Thursday, August 04, 2005

Does the Gear Make the Golfer?

Does it even make a difference?

Do I strike the ball any better with a TaylorMade club? Do I sink more putts with a Titleist putter? Do I even hit the ball any farther with a ProV1? A big resounding NO.

At home, as I’ve mentioned, I play with all TaylorMade equipment. On the road, if I haven’t brought my clubs, I play with whatever rentals are available. At the nicer courses, I can sometimes get newer sets and the latest drivers and the big name brands. Most of the time, I get haphazardly assembled “sets” that look like they’ve seen more action than Paris Hilton. Often, they don’t have any kind of recognizable brand name on them if any at all. Yesterday, I even got a putter that appeared to be “Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts” brand. I still played right to my handicap.

I’m a fool, though. People told me I should just start with a cheaper set while I was learning the game. I was so immediately obsessed that I figured I’d invest in the better stuff right from the get go. Well, as I whittle away at my handicap, I’m whittling away my clubs and for all the difference it makes, they might as well have been from Target. They probably have some kind of replica driver with a head and face similar to my R580XD that I’d be just as happy using. Would I hit the ball any better or worse with it? NO.

Maybe it makes more of a difference to better players. You tell me. I’m guessing that by the time I get my handicap down to a single digit, my clubs will be ready for replacement. I’m already starting to rationalize the purchase of the latest and greatest and most hyped equipment when that day comes. I still haven’t learned my lesson as a beginner, though. I’m going to add some hybrids to my set soon, and I’m sure I won’t even consider going to Big5 to get them. I’ll be back down at GolfSmith or some proshop shelling out buckets of clams for the TaylorMades or Pings. Probably the TaylorMades just for aesthetics and continuity in my bag. Will they make me perform any better on the course? Well, better than my long irons I hope, but better than other hybrids? NO.

Speaking of bags, I “need” a couple new ones. A nice cart bag and a new stand bag because I’m not happy with mine. I think I want ones with a separate slot for each club, and I definitely want the ones with the protected slot for the putter. They need to have lots of pockets, maybe a designated umbrella holder and other fancy accessories.

Will any of this make me a better golfer? Say it with me… maybe.

Next post.


Erik @ The Sand Trap said...

As a "better player," yes, clubs make a difference. A big difference. That's not to say that only Titleist, TaylorMade, Ping, etc. are "better" than Snake Eyes, but I do think the extra $$ goes into more R&D, better refined equipment with tighter tolerances, higher grade materials (sometimes), etc.

MJ said...

The gear DOES make a difference but not so much in terms of materials, brand names, etc. used by manufacturers for marketing purposes. The difference is how they fit you. Loft, lie, shaft length etc. matched to swing speed, plane, etc. For more information, check out Tom Wishon's new book - "The Search for the Perfect Club". You may never buy an off the rack club again.

dave said...

I agree with the previous comments but I also think there is mental part too.

Jen Mario said...

Classic stuff, as usual, Kristen.
I'm also on the hunt for the perfect bag, and having a hard time. Sun Mountain has a ladies bag, kind of sporty looking, but it doesn't have individual slots. Ogio has a good one, with all the bells and whistles, but it's on the heavy side.

As far as clubs go, hit every "demo day" you can find, to try out all the major brands. Sometimes the best clubs for you aren't necessarily the fanciest ones.

Good luck!

Golfchick said...

I forgot to mention - I always rent men's club because they're generally longer and stiffer (calm down, class) than womens' clubs. The other day when I rented the "set" that included the BCBS putter, my girlfriend rented some clubs as well and they were immaculate. All new and matching with mint condition covers for the woods and driver, even. I guess that makes sense since there aren't as many women golfers, there wouldn't be as many women renters.
So traveling women, don't despair based on my previous comments. Apparently, they only apply to men.

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