Tuesday, February 26, 2008

The Fallacy of Club Adjustability

I commend the big brands in finding new ways to pick the pockets of the average golfer.

In 2007, the USGA, decided to establish a new rule on club adjustability It allows for woods and irons to be developed with interchangeable heads, variable shafts and even customizable lengths, lofts and weights. If you read the trade ads you’d think just by buying one of these fancy new adjustable clubs, your score will drop by 10 strokes. Nonsense.

Yet that is basically what the TaylorMades, Nikes and Nickent Golfs are saying: buy this over-priced, over-hyped, adjustable golf club with a patented new connector that lets you pull out one shaft and replace it with another and presto, you’re on your way to becoming a scratch golfer.

On the surface this might seem like a great idea until you check out the price tag for this new fangled technology. It wasn’t enough to make us buy the latest TaylorMade r7 or Callaway FT-i driver for $599. No sir, now, to get this latest technological leap forward into our bags we must cough up $1000 for TaylorMade’s “Tour Van in a Box” that contains a driver head and three graphite shafts.

Yet it doesn’t end there.

To make sure that we’d never put a non-TaylorMade shaft into their fancy head, a proprietary connector is needed. This will assure that you only buy the expensive shafts from the company even though you could buy the same shaft, without the connector, for less. Even if we did end up buying one of these fancy drivers, we still couldn’t swap out the shaft in the middle of a round. No no that would be illegal. That can only occur between rounds.

Every year the equipment manufacturers look for new ways to separate golfers from their money and we oblige them by purchasing billions of dollars of new equipment annually. This year’s technological leap du jour is adjustable shafts. If you remember last year’s flavor it was adjustable weights. Next year maybe they will let us use those laser-guided putters.

Frank Thomas, the inventor of the graphite shaft and the GOLF CHANNEL's Chief Technical Advisor weighed in a few weeks ago “I don't think the USGA has thought this out to the extent it should have and instead jumped on something, which in the short term is going to please the manufacturers who are looking for something to stimulate their lagging sales.”

I’ll say this again like I’ve said it so many times in the past: take that $1000 and buy yourself some lessons or get your clubs custom fit. These options are much more likely to lower your score than a fancy adjustable-shafted driver.

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At 12:36 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi, I just bought a lot of golf equipment (Nike Driver, Datrek Golf Bag and some Collegiate Headcovers) from a great golf web site, Golf Headquarters. They also have a great article about these new drivers that have interchangeable shafts, just go to www.golfhq.com and then click Product News at the top left of the home page. Its unbiased and very informational.

Just FYI, they have a huge selection, especially for collegiate golf gear and headcovers and they always have great deals. I highly recommend checking out their site!

At 1:01 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for posting about that article on the www.golfhq.com site, its very informative and non-biased. Although I do agree that its mainly for the 0-5 handicappers right now. Maybe 5-10 years from now it'll come down in price and be more available to us 20 handicappers. But for now its mostly for the very padded wallets and the scratch players who love to tinker with their equipment. I don't think anyone expects to drop 10 shots by purchasing any new driver but hey if I could hit a few more fairways a round because of this new technology than why not give it a shot. One thing most people don't realize that if you love to play Callaway you'll only have to buy the new head each year once you've found the shaft that fits you best. In the long run the cost could come down in a situation like that. Only time will tell with this new technology, even if its not for everyone just yet I still think anything that causes a new buzz about the game of golf is a great thing!


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