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Club Reviews

Poll Results: Do you think equipment reviews are to subjective?

 
  • 54% (12)
    Yes
  • 13% (3)
    No
  • 22% (5)
    Don't care
  • 9% (2)
    Undecided
22 Total Votes  
post #1 of 14
Thread Starter 

Maybe it's just me but the "Hot List" and most other club review processes just leave me wanting more factual information.  If I read "longer and more forgiving" for a driver review one more time I'm going to hurl a3_biggrin.gif.  I want to see head to head comparisons of all new drivers that are done using the same ball and swung by a robotic arm at several swing speeds as well as in neutral, open and closed positions.  Purposefully hit some on the toe or hosel, then post distance and dispersion data.  Give me a ranking of longest, most forgiving, longest on mis-hits, etc.  If they want to have some human testers as well - go ahead, the more info the better.  But, please don't tell me that "XYZ drivers" are the best without any evidence to back it up.

 

I did find one site that does not go to the extent I listed above but does provide data from an entirely too small sample.  Below is a photo of one of their interactive data for the Ping i20 driver.  At least it's a start?

 

Thoughts?

 

post #2 of 14
Thread Starter 

Poll question should use "too instead of to".  Sorry a3_biggrin.gif

post #3 of 14

We publish reviews. You just have to know how to read them.

 

They can't be objective, because you have no guarantee that everyone was fit properly, etc.

 

I'll take one well fit knowledgeable guy's review over "let's put up a bunch of tests from random people who have hit this club all of ten times ever on a driving range" types of reviews.

post #4 of 14

What I've found from reading reviews over 18 years is that people react differently and swing differently, and get different results from different drivers, irons, wedges, etc.

 

Especially drivers and fairways.

 

And feel! One man's sound of a cracked baseball bat is well, a cracked baseball bat (See Nike SQ II). But take the R1 or Titleist and you get different remarks about feel/sound. But when you throw out the outliers, you get a consensus. But it takes a lot of reading to get a consensus.

 

Distance?

 

Shaft, Loft, Swing, Flex ... SWING ... all affect performance.

 

I typically get a "feel" for how people are reacting to a club, but I'm looking for how the features help the golfer. I'm looking for face angle, lie and loft adjustments, construction, face technology and forgiveness, shaft, length, and swing weight. The only thing that's proved somewhat reliable from reviews is sound/feel after deleting outliers.

 

And then you jump on a launch monitor.

post #5 of 14
Thread Starter 

Thanks for the replies so far.  Especially, the one that points out that I'm a moron a3_biggrin.gif and can't understand the nuances that Mr. Desmond described as feel.

 

You're absolutely right that I can't tell what someone else describes as "feel".  "Forgiving" for them may not be what I'd describe as forgiving because of my lack of golf skill or simply the nuances of symantix.  As for my post being a slight against this site's reviews, I sincerely apologize as that was not my intention.  I simply think there should be a better way for us uneducated, recreational golfers to compare clubs, before going to make a purchase.  Now, these reviews wouldn't be a substitute for a fitting or jumping on the launch monitor but it would be food for fodder.  In my original posts, I even agreed that the sample size from the other site was far too small and that I disagreed with some of their testing methods but I thought they were at least attempting to get real data.  Oh well, se la vi.

 

To Mr. Desmond: I appreciated your post and the items that you pointed out as possible limits to the type of review I described.  I thought it was on point and agree with your assessment but also feel that if all clubs have their standard off-the-shelf shaft/lie with a predetermined loft for drivers for instance, and a predetermined flex you could get a more "factual / comparative" review.  I may be very naive in thinking this is possible and if so I apologize.

 

Cheers!c3_clap.gif

post #6 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by bluecollar01 View Post

 

To Mr. Desmond: I appreciated your post and the items that you pointed out as possible limits to the type of review I described.  I thought it was on point and agree with your assessment but also feel that if all clubs have their standard off-the-shelf shaft/lie with a predetermined loft for drivers for instance, and a predetermined flex you could get a more "factual / comparative" review.  I may be very naive in thinking this is possible and if so I apologize.

 

Cheers!c3_clap.gif

I would say inexperienced rather than naive. I once thought similarly to you. You'd see all these guys on forums whining about "What 3 wood?" or "What Driver?" to buy.

 

But a certain amount of buying a club is subjective, and sometimes you don't know what you like until you have it in your hands and are twirling it in your fingers. Looking at the shape, balance, color, etc. 

 

And then after looking at the features, jumping on an LM. For example, I had two 460cc drivers, one that was 46.5 inches long, and another that was 45 inches, and for some reason - aerodynamics, confidence? whatever?, I had 7 more mph with the shorter length driver.

 

I'd like the process to be as simple as reading, but it's not. You gotta research and jump on a LM.

post #7 of 14
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mr. Desmond View Post

I would say inexperienced rather than naive. I once thought similarly to you. You'd see all these guys on forums whining about "What 3 wood?" or "What Driver?" to buy.

 

But a certain amount of buying a club is subjective, and sometimes you don't know what you like until you have it in your hands and are twirling it in your fingers. Looking at the shape, balance, color, etc. 

 

And then after looking at the features, jumping on an LM. For example, I had two 460cc drivers, one that was 46.5 inches long, and another that was 45 inches, and for some reason - aerodynamics, confidence? whatever?, I had 7 more mph with the shorter length driver.

 

I'd like the process to be as simple as reading, but it's not. You gotta research and jump on a LM.


I think inexperienced would probably be an understatement.  a1_smile.gif

 

Still, it seems if many weekend duffers like myself and you in your... uninformed years e2_whistling.gif have that perception that a more "comparative" review process would be beneficial that someone might supply it.  Now, I understand that it's not in the manufacturers best interest and I guess the publications may see it as risky as they can't control the outcome (advertisers may not be inclined to buy ad space if the review is unfavorable).  But, seems like it would stir up a bit of publicity.  Especially, if a perceived lower end piece of equipment outperforms a perceived higher-end manufacturer.  Even if it only confirmed what many already believe it would appear to be more objective (real or imagined).

 

Thanks for your input!

post #8 of 14

A comparative review process won't account for the all the variable that go into a club such as a driver which Mr. Desmond pointed out.  A few of the UK golf publications (Barnes & Noble sell them) do more comparative reviews than the US.  You could read a good comparative review but then go into a golf store to test it and find your results to be completely different.

 

As a general guideline, most of the top end drivers (R1, 913D*, Covert, Ping G25, Callaway Razr Fit, Amp) are all very well made and are going to perform about the same.  What you need to do is find the right shaft and settings to make each of those drivers work for your swing and no magazine article or website is going to be able to provide you that information. 

post #9 of 14

I get where Bluecollar is coming from - there is a lack of objective data from a scientific approach to golf club testing.   But I also suspect that if there were truly such a thing that data would likely be misused and misunderstood by those trying to buy clubs and those trying to sell them.  

 

Initially, it would seem there would be some value to taking a robot and testing different drivers hitting the ball in different spots, for example balls hit did center, balls hit 1/4 inch toward the toe and heel, etc.    Theoretically, this would give a better objective understanding of how well each driver hits the ball under identical conditions.     Perhaps one would see that a R11 hits it 4% farther than a Callaway XHot on dead center hits, but the distance falls off faster on mishits with the R11 than the Callaway (my example here is purely made up and not meant to be indicative of these clubs' actual performance).     Some buyers might find this useful information - someone who has trouble hitting the sweet spot may then find the Callaway better than the R11 (in this fictional example).  

 

But the problem is that no golfers hit like that robot.   One would almost have to take detailed measurements of their club dynamics and then program the robot to mimic it perfectly to get useful advice.   And most golfers themselves have sufficient variability in their swing that it would negate much of those results.      The danger in having such objective data is that the club sellers would of course jump on any data that makes their club look a little better:   "Proven in Robotic Testing: The New TaylorPing Callamade is 6 yards longer when struck 11 millimeters from the Sweet Spot!"    Buyers would be swayed by this whether or not it mattered to their individual swing or not.   We already certainly see this in advertising such as the Rocketballz claims of 17 yards longer, and this advertising is powerfully persuasive.  

 

So much of hitting a club is subjective to the user and those things that make it subjective vary completely from user to user.     What we perceive when we look at the head, how the balance feels in our hands, how the shaft feels as it is loading up, the sound made at impact, the feel of any vibration through the grip.....these are all things that make each of us perceive clubs differently, and these cannot be measured objectively.         But most players don't even really know what makes these factors different or how we perceive them.   One example is with putter shapes and how Edel has built a business around how the eye perceives the different head shape - a head may look good to you, but why?    Another example is where Mizuno research showed that impact "feel" with irons is almost all about sound, and not what the hands perceive.   Players will say that the Mizuno forged clubs feel like butter hitting the ball and they love that, but in Mizuno research they could make people think the feel was completely different simply by having headphones on and changing the sound pattern.  

 

To me, the only really useful club reviews are those that focus on one or a few clubs specifically and offer a detailed explanation of how the club performs for that particular reviewer and why.    The reviews in something like Golf Digest to me are totally useless.    For example, they'll say "One of the longer drivers tested" and "Some testers found this longer than their current club".    So what?   Unless I know what their current club is, that is a useless piece of information.   For all I know they could be hitting an old Macgregor persimmon, and having the new driver be longer is no surprise.    And unless I know what their swing tendencies are there is no way to relate that to what I'm looking for in a club.   

 

Detailed reviews such as you'll find on forums like this tend to offer a lot more information, and that makes it easier to assess if what the reviewer is discussing is applicable to yourself.   And the various comments from other forum members may help ferret out the needed information.    But even with that information at your disposal, it is still not sufficient to make a buying decision.   Reviews may help you narrow down the field, but then you need to go get the only objective information that is really going to matter - how you personally hit it as measured with a launch monitor.    

 

So, I understand where the OP is coming from in his opinion that club review data is often too subjective, but I feel that trying to get an objective 3rd party perspective is not very helpful.   Instead, seek out detailed subjective explanations, examine your own capabilities and compare them to those subjective viewpoints to narrow down your choices, and then use launch monitor data to objectively finalize your decision.   

post #10 of 14

The best club head in the world isn't going to perform it's best with the wrong shaft for the swing, and even shafts marked the same are not totally identical.

 

Funniest thing I saw was when one of the guys at our course that has an over the top swing and less than 90 mph club head speed bought the same driver and shaft as the longest hitter at our course that probably has 110 mph + club head speed just because the long hitter "could hit his so well". SMH

 

d2_doh.gif

post #11 of 14
Thread Starter 

Thank you to everyone for your comments.  As many of you stated, it's virtually impossible to be completely objective with the number of variables involved.  That being said, I think that a process similar to this could be "more" objective than the current "hot list" or individual review processes that are the defacto standard.  And, I think it would be interesting to find out exactly how much more we pay for "high-end" performance equipment.  If a swing arm provides data that shows that distance and dispersion for a $400 golf club is marginally better than a $200 club, what would that mean?

 

Maybe it simply means the lower-end manufacturer begins charging more or that the higher-end manufacturer charges less.  Regardless, I simply wanted a "better" (in my opinion) way to compare clubs and if every club is "long and forgiving" it makes differentiation tough.  As I said before, I don't think this would be a substitute for being fitted - simply a way to compare "off-the-shelf" options more objectively.

 

Cheers!c3_clap.gif

post #12 of 14

Agree on the subjectivity of the Hot List.  They tend to try to do too many clubs at the same time.  They also tend to give Gold medals to every manufacturer.  When I read them, I usually go the the "cons" to see what the testers found lacking.  The Pros tend to be similar.

 

I do like the reviews on this forum a lot.  They are much more complete.  They tend to not present a lot of negatives, but in their defense, they are reviewing good equipment.

 

That being said, nothing compares to your own assessment of clubs.  You will be buying, so they better meet your standards.  Mr. Desmond's addition of feel (sound included) is important too.  I picked my clubs by how they felt and sounded at impact and much as the other features.

post #13 of 14
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by boogielicious View Post

Agree on the subjectivity of the Hot List.  They tend to try to do too many clubs at the same time.  They also tend to give Gold medals to every manufacturer.  When I read them, I usually go the the "cons" to see what the testers found lacking.  The Pros tend to be similar.

 

I do like the reviews on this forum a lot.  They are much more complete.  They tend to not present a lot of negatives, but in their defense, they are reviewing good equipment.

 

That being said, nothing compares to your own assessment of clubs.  You will be buying, so they better meet your standards.  Mr. Desmond's addition of feel (sound included) is important too.  I picked my clubs by how they felt and sounded at impact and much as the other features.


I agree with the Gold medals.  Don't know how others feel about it, but it gives me the impression that you can "buy" a good review.  That's why I think it's important to at least give the impression of objectivity.  If you know the results of the review before it comes out, it seriously calls into question the legitimacy of the review.

 

The folks on this site are definitely very knowledgeable, albeit some are... more militant than others in the forums a2_wink.gif

 

You are absolutely right that everyone should review the equipment themselves before making a purchase because of the "intangibles" that make the club(s) right for you.,

post #14 of 14

The reviews here are by ordinary golfers, so I'd trust them a little more in their honesty, though sometimes the reviewer knowledge may not be that of better players.

 

However I am going to agree on the magazine reviews. I am saddened whenever I get into a sport, inevitably I purchase a few magazines to see what's what. And a trend that goes through most magazines with reviews, whether they be bikes, surfing, golf, whatever. These are all sports that have products coming out regularly, which seems to appeal to us in that we all like to see the latest stuff also! There is also a little bit of good stuff to get you to buy aside from the reviews, like players buy golf mags for the tuition or interviews.

 

But is the lack of negative reviews or review points compared to positives. I mean, all the golf gear in the world can't be more than 75% in ratings can they? There has to be some crap doesn't there?

 

I guess what I am saying is it seems that the magazines have the 'everyone gets a medal and no one fails' kind of methodology, and it took me a while to figure out why.

 

Magazines and websites that operate as a business don't do it as a service. Sure, they may provide a service, but that is not their purpose. Their purpose is to make money, and aside from selling issues in the case of mags, or memberships for websites, they make dosh through selling advertising copy.

 

If you are disparaging to your advertisers, they'll drop back or cut out their ad budget with you. Hence, if you want to keep money coming in, you always play nice with your advertisers new clubs a2_wink.gif

 

Once I realised that, and that GD and Hot List all had winners from every brand as mentioned above, then I take them all with a grain of salt now.

 

The reviews have to be subjective as others have said, seeing as we are all different in swings they have to be. But I think they are far from independent.

 

Definitely have their place in the market though, young kids love reading mags! JMHO

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