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An inside look at the world of golf club design

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The design process has always fascinated me, especially when it comes to golf clubs.

The ability to create something new while also making them distinctly recognizable within a brand is impressive. The most parallel comparison I can draw would be in the car industry, where new models are released on a yearly basis that both look familiar yet refined. Add in the technological improvements, and you create something worth upgrading to.

The keyword here is “improvement,” because when OEMs release new equipment, the ultimate questions from golfers are “How is this better, and how can it help my game?” There is no doubt we are seeing advancements in technology, but whether those advancements are designed for you or a different segment of golfers is up the engineers behind the products. I have had the opportunity to speak with designers and engineers from multiple OEMs, and they all have a few things in common.

Obviously, nobody is trying to design a worse-performing golf club, and the process to create something new always starts with goal setting.

Pulling levers and reaching goals

Like with any engineering project, end goals are mapped out, with performance and looks as key factors in the success of the project. Thanks to computer modeling, and a deep understanding of materials, it’s not overly difficult for engineers to design to the far outreaches of what’s possible—but the difference between possible and playable is massive.

For example, we have seen extremely low spin drivers enter the market and help golfers hit it further, but to build that Center of Gravity (CG) location into a driver, you have to sacrifice forgiveness. On the other end of the spectrum, you can create a driver that goes very straight with higher MOI but then you lose the potential to maximize distance – its a fine balancing act and engineers are very good at pulling the right levers to balance performance depending on the target demographic.

So to answer one of the questions from the top “how is this better?”, in some individual cases it might actually not be, it could be that a previous generation had all the design characteristics to perfectly match your game. That doesn’t mean designers haven’t actually created a better club, it just means that it’s not better for you!

One of the best examples is in modern-day fairway woods. Unlike drivers where the end goal is to continue to drive the ball as far as possible, with a fairway wood it is a fine balancing act between distance and control. A 3-wood that goes as far as your driver off the tee doesn’t make a lot of sense since you already had a driver, and if it can’t be hit from the fairway, then you are basically wasting a spot in your bag.

Who’s driving the technology?

When we look at the golf industry as a whole, it is a substantial economic driver, but compared to other industries that rely on using the same raw materials to produce products, golf is just a tiny fraction of that business. No other part of the industry better exemplifies this than golf shafts.

They are made from exotic raw materials, including various forms of carbon fiber that can be quite expensive, but when you compare the types and amounts of carbon fiber used in golf shafts versus commercial and military aviation applications, then golf is obviously a very small player. This is why we see golf shaft companies utilizing materials from the aviation industry—the most recent example is the ProjectX RDX line of shafts which uses HexTow® carbon fibers to add more stability to the already extremely stable line of HZRDUS Smoke shafts. Although you might have never heard of Hexcel before this, to put them into perspective, they topped over $3.25 billion dollars in sales last year–that’s near twice the sales of Callaway’s entire portfolio.

Photo by S. Ramadier – Airbus

The same goes for club heads. Maraging steel, for example, which is used in both fairway woods and even some iron faces, wasn’t developed for golf clubs, it was developed in the 1950s, and was primarily used in military applications including rocket casings. We still use it today even though it was developed in the age or persimmon woods—How’s that for a mind-bender?

 

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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.

6 Comments

6 Comments

  1. Tank

    Sep 23, 2020 at 10:46 am

    “Obviously, nobody is trying to design a worse-performing golf club, and the process to create something new always starts with goal setting.”

    IE: Marketing!!

  2. Greg

    Sep 23, 2020 at 9:58 am

    Quote from Near the beginning “ is up the engineers behind”. Seems like it often is ????

  3. Carolyn

    Sep 22, 2020 at 12:20 pm

    Low cost club design, you go to a club manufacture in China and tell them you want iron heads that are basically copies of a major OEM (they may make the head for them) use cheaper material stamp a name on it and export it. done.

  4. Thomas A

    Sep 22, 2020 at 9:49 am

    Are you kidding me? You are seriously calling this an article on club design?

    • Rwj

      Sep 22, 2020 at 7:17 pm

      Little on the lite side for sure

    • A. Commoner

      Sep 22, 2020 at 8:39 pm

      It reads like an introduction to a real news flash.

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GolfWRX Classifieds (10/22/20): Adams MB2, Olson putter, Titleist TS3 head

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At GolfWRX, we love golf equipment plain and simple

We are a community of like-minded individuals that all experience and express our enjoyment for the game in many ways. It’s that sense of community that drives day-to-day interactions in the forums on topics that range from best driver to what marker you use to mark your ball, it even allows us to share another thing – the equipment itself.

One of the best ways to enjoy equipment is to experiment and whether you are looking to buy-sell-or trade (as the name suggests) you can find almost anything in the GolfWRX BST Forum. From one-off custom Scotty Cameron Circle T putters, to iron sets, wedges, and barely hit drivers, you can find it all in our constantly updated marketplace.

These are some of the latest cool finds from the GolfWRX BST, and if you are curious about the rules to participate in the BST Forum you can check them out here: GolfWRX BST Rules

Member Bradh972 – Adams raw MB irons

A set of Adams MB2 in this condition doesn’t come up that often – these are highly sought after and considered the peak of Adams golf irons.

To see the full listing and additional pictures check out the link here: Adams MB 

Member ThatCAGolfer – Olson Legacy putter

Made in America, one at a time, Olson putters are some of the nicest around. Now here is your chance to snag one for an attractive price in brand new condition.

To see the full listing and additional pictures check out the link here: Olson Putter

Member Taylormadehunter1 – Titleist TS3 driver head

With the announcement of the new TSi Series from Titleist, you can expect to see more TS driver on the market and for a great price. This TS3 head comes with extra weights and is hot melted, and ready to go.

To see the full listing and additional pictures check out the link here: TS3 driver head

Remember that you can always browse the GolfWRX Classifieds any time here in our forums: GolfWRX Classifieds

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What players really think about fan-less events | dam Scott positive for COVID-19 | PGA Merch Show to be virtual

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By Ben Alberstadt
Email me at [email protected]
October 22, 2020 
 
Good Thursday morning, golf fans. May you own the home stretch of your weeks the way Henrik Stenson’s did the “Dreams” Challenge.
1. What players really think about fan-less events
The Undercover Caddie (yes, I know some readers think UC is fake news, but I believe the source is a legitimate one)…
  • “What’s it like on tour without fans? You came to the right place. I’ve seen what the players have said, and though I’m not calling them liars, they aren’t being honest, either. In their defense, what are players supposed to say? We’re glad fans are at home. They’re pests. This makes our jobs so less demanding. Come on. No one is that boneheaded.”
  • “Listen, everyone misses fans. Most players are alphas; they enjoy entertaining you, and there’s no drug that feels as good as doing what you love and getting loved for it. On the caddie front, no one ever accused us of being introverted souls. But the fact is, life at the golf course is easier without spectators.”
2. Adam Scott positive for COVID-19
BBC report…”Former world number one Adam Scott has pulled out of this week’s Zozo Championship in California after testing positive for coronavirus.”
  • “The PGA Tour confirmed on Wednesday that the 40-year-old Australian will not play at the Sherwood Country Club.”
  • “Scott said his “focus now is on recovery” for the rest of the season.”
  • “In a statement, the PGA Tour said Scott “will have the PGA Tour’s full support throughout his self-isolation period under CDC guidelines”.
3. Mickelson nervous for fans in Houston
ESPN’s Bob Harig..”Mickelson said Wednesday he might skip the tournament, which announced last week it would be the first PGA Tour event in the United States to allow spectators, capped at 2,000 per day.”
  • “I think that they will do a very good, safe job in having 2,000 people at the Houston Open,” Mickelson said at Sherwood Country Club, where he is playing in this week’s Zozo Championship. “However, for me personally, I don’t like the risk that having that happen the week before the Masters. I just feel like the week before the Masters, like that’s a big tournament we have and I just don’t want to have any risk heading in there.”
  • “So it has made me question whether or not I’ll play there. But then I have to give the Tour a lot of credit and confidence in the way that they’ve handled the entire year and I’m sure they’re going to do a great job at keeping the players safe in that environment.”
  • “But because I haven’t seen it before, because it’s the first one out on the Tour with some people, I’m unsure and I don’t want to take any unnecessary risks. I don’t go out to dinner, I don’t go out and socialize, because I want to make sure that I have an opportunity to compete in the Masters.”
4. PGA Merchandise Show will be virtual
Golfweek’s David Dusek…“In an announcement that should come as a surprise to almost no one, PGA Golf Exhibitions and the PGA of America announced on Wednesday that the 2021 PGA Merchandise Show will be an all-virtual event.”
  • “The three-day event held annually at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Florida, typically attracts more than 40,000 PGA of America professionals, manufacturers, media members and golf industry insiders. With the COVID-19 pandemic continuing throughout the United States and the rest of the world, the safety of everyone involved took precedence.”
5. No fans for USWO
From the Golf Channel Digital team…“The U.S. Women’s Open will be conducted without fans because of ongoing concerns about the coronavirus pandemic, the USGA announced Wednesday.”
  • “The Women’s Open, originally slated for early June, was rescheduled for Dec. 10-13 at Champions Golf Club in Houston.”
  • “Following extensive consultation with health officials, we have decided that hosting the U.S. Women’s Open without spectators will provide the best opportunity to conduct the championship safely for all involved,” said John Bodenhamer, the USGA’s senior managing director of championships. “While we are disappointed that we won’t be able to welcome fans and their unmatched energy at Champions Golf Club, we know this is the right decision for the community and players.”
6. Tiger talks distance debate in Zozo press conference
Golf Channel’s Rex Hoggard “…Whether the game’s rules makers should consider dialing back some of those gains, however, is a completely different question.  “[The rules makers] should have been worried a long time ago, but the genie’s out of the bag now,” Woods said. “It’s about what do we do going forward and how soon can they do it? You’re not going to stop the guys who are there right now. Guys are figuring out how to carry the ball 320-plus yards, and it’s not just a few of them.”
7. Record golf equipment sales 
Golf Digest’s Joel Beall…“Golf Datatech, an industry research firm, announced Wednesday that United States retail golf equipment sales surpassed the $1 billion mark for the third quarter. If that number sounds significant, it is, the first time sales in July, August and September have ever exceeded $1 billion in Q3, and serves as the second-highest quarter ($1.013 billion in Q2, 2008) of all-time.”
  • “For comparison, Q3 sales are up 42 percent over the same period last year, spurred by purchases of golf bags, wedges and irons.”
  • “The story keeps getting better as golf continues to surge coming out of the shutdown, and Q3 equipment sales suggests that 2020 will likely end up positive for the entire year,” said John Krzynowek of Golf Datatech. “While the US economy will not enjoy a ‘V Shaped Recovery’ in 2020, if golf continues on this trajectory we will be there soon.”
8. Tiger’s toughest test?
Golf Channel’s Rex Hoggard…“But the biggest challenge for Tiger may have nothing to do with the conditions or his uprooted schedule. Since the Tour’s restart in June, Woods, along with a few other players, have talked of how difficult it is to focus during rounds without fans at events and nowhere will that be more evident than at the Masters, a tournament defined by Sunday roars.”
  • “There’s no other place like it. It echos there, it travels,” he said. “When you know the pairings, you know where certain players would be at that particular time and you can figure out who’s doing what, and the roars for certain people are louder than others, and then you hear eagle roars and hole-outs on 16, or whatever it may be. It’s unlike any other place in the world.”
9. A thin slice of golf’s recent success pie
The Denver Post’s Kyle Frederickson…“Colorado’s golf renaissance is real.  Public golf courses operated by the City of Denver report a roughly 20-percent rise in rounds played this year and that’s despite being closed for several weeks due to the coronavirus. Ed Mate, executive director of the Colorado Golf Association, said: “I’ve heard from some private clubs, anecdotally, that they’ve increased their rounds by 100 percent in a given month.”  The CGA compiles an annual survey of public course operators, and prior to this year, the state averaged about 1.5 million-1.7 million rounds played. That number is about to rise, by a lot.”

 

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Tour Photo Galleries

Interesting photos from the Zozo Championship

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This week is the Zozo Championship at Sherwood Golf Club, and with most of the worlds top golfers including Tiger Woods playing and prepping for the November Masters, there is a lot going on around the range when it comes to gear and testing.

As a reminder, you can check out all of our photos in the GolfWRX forums.

New Fourteen irons and wedges

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The irons are a throwback to a classic “channel back” style iron with mass positioned towards the top and bottom of the face to increase vertical stability of the blade while also maintaining feel.

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Justin Rose with Artisan lob wedge

The little shop from Texas continues to make big waves with more wedges spotted on tour every week including in former world number 1 Justin Rose.

Xander Schauffele’s new Apex irons and testing putters on Quintic

Xander’s prototype Callaway Apex irons look a lot like the newly released 2021 X-Forged irons but with obvious Apex branding. We also can’t forget about putting, and it’s cool to see a Quintic high-speed camera system on the practice green getting players dialed in to launch conditions just like how they would for a driver.

Ricky using older generation Cobra Amp Cell Pro Irons

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If there is one thing pros love, it’s a set of older irons—they’re the golf equivalent of putting on a pair of comfy broken-in jeans. For Ricky and his custom Amp Cell Pro’s with tungsten toe inserts, there must be some magic there because he has previously used multiple newer sets of irons but continues to gravitate towards these.

Shigeki Maruyama testing new Bettinardi putter

Shigeki isn’t someone to shy away from testing putters, and this week he was spotted testing one of the new Bettinardi putters that debuted last week in Las Vegas at Shadow Creek.

Pros are “just like us” – Justin Thomas and Mac Hughes edition

Yes, tour pros are just like us except for the fact that they are exceptional golfers, but even JT likes help in his long game and has a Titleist T300 3-iron in the bag, and when it comes to breakfast Mackenzie Hughes happens to like ketchup with his breakfast sandwich—although personally, I’m anti-ketchup when it comes to breakfast sandwiches.

Mickelson testing older X-Hot 3Deep

We’ve heard rumblings, of Champions Tour terminator Phil Mickelson testing 47.5″ drivers in the name of speed and distance, but as a way to also have a “fairway finder” it appears that he is contemplating putting his old X-Hot 3Deep in play. (Being able to identify a multi-generations old fairway wood from a distance based on its paint scheme is part of the reason we are WRX)

Gary Woodland testing Ping G425 driver

With the launch of the Ping G425 woods on tour a few weeks ago, it’s no surprise to see more players testing them in prep for the Masters, and for the fact that, they are the next evolution of the well-loved Ping G410—Gary Woodland is no exception.

 

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