Lee Janzen, 50, and Cole Hammer, 15, among the U.S. Open qualifiers

RIO GRANDE, PUERTO RICO - MARCH 05:  Lee Janzen plays his shot from the 13th tee during round one of the Puerto Rico Open presented by Banco Popular at Trump International Golf Club on March 5, 2015 in Rio Grande, Puerto Rico.  (Photo by Michael Cohen/Getty Images)

RIO GRANDE, PUERTO RICO – MARCH 05: Lee Janzen plays his shot from the 13th tee during round one of the Puerto Rico Open presented by Banco Popular at Trump International Golf Club on March 5, 2015 in Rio Grande, Puerto Rico. (Photo by Michael Cohen/Getty Images)

Two multiple winners of the U.S. Open qualified for next week’s Open at Chambers Bay outside Tacoma, Wash., as did a 15-year-old from Texas and the grandson of a legend.

Two-time Open champions Lee Janzen, who now is playing on the Champions Tour, and South African Retief Goosen qualified in Purchase, N.Y., and Memphis, respectively. Janzen, 50, was the medalist in his qualifier.

Big day. Even played the same tees as all those youngsters,” Janzen Tweeted.

Cole Hammer, 15, who just completed his freshman year in high school, was second in the Dallas qualifier.

Sam Saunders, a PGA Tour rookie and the grandson of Arnold Palmer, earned his second U.S. Open start. Saunders missed the cut in the 2011 Open at Congressional Country Club in Bethesda, Md.

Meanwhile, Fred Couples and Davis Love III both withdrew from their qualifiers. And David Lingmerth, who won the Memorial on Sunday, failed to qualify for the Open on Monday, as did University of Oregon golf coach Casey Martin.

Other notable qualifiers:

  • Luke Donald finished second in the Jupiter, Fla., qualifier, with friend Michael Jordan in his gallery.
  • Amateur Bryson Dechambeau of SMU, who won the NCAA championship, qualified in Columbus, Ohio, in a field that included many PGA Tour players. Besides talent, Dechambeau is known for playing irons that are all an identical length, 37 1/2 inches.
  • Andres Romero holed an eagle chip on his last hole to qualify on the number in Memphis.
  • Beau Hossler, 20, a University of Texas junior-to-be who finished T-29 in the U.S. Open as a 17-year-old in 2012, tied for second in the Newport Beach, Calif., qualifier. Hossler held the outright lead midway through the second round in the ’12 Open at the Olympic Club.

courtesy of John Strege (golfdigest.com)


Survey Results – What’s In YOUR Bag (Drivers and Fairway Woods)

Survey Results – What’s In YOUR Bag (Drivers and Fairway Woods)

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What’s In YOUR Bag?

A few weeks ago we asked you to tell us about the equipment in your bag. We already know what the pros play (because the brands they rep bombard us with press releases weekly), but what about the average golfer…or at least the average MyGolfSpy reader?

Golf equipment is a business, we get that. Certainly most of us would play just about anything if we were compensated for our trouble. We’re not, which is why we think it’s much more interesting to hear about the equipment you’ve spent your hard-earned money on.

It’s pay to play vs. paid to play.

Before we get to the first round of results, there are a few things to keep in the back of your minds. By the letter, the average MyGolfSpy reader does not fully represent the average golfer.

We believe our readers are more likely to:

  • Be gearheads, possibly even obsessed with golf equipment (we think that’s a good thing)
  • Be custom fit for his equipment
  • Replace equipment more frequently, and therefore your equipment will be, on average, newer than the gear of the golfing population as a whole
  • Play smaller or niche brands. Apart from the guys taken-in by Warrior Golf, you’re less likely to be brandwashed.
  • Be more familiar with emerging equipment trends

So with all of that out of the way, let’s get to the results.


Not surprisingly, TaylorMade leads our field with a 25.06% share. PING, Titleist, and Callaway are reasonably tightly grouped between 15.43% and 18.53%. After the 4 at the top, it’s a pretty steep drop-off to Cobra at 9.85% and another steep slide to to Nike at 5.48%.

We’re showing you only those companies with at least a 1% share of your bags. Excluding the Other option, the sum total of the remaining brands is 3.25%. That places Other between Adams (2.72%) and Nike.

Notables listed under Other: KZG, Nakshima, Nickent, Bobby Jones, Sinister, Bombtech, Geek, and I don’t carry a driver.


On average, golfers replace their drivers once every 3.7 years. I’d wager the average MyGolfSpy reader replaces his driver at a measurably higher rate.

39.81% of you are gaming drivers that are less than 1 year old, while 68.53% of you are playing drivers 2 years old or less.

On the other end of the spectrum, 8.30% of you are playing a driver that’s 4-years old or older.

I’d be curious to know why those guys haven’t upgraded. Are you comfortable with what you have? Is it cost? Is it the perception that USGA limits mean drivers can’t get any better?



Two observations here. 1) According to the previous chart, somebody is lying. Either that or 2) a bunch of you have already bought new drivers this year. Essentially, 40% of you either will or might buy a new driver this year. That’s a sizable chunk (huge actually), and no doubt some manufacturers believe an even newer model may provide all the enticement you need to pull the trigger.

Fairway Woods


Of little surprise, only the order of Top 5 changes. TaylorMade remains on top, but likely off the strength of the X(2) Hot, Callaway (21.85%) leaps ahead of both Ping(14.98%) and Titleist (16.56%). Two companies reasonably well-known for their fairway woods, Adams (9.19%) and Tour Edge (6.11%),  pull ahead of Nike (5.16%).

It may be interesting to some that while Nike’s percent share  is similar between drivers and fairways, it falls from 6 to 8 by rank.

Companies not shown account for a sum total of 1.95% of fairways in your bag. That number fits between Wishon (1.22%) and Wilson (1.67%)

Notables listed under Other: Dynacraft, Orlimar, Sonartec, XXIO, Yamaha, Harvey Penick, and I don’t carry one.


Compare this chart with the same chart for the driver category. The number of you with new fairway woods in your bag (21.79%) is nearly half as few as those with new drivers in the bag. Not surprisingly, the percentage of fairway woods older than 4 years (18.62%) is significantly higher than it is in the driver category.

While we don’t have the exact numbers, we know that golfers buy new fairway woods with less frequency than they do new drivers. Your responses suggest that a healthy percentage of you bought at least one new fairway wood within the last 1 to 3 years. That more or less brings us to the edge of the RocketBallz/XHot era when, for a brief window, fairway woods were sexy again.

Also of note, 3.42% of you don’t carry a fairway wood at all.


A full 64% of you report that you have no plans to buy a new fairway wood these. Obviously plans are subject to change (especially if you break something or what you have now stops working), but what you’ve told us suggests that consumer purchase cycles for fairway woods may be leveling off, or perhaps even returning to pre-RBZ levels.

Fairway woods aren’t the it club anymore, and could be on the verge of regaining their status as a barely-necessary evil, particularly among average to high handicap golfers.

On a more positive note, 9.42% of you told us you are planning to buy a new fairway wood this season, while 26.58 say you might.

Aftermarket Shafts


I suppose we shouldn’t find this surprising given what we know about our readership, but nevertheless, I do.

At a club with roughly 300 members I can count on one hand the number of guys I’ve played with who have something other than stock in their drivers. Even among the best players, the percentages are almost certainly lower in the real world than they are with gearheads such as ourselves.

More than 45% (46.53%) of you told us that you play an aftermarket shaft in your driver. Even here, I would have guessed 30%…tops.

It would interesting to better understand the split between those of you who were fit (and stick to a single shaft), and those of you who are compulsive dabblers.



It can be argued that when golf companies run out of ideas, they simply re-invent old ones. That which was once called the 2-wood has evolved into the Mini Driver.

TaylorMade introduced the first of the new breed last year with the SLDR S Mini. That was followed by this season’s AeroBurner Mini, which will soon be followed by Callaway’s Big Bertha Mini, and eventually, I suspect, other Mini-like clubs.

As of this moment, more than 55% of you are telling us you are not interested in the category, while another 5.69% of you told us you’re unfamiliar with the category entirely. I’d be willing to wager that both of those numbers will have changed substantially by this time next year.

TaylorMade hasn’t done any significant marketing around either of its Mini products (it’s little more than a word of mouth club at this point), but I suspect once competition hits shelves we’ll hear quite a bit more about the benefits of the various Minis, and that  should pique curiosity.

More to Come

We’ll be posting your responses in the hybrid, iron, wedge, and putter categories in the coming weeks.



Survey Results: Non-Conforming Clubs

Survey Results: Non-Conforming Clubs

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Several weeks ago we asked you to share your thoughts on non-conforming clubs from major manufacturers.

The feedback was, to a large extent, about what we expected.

Sufficed to say that some of you have no issues with non-conforming clubs. You view them as a means to make the game more accessible. Non-conforming clubs could break down barriers by making the game less frustrating and more fun.

For others, non-conforming clubs are the devil’s tools. If you so much as pick one up, even if you’re by yourself and never enter a score, you are a cheater. Sew a scarlet ‘NC‘ on your sweater . You’re branded for life.

In reality, we don’t really know what promises non-conforming clubs could deliver on. Is it 10 more yards with the driver? 25? 50? What about accuracy? Would non-conforming clubs allow us to hit more fairways, attack more pins, and play 18 holes in 3 hours or less and get you home in time to take your son to lacrosse practice?

Your responses to this survey and the discussion that followed the original post, suggest this is a polarizing subject with plenty of passion on both sides (and in the middle).

Here’s what you told us.

Question 1: Pleasure

I’m guessing that 37.36% of you would argue that golf is plenty enjoyable as it is. The challenge is part of the fun, right?

Not for everyone.

The difficulty of the game is a tremendous barrier, and if non-conforming clubs can overcome some of that, is that really such a bad thing? Constant frustration is not fun. For many, non-conforming clubs have the potential to take the game from totally impossible to challenging. That’s not the same as making it easy. We don’t all progress and improve at the same rate.

Why shouldn’t we view non-conforming clubs as a gateway to the game; one that offers the potential for beginning and recreational golfers to eventually grow into conforming equipment? If we think of non-conforming clubs in the same way that we think about training wheels for our kids’ bikes (they help them get over the fear while offering greater potential for rapid improvement), we might attract new golfers.

I know what you’re going to say. Golf is hard. It’s supposed to be, and those looking for the easy way probably won’t stick around anyway. You might be right.

Question 2: Growth


This question is representative of much of what’s wrong with aspects of the current grow golf movement. Basically it’s guys like us (avid golfers) speculating on what it will take to bring new golfers to the game. At the risk of redundancy, golf is hard. Whether making it easier, and by extension, more fun (via equipment) will bring new players to the game continues to be a subject of much debate.

As you can see, there’s relatively even split among our readers. While I do believe there’s some growth potential in non-conformity, golf is still expensive, slow (it takes a long time, and it’s not packed full of action), and far too often assumptions about elitism manifest themselves in reality.

Golf is a tough sell right now, and it’s unlikely being able to hit the ball longer and straighter is enough to overcome the other perceived issues with the game.

 Question 3: Rounds Played


14.37% isn’t a huge number, but I’d absolutely love to hear more from those of you who said you would play more if non-conforming clubs were available. Is it because non-conforming clubs could make the game less frustrating? Is it because you believe it would make rounds take less time? If we’re having more fun, and taking less time away from other things to do it, would we play more golf? Some apparently think so.

Question 4: Limitations


This, to me anyway, is perhaps the most fascinating question in our survey. You can count me among the 67.72% who think non-conforming clubs are fine for recreational play. If a guy is out on the course by himself, with his kid, or with a group of like-minded buddies, what’s the big deal? He’s not competing in tournaments, and he’s not taking my money.

I remain baffled by the 23.15% of you who apparently believe you’re cheating – even when you’re not actually playing (you play for fun and you don’t keep a handicap).

I was in Target the other day wandering through the sporting goods isle when I noticed a dozen different footballs. None was NFL legal. Most probably weren’t college legal either. Some were smaller and some had added surface textures to make the ball easier to grip. I doubt many people have a problem with this.

By the same token, the Tour de France has also sorts of rules that govern the bicycles that competitors use during the event. That’s cool for competition, but if two weeks after the event I want to take my chances on the course riding a Huffy dirt bike, through the streets of  Le Mans, have I cheated or have I simply gone for a bike ride on a road that can be used for competition?

It boggles my mind that some can’t see of golf as anything other than a competitive pursuit. Why can’t golf be played simply for fun with no rules governing play (because play is fun) or the equipment used?

 Question 5: Usage


Maybe the answer to my previous question can be found in the answers to this question.

4.67% say they would use non-conforming clubs to gain a competitive advantage. Hopefully those guys simply misunderstood my meaning. Look, we all know that some people cheat at golf, so I suppose it’s reasonable to think that some people would try and use non-conforming clubs for competitive play, but is that reason alone to say that major manufactures shouldn’t produce them?

If a guy is going to cheat, he’s going to cheat. He’ll kick and roll his way to a better lie. He’ll drop a pocket ball. He’ll shave a stroke or two (except when it’s more beneficial to add a stroke or two). He’s going to do what he’s going to do. Simply put, some people have integrity, some people don’t. Non-conforming clubs won’t change that either way.

I’m in that 33.25% that says maybe. If non-conforming is 10 yards…probably not. If it’s 50…hell yes, I’m going to have some just for fun clubs, and I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that.

 Question 6: Your Dollars at Work


And in this lies the rub for manufacturers considering releasing non-conforming club lines. While 71.94% say the availability of non-conforming clubs from a given manufacturer wouldn’t influence your conforming club purchasing decisions, nearly 20% of you told us that you’d actually be less likely to purchase conforming gear from a manufacturer that also produces non-conforming clubs.

For a golf company, that’s a dangerous percentage. How many new customers will you reach vs. how many potential customers could you lose? At a minimum it would be a gamble for any company that chooses to make the leap, and given how risk averse the golf equipment industry is as a whole, it’s unlikely any brand of repute has the stones to go for it any time in the immediate future.

 Question 7: Permission


As we were putting together this survey, I couldn’t help but think that the biggest issue holding back widespread availability of non-conforming clubs might be permission from those we admire. Would we feel differently about non-conforming clubs if Arnold Palmer, Gary Player, Jack Nicklaus, Tiger Woods, or Rory McIlroy told us to go out, play golf, and use whatever equipment (conforming or otherwise) that allows us to have the most fun?

Apparently not.

In today’s world even yesterday’s players are more than legends, they’re brands. So with that in mind, it seems unlikely that anyone would be willing to risk his brand to endorse the use of non-conforming clubs (for recreational play, of course). While just under 70% say it wouldn’t matter one way or another, the 8% who might be swayed are well-outnumbered by the almost 23% who told us they’d probably think less of any professional golfer who suggests non-conforming clubs might not be that bad.

It’s the sort of thing that  can damage a reputation, which is exactly manufactures would likely find themselves navigating the waters of non-conformity with little if any help from their professional staffers and brand ambassadors.

Additional Perspective

It’s important to remember that we, the obsessive gearheads, are the minority here. While these results may reflect the thoughts of the avid (and well-connected) golfer, my suspicion is that the majority of golfers, most of whom fit nicely in the recreational category, are likely much more receptive to the idea of non-conforming clubs. Companies like Polara have already carved out a niche for themselves in the non-conforming space, and I’d wager that a growing number of smaller companies will join them.

The debate is far from over.

At some point there may be enough money spent on non-conforming clubs that a major player will put profits over the USGA. When that happens others will surely follow.


Golf Forum – Golf Blog (MyGolfSpy.com)

Results: Best Selling vs. Best Performing

Results: Best Selling vs. Best Performing

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Today, you’re not only going to see something the industry doesn’t want you to see, you’re going to see why they don’t want you to see it.

The information we are publishing today is typically only something the manufacturers get to see and they pay handsomely for this type of information.  But at MGS we base things on truth not hype, performance not marketing.  Invaluable as it may be, we’re sharing our results (free of charge) with you and the golf companies.

Just over a week ago we asked you to predict what you think will be the best selling and best performing drivers of 2015. And you sure did. Your participation in this survey was immense, and we think that’s awesome.

Believe me when I tell you that the golf companies follow these results carefully. They definitely want to know what all of you think about their brands and their products. By continuing to participate, you’re ensuring that your voice will be heard by nearly every company in the golf industry.

That’s part of how we intend to give the power back to the player.

Results: Best Selling

The reality is, the business of golf isn’t all about performance, it’s about perceptions. It’s about what the masses will buy and how golfers view and respond to a given company’s marketing efforts (even if some of us think we’re immune to them).

Here’s what MyGolfSpy’s readers believe will be the best selling drivers of 2015.



  • 36% of you believe TaylorMade’s R15 will be the best selling driver of 2015. That’s equivalent to the number that selected the PING G30 (16.5%), Titleist 915 (13.9%) and the TaylorMade AeroBurner (5.7%) combined.
  • After the Top 3, no driver received more than 6% of your vote. By the time we get to the 8th ranked club (Cobra FLY-Z) we begin to see how tightly a group drivers in the middle are.
  • Leading the Callaway pack was the Big Bertha 815 Alpha (no black diamonds) at 4.2%. The 3 Callaway Big Bertha Series drivers on our list combined for only 8.3% of the vote.
  • By way of comparison, Cobra’s FLY-Z Series accounted for 7% of your votes while Nike’s 3 Vapor offerings combined for 6.2%.

Results: Best Performing

How deep is your personal demo list?

If a golfer doesn’t believe a driver will be among the top performing, how likely is he to actually take the time to find out?

This is exactly why initial performance perceptions matter, and why we think our chart is likely very good news for some, and maybe not such good news for others.

Here’s what you anticipate will be the best performing drivers of 2015.



  • Although 36.1% of you believe TaylorMade’s R15 will be the best selling driver of 2015, less than half that number (15%) believe it will actually be the best performing. While that’s still good enough to rank 3rd, we think this speaks to the belief some hold that TaylorMade’s marketing might be stronger than its performance.
  • The tagline is Titleist is Performance, and so I suppose it at least fits that the highest percentage of you believe that Titleist’s 915 Series will be the best-performing drivers of 2015.
  • To put that 21.8% in perspective, it’s only .02% less than the bottom 14 on the list combined.
  • And speaking of the bottom…Cleveland’s .6% is more than doubled by sister brand Srixon (1.3%). While you guys are more in the loop than the average consumer, odds are most in the US have never hit a Srixon. The numbers would seem to support Cleveland’s decision to focus its metalwood efforts on a narrower demographic.
  • While 1.1% isn’t what we’d call a strong showing, it’s interesting that more of you believe Callaway’s XR, for which there are nearly zero details currently available, with outperform TourEdge, Wilson, and Cleveland.
  • Of the companies with a 3 driver ‘series’, Cobra led the pack with 15.8% of the total vote (FLY-Z), followed by Callaway at 8.7 (Big Bertha), and Nike at 8.2 (Vapor).

More to Come

These numbers barely scratch the surface of what we learned from this survey. You won’t believe what we discovered when we segmented the data by age and handicap.

Golf Forum – Golf Blog (MyGolfSpy.com)

Nike Brand Survey – The Results

Nike Brand Survey – The Results

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Written By: Tony Covey

Quite frankly, I don’t get it.

While it’s not an absolutely universal sentiment, even among our readership there is a strong reverence for Titleist and PING. I get that part.

Time and time again you tell us how much you appreciate the fact that neither company floods the market with gear, instead they embrace steady, predictable release cycles. You applaud the fact that they keep the gimmicks to a minimum while focusing on actual product performance. And you laud them endlessly for maintaining retail prices for the duration of a release cycle while TaylorMade and Callaway habitually cut the market out from under themselves; often significantly discounting product that hasn’t been on the shelf long enough to collect even a speck of dust.

Ask your buddy who bought Big Bertha Alpha all the way back in May how he feels about the 20% Callaway just knocked off the sticker price. It’s the TaylorMade R1 redux; Callaway Edition.

Here’s the part I don’t get. You guys love Titleist (even if you don’t love the products, you appreciate the model). You guys love PING (same). And because the business model is very similar to both company’s, you guys love are largely indifferent to Nike Golf.

I mean seriously! (and I don’t use exclamation points often)… As far as full line, big-ass golf companies with reasonably (or insanely) deep pockets go, Nike’s approach to the golf business is as streamlined, arguably restrained, as it gets. Nike does golf the way you constantly tell us you want golf done.

If you count Covert 2 and Covert 2 Tour as separate clubs, Nike has two reasonably well differentiated models available. Callaway has four. Six if you count Optiforce (and you should, because a new one is likely coming). TaylorMade…between 460, 430, S, and white…hell, it’s a lot, and that’s before we start talking about the old stuff (RBZ, RBZ 2, and R1) that’s still readily available and selling well.

Titleist has 2. PING is off the charts now with 4.

Nike’s iron lineup:3. It wouldn’t kill them to offer more options in their wedges, and the putter lineup is robust, but not excessive.

And here’s the other thing…if you buy the archaic (it has been on shelves since FEBRUARY) Covert 2.0 Driver today, you won’t need to worry that Nike might knock 20% off , toss in a free fairway wood, 3 dozen balls and a Labradoodle for the guy who buys it next week…you know, because the numbers don’t look so good.

Nike Golf doesn’t play that game. Nike believes in the integrity of their brand, and understands the value of consumer confidence.

It sounds a lot like Titleist and PING, doesn’t it?

Nike Golf sucks? Bullshit.

One of us is delusional.

Maybe you should think differently about Nike Golf.

And yet, here we are. Nike’s more than 10 years deep into the golf industry, and is still fighting perceptions that they’re just a shoe company, that their equipment is garbage, that they just don’t belong in the golf business.

That’s some pretty shallow thinking right there.

Nike views the journey of a golfer as a 40 year endeavor. The company is barely 25% of the way into their first generation. If it can’t convert you, Nike can probably wait you out.

All of that said, there are some uncomfortable obstacles that Nike Golf needs to overcome sooner rather than later. For all of the perceptions, and misconceptions about Nike Golf, I’ve come to believe the biggest issue Nike faces is the disproportionate amount of indifference to their golf business.

Uncomfortable Facts

Perhaps I delayed writing up these survey results as long as I did out of some overly-optimistic delusion that more people would take actually participate in the survey. It didn’t happen. We’ve done several surveys prior, and a couple since. We’ve marketed and promoted them the same, and despite all of that, the raw head count, suggests that golfers just aren’t that interested in Nike as a golf brand.

By far our Nike survey generated the fewest responses. It’s almost disconcerting.

Want some context?

The total number of responses to our Nike Golf survey were roughly half of what we got for Callaway. That’s an interesting parallel as you have one iconic company still trying to establish itself in golf, while another iconic golf company is fighting to rebuild after years of digging an increasingly deeper hole. Neither is where it wants to be right now (at least I hope neither is), but it sure looks like golfers have a greater interest in the Callaway story right now.

Now it’s entirely possible that for whatever reason we have a disproportionally Nike-averse audience. It’s also possible that Nike is the biggest victim of golf’s generation gap. Sure…almost all of us own something with a swoosh on it, but I’d wager that Nike brand performance is strongest among the 30-40 crowd (give or take a few years on either side). That demographic (toss in the mid-to-late-20-something’s too) represents golf’s lost generation.

Visit any golf club…you’ve got juniors on family memberships,and then a massive gap that extends nearly all the way to the AARP. 20 and 30-somethings aren’t playing any measurable quantity of golf.

I’m 41. I’m one of the kids at my club. I’d be a kid at nearly any club. In 10 years, I’ll still be one of the kids. Nike’s generation isn’t playing golf right now, and I believe that explains a good bit of the indifference.

For those of you who did respond…let’s go to the survey.

Nike Brand Survey Results


It’s not unusual to see Marketing lead the way. We have a cynical audience anyway, and that generally means that everyone short of Titleist and PING takes a marketing first approach. Remember the point I  made at the beginning. Nike is more PING and Titleist than they are Callaway or TaylorMade.

Just think about that rationally for a moment.

I’d wager that Nike would prefer to see both the Quality (4.16%) and Performance (8.20%) numbers higher (it’s that perception problem again). The good news is that the innovation message does seem to be resonating as 25.80% selected that as the most positive differentiator.

The most fascinating (and entertaining) responses to this question were found among the 12.49% that answered Other.

As you might expect there were plenty of mentions of Tiger and Rory (sometimes individually, sometimes together). There were more than a few who mentioned things like “Clean and simple design. No gimmicks“. And of course we had plenty of negatives like “inferior to all other brands“, “Nike is a shoe company“, and perhaps harshest of all, “nothing“. Indifference might be better than nothing.

Finally, one guy said “Criminal Athletes“. I’m not sure what the basis for that is, or how that qualifies as a positive diffentiator, but if it does, Go Browns!

From my perspective as a golfer, as much as I loathe the overuse of word, from this list, I’m inclined to go with innovation. Nike is less afraid to step outside the box than anyone else in golf, and while that doesn’t always yield the best products out of the gate, it means that Nike has the greatest potential to tear down the current boundaries and make the equipment game exciting again.

First with a rubber core golf ball? Nope…not Titleist. It was Nike. True story.

Nike likely has more intellectual property than anyone outside of the tech world (and Nike has tech patents too). It’s a pool that deepens on the daily. If you don’t think some of that knowledge and innovation crosses over into the golf world, well…now who’s delusional?

From my perspective as golf media guy, I’d leverage the Other category, and offer up Rhino-thick skin.

It’s bad enough that the golf media industry is disproportionately powered (paid for by way of advertising) by the companies for which journalists should be providing objective, honest, and hopefully insightful commentary. The lines are growing more blurred by the day. What’s worse is that golf companies as a group are largely thin-skinned. I’d use a different word, but ladies will be reading this.

It’s a culture of manipulation and control, and when it’s lost, it isn’t always handled professionally.

Negative opinions often incur penalties. We’ve been cut-off from info and product (which is a great way for golf companies to try and control what ,you, the consumer sees). Commentary yields complaints, and just about everyone is happy to offer up an opinion on how I should have written something, or suggest that maybe I shouldn’t have written it at all.

This doesn’t happen at Golf Digest“. Seriously…someone said that to me once.

There’s none of that from Nike Golf. No whining, no crying, no backlash, no tantrums, no retribution. Big boy pants, 24/7/365. Nobody at Nike has ever…not even once, tried to manipulate content. I respect the hell out of them for it, and you should to.


Hey…there’s Marketing again (55.89%). I’m not sure how Modern (50.18%) translates, but it can’t be a bad thing, right? Youthful, Trendy, and Colorful read like our Cobra-PUMA survey, so make of that what you will, but I’m going to assume it speaks to Nike’s apparel line.

Innovation (37.10%) is good. Hype (34.48%) registering slightly higher than Performance (33.41%) probably isn’t.

Given some of the well-known perceptions about Nike Golf, Illegitimate (3.80%) registering only 3.80% is good news, Poser (11.77%) less so. Both words were included in the survey as potential Nike hater bait. The bad news for Nike is that we hooked a fair amount of you with the latter.

Clearly there are plenty of you who still believe Nike doesn’t belong in golf.


At 60.46% I think this is the highest No Clubs in the Bag we’ve registered to date. We know Nike has some work to do. The driver number (20.43%) is decent, and putters (16.83%) and irons (18.15%) aren’t far off, but we also know that Nike’s current market share numbers aren’t competitive with the top-tier companies right now. Every silver lining comes with a cloud…or something.

As is often the case with Nike, there’s a ton of potential here. The Covert finally got people talking about Nike drivers. The Covert 2.0 generated real interest. By generation 3, that interest could start translating to real sales. Today’s numbers don’t always tell the whole story. There’s a small argument to be made that Nike Golf is trending slightly upward.

The putters have always performed well for us, and the golfers who actually try them generally end up loving them.

The iron situation is interesting. The VR Combo stuff is excellent, but isn’t the sort of thing that has mass market appeal. There is a queit buzz, however, hovering over the Covert 2 irons. Yes, I know quiet and buzz don’t often work well together in this context, so let me explain.

Callaway’s Apex is the iron story of 2014 thus far. For all the talk of Bertha this and that, Apex is what’s driving the company right now. Despite an obnoxious price tag on the pro model, Callaway has done exceptionally well with the lineup, and more relevant to the discussion at hand, golfers won’t shut up about them.

With the Covert 2 irons, it’s a bit more subtle. A few sources inside pro shops have told me that what’s happening with noticeable frequency is that a guy will demo a bunch of irons and end up with the Covert Forged (if we’re calling Callaway out on price, we should probably mention that they’re also insanely expensive relative to their market placement) in his bag. Within a few weeks, 2 more guys from his foursome will come in and order a set (many without demoing anything else). The sales are almost entirely performance driven. Scores drop, and the guys on the losing end want in on the action. They’re buying what’s beating them.


There’s nothing spectacularly exciting here. 62.86% report an improving perception of Nike Golf within the last 3 years. I suspect that’s largely due to a more compelling metalwoods lineup. I’d also wager that with each passing year, the acceptance of Nike as a real golf company grows. Through conversion or death, eventually we’ll stop talking about this ridiculous notion that Nike doesn’t belong in golf.


Here’s one where we don’t agree. While an astounding 73.97% of you believe that Nike invests heavily in marketing, I’d argue they don’t invest enough. It’s July. When was the last time you saw Nike pushing a specific product, demo day, or any other initiative designed drive you to put a Nike club in your hand.

Nike did just announce the Nike Lunar Waverly. It’s a cool looking golf shoe, but…well…you know.

Callaway’s Phil Mickelson US Open promo was brilliant in that it incentivized golfers to demo equipment at a time when most of us have already spent our equipment allowance for the year. Only Callaway knows for sure if the benefit justified the cost, but it was something.

Most of the rest of this isn’t much different than what we’ve seen in past surveys. The one big red flag for me (from the Nike perspective) is that only 3.87% of you believe that Nike Golf emphasizes custom fitting. Guess what? We agree. Totally…and then some.

Nike has never been a power player where custom fitting is concerned. We’ve heard the guys that worked their Speed Trial events a couple of years ago weren’t always well trained (in club fitting or the Nike product line), and Nike fitting carts are a rarity. Finding club specifications and other important product details on the Nike Golf website is next to impossible, and most consumer we talk to aren’t the least bit aware that Nike offers the most comprehensive shaft upgrade program in the industry.

This needs to get better, and fast.

On a more positive note, Nike just opened up its first Performance Fitting Center in Scotland, and it appears that Nike is finally starting to realize the value and necessity of building a competent network of fitters:

“Today marks a critical step in our journey as we deliver an experience designed to serve the golfer in fitting and performance. It’s not enough to simply make great product – we have to serve our consumer with world-class experiences that enable them to unlock their true potential” – Cindy Davis, President, Nike Golf

Hopefully Scotland is just the beginning. $20 bucks says it is.

Nobody in golf wants to be a follower. That’s for real. If you look at Nike products like cavity-back drivers (for better or worse), RZN balls (also for better or worse), and their incredibly interesting collection of patents (some really cool and unique stuff), it’s hard to make any sustainable argument that Nike is following anybody.

How can I say this…25.30% of you are wrong.

I can’t put it any more kindly than that.

While my experience with Nike leads me to believe that they’re generally unconcerned with what the rest of the industry is doing (they’re totally on their own program), if you consider the evolution of golf apparel and footwear over the last decade, and toss in things like the rubber core golf ball (and maybe one day the evolution of RZN), I think 27.00% of you could make a legitimate case for Nike as one of the industry leaders.


Once again the results play into the perception that golf equipment is mostly all the same. Indistinguishable led the way in every category (it always does). The red flags here are the occasions where Slightly Worse registers higher than Slightly Better (irons, wedges), and where Significantly Worse register higher than Far Superior (Metalwoods, Irons, Wedges, Balls).

Brutal honesty, I think a lot of that comes from consumer ignorance. Some believe Nike makes crap, and so they don’t bother to hit it.

How many have actually hit a Nike wedge side by side against a Vokey or a Cleveland? Nike driver head to head against Callaway, Cobra, and Titleist? There exists in the marketplace a very real aversion…let’s call it a bias against Nike products, and it’s largely founded on nothing other than bogus perceptions.

That’s my opinion and observation on the problem. It’s Nike’s job to fix it.

As with anything else, nothing is the best for everyone, but if you actually believe it when you say Significantly Worse, you owe it to yourself to do some comprehensive side by side testing.


There’s a tremendous amount of disconnect between the responses to this question and the one that preceded it. In general teal (Above Average) outpaces grey (Below Average) almost across the board. The same is true at the extremes for everything but Value. Overall this is a fairly solid result for Nike Golf.

The highlights are definitely Innovation, where 42.00% of you ranked Nike as Above Average. Toss in the 20.00% who view Nike as the leader and well…that’s a sizable majority on the happy side of the equation. Performance and Quality also scored well which leads me to believe that guys who either own or who have tried recent Nike clubs ranked them highly (even if neither is the first thing they associate with Nike Golf), while those who haven’t largely ran with their assumptions.



I don’t know what the right answer is here…or if there is a right answer. I’m sure Team Nike has a thought or two on the subject, but me, on this, I waffle. Depending on what’s going on at any particular time, you could sell me on any of the middle 3.

Hard goods (anything with a grip) market share numbers simply don’t support any argument for improving rapidly. The numbers alone probably make a better argument for failing slowly, but with that said, the Covert line has improved significantly in just one iteration. Nike club designer, Nate Radcliffe has been called a rock star by more than one person I’ve spoken with, and with Priority Designs in the mix, we think Nike’s best is still yet to come.

Considering that the RZN ball is finally not only playable, but it’s actually good, and there hasn’t been any significant drop-off with the irons, putters, apparel and footwear, and I suppose Improving Slowly is where I’ve settled today.

I believe in the potential of Nike Golf.


Again, the curves (or bars) aren’t much different than what we’ve seen in the past. Comparatively fewer of you (6.09%) ranked Nike as the best in the industry, but an even smaller number (1.74%) ranked Nike as the worst. I’m dying to know what company the majority our our readers believes is THE worst. We’ll get on that.

As it almost always does, average ruled the day.


Just shy of a 60/40 split. A majority of golfers who follow golf companies on social media follow Nike. What our numbers don’t reveal is that Nike still maintains the largest social media following in golf. By the numbers they’re killing it. Whether or not that converts to sales, or even brand loyalty is more of an unknown.

There are plenty out there…in here too, that remain unconvinced that you can tweet your way to success in the golf industry.


Who didn’t know…or assume Nike Golf would be on social media? Seriously?

I’ve shared my thoughts on Nike’s social media approach in the past, and while I’ll concede that I’ve seen some improvement over the last year or so, their approach isn’t as informative (from a product detail perspective), or as personal (hey, you’re my real life buddy now) as some others, so I can definitely see how 26.82% of you wouldn’t find the Nike approach engaging or relevant.

Here’s my question for you guys: What changes should Nike make to their social media approach?

48.04% of you don’t follow Nike Golf because you’re not Nike Golf fans. Can’t argue that logic.


I suppose it all boils down to how you define engagement. If it’s back and forth, making you feel like you’re a part of something (like a complete reinvention of a brand)…or that someone is even reading your tweets, then nobody is more engaged that Callaway. I mean granted, they don’t engage with me much, or the MyGolfSpy account (we’re on the naughty list), but if you’re a golfer, consumer, and potential customer, they’re still leading the way.

If engagement is a bit more subtle…cool photos, and of course that motivational JUST DO IT, #dontsleeponsummer stuff, yeah…Nike is really good at that.

I’mm willing to buy into Slightly More Engaged.


Given that we’ve seen occasions where greater percentages of readers report that social media diminished brand perceptions, this is actually a fairly solid showing for Nike.

Big picture, Nike leverages their athletes with greater efficiency than anyone in the industry. When Tiger wins, or when Rory wins, or even when Michelle Wie wins, Nike does an excellent job of making that part of the larger brand experience.

When Nike doesn’t win (and it’s golf so Nike doesn’t always win), photos of shoes don’t always convey the message with the same impact and intensity.

In general, Nike is doing anything to hurt themselves with social media (and there’s plenty of companies for which that statement isn’t true), but they’re not totally killing it either…at least not as far as the delivery is concerned.

What’s true for Nike social media is largely true for the company as whole. As go its athletes, so goes Nike.


Typical response pattern. Absolutely typical. The majority continues to assert that social media has no influence over the buying decision.

I believe that bad social media is much more likely to negatively influence the buying decision than good social media will a positive decision, but can we ever really know?

Wake up, people. It’s a mind game.


What an interesting breakdown. Across all of the golf industry…and actually, even if we consider only equipment companies, Nike’s efforts reasonably qualify as Above Average.

Even if it’s ordinary bell curve stuff, what’s interesting is the similarities in the numbers between the most effective in golf, and below average.

Again, the raw headcount supports Nike as the social media leader.

More golfers read Nike tweets and Facebook posts than those of any other company. I’m not sure anything trumps that.

Wrapping It Up and Putting a Swoosh On It

All things considered, this isn’t a horrible result for Nike Golf. Obviously general indifference is a problem, and the results convey what we already knew. Nike still has a lot of work to do in fighting against the just a shoe company, not a real golf company perceptions that inexplicably persist.

Within the last year or so, Nike has diversified its message a bit. There’s less emphasis on Tiger, but they’re still focused on the athlete (and I’ve come around to understanding that and believing that it’s an integral part of the Nike way), but they’re finding better ways to reach the average golfer who may not think of himself in that context.

I’m in the minority…I might actually be a minority of one, but if Nike stays in the game, I believe it’s a logical inevitability that they will become the #1 Brand in Golf. It’s a 40 year journey…Nike is only getting started.

Then again, I might be the one who’s delusional.



Golf Forum – Golf Blog (MyGolfSpy.com)

2014 Golf’s Most Wanted Blade: The Results

2014 Golf’s Most Wanted Blade: The Results

Post image for 2014 Golf’s Most Wanted Blade: The Results

By Dave Wolfe

Today, we award the title of “Golf’s Most Wanted!” to the blade that was more accurate than its peers. Many of our putters share the classic heel-toe-weighted design, while others push the blade envelope. We have plumbers necks, double-bend necks, and flow necks. We have contestants finished in silver, copper, black, and even one in green.

All of our contestants are on equal footing. All contestants get the same shot at the title. The Most Wanted Title must be earned though. It doesn’t matter if we love a company, or are hearing about them for the first time. Once the putter is in the hands of the tester, it’s all about the data. It’s only about the data.

From Address Collage

What data are we collecting? Remember in this competition, accuracy is everything. To win the title of “Golf’s Most Wanted!”, a putter must get the ball to the hole better than all other competitors. Price doesn’t matter. The number of stitches in the headcover doesn’t matter. If you think Desirability should be part of the formula, then you are missing the point. The desire of any golfer and his or her putter should be to get the ball to the hole. That’s why accuracy is everything.

Testing Parameters:

  •  Location of Testing:  Outdoor Practice Green at Haggin Oaks Golf Complex
  •  Ball Used:  2014 Wilson Staff FG Tour
  •  Number of Testers: 10
  •  HCPs of Testers: 2-20+
  •  Putters Tested: 31
  •  Total Balls Rolled Per Putter:  150
  •  Total Balls Rolled Per Tester: 360 over two sessions
  •  Time for each tester to complete test: Approximately 4.5 hours

:: Accuracy Scoring


“Golf’s Most Wanted!” Blade Putter, should be the most accurate, regardless of the person swinging the stick.

EXAMPLE: Accuracy Score Calculation

:: Total Miss Distance (all testers, adjusted for distance)= 1686 inches
:: Average Miss Distance Per Tester (Total/12)= 140.5 inches
:: Percentage of Accuracy Ideal Value (127.5/Average Miss Per Tester x 100)= 91%

Extra Blade Photos-2

“Golf’s Most Wanted!” –  The Results – The Top 5







See How the Rest of the Putters Performed

More To Come

Once again, we see one putter that really separates itself from the pack. As with the mallets, the question on many of our minds is what is it about the Daytona 12 that allowed the testers to be more accurate with it compared to the other putters? Is it possible that a company known for drivers can also make an exceptional putter?

Don’t worry, we will be looking into the Daytona 12 win in much more depth.

We will also be looking at the other putters as well in Golf’s Most Wanted Blade – Beyond the Numbers.

For today though, congratulations go out to TaylorMade’s spectacular Ghost Tour Daytona 12, and the other Top 5 blade putters.

More Most Wanted Blade Coverage

2014 Most Wanted Blade: The Contenders
2014 Golfs Most Wanted Blade – The Results (This Post)
2014 Golf’s Most Wanted Blade – Beyond the Data (COMING SOON) 

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Golf Forum – Golf Blog (MyGolfSpy.com)

Cobra Golf Brand Survey – The Results

Cobra Golf Brand Survey – The Results

Post image for Cobra Golf Brand Survey – The Results

For whatever it’s worth, Cobra is (for me anyway) one of the most intriguing brands in all of golf. Granted, I’m a guy who loves color – and I know that some of you don’t. I’m also a guy who happens to love performance (and I don’t know many of you who don’t), and while they haven’t always fared well in our head to head tests, with just a little bit of tuning Cobra’s products have proven to be some of the most exceptional I’ve ever had in my bag.

Hell, I spent most of last year with a Cobra driver and irons in my  bag. In early fall I added their wedges. And then it snowed and I’ve spent that last several months being miserable, but I digress.

For all the crap you guys give me about being a TaylorMade guy, those who know me best would probably tell you I’m a Cobra-PUMA guy at heart, and for the life of me I can’t figure out why more of you aren’t giving the brand a chance.

Of course, if the moves Cobra has made in the last year – things like bringing in Tom Olsavsky from TaylorMade to head their R&D team, and the rollout of a state of the art new fitting system (that’s selling the capabilities short) – pan out the way I think they will, the future of Cobra could be an exciting one.

You won’t be able to ignore them. My 2 cents…Cobra is one of two brands I think has the most potential for growth in the coming years.

That said, my record at predicting the future is spotty at best, and our survey wasn’t about what the future holds, it’s about what’s happening right here and now.

To that end, here’s what you think about Cobra Golf.

1 - postive differntiate attribute
If you’re Cobra you probably want to be known more for performance than marketing, but both the innovation and performance numbers are solid. From top to bottom this chart really isn’t that different than what we’ve seen in our surveys of other companies. Thus far only Titleist is shown to have created the perception that Quality and Performance are the greatest differentiators. What’s perhaps more telling is the responses from the Other field.

Far and away Color (in one form or another) was the most popular response. Some suggested they like the bold colors. Others…umm…not so much. What it tells us is that, for now anyway, Cobra is inextricably linked with the same colors they feature on the their clubs.

Cobra is color. Color is Cobra.

When Cobra was acquired by PUMA the introduction of color into the lineup was a simple (and effective) way to differentiate themselves from the rest of the industry, while infusing part of the PUMA identity into the Cobra lineup. To achieve wider acceptance (growth) in the market, they’re probably going to need to come back to the middle a bit, and with the reintroduction of black into the lineup, and refinements to PUMA’s golf offerings, we’re starting to see just that.
To a large extent, the responses to this question mirror what you guys wrote in the Other field. The top responses are all image-related. It suggests you see Cobra as a colorful, trendy company that targets a younger demographic. Yeah…I am Captain Obvious.

The good news is that shows that Cobra has emerged from Titleist’s shadow and firmly established its own identity. The bad news is that it’s a somewhat exclusionary identity. We know that there is a segment of golfers who won’t consider products because of the color. We also know that part of that same segment doesn’t believe Cobra is serious about performance.

In that lies the challenge for Cobra Golf. How do you maintain the identity you’ve built while getting your performance message out to the masses?

Performance needs to be at the top of this chart, and while I believe that internally at Cobra it is, convincing the consumer of that is no easy task.
3 - cobra in bag
Just over 53% of you reported that you don’t have a single Cobra club in the bag.

Why the hell not?

While the driver number is solid (somebody is playing Cobra drivers), it’s really the fairway (16.02%), hybrid (18.23%), and iron (18.23%) numbers that stand out. The origins of Cobra trace back to the fairway wood. Actually, the original Baffler was more of a hybrid, but whatever you want to call it, the legacy remains strong.

The irons are almost a curiosity. We’re talking about a company that offers a competitive product for every type of golfer, and more often than not, they do it for less money than any other serious player in golf. What’s the issue here?

As for the wedges…don’t get me started. The new(ish) Tour Trusty is probably the single most underappreciated product on store shelves right now. You owe it to yourself to at least try it.
4 - Cobra Perceptions
This particular question seems to always yield similar results. You definitely want to be seen as improving significantly, and that’s apparently how most of you see Cobra.

Here’s my follow-up question: why? What about Cobra has improved your perception of the brand.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m very much inclined to agree with you. What I see in terms of corporate structure, the people they’ve brought in, and the things they’re doing with products and services is exceptional, but most of that stuff hasn’t yet trickled down to the consumer.

There is tremendous potential with the brand, but I’m not convinced the last 3 years reflect that. Keep an eye on the next 3.
5 - true of cobra
63.66% of you said Cobra targets a wide-range of golfers. That next biggest chunk (54.41%) is for Invests Heavily in Marketing. You guys always think it’s about the marketing. You guys might be right.

The good news is that between 25%-30% of you said that 1)Product engineering is superior 2)Products are manufactured to tight tolerances and 3)Cobra invests heavily in research and development.

All of the negatives (products are mass-produced and cheaply made, does not respect the game, does not care about custom fitting, etc.) registered fairly low as well.
6 - cobras place
I’m going to let you in on a little secret. Everybody in golf cares about what other companies are doing. All of them. No exceptions.

That said, Cobra is certainly more willing to step out of the box than most, and I probably wouldn’t classify them as either a leader or a follower. They definitely march to their own drummer, the challenge is getting all of you to dance along.

7 - cobra vs. competetors clubs2
We already know that Cobra doesn’t make golf balls or putters. The former is a notorious money pit, while the latter Cobra insists they’ll only tackle if and when they have something of actual consequence to contribute. Basically they’re not going to make a putter just to have a putter.

While nothing really stands out, I suppose there is good news to be gleaned from the perception that some of you (55.44%) think that Cobra’s Metalwoods (drivers, fairways, and hybrids) are slightly better to far superior. It’s also encouraging that 33.26% of you think the same about the irons.

I can’t say this enough…you guys are missing the boat on the new wedges. More than 25% of you believe that Cobra’s wedges are slightly or significantly worse than its competitors. That’s insane. The original Trusty Rusty, with its game-improvement slant, wasn’t for everyone. And perhaps Cobra made a mistake by bringing it back for the sake of nostalgia (and for the sake of being able to offer something in the wedge category), but the new Tour Trusty…it’s totally different, and totally deserving of another look.
8  - cobra vs. concepts
With most companies, the average range (at, or above) is always going to dominate the responses. No surprises here.

Where I think several of you missed the boat is in the value category. Cobra consistently offers products (especially irons) and prices that are often $100-$200 less expensive than others in their class. Look no further than AMP Cell Pro Irons. The going rate for a forged muscleback from Titleist, Mizuno, and others is $999. Cobra offers you an iron that’s comparable in every respect for $799.

We’re not talking Wal-Mart here, we’re talking about a top quality product at a better price. Isn’t that what everyone says they want?

9 - cobra brand health
You guys more or less nailed it here. You’re not going to see any overnight game-changers, but Cobra is a company that’s taking steps to become more of a force in the industry. There’s absolutely no guarantee it’s going to work. I can’t promise you that in 3 years Cobra won’t be worse off than they are today, but I believe they’ve had some exceptional products over the last couple of years, and they’re certainly going to make every reasonable effort to build on those.

Cobra will never be TaylorMade, but it’s not content to be where it is right now either.

11 - do you follow cobra
Move along…probably not much to see here. Basically we’ve found that golfers who follow golf companies are 50%-60% likely to follow any particular brand.
12 why not follow cobra
Among those who do follow golf companies, but don’t follow Cobra, the Not a Fan number (33.33%) is perhaps a little on the low side. The more interesting info comes from the Other box where responses were things like:

“Marketing is annoying to me”
“Can’t follow everyone”
“I don’t think they market to people like me”
“Only follow companies whose equipment is in my bag”

13 - cobra social media engagement
The companies who excel at Social Media are generally the ones who execute a specific plan, and are most active on Social Media. Generally speaking, Cobra is more engaged than many other golf companies, but there’s is a lack of consistency (periods of absence or limited activity), and they don’t always give the impression there’s a cohesive Social Media plan beyond “let’s tweet something”.
14 - cobra social media influence brand perception
While I’m still not certain on the direct impact to the bottom line (see the next question), I do believe that Social Media can have a direct bearing on our perceptions of a company, and while that might not translate directly to sales, it can certainly work against sales.

Maybe I’m alone here, but Social Media efforts rarely improve my perception of any given brand, but poor Social Media, or Social Media that rubs me the wrong way has most certainly negatively impacted the way I view certain brands.

Invisible is better than bad. Fortunately for Cobra, not many of you see their efforts as negatively impacting perceptions.
15 - cobra social media buying decison
For just about every brand we’ve surveyed this result has been largely constant. 60% of you report that Social Media has had no impact on your buying decision. It raises two questions for which I don’t have solid answers.

Is it possible you’re being influenced without realizing it?

Is the 10% or so of the audience that tells us that Social Media has positively influenced the buying decision a big enough number to justify the efforts?

What’d We Miss?

Do you have anything else to add to our conversation about Cobra Golf? We’ve got a comment section below. Feel free to use it.

Golf Forum – Golf Blog (MyGolfSpy.com)

2014 Golfs Most Wanted Mallet – The Results

2014 Golfs Most Wanted Mallet – The Results

Post image for 2014 Golfs Most Wanted Mallet – The Results

(by Dave Wolfe)

Group Collage

Welcome to Day 2 of the “Golf’s Most Wanted!” – Mallet Awards. Today we unveil the most accurate mallet putter for 2014!

Remember in this competition, accuracy is everything. Here are the testing parameters:

  •  Location of Testing:  Outdoor Practice Green at Haggin Oaks Golf Complex
  •  Ball Used:  2014 Wilson Staff FG Tour
  •  Number of Testers: 10
  •  HCPs of Testers: 2-20+
  •  Putters Tested: 24
  •  Total Balls Rolled Per Putter:  150
  •  Total Balls Rolled Per Tester: 360 over two sessions
  •  Time for each tester to complete test: Approximately 4.5 hours



Accuracy Scoring

Yesterday in Day 1 of the “Golf’s Most Wanted!” – Mallet Test, we met the 24 competitors and once again reemphasized that accuracy is the ultimate factor that matters when we have our putter on the course. To assess accuracy, we had each tester take five putts at distances of 5, 10, and 20 feet, recording the distance that each putt ended up from the edge of the cup. That means measurements were taken for 15 putts per putter with each tester, totaling 150 putts per putter!

Once the distances from the edge of the cup were adjusted for the five and ten foot putts, the scores from all of the testers were combined to generate a total accuracy score for each putter.  Accuracy was assessed for the group of testers, not the individual testers.

“Golf’s Most Wanted!” Mallet Putter, should be the most accurate, regardless of the person swinging the stick.

Based upon our years of testing & data, we selected a total miss distance of 127.5 inches from the cup as the ideal accuracy value that a putter could achieve for a given tester. This number represents the total adjusted miss score for all fifteen putts for a given tester and equates to an average miss of 8.5 inches per putt.  Individual putters were then scored against this ideal accuracy value, with the final score representing a percentage of that ideal.  All numbers were rounded off to the nearest whole number. Here is an example of how the final accuracy score is calculated:

EXAMPLE: Accuracy Score Calculation

:: Total Miss Distance (all testers, adjusted for distance)= 1686 inches
:: Average Miss Distance Per Tester (Total/12)= 140.5 inches
:: Percentage of Accuracy Ideal Value (127.5/Average Miss Per Tester x 100)= 91%


Why Looks No Longer Matter


Some of you bristle every time that we say that looks of a putter need not be considered when assessing the value of the putter. Our data shoes that a golfer can putt well with a putter that they really don’t like the looks of. You will tell me that liking the looks of a putter, improves your mindset, making you more confident, and thus effective when you putt. You have a strong feeling that this is the truth. We have hundreds of putts worth of data and tester putter aesthetic scores that say it is not.

A putter’s looks may motivate you to buy it in the shop, but liking how a putter looks, or being loyal to the company that made it, will not make you putt better. It will just add another unused putter to your cache in your garage.

Even the “ugliest” of putters should start to look better and better to you as you hit the cup more and more often. I bet you will find that increased accuracy will actually end up positively influencing your aesthetic opinions.

“Golf’s Most Wanted!” –  The Results







More To Come

The margin of the Ping Ketsch’s victory, as well as the four-in-the-top-10 presence of the Ping TR insert definitely warrants further investigation. How could the Ketsch be so dominant? Is it a perfect pairing of body architecture and the TR insert technology?

Don’t worry, we will be looking into this amazing win in much more depth.

We will also be looking at the other putters as well in Golf’s Most Wanted Mallet – Beyond the Numbers.

What was it that decreased accuracy for the other putters? Did they perform well up close, only to miss more significantly from distance? Was there an alignment scheme that really worked, or one that didn’t live up to expectations? We will get into the nitty gritty of mallet data.

For today though, congratulations go out to the top 5, and especially the winning Ping Ketsch. The Ping Ketsch’s accuracy was amazing, and definitely earns the title of 2014′s Golf’s Most Wanted Mallet!

More Most Wanted Mallet Coverage

2014 Most Wanted Mallet: The Contenders
2014 Golfs Most Wanted Mallet – The Results (This Post)
2014 Golf’s Most Wanted Mallet – Beyond the Data (Coming Soon)

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Golf Forum – Golf Blog (MyGolfSpy.com)

Callaway Brand Survey – The Results

Callaway Brand Survey – The Results

Post image for Callaway Brand Survey – The Results

You Had Your Say

A few weeks ago we asked for your feedback on the Callaway Golf Brand. I thought this would be a particularly interesting survey given Callaway’s current position in the industry.

If you’re unsure of what I mean by that, it’s basically this:

Callaway was on top of the industry, and then they weren’t, and then they we struggling. They drove around in Lamborghinis and made commercials with guys hitting golf balls over fountains. While the equipment was always pretty good, perceptions of the brand we’re sinking faster than the golf balls that landed in said fountain. Then Callaway hired former Adams CEO Chip Brewer. Brewer brought in former TaylorMade marketing guy, Harry Arnett, and then basically everything changed.

Callaway is beginning year two of their #fiveyearwar, and as I’ve pointed out before, things appear to be progressing ahead of schedule?

But are they really?

Callaway no doubt has some numbers to back up whatever case they want to make about progress, but perceptions are often reality, so how YOU, the golfing consumer, view the Callaway brand will go a long way towards determining how successful their revitalization efforts will ultimately be.

Here’s What You Told Us



As it did for Titleist, positive perceptions of performance (31.44%) ranked very high for Callaway. Noteworthy is that “Marketing” (18.71%) received the second highest percentage of votes. Given that we’ve framed the context as a positive differentiation this may not be such a bad thing.

If our readers are telling us that Callaway is extremely effective at marketing its products, we can certainly view that as a good thing for the revitalized brand. If however, the suggestion is that our readers believe Callaway is more about marketing than things like quality and innovation, well…that’s probably less positive.

2-Callaway-accociate words

Given the recurrence of Performance (51.75%) and Quality (44.94%) we can assume that our readers generally have a favorable opinion of Callaway Golf. Our expectation is that we’ll see similar results for most of the companies for which we collect survey data.

The more telling numbers are perhaps found in the more negative words. Once again “Marketing” ranked fairly high (33.21%), and perhaps “Hype” (14.23%) is a bit higher than you’d probably want to see for your brand.

On a more positive note, for the most negative associations in our survey (“Illegitimate”, “Junk”, “Poser”, and “Irrelevant”), only “Gimmick” (6.02%) broke the 5% barrier. This is hardly surprising given we’re talking about the company who just announced the Gravity Core-enabled Big Bertha Alpha (The FLPR).

While I’m not one who believes it’s gimmick technology, we are keenly aware that some of you view anything and everything that strays from the traditional as a gimmick.


Quite honestly, I’m not even sure I believe you guys. 30.74% told us that you have a Callaway driver in your bag. That seems insanely high to me. High numbers of fairway woods (27.98%) and Irons (23.29%) were also reported. Are you guys pulling my leg?

All told, just a tick under 60% of you told us that you have at least one Callaway club in the bag. While every manufacturer wants that number to be closer to 100%, I think most would be comfortable with 60%.

Perhaps noteworthy (yeah…I’m just looking for an excuse to say something else), numbers for hybrids (16.20%), and especially putters (18.91%) were comparably lower. I suppose it’s entirely possible that some who responded may not realize that their Odyssey putter is made by Callaway.

In my estimation, this may be the single most important question in our survey (at least where Callaway) is concerned. 58.57% of respondents report that their opinion of the brand has improved either significantly or slightly within the last 3 years.

If I were a betting man, I’d wager that the majority of that significantly positive shift has occurred in the last year. Any way you look at it, it most definitely qualifies as a positive trend.

It would be interesting to know the reasons why a relatively small percentage (16.51%) of you view the Callaway brand less favorably than they did just a few years ago.

5-believe to be true


Once again your responses suggest a generally favorable opinion of Callaway (we love all the golf companies, right)? It is interesting, although certainly not surprising that nearly 80% (77.65%) told us that you believe Callaway’s products target a wide range of golfers. Contrast that with our Titleist survey in which nearly 50% of you said that Titleist products target only a narrow range of golfers.

Clearly Callaway is doing a better job reaching a broader audience (although in Titleist’s case, your perceptions are likely the result of a targeted strategy).

Once again, positive sentiments greatly outweighed the negative, as none of the bad stuff (products mass-produced and cheaply made, engineering below average, and does not respect the game) cracked the 20% barrier.

As with Titleist, only a relatively small number of you (10.22%) believe that Callaway emphasizes custom fitting. It’s a tough sell for anyone who competes in what is largely an off-the-record marketplace, but I think the manufacturer who can finally get the custom fitting message to resonate with the consumer has the best opportunity for growth.


I can assure you that the above is a question that every manufacturer is concerned about. Obviously the upside here is that 50.82% of you view Callaway as an industry leader. The negative flipside of the equation is that nearly 1/3 (32.18%) of you view Callaway as a follower in the industry.

My point of view is that, for the last several years, Callaway has been generally reactive, and a step or two behind TaylorMade. Certainly things have changed fairly dramatically over the course of this season. While I’m not quite sure we can call them the industry leader just yet, they are, without question, taking the necessary steps to get there.


If you’re looking for a problem with these surveys it right here. As we ask you about individual golf companies, what we’re finding is that everything is average to slightly better than average. We’ll get all of that sorted out in due time.

The real plus for Callaway here is the majority perception that their metalwoods are at least slightly better than those of their competitors. The fact that 38.09% of you view their irons as slightly better than the competition is also a positive.

If there’s any cause for concern (and if there is, it’s only slight) it’s that over 15% of you view Callaway wedges as slightly worse than their competitor’s wedges. That’s a bit surprising given Roger Cleveland’s role in their design, but again…we’re really only talking about 15%.


There are two ways to look at this slide. For everything other than value, the majority listed Callaway as “Above Average”…and by fairly significant margins. That’s pretty good.

The only potential negative for Callaway is that fewer than 20% see them as the industry leader in Innovation, Performance, or Quality.

One interpretation is that while most of you think Callaway is pretty good across the board, they’re not really the best in any given area.


This is another telling result given the inarguable necessity for Callaway to change course, and speed at which Chip Brewer has made it happen. Sure we can split hairs between slowly and rapidly, but 72.31% of you believe the overall health of the Callaway brand is improving. I’d be inclined to agree with you.

Less than 10% view the brand as failing. A year and a half ago I would have said you were right, but today I’m not sure there’s a valid case that to be made for the argument that Callaway worse off than it was 2 years ago, and well… if you’re in better shape now than you were not that long ago…that’s improvement.



Of course we know Callaway products are above average. Everybody’s products are above average (that’s what happens when you survey a single brand at a time). Given that knowledge, and the fact that the majority of those who don’t think Callaway products are Above Average view them as simply Average, it’s not a huge leap to assume that most of you really do think Callaway products are average.

Got that?

Fewer than 10% of you rated Callaway products as the best in golf. While I’m sure Callaway would like that number to be higher, 10% is still more than double the total of Below Average and Worst in Golf combined.

It’s not a first round TKO, but overall the results, I believe, should be viewed positively.


Keep in mind, we ask this question only to those respondents that indicate they follow some golf companies on Social Media. Of those guys, 53.88% follow Callaway.

Honestly, I’m not yet sure what a healthy number is here. I think 53.88% is good. I also know that Callaway’s Social Media following isn’t as big as some others, so there’s definitely room for improvement.


There are two things I’d like to discuss about this particular result. Firstly, more than 89% of you believe that Callaway is Much More, or Slightly More engaged with its followers than the other golf companies. 89% is huge. And not for anything…just one guy’s opinion here, I think you guys pretty much nailed it.

Callaway does a better job of engaging with its followers than anybody else in golf. It’s nearly fact.

What I don’t understand (my 2nd point of discussion) is the just under 9% of you who think Callaway is being out-engaged. By who? Seriously? Who? I just don’t see it.

I get that others deliver their messages differently, and those delivery messages may resonate with you, but engagement is damn near quantifiable, and as I said, I don’t see it.

Who? Seriously, who?


Let’s call this the 3rd of the responses that I think Callaway should be taking a close look at. Ok…so almost 40% (again, only guys who follow golf companies on Social Media) say that Callaway’s Social Media efforts have not influenced perceptions of the brand. I’m not sure I buy that, but ok, let’s accept that at face value and move on.

The more important number here is the 57.74% of you who reported that Callaway’s Social Media efforts have improved your perception of the brand. The fact that 23.16% of you claim the influence has been significant is even more telling.

One of the keys to the success of the new Callaway Golf lies in its ability to talk to the consumer 1 on 1. It’s a grass roots, me to you sort of thing. While obviously you can’t reach everybody that way, our numbers suggest that the approach is having an impact.

I don’t believe Social Media is working for everyone in golf, but I’m almost certain it’s working for Callaway.


Do we always know what influences us to buy something? Certainly, when it comes to golf equipment, there are a lot of factors in play, not the least of which is performance. Some of us buy almost exclusive based on what the launch monitor tells us – and that’s probably not a bad way to go. Other buy on sound, feel, looks…whatever. Like I said, there are a lot of factors, but how do we decide what goes into the hitting bay with us?

Is it really possible that Social Media has absolutely zero influence over the buy decisions of 51.39% of you? Possible? Sure. Likely? Hmm…less sure.

That said, when slightly and significantly are combined, 44.68% of you said you are more likely to purchase Callaway products because of their Social Media efforts.

Give yourself a pat on the back, Hashtag.


3 of you think Callaway has the least effective Social Media in all of golf. The rest of you, well, your opinions are slightly more favorable (except for the 18.82% of you who don’t actually have an opinion on the subject).

20.95% of you believe Callaway has the most effective Social Media in all of golf, and truth be told, you can add me to the list. At the very least, the 53.85% of say Callaway’s efforts are above average are thinking logically.

The below average guys (5.89%)…given the number of golf companies…hell, let’s limit it to club manufacturers, give me at least 5 others that are doing a better job overall on Social Media than Callaway. If you can’t make a compelling argument for at least 5 other companies, you can’t make a compelling argument that Callaway is below average in this respect.

Perceptions are what they are, and a I get that, but objectively, I just don’t see how anyone can rate Callaway below average on the Social Media front.

What Do You Think?

You’ve read my thoughts, but what do these results tell you about the Callaway Golf brand? Is Callaway improving, separating from the pack, or destined to be just another logo on an overcrowded pro shop shelf?

Golf Forum – Golf Blog (MyGolfSpy.com)

Titleist Brand Survey – The Results

Titleist Brand Survey – The Results

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You Had Your Say

Last week we asked you to provide your feedback on Titleist as a brand. I think it’s reasonable to assume that we all (myself included) have a tendency to believe that the majority of people see things the way we do, so we thought it was important to learn what you really think.

These brand surveys (this is the first) will provide all of us with a better understanding of how the larger community of golfers views the various golf companies and the their products.

Putting It All Out There

It’s probably fair to say that from my perspective as golf media guy, Titleist hasn’t always been the easiest to work with. They’re not as progressive as some, tighter with product than others, and haven’t always been the best communicators.

Equally as fair a statement is that over the last year or so things have changed (from my perspective, I’d call it improved). Titleist has been more responsive, and far easier to work with. From my narrow media perspective, they have progressed.

From the consumer perspective they’ve stepped up their Social Media efforts, hired some interesting new talent (James Patrick Harrington), and have continued to do what they do best; make quality equipment that always remains true the Titleist tradition, and seemingly never fails to appeal to a certain segment of the golfing population.

My Pre-Conceived Notions

You can bet that every time we publish one of these surveys, we do so with our own expectations of how the results will shake out. Some of the responses we got were basically exactly what I expected. That said, I’d be lying if I told you that some of my perceptions of how others see Titleist have proven to be almost total misconceptions…at least compared to how the majority of you view the company.

The data we share comes directly from our survey results. It’s what you told us. We’re about to show you what your fellow golfers think about the Titleist brand, and because that’s just the kind of thing we do, we’re going to draw our own conclusions about what it means in terms of the outlook for Titleist.

Here’s What You Told Us

1 - titliest postive differentiation-c

The answers to this question were largely as we expected. We had a reasonable belief that most of you associate the Titleist brand with things like quality and performance. In fact a full 38% of you chose Quality as the single most positive differentiator for the Titleist brand.

If there’s a negative in all of this it’s that less than 1% of you chose innovation. Of course, the results could simply mean that when you think Titleist you think of quality before innovation, but not necessarily to the exclusion of it.

That Other line…those who wrote in chose positive terms like “tradition“, “reputation“, and “history“, while those who chose to express a less positive opinion of the brand chose words like “boring“, “arrogance“, “elitism“, and “nothing“.

2 - Titleist Word Association

As with the first question, the top tier results aren’t particularly surprising, and most certainly have to be viewed as a positive for the brand.

68.49% of you chose listed Professional, while another 61.83% selected Quality among your choices.

Once again, the lack of perceived Innovation (less than 12% of you made that association) could be viewed as a negative.

In happier news, negative words like Uninspired, Stale, Irrelevant, and Junk were largely ignored by our survey takers.

3 -Titliest in the bag-b

These results could be cause for concern at Titleist. Despite the fact that the majority of you quite clearly hold the brand in high regard (Quality, Professional, etc.), less than 50% of you have so much as a single Titleist club in your bag.

The clubs that you do carry (Wedges – 35.38%, and Putter – 24.29%) are perhaps more associated with their designers (Vokey and Cameron) than the company itself. They are more driven by the individual than the brand.

The driver number (22.95%) is probably comfortable, but it goes without saying that Titleist would prefer everything be higher.

4 - Titleist 3 year perception

Here’s the real positive. Less than 13% of your opinions towards Titleist have changed for the negative in the last 3 years. Better news for Titleist yet, while a slight majority (51.31%) have maintained consistent opinions, those of you whose opinions have changed for the positive (35.88%) greatly outnumber those sliding towards the negative.

5 - Titleist Believe to Be True

Another real positive for Titleist. The majority of you believe their products are manufactured to tight tolerances, and you believe that as a brand they honor the traditions of the game.

The potential cause for concern here is the fact that so many of you (48.88%) believe that Titleist products target a narrow range of golfers. While Titleist has certainly built a reputation as a brand for the elite player, ultimately that perception could be hurting their bottom line.

Is the belief that their products aren’t for everyone (middle to high handicap golfers) the reason why less than 50% of you actually carry Titleist products?

6 - Titleist Industry Place- b

There’s nothing here not to like if you’re Titleist (again). A majority of our survey takers (51.54%) view Titleist as a leader, while a healthy percentage of you (42.31%) believe Titleist is unconcerned about what others in the industry are doing.

In my opinion, unconcerned is probably the most accurate. If I’m Titleist, what I really love is that only 6.14% view me as a follower.

7 - Titliest equipment comparison

We asked you to compare Titleist’s equipment to its competitor’s, and frankly the results are a little puzzling. In every category, you told us that Titleist clubs are better than the competition’s. In fact, if we aggregate Far Superior and Slightly Better, we get this:

  • Metalwoods – 71.41% better to superior
  • Irons – 81.21% better to superior
  • Wedges 91.36% better to superior
  • Putter – 84.01% better to superior
  • Balls – 95.75% better to superior

Once again, I ask: If the majority of you think very highly of Titleist products, why don’t you have more of them in your bag?

The ball number is astounding. 62.52% of you believe the Titleist ball (presumably the Pro V1) is Far Superior to everything else on the market. When we isolate the younger demographic (30 years and younger), that number actually climbs to almost 70%.

Let me point something out: 60% of you believe that Titleist makes a Far Superior golf ball, yet only 14.72% of you associated the Titleist brand with the word “Marketing“.

Guys…that’s a huge disconnect from reality on both ends. Even if we all believe that Titleist makes the best ball in golf, the leap to Far Superior is a huge one, and there’s no way you get otherwise intelligent golfers to make it without being heavily invested in marketing that proposition.

8 - Titleist Category Compare

Green is good on this slide, and for Titleist there is plenty of it. Only for value did the negatives outpace the positives – and that’s reasonable given Titleist’s above average price point and their tendency to maintain it.

There are always less expensive options.

Once again, innovation raises a red flag. While the majority of you do rank Titleist above average for innovation, 31.44% of view Titleist as below average for innovation while another 8.72% believe Titleist is significantly behind on the innovation front.

9 - Titleist Health Check-b

More good news for Titleist. While Stagnant (36.15%) isn’t ideal, having a a majority (48.88%) believe you’re moving forward is definitely a positive. Toss in another 9.1% percent for improving rapidly, and it’s basically all good.

10 - Titleist vs competition-b

73.8% of you believe Titleist products are above average. Another 19.66% told us that Titleist makes the best products in all of golf.

So here we go again…93.46% of you have, to one degree or another, a warm and fuzzy feeling towards Titleist products, but less than half of you have so much as a single Titleist club in the bag.

Do you have a greater affinity for the golf ball? Where is the disconnect?

Titleist Social Media

There’s no denying that it’s a new world. Social Media is almost certainly here to stay, and it’s most certainly become a part of nearly every golf company’s Social Media strategy. Some are absolutely killing it, some are being killed by it, but almost everybody is trying.

So how is Titleist doing with Social Media, and to what degree is their Social Media influencing your decisions at the register?

Here’s what you told us.

11 - Titleist Do You Follow

I see these results as generally negative for Titleist. Yes…55.08% of golfers who follow other golf companies on Social Media follow Titleist.

55% is a solid number. Of course, it also means that 44.92% of golfers who follow other golf companies on Social Media are not following Titleist.

44.92% is a huge number too, and one Titleist must certainly want to see decrease.

12 - Titleist why no follow

Why aren’t more golfers following Titleist? It turns out, most of them (38.76%) didn’t know Titleist was on Social Media. That’s bad. If golfers are finding your competitors, and not finding you, it’s really bad.

Other big numbers 22.62% (not relevant) and 20.28% (not a fan of Titleist) are to be expected.

13 - Titleist Social Media Engagement

As a guy who follows every golf company on the planet (or so it seems), my personal evaluation is that Titleist is significantly less engaged than its competitors. Only 8.43% agree with me, so that’s a plus for Titleist, I suppose.

To me, engagement is all about interaction, and Titleist simply doesn’t do it.

Quite frankly, for those of you who find Titleist much more engaged (10.37%) than others, I’d suggest you’re following the wrong others.

The bulk of you (32.08%) find Titleist to be slightly more engaged, while 28.38% find Titleist slightly less engaging.

14 - Titleist Social Media brand influence

The results of these question and the one that follows beg for two additional questions:

Is Titleist simply not doing Social Media well? Or..Is Social Media just a giant waste of everybody’s time?

A staggering 75.73% of you said that Social Media had no influence over how you perceive the Titleist brand.

On a more positive note, 17.44% report that Titleist’s Social Media efforts have improved your perceptions of the brand, while less than 3% feel the efforts have diminished perceptions.

15 - Titleist Social media buying influence-b

Here’s your headline: 80.37% of Titleist follows say Social Media effort has not influenced their purchasing decision.

Now it’s possible you have been influenced and you just don’t realize it. Failing that, please refer to the two questions under the previous chart and get back to me.

Once again, a few of you (16.65%) report that Titleist’s Social Media efforts have made you more likely to buy Titleist products, but seriously…80.37% no impact.

It makes one wonder…

16 - Titliest Social Media Effectiveness - b

Once again, I just don’t see it, but I’m in the minority (albeit only a slight minority). I can give you a handful of mid to large sized golf companies who I think are doing a better job at Social Media than Titleist.

Quite frankly, I think below average is a fair evaluation.

I’m also inclined to believe that No Opinion isn’t good for business ever. Indifference is almost never good for business.

On a more positive note 29.18% of you believe Titleist’s efforts are above average, while another 2.44% of you might actually believe Titleist Social Media is the best in golf.

Beyond the Frontline Data

You want to know the most astonishing thing about these survey results?

In a word, consistency.

I presumed that as we sorted the data by age and handicap we’d see a fundamental shift. Older more accomplished golfers would account for the positive feedback, while younger and/or higher handicap players would have a slightly more negative view of the brand.

That’s not reality. While the bars may shift by a few percentage points here or there, the general sentiment towards the brand remains constant. Golfers of all ages and ability levels associate the same words, with almost identical frequency – and those words are overwhelmingly positive.

The one interesting shift is that while older golfers, and the majority of you as a whole, see Titleist primarily as an industry leader, the younger demographic largely views them as unconcerned about the rest of the industry.

Either way, it’s a plus for Titleist.

There is no age range, income level, or handicap group that views Titleist as a follower.

The Takeaway

What we don’t know is how you view Titleist compared to other brands. We’ll learn a whole lot more as we release more brand surveys.

For now, it’s hard to look at the results and conclude anything other than this:

A substantive  majority of golfers hold the Titleist brand in high regard and generally view it favorably versus its competitors.

What do you make of what your fellow golfers told us about Titleist? We want to know what you think about the results. What makes sense, and what completely blows your mind?

Golf Forum – Golf Blog (MyGolfSpy.com)




Let’s Get to the Testing!

(Written by Golfspy Dave) Welcome to Day 2 of the “Golf’s Most Wanted!” – Blade Awards. Today we unveil the best blade putter for 2013!  Remember in this competition, like with the preceding Most Wanted Mallets, accuracy is everything. Here are the testing parameters:

  • Location of Testing:  Outdoor Practice Green at Haggin Oaks Golf Complex
  • Ball Used:  Wilson FG Tour 2014 PROTOTYPE
  • Number of Testers: 10
  • HCPs of Testers: 2-20+
  • Putters Tested: 28
  • Total Balls Rolled Per Putter:  150
  • Total Balls Rolled Per Tester: 420 over two sessions
  • Time for each tester to complete test: Approximately 4.5 hours

all Putter collage

Accuracy Scoring

Yesterday in Day 1 of the “Golf’s Most Wanted!” – Blade Test, we met the 28 competitors and also reemphasized that accuracy is the ultimate factor that matters when we have our putter on the course. Reviewing our trial conditions, we had each tester take five putts at distances of 5, 10, and 20 feet. 15 putts per putter with each tester, gives us a total of 150 putts per putter.

Once the distances from the edge of the cup were adjusted for the five and ten foot putt, the scores from all of the testers were combined to generate a total accuracy score for each putter.  “Golf’s Most Wanted!” Blade Putter, should be the most accurate, regardless of the person swinging the stick.

Based upon our years of testing & data, we selected a total miss distance of 127.5 inches from the cup as the ideal accuracy value that a putter could achieve for a given tester. This number represents the total adjusted miss score for all fifteen putts for a given tester and equates to an average miss of 8.5 inches per putt.  Individual putters were then scored against this ideal accuracy value, with the final score representing a percentage of that ideal.  All numbers were rounded off to the nearest whole number. Here is an example of how the final accuracy score is calculated:

EXAMPLE: Accuracy Score Calculation

:: Total Miss Distance (all testers, adjusted for distance)= 1686 inches
:: Average Miss Distance Per Tester (Total/12)= 140.5 inches
:: Percentage of Accuracy Ideal Value (127.5/Average Miss Per Tester x 100)= 91%



Testing Photos-3

Why Looks No Longer Matter

Some of you might be saying, “Wait a second, where is the looks category, this only shows accuracy, the looks of a putter matter!”  But do looks really matter when testing or purchasing a putter?  Most of you would say yes and so would every other knowledgeable putter expert in the industry. Both you and the industry would be wrong. Looks do catch your eye in the shop, making you buy that putter. However, liking how a putter looks is not going to make you better on the green.

Conventional wisdom states that a golfer’s views regarding the looks of a putter can have a positive or a negative impact on putting performance (accuracy).  Just like with the Most Wanted Mallet Test, our data demonstrates that liking (or disliking) how a putter looks does not actually reflect how well one putts with that putter. Just like with the mallets, we had inaccurate putters that scored near the top for “Looks & Feel”, as well as some very accurate blades that the testers judged visually unappealing. I know that many of you still believe that liking the looks of your putter will make you feel confident and thus make more putts. You are welcome to go on believing that, but the data says otherwise.

“Golf’s Most Wanted!” –  The Results



Not All Putters Are Created Equal

As you can see from the data, not all putters are created equal.

The results do show that the putter does influence the performance of the golfer.  The construction of some putters may make it more difficult for a player to put the ball into the cup, some have a moderate impact, and a select few can help any golfer to be more accurate, regardless of his or her skill level on the green.  Those putters are definitely the best of the class, and the best of the best represents the “Golf’s Most Wanted!” Blade Putter.

The “Golf’s Most Wanted!” Blade is a putter that is more accurate than its peers, and although, like with the mallet putters, the numbers were close, a putter did separate itself from the pack. The Nike Method Core MC01w was the most accurate of the mallets tested, the Machine M1A Adjuster finished in 2nd Place, just ahead of the Byron Morgan 006 that finished in 3rd Place.

The Winners


The Nike Method Core MC01w putter is designed with tour weighting for optimal forgiveness, roll and accuracy. Polymetal Groove technology and a lower center of gravity team up for precision control on the green.

  • Lower and deeper center of gravity for a faster roll and more precise stroke
  • Mid-size Method Core grips for durability and enhanced control
  • Tour weighting for accuracy and more forgiveness
  • Multi-material insert and Polymetal Groove technology for a more consistent roll

Congratulations to Nike Golf!

Your Method Core MC01w is the 2013 MyGolfSpy “Golf’s Most Wanted” Blade!




The M1A MACHINE Putters begin with proven, traditional designs, and are improved with precision CNC milling, our patent pending VMG face mill pattern, and significantly broadened with new hosel, fit and finish options to suit individual performance needs and tastes. From material choice of the head, to weight adjustability, to platings, coating, custom grinds and finishes, options in modular hosels, to alignment indicator options, the M1A model line gives you the options you need to make your perfect custom MACHINE putter.




The Byron Morgan 006 is one-piece construction, milled from billet.  Its classic lines are easy to look at and line up.  Welded in sound slot gives a cool, custom look to the pocket and changes the sound of the ball off the face. The sound slot also removes 3-4 grams of weight from the center of the putter.


The Data Doesn’t Lie, But What Does It Mean?

This test has given us a great deal of data to analyze and decode. Does a sight line make a putter more accurate? The difference in the Scotty Cameron ranking would suggest so, but then spots 2 and 3 are both line-less putters. Was it the neck? Could grip diameter be the tipping point? At this point we are still trying to decode the results. You can look at it this way. Many talented putter makers are out there putting out high quality putters, but how many of them test against others in the market like we have? My guess is very few. We have collected a bunch of data from the blade and the mallet tests this year, and we will get even more in the future years. It is likely just a matter of time until we can come up with some data supported claims regarding what characteristics will help a putter be more accurate for the majority of golfers. Stay tuned!

Golf Forum – Golf Blog (MyGolfSpy.com)

Results You Can Trust – The Best Way to Test Golf Clubs

Results You Can Trust – The Best Way to Test Golf Clubs

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Written By: Tony Covey

Can You Really Have the Best Golf Club Testing System Without Using Robots?

It has been our goal from day 1 at MyGolfSpy to create the best golf club review process on the planet. We thought if we use a range of handicaps, swing speeds, and swing types, provide more data, more detail, and be more analytic than anyone else, we could do just that.

I believe we have.

Using humans, imperfect as most of you are, to test golf clubs was a no-brainer for us. We’ve put hundreds of hours into developing, tweaking, and refining our review process. We spent hours on the phone with designers, engineers, performance specialists and club fitters trying to make our process even better. At every step of the way we were certain that, despite a total lack of consistency (even the best players in the world can’t touch a robot for repeatable precision), golf clubs that are played by humans need to be tested by humans.


The reality is humans, play golf, not robots. Until we reach a point where golf is a game played by machines while their human owners drink at the bar, we’ll keep relying on imperfect humans to provide the data for our club reviews.

Golf is not Real Steel.

It may sound arbitrary…even wrong, but I assure you, the decision to rely exclusively on humans was not made without doing plenty of homework.

The Voices of Dissent

Not everyone agrees. The one perpetual sticking point with our process…the one issue that gets raised more than any other is our reliance on humans to provide the data for our reviews.

I can’t count the number of times a reader has told us that without robots our review process can’t be trusted. Despite our rigorous and consistent testing protocols, and our performance formulas which take into account things the average reader might never consider, the argument persists.

We’ve heard it time and time again.

  • Humans are too inconsistent.
  • Humans are unreliable.
  • You should be using robots.
  • Your results are invalid.

Only the consistency of a robot can tell you how well a golf club really performs.

Human results, they say, are almost meaningless.

The truth of the matter is that almost from the very first moment the “robot issue” was raised we starting looking into it. If it truly made sense to use robots for our testing, we’d find a way to make it happen. We did our research, we talked to experts from across the industry, and at every step of the way there was complete agreement.

When it comes to evaluating how a golf club will perform on the golf course, robot results, we were told time and time again, are almost meaningless.

We’ve shared bits and pieces of those findings in our reviews, but we’ve deiced that in the interest of putting the robot issue to bed and once and for all we’d lay it all out for you right here.

When the goal is to determine how a golf club will perform on the golf course, data collected from human testers without question, provides the most reliable insight into actual real-world performance.

The Problem With Humans

There are countless reasons why golf companies use robots to test the performance of their golf clubs and golf balls. Humans are inconsistent. We get tired. We have bad days where we can’t hit the ball to save our lives. Sometimes we hit it on the toe. Sometimes we hit it on the heel. Occasionally we even find the sweet spot.

We are…human.

A robot can hit balls a day long without a single bad swing. Robots don’t sweat. They don’t get tired. A robot hits the ball precisely where it’s told.

There isn’t a single golf robot on the planet that’s got a bug up its metal ass about TaylorMade, or Callaway, or anybody else that some real humans really love to hate.

The robot is always as objective. That is to say the robot is always as objective as the guys programming it and interpreting the data.

Robots can do things humans can’t.

“We can hit 3/4” toe shots over and over again and see how both the ball and the club reacts…Robots allow us to test the same club with the same swing, but at different swing speeds.  We can also just vary launch angle, as an example, with robots to see where a particular club may excel or not as well”. – Mike Vrska, Global Director of Golf R&D, Wilson Golf

Try doing any of that with a pathetic human.

As design tools robots are indispensable. They are essential.

If you need to test a specific impact location, or find out exactly how a change in CG placement from one location to another changes launch parameters, you’re going to need a robot. We’re not disputing that.

“We look at launch conditions up and down and all across the face.  This data is used to tune bulge and roll radii, face thicknesses, structural and mass properties”  – Nate Radcliffe, Director of Engineering for Nike Golf

The thing is, at MyGolfSpy we’re not in the club design business.

The Problem With Robots

There are some things – some more obvious than others – that you simply can’t get from a robot. For any aspect of design and performance that is not absolutely quantifiable, robots are absolutely useless.

“Robots are not good for heads when it comes to sound/feel, adjustability, workability, left/right directional tendencies, shapes, and visual aspects of setup like face angle, crown decals etc.”. –Tom Olsavsky, Senior Director of Product Creation for Metalwoods, TaylorMade-adidas Golf

Olsavsky certainly isn’t alone in his assertions that the human element is indispensable ingredient in the club design process.

“Only players can tell us if a new S-Flex shaft is too whippy or feels like a board.  Only players can tell us that a Fairway Wood feels great, except on heel hits when there is a weird sound or vibration on that impact.  Only players can tell us if the topline looks too thick or too thin. All of the ball speed, launch angle and spin rate data from players is very, very helpful from a design and development perspective, but talking with them during and after the testing can be just as valuable.” –Mike Vrska, Global Director of Golf R&D, Wilson Golf

The fact of the matter is that we don’t concern ourselves too much with that sort of subjective stuff either. Sound and feel issues should be worked out before the club hits retail (you know…during the design phase). Other stuff, shape, and color, and decals; there are no absolutes. As a golf company you design for your audience and hope for the best.

What matters most  – the reason why almost everyone relies so much on human testing (despite the fallibility of humans) – is that even the most advanced incarnation of Iron Byron doesn’t swing like a human, and as a result, doesn’t produce the same results that humans do.

Humans vs. Robots

Guys…especially the YOU NEED A ROBOT crowd let’s take a brief timeout so you can prepare yourself for what’s going to happen next.

Lots of really smart guys, guys who know more about testing golf clubs than probably any other group of guys on the planet – guys (including the guy who basically invented the golf robot) are about to tell you, without reservation or hesitation, that when it comes to determining how a golf club will actually perform on a golf course – robots ain’t got nothing on humans.

One of the first people we spoke with about robot testing was Dick De La Cruz. For those who don’t know De La Cruz, he’s the innovative mastermind behind some of the most famous club designs in history. He’s one of the founders of Hickory Stick Golf (which ultimately became Callaway Golf). He developed many of the tools and gauges golf companies use today, and as it happens, he helped design and bring to life the modern swing robot.

De La Cruz understands that because of their precision, many golfers consider robots “the ultimate answer” when it comes to club testing, but he also tells us that in his experience, there aren’t many people who actually know much about how robots work.

The problem, as De La Cruz explains, is that robot and human swings are fundamentally very different.

“To begin with a human uses two arms 2 hands and two wrists when swinging a golf club while standing on two legs. A robot has 1 arm, 1 wrist, 1 hand and stands on four legs. The robot is fabricated from metal and is very rigid as a human is very supple and flexible in the golf swing”. – Dick De La Cruz

I know…it’s all very obvious, and your first instinct might be to say “so what, robots are still more awesomer, and your data is still invalid”, but as it happens, those basic differences that Dick De La Cruz just spelled out for you…they make all the difference in the world.

Simply put, it’s not a question of consistency and precision, and knowing what happens when you hit the ball .73mm from the sweet spot; even when all other variables are equal, humans and robots produce different results.

The biggest shortcoming [of robot testing] is it is possible to get great results on the robot and then a club doesn’t perform as well with players. –Mike Vrska, Global Director of Golf R&D, Wilson Golf

We asked club designer and custom fitting expert Tom Wishon to explain why it is that a machine engineered to mimic the human golf swing produces results so inconsistent with those produced by actual humans. This is what he told us:

“Robots do not swing like humans in one VERY key aspect of the golf swing.   With humans, once they unhinge the wrist cock release, the arms begin to slow down as the clubhead accelerates to its max speed.  This happens because when the wrist cock is unhinged, that action sends the energy of the arms to the club.  With the energy of the arms sent to the club, the arms then have no other recourse but to slow down, while the clubhead after receiving the energy of the arms begins to accelerate to its max speed.

This action of the arms slowing down while the hands are still firmly holding the grip causes the mass of the clubhead to push the shaft into a forward bend position.  This forward flexing of the shaft causes the dynamic loft (the actual loft of the head at impact) of the head to increase and thus bring about the shaft’s contribution to the launch angle, spin and trajectory of the shot.

The typical swing robot’s “arm” is mechanically driven all the way through the swing.  Therefore when the robot unhinges its “wrist cock angle” the arms do NOT slow down as they do in a human.  This means that the shaft cannot act the same manner of forward bending as it will with a human.  And from this, the dynamic loft will not be the same for a robot swing as it will be for a human swing.  That in turn means the launch angle, spin and trajectory won’t be the same for a robot hit shot as with a human hit shot.

Added to this is the fact that the robot’s “hands” are completely rigid because the “hands” are made from metal and not flesh, tissue and muscle.  In humans the forward bending action of the shaft is dampened by the fleshy and supple makeup of the hands.  Not so in robots, so this too affects how the clubhead is delivered to the ball and changes the shot result of a robot vs a human. ” – Tom Wishon, Owner Tom Wishon Golf Technology

Say that again Tom…

“That in turn means the launch angle, spin and trajectory won’t be the same for a robot hit shot as with a human hit shot.”

And that brings me to one of the most fundamental issues with robot testing:

Robots Can’t Test Shafts

This isn’t my opinion; it’s the well-educated opinion of TaylorMade’s Tom Olsavsky, Callaway’s Luke Williams, Tom Wishon, and basically anyone who actually knows anything about testing golf equipment with robots.

I think we’d all agree that the shaft is a pretty big and important piece of the golf club, and as it turns out, robots are all but useless when it comes to shaft testing. Robots show almost zero distinction between shafts of different flex, weight, torque, or any of the other engineering details that go into shaft design and ultimately play a role in how they perform in human hands.

It begs the question; if you can’t test the shaft, how do you test the finished club?

You might as well just stick a rigid steel rod in everything you test…which is exactly what Tom Wishon does when he tests his heads.

The completely rigid rod prevents the robot’s arm action from creating any atypical results. It allows Wishon to collect valuable information about the performance characteristics of his designs. What it doesn’t tell him is how the club will perform for actual humans.

For Wishon’s work as a designer, that’s fine…probably perfect even. Robots are invaluable tools in the design process, but for the average guy who wants an idea of how a fully assembled, off-the-rack driver (yes…the reality is the average guy still buys off the rack) will perform for him, the robot data, it turns out, isn’t particularly helpful.

We Don’t Buy Heads, We Buy Clubs

The average golfer also probably isn’t interested in having his next driver outfitted with a rigid steel shaft. The average golfer isn’t buying a head; he’s buying a complete club.

While a robot can tell you how a given head will perform at a certain speed, to a man, the experts we spoke with agree that it can’t tell you exactly how the assembled club will perform in human hands.

For that you need humans – living, breathing, wholly imperfect humans.

Robots Don’t Buy Clubs, and They Don’t Play Golf

In the last several years I’ve had countless casual conversations with designers, engineers, and other performance and fitting specialists. I’ve asked nearly every last one of them which – human or robot – yields more valuable information about the actual performance of their golf clubs.

To date, not a single person has answered “robot”. Not one.

It’s Actually Very Simple

Finally, we asked the experts a very simple question:

Which method of testing provides the best indicator of how a club will perform on the golf course?

Here’s what they told us:

Don’t take our word for it…take it from the experts…all of them. When it comes to determining how a golf club will perform for an actual human, robots are a poor substitute for actual humans, which is exactly why MyGolfSpy has and will continue to test golf clubs using real live human testers.


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