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Let’s put an end to the term “women’s golf clubs”

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As someone who works in the golf industry and writes about equipment, but who has also worked as a clubfitter and club builder, I believe there is one part of the vernacular we need to eliminate—the idea of “women’s clubs.”

“Women’s golf clubs” have been around for as long golf clubs have been marketed, and for a period of time, like so many things I’m sure, they had a significant purpose: helping female players find what they needed to hopefully improve their golf games. But in this modern era of club fitting and customization, I think we need to put an end to identifying clubs by sex.

I remember my experience at the Titleist Performance Institute, and one of the first things I was told by my fitter Glenn Mahler was

“I don’t fit clubs based on gender, age, handicap, or physical abilities. I fit clubs for golfers, period—to allow them to achieve their absolute best results”

I believe this is the best way for people to start thinking more about the segments of clubs made for players across the board. Male golfers don’t walk into a big box store and say “I’m looking for men’s clubs,” they say “I’m looking for clubs,” and then they get fit. If a female long drive golfer (yes, I realize it’s a small market segment) walked into most big box stores and asks to try a driver, I’m willing to guess that 90 percent of the time someone is going to give them a very poor fitting club based solely on sex—and that’s wrong.

This is where the custom club fitting industry has been ahead of the curve for a long time. Golfers, regardless of sex, walk in with clubs. They are assessed, and then a fitting begins. I have built enough clubs to know that sex is not a discussion point when building a set. This is also where OEMs need to start figuring out ways to better communicate options instead of just offering some clubs in different color options.

Yes, there are OEMs that make wonderful sets of clubs designed exclusively for women—one of the best is Ping and its G Le series. Ping is currently in the second generation of the series, but the first generation G Le driver even won a major championship thanks to Pernilla Lindberg at the ANA Inspiration. But for some manufacturers, beyond a different shaft and grip options, there really isn’t anything else that makes the club itself truly different—and if we are just talking a shaft change, that can be made through custom order.

So, why call it a women’s club?

One of the best examples of building a unisex brand is Accra Golf shafts. They don’t identify their shafts by stiff and regular, they identify by a numeric code from M1-M5+. It’s extremely helpful for a couple of reasons, not just with women but with men in need of a softer flex (there always seems to be a lot of ego involved for some reason). It’s a lot easier to say “you are an M1 or an M2” rather than “sir, you need senior flex shaft”

As the demographics in golf continue to evolve—don’t forget women are still the fastest-growing segment of the golf population—I believe that more companies will be taking notice, and soon we won’t be talking about women’s clubs anymore.

I discussed the subject of “women’s golf clubs” on my podcast, On Spec, which you can check out below.

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Ryan Barath 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.

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The 19th Hole Episode 161: On the road again

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Host Michael Williams shares the details of his first long trip since the pandemic, including a round at Torrey Pines and time with Bob Vokey.

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Club Junkie

Club Junkie: Cleveland RTX ZipCore Full-Face and Flightscope Mevo+ Reviews

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Cleveland’s new RTX ZipCore Full-Face has been in the bag for a couple of weeks now. Super easy to hit flop shots and other higher lofted shots. Shape is great, compact, and traditional, with good feel and tons of spin. The Flightscope Mevo+ is the larger brother of the personal launch monitors. Good accurate data and easy-to-use software make it worth the money.

 

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Opinion & Analysis

The Wedge Guy: Lessons from Tin Cup

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I hope you all had an enjoyable Memorial Day weekend and took time to give solemn thanks to those true American heroes who gave all for our freedom over the many years past. We are all so very blessed to live in this great country, and the protectors of those freedoms are the most honored and blessed that have walked among us. We all owe them an unfathomable debt of gratitude.

I finished the weekend with my umpteenth watching of the classic golf movie, “Tin Cup.” I’m sure you all know it well.
So, just for fun, I thought I would extricate from that dramatic human tragedy/comedy some real lessons that we all might learn from this tale of Roy McAvoy, Texas driving range pro who achieves immortality of sorts by contending in his first U.S. Open and making the most mystical 12 on the final hole, which cost him the victory but secured his place in U.S. Open history. Or did it?

So here are my favorite takeaways from “Tin Cup”

  1. The value of true friendships. Throughout the movie, Roy’s friends are behind him, beside him and with him, not the least of which is his best friend and caddy, Romeo. When all the world seems against you, it is your true friends who support you and hold you up, giving you strength and resolve to fight through your “demons”, whether that be a case of the shanks, like Roy faced, or any other challenging times in your life. We should all frequently stop and thank our truest friends and supporters for being there for us.
  2. There’s always a way to succeed. When Roy loses it at the regional qualifier and breaks all his clubs – except for his trusty 7-iron – he finds a way to get it home with only that one club. Of course, I would never recommend that drastic a measure, but the point is that when the chips are down – whether on the golf course or in life – it is wise to fall back on that old adage, “dance with who brung you”. When faced with difficulty, find an “old reliable” to fall back on. On the golf course it might mean going to your 3-wood on a bad driving day, or hitting bump and runs when your wedge play is sketchy. But in life, that might mean your spouse, a best friend, parent or sibling. There’s always a way.
  3. It’s all about the challenge…and having fun. A particularly funny scene is when Roy chooses to hit a bank shot off the portable toilet, rather than take a safe shot chipping out to the fairway. None of us are playing for the U.S. Open, so why not let go once in a while and try something crazy — just for FUN!
  4. Go for it! Roy came to the final hole with a chance to win the U.S. Open, but he chose to pursue his own even higher challenge – reaching the final green in two shots to set a U.S. Open scoring record. You all remember that final scene, where he dunks ball after ball into the pond fronting the green, before coming to the last ball in his bag. And with that one, he holes out for the most spectacular 12 in U.S. Open history.

Of course, this movie is all complete fiction, and we who know this game realize that the odds against something like that ever happening are astronomically high. But the movie is great fun, not serious at all, and completely entertaining.
And isn’t that what golf is supposed to be? FUN! And entertaining. And challenging. Aand rewarding, by the flashes of brilliance we all get to experience — BUT ONLY IF WE “GO FOR IT!”

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