017 at 10:32 pm

        Costs do NOT determine prices. Market forces do. Costs determine PROFITS.

        • Bert

          Aug 28, 2017 at 8:29 am

          Good Point – as well as greed. Remember the price points for clubs are “fixed” by the manufactures; that’s why retailers cannot compete, they must sell at the price “fixed” by the big boys.

  23. Lim E Cheik

    Aug 26, 2017 at 7:43 pm

    You can thank the Chinese for the reasonable pricing.

  24. Adam Crawford

    Aug 26, 2017 at 5:21 pm

    That’s was fun read. Definitely puts a different perspective on the idea that equipment is expensive. Well done, Peter!

    • !!!!!!!!!!!!!

      Aug 26, 2017 at 9:57 pm

      I’m about to buy some 718 AP2’s and was slightly disheartened by the price hike, but I’ll use this article to keep the wifey from getting to upset lol.

      Like every article written on here there will be people picking apart every scenario, but I enjoyed it. And for the guys saying moving production over seas, and then complaining price points ect., yes moving club making over seas is cheaper for OEM’s and then us, but if they didn’t i imagine clubs here would be way more expensive. Also it’s all done basically by machines for the most part, so whether they’re cast/forged here or there, the product would be basically the same. Whether you pay someone $20 an hour here, or $5 an hour there the product would basically be the same. OEM’s want to make money, we want to spend the least amount for the best equipment, we can’t have it both ways.

      Great article because it was different than the typical articles here. I hope there’s more like it to come.

  25. Shane

    Aug 26, 2017 at 4:00 pm

    1200-2000 plus for irons is nuts, especially since the ole trusty Eye2s can be had for next to nothing and still perform as good as anything out there. Do not and am not trying to start a debate or argument of any sorts either, too many good deals to be had as long as you know what works for ones self. New is nice but not at today’s prices!!

    • Rich Douglas

      Aug 27, 2017 at 10:39 pm

      I used to feel that way, but there have been a few significant improvements since the Eye2.

      Perimeter weighting in forged irons is an improvement. So is the use of multiple materials and welding instead of being limited to either casting or forging one metal. Softer metals than 17-4 steel are now used in casting. Perimeter weighting is more radical, increasing MOI. Moving weight ports as the heads change throughout the set improve launch angles. Slots in the top, bottom, and sides to increase COR (for more distance). All this and more for a cheaper (adjusted for inflation) price? Brilliant!

    • birdy

      Aug 28, 2017 at 9:41 am

      i lol every time someone says the eye2s perform as well as any of the new stuff on the market.

  26. chris franklin

    Aug 26, 2017 at 3:45 pm

    An article based on false premises.
    The prices quoted for Eye 2’s would have been Ping’s suggested retail price,check back in old golfing magazines and in golf shop adverts ‘ring for quote’ was the norm.
    Almost nobody paid suggested retail.
    The real nitty-gritty is how ridiculously high prices are asked for clubs that are mass produced in Chinese factories with no craftsmanship and mediocre quality,the EOM get away with it because perceptions of quality have changed enormously over the last few decades and the fact that your clubs look crap after one season is irrelevant because a new model from your favourite maker will soon be on the market.
    There are massive profits being made from clubs and associated products like clothing and shoes,polyester shirts are ‘in’ because cotton is now expensive,plastic/nylon shoes are ‘in’ because making proper leather shoes requires an element of skill rather than a cheap sewing machine and a tube of epoxy.
    If you want to produce something eye-opening then work out what a current Ping iron head would cost to produce,cost of a shaft and grip and add a bowl of rice and compare with what they want for the finished product.

    • Mat

      Aug 27, 2017 at 6:01 am

      Racist much?

    • Rich Douglas

      Aug 27, 2017 at 10:48 pm

      A bowl of rice? Really? That’s your take on overseas manufacturing? Your assertions about quality are incredibly baseless as well, but the rice bowl comment is the winner (loser) by far.

      As for “massive profits,” the market determines prices which, after deducting costs, determines profits. If people didn’t pay those prices, then golf equipment companies would have to either (a) lower prices to meet demand or (b) go out of business.

      Adjusted for inflation, golf clubs are much cheaper than they were in the 1980s. And companies are struggling. Retailers like Golfsmith are disappearing. Nike got out of golf clubs and balls. Later this year, adidas will dump TM. (To a private equity firm, so watch out for TM!) All of this belies your view that fat-cat golf equipment companies are raking it in and abusing the consumer.

      I’m sure there is a community college near you that offers Macroeconomics 101. I’m sure you can even buy the textbook used if you’re concerned about publishers gouging you….

      • Bert

        Aug 28, 2017 at 7:10 pm

        So why can’t I use my 10% off coupon to purchase Ping, TaylorMade, or Titleist?

      • Bert

        Aug 28, 2017 at 7:52 pm

        Try using your 10% off coupon on a set of Pin, TaylorMade or Titleist clubs.

  27. Alfriday

    Aug 26, 2017 at 12:59 pm

    The relative price of irons may not have changed much since 1984. What has changed?

    The Ping Eye 2 clubs were made from 1984 to 1990. They were replaced by the 2+, which were manufactured from 1990 to 1998. If a golfer kept up with the latest and greatest, the player would buy two sets of clubs in 14 years.

  28. Rob L

    Aug 26, 2017 at 12:31 pm

    My new BFF!

  29. Michael Pasvantis

    Aug 26, 2017 at 11:39 am

    What’s most interesting when it comes to irons is how few iron shots we actually hit over the course of 18 holes. Ever since I’ve gotten my game golf system I’ve been tracking stats and club performance etc. What I started doing was taking a closer look at what shots I hit throughout the round. In a typical round where I shoot between 80-84 I usually only hit about 10-13 real actual full iron shots (4-Pw) not counting short chips/pitches hit with my PW and many times, depending on course and situations, I will not hit 1 or 2 of my irons at all. Putts were obviously the most coming in at 30-34 per round, 14 shots with my driver, then my irons at 10-13 followed by short chips and pitches and fairway wood/hybrid shots. Seems like a lot of money to drop on a part of your game that statistically doesn’t account for as much as we think.

    • Jack

      Aug 28, 2017 at 3:01 am

      I agree with that. People say the driver costs a lot while you don’t hit it often, and I’d say it’s the second most used club you got. Well unless you miss every green and have to chip every time. Then the wedges come in to play a lot. But just because there are so many irons people assume you use it more. But then, you don’t use the irons more than 10-13 times? Are some PAR 3’s really long or some approach shots really long or short?

  30. TigerMom

    Aug 26, 2017 at 11:20 am

    From an inflationary standpoint, $520 in 1982 would have grown to $1317 in 2017. Seems like not much has changed from that perspective.

    • Mat

      Aug 27, 2017 at 6:03 am

      That’s finally the number I was looking for. All of this tax business was garbage.

  31. Boo Strongly

    Aug 26, 2017 at 10:38 am

    This is what happens when someone who doesn’t understand Economic principles tries to write an article about Economics.

  32. Gdyfbd

    Aug 26, 2017 at 9:49 am

    Can’t argue with the math, but they seen to have taken a big leap forward in cost recently, drivers also, sure there were expensive drivers 10 years ago but now a base model like an m2 is really expensive

    • Davewn

      Aug 26, 2017 at 11:56 am

      The original, “Ruger Titanium” Great Big Bertha retailed for $500 in the mid 90’s and was impossible to keep in stock. Aside from loft, Callaway’s crappy, one size fits some, stock ultralight shaft was the only option. That translates to roughly $800 in today’s money, FWIW.

      • Melo

        Aug 26, 2017 at 9:40 pm

        Except that the GBB was an enormous upgrade over any and every driver before it. If you had a driver right now that was clearly head and shoulders above everything else, people would be lining up to buy it at 799.

        • Shortside

          Aug 28, 2017 at 8:59 am

          That’s a fact Jack!. Another fact. TM Supersteel Burner irons MSRP in 1999 was $720 for 3-PW w/steel shaft. 2017 M2 is $799.

    • Mat

      Aug 27, 2017 at 6:06 am

      They were behind the curve during the Great Recession. Now margins are normal.

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19th Hole

Vincenzi: The 8 best prop bets for the 2024 Masters



We’ve finally reached The Masters and excitement is at an all-time high. The world of golf has been fractured for the better part of two years, but for a week at Augusta National, all of the outside noise will disappear. All of the best players in the world will be together seeking to make history.

In addition to betting on The Masters champion. This is one of the few weeks of the year where there are so many more markets to explore, with value to be had in plenty of different categories.

Throughout this article, I’ll discuss all of my favorite props and players for the 2024 Masters.

Placement Bets:

Tony Finau Top 5 +750 (DraftKings):

I badly wanted to include Tony Finau in my outright betting selections, but I simply ran out of room on my card. Additionally, it’s slightly difficult to see him hitting the putts necessary to win the Masters on back nine on Sunday. However, I do strongly believe he will play great golf this week at Augusta National.

In his past 24 rounds, Finau ranks 4th in Strokes Gained: Approach is always amongst the best drivers of the golf ball in the game. Back in 2019, Finau had a great chance to win The Masters. I expect him to be hanging around over the weekend once again in 2024.

Gary Woodland Top 20 +550 (DraftKings), Gary Woodland to make the cut -110 (DraftKings):

Last season, Gary Woodland had his best ever finish at The Masters in his eleven tries. The 39-year-old finished T14 and played incredibly steady across all four rounds.

In Woodland’s most recent start at the Texas Children’s Houston Open, he struck the ball incredibly well. He led the field in Strokes Gained: Approach (+8.8) and Strokes Gained: Ball Striking (+10.0).

Gary has been working with Butch Harmon and absolutely flushing the ball both in tournaments and during practice.

Woodland appears to be healthy once again and in a great place physically and mentally. If he can build off his impressive performance at Augusta last year, he can place inside the top ten in 2024.

Additionally, the make the cut number on Woodland seems generous considering the number of players who miss the cut will be relatively small this week. Woodland is striking it well enough to make the cut even if he’s hindered by a balky putter once again.

Thorbjorn Olesen Top 20 +400 (FanDuel):

The Thunder Bear, Thorbjorn Olesen, made his Masters debut in 2013 and finished an incredibly impressive T6 for the week. In the two additional starts he’s made at Augusta National since then, the Dane has continued to be incredibly solid, finishing T44 and T21.

This week, Olesen heads into the week playing some good golf. He gained 3.8 strokes on approach and 5.52 strokes around the green at last week’s Valero Texas Open on his way to a strong T14 finish. Back in January, he won the Ras Al Khaimah Championship on the DP World Tour.

Olesen has the skill set to be successful at Augusta and seems primed for a good performance this week.

Top Nationalities:

Sergio Garcia Top Spanish Player +280 (DraftKings):

I believe Sergio Garcia can get into contention this week with the way he’s striking the ball in addition to his good vibes with a refurbished version of the Scotty Cameron that he used at the 1999 PGA Championship at Medinah.

I am slightly concerned about the emotional letdown he may face after losing in a playoff at LIV Miami, but I believe a veteran and former Masters champion should be able to regroup and focus on an event far more meaningful.

This is essentially a tournament head-to-head with Jon Rahm at +280. While Rahm deserves to be respected this week, the history of the lack of success of defending champions at The Masters is difficult to ignore.

Joaquin Niemann Top South American Player -230 (FanDuel):

While I hate paying this much juice, I don’t see a world in which Joaquin Niemann isn’t the top South American this week at The Masters. Joaco comes in playing better golf than anyone in the world not named Scottie Scheffler and has a serious chance to win the green jacket.

He only needs to beat two players: Emiliano Grillo and Camilo Villegas.

Tournament Head-to-Heads:

Justin Thomas -110 over Collin Morikawa

JT isn’t having his best season but is playing a lot better than he is getting credit for at the moment. In the past three months, there are only six players on the PGA Tour who have averaged 1.7 Strokes Gained: Tee to Green or better. Justin Thomas (+1.7) is one of the six and is currently tied with Rory McIlroy (+1.7).

Morikawa, on the other hand, has been extremely poor with his irons, which is incredibly uncharacteristic for him. I can’t help but feel like something is completely off with the two-time major champion.

Tony Finau -110 over Wyndham Clark

I explained in the placement section why I’m so high on Tony Finau this week. With how well he’s striking the ball, it seems as if his floor is extremely high. I’m not sure if he can make the putts to win a green jacket but I believe he will be in the mix similarly to 2019 when Tiger Woods emerged from a crowded pack of contenders.

Clark is a debutant, and while some debutants have had success at The Masters, it certainly poses a challenge. I also don’t believe Augusta National suits Clark as well as some of the other major championship venues.

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19th Hole

Vincenzi’s 2024 Masters betting preview: Niemann to play star role at Augusta National



It’s been over nine months since we saw Brian Harman parlay a dominant performance at Royal Liverpool into a claret jug. After another major offseason filled with a feud between the PGA Tour and LIV Golf, talks of a merger, and a multitude of questions regarding the future of the game, the golf world is desperate for all of the best players in the world to come together again for a major championship. 

We return to Augusta National with excitement at a fever pitch. Scottie Scheffler has separated himself as the best player in the world heading into the Masters. At the moment, the 27-year-old seems to be an unstoppable force. However, questions about Scheffler’s up-and-down putter once again resurfaced as he missed multiple short putts at the Texas Children’s Houston Open including a 5’11” putt to force a playoff with Stephan Jaeger. 

Additionally, a handful of the PGA Tour’s top players such as Justin Thomas, Rory McIlroy, Will Zalatoris, Patrick Cantlay, Tommy Fleetwood and Jordan Spieth make their way to Augusta National with their current form in question.

Plenty of LIV golfers may be up to the task of conquering Augusta, but with so much time in between the last two majors, it’s not always easy to decipher how their games will stack up against Scheffler and co.

Last year, some important changes were made at Augusta National. The par-5 13th (Azalea) was lengthened by 35 yards and now measures 545 yards. Last year, Azalea played as the toughest of the four par 5s, and players averaged 4.74 for the week, which was down from 4.85 in 2022. However, eagles, birdies and bogeys were all up, so the lengthening achieved less pars, which equals more excitement. 

Without further ado, let’s get into the course breakdown and analyze some important statistics for Augusta National.

Augusta National is now a 7,510-yard par-72 with lightning-fast Bentgrass greens. The course’s primary defenses are the contoured greens, swirling crosswinds, the topography of the course, which creates uneven lies and the small landing areas that golfers will need to hit to avoid tight run-off areas around the greens.

Past Winners at the Masters 

  • 2023: Jon Rahm (-12)
  • 2022: Scottie Scheffler (-10)
  • 2021: Hideki Matsuyama (-10)
  • 2020: Dustin Johnson (-20)
  • 2019: Tiger Woods (-13)
  • 2018: Patrick Reed (-15)
  • 2017: Sergio Garcia (-9)
  • 2016: Danny Willett (-5)
  • 2015: Jordan Spieth (-18)
  • 2014: Bubba Watson (-8)
  • 2013: Adam Scott (-9)
  • 2012: Bubba Watson (-10)
  • 2011: Charl Schwartzel (-14)
  • 2010: Phil Mickelson (-16)

In this article and going forward, I’ll be using the Rabbit Hole by Betsperts Golf data engine to develop my custom model. If you want to build your own model or check out all of the detailed stats, you can sign up using promo code: MATTVIN for 25% off any subscription package (yearly is best value).

Key Stats For Augusta National

Let’s take a look at the six most important metrics at Augusta National and determine which golfers boast top marks in each category over their last 24 rounds. This should give us a good starting point for building out a betting card.

Strokes Gained: Approach

Approach is historically the most important statistic at Augusta National. The sloping, speedy greens and run-off areas create small landing spots that can be difficult to hit.

 Last year, Jon Rahm ranked 6th in the field in Strokes Gained: Approach. Overall, five of the past seven winners at Augusta have ranked in the top 6 in the category. Distance helps, but Augusta National is a second-shot golf course.

Total Strokes Gained: Approach in past 24 rounds:

  1. Scottie Scheffler (+1.30)
  2. Corey Conners (+0.99)
  3. Shane Lowry (+0.88)
  4. Tony Finau (+0.85)
  5. Austin Eckroat (+0.85)

Course History

More so than any other course on TOUR, familiarity with Augusta National is crucial. Only one player has ever won the Masters on their first try — Fuzzy Zoeller in 1979. Meanwhile, there are 17 golfers in history who have multiple green jackets.

In most cases, the Masters champion has shown some good form at Augusta in the past. Prior to Scottie Scheffler’s 2022 victory, he finished T19 and T18 in his first two trips to the course. Prior to 2023, Rahm had finished in the top-10 of four of his six starts at The Masters. 

Total Strokes Gained: Total at Augusta National in past 36 rounds (per round, minimum eight rounds):

  1. Will Zalatoris (+2.91) 
  2. Jon Rahm (+2.28) 
  3. Jordan Spieth (+2.22) 
  4. Scottie Scheffler (+2.22)
  5. Dustin Johnson (+2.01)
  6. Rory McIlroy (+2.00) 
  7. Hideki Matsuyama (+1.90)
  8. Justin Rose (+1.85)
  9. Rickie Fowler (+1.72)
  10. Russell Henley (+1.60) 

Par 4 Scoring Average

Since plenty of players can reach the par 5s at Augusta in two, par-4 scoring becomes more important. The golfer who separates themselves on the par 4s will be able to gain ground on the field.

Par 4 Scoring Average in past 24 rounds:

  1. Scottie Scheffler (+3.88) 
  2. Chris Kirk (+3.92) 
  3. Jordan Spieth (+3.93) 
  4. Peter Malnati (+3.93)
  5. Xander Schauffele (+3.93)

Strokes Gained: Around the Green

Golfers with a solid short game tend to fare well at Augusta National. The run-off areas are treacherous, and players will often be scrambling to get up and down.

The majority of players who have won at Augusta National have a great short game and have shown consistent ability to get up and down from tough spots.

Total Strokes Gained: Around the Green in past 24 rounds:

  1. Hideki Matsuyama (+0.71)
  2. Scottie Scheffler (+0.66)
  3. Patrick Reed (+0.61)
  4. Xander Schauffele (+0.53)
  5. Lucas Glover (+0.51)

Strokes Gained: Off the Tee

Augusta National is most definitely a second shot golf course. Golfers can get away with a missed fairway here and there, however, it’s important that the misses with driver aren’t too wide of the target or there is serious trouble to be had.

Total Strokes Gained: Off the Tee in past 24 rounds:

  1. Bryson DeChambeau (+1.04)
  2. Rory McIlroy (+0.85)
  3. Scottie Scheffler (+0.84)
  4. Xander Schauffele (+0.71)
  5. Ludvig Aberg (+0.68)

Strokes Gained Putting: Fast Bentgrass

The USGA calculates that, on average, the greens at Augusta National are the fastest greens in the country. Three-putting is fairly common at Augusta and golfers must be able to combat the speed of the greens with effective lag putting.

Total Strokes Gained: Putting on Fast Bentgrass in past 24 rounds:

  1. Justin Rose (+1.43)
  2. Sahith Theegala (+0.97) 
  3. Min Woo Lee (+0.88) 
  4. Cameron Smith (+0.70) 
  5. Patrick Reed (+0.70)

Statistical Model

Below, I’ve reported overall model rankings using a combination of the six key statistical categories previously discussed.

These rankings are comprised of SG: App (25%); Course History (16%); Par 4 Scoring Average (10%); SG: Putting on Fast Bentgrass (16%); SG: OTT (16%). and SG: ARG (16%).

Last year, Jon Rahm ranked first in this model

  1. Scottie Scheffler
  2. Xander Schauffele
  3. Hideki Matsuyama
  4. Tony Finau 
  5. Justin Thomas
  6. Shane Lowry
  7. Will Zalatoris
  8. Corey Conners
  9. Si Woo Kim
  10. Rory McIlroy
  11. Stephan Jaeger
  12. Jordan Spieth
  13. Chris Kirk
  14. Keegan Bradley
  15. Wyndham Clark
  16. Sahith Theegala
  17. Russell Henley
  18. Collin Morikawa
  19. Matt Fitzpatrick
  20. Patrick Reed

My 2023 Pick:

Jon Rahm (+950) (FanDuel)
A few months ago, I never thought that I’d be able to say that Rahm would be going slightly under the radar heading into the 2023 Masters. It’s not that Rahm has done anything wrong, but both Scheffler and McIlroy have undoubtedly surpassed him as the scorching hot, super-elite, top of the market betting favorite category.

Since his win at Riviera, the Spaniard has finished 39th at Bay Hill, withdrew at The Players Championship, and failed to get out of the group stage at the WGC Dell Match Play. On the other hand, Scheffler won The PLAYERS Championship and McIlroy finished third at the WGC Dell Match Play.

Rahm has made six starts at The Masters and has come in the top-10 in four of them. The 28-year-old has incredible power off the tee, a requirement at Augusta which always plays longer than the scorecard indicates. He’s also incredible around the greens and ranks third in the field in Strokes Gained: Short Game, which is a combination of around the green play and putting, in his past 24 rounds.

As we’ve seen over the years at The Masters, having the ability to chip and putt your way out of difficult situations is a fundamental aspect of getting it done at Augusta National.

While Scheffler has made a strong case to be viewed as the world’s best player, I still believe that title belongs to Rahm. This will be the year Rahmbo joins the ranks of Seve Ballesteros, José María Olazábal, and Sergio Garcia as natives of Spain to don a green jacket.

2024 The Masters Picks

Brooks Koepka +2500 (DraftKings)

In order to win the 2024 Masters, a player will have to go toe-to-toe with Scottie Scheffler, who’s hitting the ball as anyone in golf over the last two seasons. When building a betting card this week, it’s important for me to choose players that I believe can stare Scheffler down on the weekend at Augusta National. Brooks Koepka fits that bill.

Koepka’s lackluster performance at LIV Miami is concerning, but he’s the type of player who can turn it on quickly during the week of a major championship. Although I’d have preferred, he played well last week, I’ll take the odds discount we got as a result of his most recent results.

Prior to LIV Miami, Koepka appeared to be in solid form. He finished in the top twelve in four of five starts on LIV this season. When it comes to the five-time major champion, it’s well known that he has another gear for major championships. Everything he’s done both in the off-season and during the LIV season is to gear up for the year’s first major at Augusta National.

In his past five starts at Augusta National, the 33-year-old has three top-7 finishes, including two runners-up. The two years when he played poorly (2019 and 2020) were when he was nowhere near 100% healthy. All signs point to Brooks being in a great place physically as we enter major season.

Last year, Koepka was the 36 and 54-hole leader prior to letting the green jacket slip away to Jon Rahm. He used the result as a springboard to win his 5th major at Oak Hill at the PGA Championship.

Brooks enters the week looking to get one step closer to achieving the career grand slam and golf fans would be foolish to rule him out.

Joaquin Niemann +2800 (BetRivers)

Full disclosure, I bet Niemann the second he was invited to The Masters back in February at +8000. Although the odds have shortened dramatically since then, I can’t pretend that the Chilean isn’t one of the players who has a real chance to win the 2024 Masters.

While I was speaking with Niemann back in March, he told me how much he loves Augusta National.

“Yeah, it’s a place that I love. I’ve been playing good golf. Especially last year, I wasn’t playing my best golf, and I had a good week there and made triple on 11 that kind of killed me a little bit.

I feel like I’m getting more ready and more prepared every time. My game is getting better too. I know that I’m playing good enough to be in that situation that I can have a chance to win the Masters and it’s all about how I react to that situation.

So yeah, I’m going to prepare myself to be ready for that situation if it happens and I can fight for the title on the Sunday which would be awesome.”

As Niemann alluded to, the Chilean was able to have his best career finishes at The Masters (T16) despite not being in the best form. This year, Niemann comes into the week playing better golf than anyone in the world with the exception of Scottie Scheffler. The 25-year-old has won three times since December and has shown the world why he was regarded as one of the games future stars since he was a teenager.

Historically speaking, Joaco’s win at Riviera a few years back seems to be an indicator of potential success at Augusta National. Fourteen players have won at both historic courses including Hideki Matsuyama, Jon Rahm, Phil Mickelson, Dustin Johnson, Nick Faldo, Tom Watson and Ben Hogan.

Niemann has all the shots to be successful at Augusta National. His low stingers will come in handy on plenty of holes down the stretch and he can work it both ways, playing the high draw or the low fade. He also putts best on Bentgrass greens and likes them fast. Whether PGA Tour or LIV, talent will always reign supreme, and I’ll always bet on that talent.

Cameron Smith (+4000) (FanDuel)

Cameron Smith is another player who we should get an odds discount on based off of the results at LIV Miami. Smith was forced to withdraw prior to the second round due to food poisoning. In my opinion, the number has drifted to a place where I’d consider it a “bet the number” play on the talent.

Smith is a contender for the green jacket anytime he tees it up at Augusta National. The Australian absolutely loves the golf course and has four top-10 finishes in his last six trips to the golf course. In both 2020 and 2022, Smith had a real chance of winning The Masters and came up just short, finishing T2 and T3 in those two tries. In his past 36 rounds, he ranks 4th in Strokes Gained: Total per round at Augusta.

In order to be successful at Augusta National, players must be creative around the greens and be shot makers who have plenty of ways to get around the golf course. Cam has all the shots required to be successful at the course at his touch around the greens will continue to serve him well in his hopes for a green jacket.

Smith is arguably the best putter in the world and has the capability to win a golf tournament on and around the greens. He’s already taken down Rory McIlroy at the home of golf on his way to a claret jug and is one of the few players who can stare down any of the world’s top golfers on the back nine at Augusta National.

Justin Thomas +4000 (FanDuel)

With how he’s been playing since his 2022 PGA Championship win, you may be shocked to see the name “Justin Thomas” in this preview. However, JT has drifted to a place on the odds board where I believe it’s worth taking a shot on the talent of a two-time major champion in his prime.

It’s not all bad for Thomas this season. He finished T6 at the signature Pebble Beach event, T12 at the Waste Management Phoenix Open and T12 at the signature Arnold Palmer Invitational. In his last 24 rounds, JT ranks 8th in the field in Strokes Gained: Approach, 14th in Strokes Gained: Around the Green and 29th in Strokes Gained: Putting on fast Bentgrass greens.

Despite missing the cut last season, Thomas has played pretty well at Augusta National. He ranks 13th in Strokes Gained: Total in his past 36 rounds at the course. He finished T4 in 2020, T21 in 2021 and T8 in 2022.

I believe the 2024 edition of The Masters is completely wide open. The past few years has been frustrating for Thomas fans, but I believe his peak form may be a bit closer than people realize.

Sergio Garcia +12000 (FanDuel)

Earlier this season, Garcia dueled with Joaquin Niemann before finally losing on the fourth playoff hole late into the night. Despite the loss, the 44-year-old seemed to gain confidence in his game. The results that followed weren’t spectacular, but in terms of his ball striking he’s shown some flashes of vintage Sergio.

At LIV Miami last week, Garcia played well on a massive golf course, losing in a playoff to Dean Burmester. He continued pumped the ball into the fairway and hit massive iron shot after massive iron shot. He also used a refurbished Scotty Cameron that he used in the 1999 PGA Championship at Medinah. The putter served him incredibly well until he missed a short putt on the 18th hole to win the event. Overall, he gained 7.1 strokes putting at Doral.

Sergio Garcia is once again headed to Augusta National with a chip on his shoulder. Of course, having a chip on the shoulder is nothing new for the fiery Spaniard, but this year, the 2017 Masters Champion will arrive at Augusta with his game clicking on all cylinders.

Sergio winning a second green jacket is seemingly an almost impossible feat, but magical things tend to happen on the hallowed grounds of Augusta National.

Adam Scott +11000 (FanDuel)

Betting Adam Scott over the past handful of years has been a Masters staple for me, and like many traditions, has been a hard one for me to let go of.

Last week, Scott finished T14 at the Valero Texas Open in a windy and difficult week. I believe the wind will be a major factor this week at Augusta National, and the more difficult the tournament plays, the more I favor Scott. Scott also ranks 5th in his past 24 rounds on Strokes Gained: Putting on Fast Bentgrass and has the short game these days that could help him contend in a major.

Since his win in 2013, Scott’s history at The Masters has been spotty. He has some poor finishes alongside a T9 in 2017 and a T18 in 2019. He’s been playing some solid golf this season, finishing T8 at the Waste Management Phoenix Open and T19 at the Genesis Invitational.

(All photos in piece belong to LIV Golf)


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Opinion & Analysis

The 22 players who can win the Masters



Since 2013, I have created a filtering process to help determine the players who are most likely to win the green jacket based on criteria that have strongly predictive outcomes to success at Augusta. The list of players that can win at Augusta is usually filtered down to 20-24 players and in that time I have correctly shortlisted every Masters champion.

This includes last year’s winner, Jon Rahm. Even though Rahm essentially walked away with the green jack and did not make it very close, there were some close calls on top of the leaderboard as I had filtered out Phil Mickelson (t-2nd) and Patrick Reed (t-4th) as the LIV Tour is still behind on providing advanced analytics for their tour. Russell Henley was also filtered out and finished t-4th, five strokes from Rahm’s winning score of 276.

If you’re watching at home, the “critical holes” that will likely determine the top finishers will be holes No. 7, 8, 11 and 13. The 11th hole is projected to be the most critical of holes as over the past five Masters the top players have gained nearly a 1.5 strokes for the tournament on that hole alone.

Just like last year’s column I will get the LIV Tour players I’ve filtered out of the way. Since LIV Tour does not provide ShotLink or Trackman data, it’s more of a guessing game as to how certain LIV Tour golfers are playing. I did utilize recent performance as well as performance at Mayakoba and Doral as they were two former PGA Tour courses that have some semblance of crossover to playing Augusta.

Phil Mickelson
Thorbjorn Olesen
Charl Schwartzel
Cameron Smith
Bubba Watson

Admittedly Cameron Smith and Phil Mickelson are hard to leave out, but both have not played well as of late.

Next, I filtered out the amateurs and all first-time professional attendees. The Masters has only been won three times by a first-time attendee: Fuzzy Zoeller was the last to win in 1979. Prior to Zoeller though, it was Horton Smith in the inaugural event in 1934 followed by Gene Sarazen in 1935

Ludvig Aberg
Akshay Bhatia
Wyndham Clark
Eric Cole
Santiago de la Fuente (a)
Nick Dunlap
Austin Eckroat
Stewart Hagestad (a)
Ryo Hisatsune
Lee Hodges
Nicolai Hojgaard
Stephan Jaeger
Jake Knapp
Christo Lamprecht (a)
Peter Malnati
Denny McCarthy
Grayson Murray
Matthieu Pavon
Adam Schenk
Neal Shipley (a)
Jasper Stubbs (a)

Out of the first time invitees the data likes Ludvig Aberg and Eric Cole to play the best at Augusta National.

I also filter out old Masters champions that I do not believe can get into contention anymore.

Fred Couples
Jose Maria Olazabal
Vijay Singh
Mike Weir
Tiger Woods

Recency has a strong predictive value for player performance and missing the cut in the event in the prior week greatly reduces the likelihood of winning the following week compared to players that miss the cut, take a week off, and then play the following week. Therefore I filter out all players that missed the cut at the Valero Texas Open last week.

Byeong Hun An
Harris English
Rickie Fowler
Ryan Fox
Zach Johnson
Tom Kim
Erik van Rooyen
Camilo Villegas

I will also filter out the players that have never made the cut at the Masters:

Kurt Kitayama
Adrian Meronk

A Tradition Unlike Any Other…

Augusta National has traditionally favored longer hitters and even moreso in the past 20 years of the event. Of course there has been exceptions as in 2007 the short hitting Zach Johnson ended up winning the event.

Critics of my filtering system point out Johnson’s victory as a case for short hitters being able to win at Augusta, but they neglect the fact that Johnson’s victory came in historically low temperatures in the 40’s with wind gusts reaching 35 mph. That made the par-5’s almost unreachable in two shots and the course stressed wedge play and short game around the green where Zach had a sizable advantage.
It is projected to rain early on Thursday and then the weather is supposed to be sunny and warm for the rest of the week. It depends on how quickly the course dries up, but if it does dry out fairly quickly that will give the longer hitters the advantage as they will be able to reach certain par-5’s in two shots that the shorter hitters cannot reach if they don’t hit a quality tee shot and there may be par-5’s that some of the long hitters can reach in two shots with a short iron. Therefore I will filter out the following players due to a lack of distance off the tee:

Corey Conners
Lucas Glover
Emiliano Grillo
Brian Harman
Si Woo Kim
Chris Kirk
Shane Lowry
Colin Morikawa
JT Poston
Justin Rose
Sepp Straka

Out of these players the data likes Lowry and Morikawa the most. Both have good history at Augusta and they both just narrowly missed the distance benchmark set in the filter and both are excellent long iron players.

Last year I created a new formula to better determine ball height as Augusta has historically not taken too kindly to a low ball flight. Out of the 5 players filtered out for low ball flight using the new formula the best finish was only t-29th by Si Woo Kim. This year I’ve filtered out the following players.

Matthew Fitzpatrick
Sungjae Im
Luke List
Joaquin Niemann
Justin Thomas

Every year I filter out the poor performers on approach shots from 175-225 yards as Augusta National puts a lot of stress on those shots. Last year I filtered out nine players and three of them missed the cut with only Jordan Spieth finishing in the top-15 (t-4th) as the rest of the players were never a threat.

Here are the golfers I’m filtering out due to poor play from 175-225 yards:

Patrick Cantlay
Cameron Davis
Jason Day
Tommy Fleetwood
Russell Henley
Max Homa
Rory McIlroy
Jordan Spieth
Nick Taylor

Rory had a nice outing at the Valero Texas Open and hit his irons better there, but appears to be struggling with a leftward miss. Other than that, Rory still has the game to win his first green jacket. Henley is usually one of the better iron players on Tour, but he has struggled this season from 175-225 yards and is a short hitter anyway.

I will also filter out Danny Willett as he is coming off injury and making his comeback at the Masters.

That leaves the 22 players that can win the Masters:

Keegan Bradley (150/1)
Sam Burns (60/1)
Bryson DeChambeau (25/1)
Tony Finau (50/1)
Sergio Garcia (100/1)
Adam Hadwin (175/1)
Tyrrell Hatton (80/1)
Viktor Hovland (35/1)
Dustin Johnson (40/1)
Brooks Koepka (16/1)
Min Woo Lee (70/1)
Hideki Matsuyama (20/1)
Taylor Moore (300/1)
Jon Rahm (12/1)
Patrick Reed (80/1)
Xander Schauffele (18/1)
Scottie Scheffler (4/1)
Adam Scott (100/1)
Sahith Theegala (50/1)
Gary Woodland (250/1)
Cameron Young (50/1)
Will Zalatoris (35/1)

Here’s my personal top-10 picks:

Keegan Bradley (150/1)
Sam Burns (60/1)
Bryson DeChambeau (35/1)
Tony Finau (50/1)
Viktor Hovland (35/1)
Dustin Johnson (40/1)
Hideki Matsuyama (20/1)
Jon Rahm (12/1)
Xander Schauffele (18/1)
Scottie Scheffler (4/1)

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