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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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News

Morning 9: Pelley denies PGA Tour alliance spells doom | No fans for Farmers | Weiskopf on Rory

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By Ben Alberstadt
Email me at [email protected]; and find me on Twitter and Instagram.
December 1, 2020
Good Tuesday morning, golf fans. Welcome to the final month of 2020.
1. Pelley insists…
As he does better than anyone in the business, Geoff Shackelford provided context for and picked from the newswire items related to notable story…in this case, the surprise European/PGA Tour “strategic alliance…”
  • “Chief Executive Colorfully Coordinated sported a less-than-comforting black-on-black motif for Friday’s hastily-arranged Zoom to spin the European Tour’s “landmark strategic alliance” with the PGA Tour. “
  • “Based on the reports by those partaking in the call, Keith Pelley remained light on details about the surprising Thanksgiving Friday announcement. Skepticism was in order given that it’s traditionally a day reserved for only Grade A, First Team, All-World news dumps.”
  • “The Daily Mail’s Derek Lawrenson noted the 72 hour mention by Pelley and suggested the announcement was meant to torpedo an upcoming announcement.”
  • “The alliance has been years in the making but came together in the space of 72 hours as both tours look to kill off the upstart Saudi-backed Premier Golf League.”
2. No fans for Farmers
Golf Channel Digital team…”The Farmers Insurance Open will be contested without spectators because of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, it was announced on Monday. The event is scheduled for Jan. 28-31 at Torrey Pines Golf Course in San Diego, California.”
  • “We recognize that COVID-19 requires dramatic modifications to the operations of our annual event,” said Marty Gorsich, CEO of the Century Club, a non-profit organization that operates the event. “We have been working closely with the PGA Tour as well as the county and city of San Diego in our planning. The safety and well-being of everyone affiliated with the Farmers Insurance Open and our community remains our top priority. While we will certainly miss the energy our fans bring to Torrey, we remain focused on delivering a PGA Tour competition that showcases the best players in the game set against the backdrop of one of the most storied courses in the world.”
3. Lincicome positive for COVID-19
Golf Channel Digital team…”Brittany Lincicome has withdrawn from this week’s Volunteers of America Classic after testing positive for COVID-19.”
  • “Lincicome made an announcement on Instagram last week, saying”
  • “Although I have been very cautious, unfortunately I have tested positive for COVID-19. My husband and baby girl are both negative. I am now self-isolating and working on contract tracing with all those I have been in contact with. I have mild symptoms but am very disappointed to have to withdraw from the Volunteers of America Classic. I will be isolating at home until it is safe to resume my schedule. I wish everyone the best of luck and look forward to when I can return to playing on Tour.”
4. The odds of DJ playing this week never great…
“The Golf Channel’s Brentley Romine: “The Masters champion is deciding to extend his post-Augusta break.”
  • “Dustin Johnson announced Friday that he will not be teeing it up in next week’s Mayakoba Golf Classic, the final PGA Tour event of the year.”
  • “After much careful thought, I have made the difficult decision to withdraw,” Johnson said…”My mind and body are telling me it’s time for a break, so I look forward to sending some much-needed time at home with Paulina and the boys. I know this is disappointing news and I sincerely apologize to all my friends involved with the tournament.”
GolfWRX Recommends 
One for the Memory Banks is part Final Rounds, part Dewsweepers, part To the Linksland, and part Rick Reilly—and 100% one of the best golf books you’ll ever read! This hilarious and heartfelt travelogue features stories of golf and friendship. If you’ve played golf in the UK, One for the Memory Banks will connect with you on so many levels—if you haven’t, this book will have you calling your travel agent!
Great gift for the holidays!
GolfWRX may earn a commission on sales of “GolfWRX Recommends” products.
5. Weiskopf on Rory
Adam Schupak talked with the venerable Tom Weiskopf about a range of subjects, including his belief that Rory McIlroy has caught the disease of complacency…
“I look at Rory McIlroy and I think golf is something just for Rory to do. I’ve said it for a while now that I don’t think he’ll win much more than the four he’s got or maybe five because I don’t see that determination and will to be the best. I think it is there in Dustin Johnson. I think he finally figured it out and this could propel him to win all four in one year.”
  • “GW: What is it about Rory that makes you think golf is just something “to do” for him?”
  • “TW: I don’t know what it is. Maybe the way he interviews. I don’t see any frustration. Life is good and it should be – he’s a multi, multi-millionaire and has a kid now – but I don’t see the Tiger attitude. It’s like he’s satisfied all the time. The guy is not a good putter…. I know Rory works out but I bet if you watched them both work out, Rory would be a lot of laughs and giggles and Dustin would be balls to the wall and forcing a little bit more on himself and that’s what he’s done. The way that he’s played this year, who the hell can beat this guy?”
6. Over 100k rounds played, but the city of London golf still loses $150k due to COVID-19
Brent Lale for CTV…”Tee sheets were packed nearly every day from opening to close after the courses opened in the middle of May. However starting two months later than expected made it difficult to make up lost revenue.
  • “We thought we would lose about $150,000 this year and we think we will be in and around those numbers,”” says McGonigle.
  • “Staggered tee times are usually at 8 minutes, and we began at 12 minutes. That’s about 360 people per day across four courses. With food and beverage and retail impacted it’s a difficult ground to make up.”
  • “The city says River Road Golf Club would have lost money even though the demand for golf was through the roof. Many city members were frustrated and even organized protests to object to the closure.”
7. Sirak: End of a long strange trip
Ron Sirak for LPGA.com…”In a month in which it wasn’t supposed to be playing, this week’s Volunteers of America Classic at The Colony near Dallas exemplifies adaptability and determination. Originally scheduled for Oct. 1-4, the VOA Classic changed dates, modified its format to exclude spectators and still provides women with what it is all about – opportunity.   “VOA serves on the frontlines of our nation’s COVID-19 response, helping those most at risk during the pandemic,” said Volunteers of America National President Mike King. “We know how important it is to take all necessary precautions to keep people safe, and holding this year’s tournament without spectators was the best thing to do.”
8. New leadership for Ping Europe 
Bunkered.co report…”Long-serving Ping Europe Managing Director, John Clark, will step down from his role at the end of this year, with current General Manager, Lisa Lovatt, taking up the position.”
  • “Lovatt, 51, will begin her new role on 1st January, with full responsibility for all of Ping Europe’s operations in Gainsborough, Cheadle and the four PING offices in Europe. She will report directly to PING Chairman and CEO, John Solheim.”
9. End-of-2020 call for submissions at GolfWRX
A new call for submissions at GolfWRX: Have your voice heard on the largest golf news website that publishes reader contributions!
Learn about the Featured Writer program in general, what we’re looking for with this call in particular, and how to easily submit your writing for publication.
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Equipment

The coolest wedge stampings on the PGA Tour (RSM Classic Edition)

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Wedge stampings are the eye-popping garnish on the glorious plates of golf equipment. Maybe this isn’t exactly the right metaphor, because, well, the parsley (wedge stamp) isn’t as mouth-water as the Wagyu (wedge), but you get the point…right?

Anyway, let’s look at some wedges from the RSM Classic a couple of weeks ago and see what stampings and paintfills the pros were showcasing at Sea Island.

You may not know Anthony Cordes, but surely you’ll want to add him to your shortlist of players to passionately root for after seeing this Wedding Crashers-inspired wedge.

Bo Van Pelt is a fairly cool dude. That usually happens if your name is “Bo”—the nomenclature brings with it a certain je ne sais quoi. When you’ve got initials that sound great together—BVP—you don’t need to add any unnecessary elements to the recipe.

We’ll assume Anastissia and Victoria are Brendan Steele’s daughters, and not that he has an appreciation for royalty of antiquity. Cool stamping with the pink-filled dots.

Look past David Hearn gaming 2011 TaylorMade TP MC irons to the lead tape and stamping on his SM4 (!) wedges. The Canadian knows what he likes!

Similar to the proposition raised in the Bo Van Pelt section: “Hank” is a fairly cool name. If you’re referred to as such, get it stamped on your wedge and call it a day.

Jhonattan Vegas’ Mizuno irons always feature tidy “JV” stamping, and he’s extended the treatment to his prototype Artisan wedges, which are peeking out below.

Also on the Mizuno front, Lucas Glover has his JPX 919 irons stamped with his initials (no paintfill—nastiness), but his 52-degree wedge feature the loft it is bent to (54 degrees)—a classic stamping.

Michael Gligic was the only “MG” in the RSM Classic field, so we’re assuming these are his wedges. They could, however, be stamped with someone with a real affinity for the model.

See more photos from the RSM Classic here. 

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Morning 9: Bezuidenhout wins Alfred Dunhill | Casey’s Saudi about-face | Jon Rahm a father-to-be

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By Ben Alberstadt
Email me at [email protected]; and find me on Twitter and Instagram.
November 30, 2020
Good Monday morning, golf fans. Happy to be back with all of you, and I hope Thanksgiving was filled with both good food and gratitude.
1. Bezuidenhout wins at Leopard Creek
EuropeanTour.com report…”Christiaan Bezuidenhout claimed his second European Tour title as a brilliantly composed bogey-free back nine of 34 handed him a four shot victory at the 2020 Alfred Dunhill Championship.”
  • “The home favourite entered the final day at Leopard Creek Country Club three shots off the lead and despite making a double and a bogey on the front nine to turn in 35, he had trimmed that gap to one at the turn.”
  • “As the rest of the leading contenders fought for their maiden victories, Bezuidenhout then used all of his experience to card three birdies on the way home in a 69 to finish at 14 under, clear of England’s Richard Bland, American Sean Crocker, Pole Adrian Meronk and South African Jayden Schaper.”
2. Rahms expecting
Golf Channel’s Brentley Romine…”Jon Rahm had a little extra to be thankful for this Thanksgiving.”
  • “Sure, the 26-year-old won twice and reached No. 1 in the world for the first time, but that wasn’t why. Instead, Rahm revealed Friday via social media that he and his wife, Kelley, are expecting their first child.”
  • “Feeling extra grateful this year, Happy Thanksgiving from us and our growing family!” said Rahm, who didn’t disclose any other details.
3. Casey’s about-face on Saudi Arabia
Golfweek’s Tim Schmitt…”Paul Casey responded to those attacking him for hypocrisy after he previously stood strong against playing in Saudi Arabia — and now has agreed to play there in 2021.”
  • …“This is not a decision I’ve taken lightly. I wasn’t comfortable going in the past, but I have always been open-minded and willing to learn. I believe sport has the power to affect change. I’ve listened to the Saudi’s commitment to this and their vision for the future,” Casey said in a statement released to Golfweek a few other select members of the media.
  • “They have successfully hosted two professional ladies tournaments which shows that Golf Saudi have big plans not only for professional golf, but more so for grassroots and the next generation.”
4. Pedersen’s treble
Golfweek’s JuliaKate E. Culpepper…”It’s been a good November for Emily Kristine Pedersen.”
  • “Following rounds of 68-71-68, Denmark’s Pedersen shot a final-round 66 to win the Ladies European Tour’s Andalucia Open De Espana Sunday at 15 under — her third straight win.”
  • “Pedersen, 24, was coming off a pair of wins at The Saudi Ladies Team International at Royal Greens Golf & Country in Saudi Arabia.”
GolfWRX Recommends
One for the Memory Banks is part Final Rounds, part Dewsweepers, part To the Linksland, and part Rick Reilly—and 100% one of the best golf books you’ll ever read! This hilarious and heartfelt travelogue features stories of golf and friendship. If you’ve played golf in the UK, One for the Memory Banks will connect with you on so many levels—if you haven’t, this book will have you calling your travel agent!
Great gift for the holidays!
GolfWRX may earn a commission on sales of “GolfWRX Recommends” products.
5. Are Masters, U.S. Open ratings concerning?
Tim Schmitt at Golfweek with explanations for the…incredibly modest…ratings for the majors in general.
  • “The jumbled schedule didn’t help…The schedule we’ve all come to know and expect is the schedule for a reason. April is the perfect time to kick off the golf season and the Masters sees little competition in its familiar time slot. The U.S. Open has similarly enjoyed success due to its traditional Father’s Day placement and a fairly free spot on the sports calendar…”
  • “Football is still king…When it was announced that times for the Masters would be moved up to ensure there was little or no overlap with major college football games and the late NFL matchups, some golf purists were miffed…”
  • “More platforms, more splintering…Although CBS’ numbers for the PGA Championship were down, ESPN’s early coverage of the event saw a 35 percent increase in viewership and the largest average on cable since 2010.”
6. McGinley on PGA Tour/Euro alliance
Paul McGinley, who is looking quite impressive in his SkySports headshot, writes…”I think it’s the right partnership for the European Tour and I think it’s the right partnership for golf. There’s a long way to go, but I really do believe this is the beginning of something that’s the right thing for our sport.”
  • “The view that most people within the game would have is that there are too many governing bodies within the sport. This is the first real big step in tying everything together, which I think is something that golf needs.”
  • …”Three of the four major championships are played in America every year and a lot of the World Golf Championships have migrated back to the USA. I think the players can eventually expect, hopefully from a European point of view, a more international flavour to the world’s best events.”
7. Why Charles Barkley thought Phil was a bartender
Nick Piastowski for Golf.com…”Barkley had just been traded from the Philadelphia 76ers to the Phoenix Suns. Mickelson had just turned pro. And Mickelson’s then-girlfriend-now-wife, Amy, was a Suns cheerleader who wanted the two to meet.”
  • …”She says to me, ‘Will you play golf with my boyfriend, Phil?’ I’m like, ‘Yeah, yeah, OK.’”
  • “She says, ‘You going to play golf with my boyfriend, Phil?’” Barkley said. “I’m like, ‘Yeah, I’ll play golf with your boyfriend, Phil.’”
  • “Three months go by. Still nothing.”
  • “She says, ‘Are you ever going to play golf with my boyfriend, Phil?’” Barkleys said. “I’m like, ‘OK, Amy, I like you. What’s the deal? What’s his name?’ She said, ‘Phil Mickelson.’
  • “I said, ‘What? You going out with Phil Mickelson?’ I said, ‘Amy in the future, you start out with my boyfriend, Phil Mickelson. I thought you were going out with Phil the bartender. I would have canceled everything I was doing to go play golf with the great Phil Mickelson. But she started out with, ‘My boyfriend, Phil.’ How the hell am I supposed to know his last name is Mickelson.”
8. Bezuidenhout’s winning WITB
Driver: Callaway Epic Flash Sub Zero (8.5 degrees)
Shaft: Mitsubishi Diamana DF 60 TX
3-wood: Callaway Epic Flash Sub Zero (15 degrees)
Shaft: Mitsubishi Diamana DF 70 TX
Hybrid: Callaway Mavrik Pro (19 degrees)
Irons: Callaway X Forged ’18 (4-PW)
Shaft: KBS Tour 125 S+
Wedges: Callaway Mack Daddy Forged (50, 54, 60 degrees)
Shafts: True Temper Dynamic Gold S400
Putter: Odyssey Works Big T #5
Ball: Titleist Pro V1
9. End-of-2020 call for submissions at GolfWRX
A new call for submissions at GolfWRX: Have your voice heard on the largest golf news website that publishes reader contributions!
Learn about the Featured Writer program in general, what we’re looking for with this call in particular, and how to easily submit your writing for publication.
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