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Has anyone ever made a cheap vs expensive clubs comparison test?

post #1 of 24
Thread Starter 

I know they have machines that can swing a golf club in the exact same place at the same speed using a robotic arm.

 

Has anyone ever done this with a cheap club against an expensive one? Do you think the expensive driver would go much further, or the expensive irons would be more accurate or whatever?

 

My thinking is that these companies like Ping and Callaway invest loads of money in R&D but then the year after, other companies can just copy their clubs, and I imagine most are made the same way with the same materials. Plus these companies have to spend money on marketing, sponsorship, etc.

 

What are your thoughts?

post #2 of 24
Testing can be found on my golf spy website.
post #3 of 24

Some years ago someone took middle range cast irons, and middle range forged irons and painted them all black. No one could see any difference. Then some touring pros were asked to hit some balls. No touring pro could find any difference in performance. Nuff said?

post #4 of 24

My thoughts on clones?

 

I don't like someone stealing the IP of someone else.

post #5 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by joekelly View Post

Some years ago someone took middle range cast irons, and middle range forged irons and painted them all black. No one could see any difference. Then some touring pros were asked to hit some balls. No touring pro could find any difference in performance. Nuff said?

 

Note that cheap vs expensive has absolutely nothing to do with forged vs cast though.  There are lots of expensive irons out there that happen to be manufactured by the investment casting process.

post #6 of 24

Of course there is a difference, physically there different. Cast iron is maded from harder material, so there is a difference. I can tell the difference, especially on mishits. I know when i hit the ball on the toe and heel more than that of a casted club. Its not that hard to tell. the pro's don't tell because they hit the club in the center of the clubface more often.

 

But yes, if you make the club the same MOI for the swing, and they hit the sweet spot. Then no, there shouldn't be much difference. Forged irons would probably go a bit lower in trajectory, the Center of Gravity for a forged iron is higher in the clubface. Though that depends on design now, a lot of forged clubs have some sort of perimeter weight and cavity back design.

post #7 of 24
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mr. Desmond View Post

My thoughts on clones?

 

I don't like someone stealing the IP of someone else.

 

I don't mean clones, but I mean when any company makes clubs, surely they look at golf clubs made my other companies as well (like with phones, cars, computers, etc..), so if you take a 2013 model of a Wilson/Dunlop driver, and then one made by someone like TaylorMade, then the TM would most likely be better because they've worked on improving it. However the year after if they use the same materials, the cheaper ones should be as good as last year's premium clubs, until new technology is discovered, or existing technology improved upon

 

Of course I mean with Wilson/Dunlop for example being reputable companies (even if they're not leaders in golf) I don't mean really cheap copies that might snap or bend when you hit them once. For example Dunlop have the more expensive (than their others) NZ9 range, which probably uses the same materials as some (possibly last year?) premium brand golf clubs

post #8 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by golfingnooob View Post

 

I don't mean clones, but I mean when any company makes clubs, surely they look at golf clubs made my other companies as well (like with phones, cars, computers, etc..), so if you take a 2013 model of a Wilson/Dunlop driver, and then one made by someone like TaylorMade, then the TM would most likely be better because they've worked on improving it. However the year after if they use the same materials, the cheaper ones should be as good as last year's premium clubs, until new technology is discovered, or existing technology improved upon

 

Of course I mean with Wilson/Dunlop for example being reputable companies (even if they're not leaders in golf) I don't mean really cheap copies that might snap or bend when you hit them once. For example Dunlop have the more expensive (than their others) NZ9 range, which probably uses the same materials as some (possibly last year?) premium brand golf clubs


A few things to consider.  Expensive golf clubs, such as the current year drivers from Nike / etc. typically have higher quality shafts than those made for store brand companies.  It isn't to say that the store brand isn't a quality piece of equipment.  Likely the consistency and feel of the shaft is going to be much improved. 

 

The transfer of Energy from a driver club head to the ball is called COR (I think this is an overly simplistic explination) and it is limited by the USGA/R&A to .83.  This means that no legal club should hit the ball further than a different club.  Some clubs will impact spin and launch differently.  That being said, a good swing, regardless of the club will produce a good golf shot.  Good golf clubs are made for the less than perfect golf shots.  When you don't hit the exact middle of the face, does the ball travel 50% of the way to the target, or 90%. 

 

A machine would swing a golf club relatively the same way over and over again.  A human however does not. 

 

As to your "hidden" message, is there value in less expensive golf clubs.  I will tell you that last years models typically sell at 50~70% of the the cost of when they were new, and the benefits of new clubs isn't huge from one season to the next.  For instance, the Ping G20s can be purchased for $549 compared to the G25s which are $699 or $799 (I don't remember the exact price).  It is safe to say that the G20 isn't 80% of the club that the 25 is, but it is approx. 80% of the price.  Ping is one of the companies that discounts alot less than Nike / TM / Callaway.  The Nike Covert driver is a great driver that the beginning of the year was $299, you can now buy it for $199.  If it fits your swing, you will still find it to be a great golf club.  When I purchased a driver at the beginning of the year, the Nike at $299 (or even $199) was better than every other driver except the Callaway (which was $399 at the time and has been discounted since) and several of those were $349 to $399 (Titleist, Callaway, TM R1, etc.) 

post #9 of 24

An in-between area is component clubs.

 

From 1994 to 2008, I played Ping Eye2 clone iron heads, the Pro Tour Blacks. The clubs were custom-fit for me by a small club shop down near Dallas, TX. The lie was 2* flat, and the irons were shafted in True Temper's Dynalite Gold S300 (the high-launch cousin of Dynamic Gold, the low-launch shaft).

 

The iron heads were quite durable - I played a $5 premium per head for these irons over some other available heads.  Through the years I hit some rocks with the heads, but the heads showed minimal denting or anything. Supposedly in the late 1990s Ping won a lawsuit against Pro Tour, and all unsold clubheads had to be melted down.

 

I met dozens of other golfers during the 1990s who also played the Pro Tour iron heads.

 

Main reason I dropped the clubs was in 2008 I couldn't bend the shafts any more. I had lost about 15 yards per club in distance, and had ruined my swing tempo trying to hit the ball harder. So, I went to regular-shafted clubs (except light-stiff wedge flex in my GW and SW).

 

Once you get past the year 2000, a lot of these custom club shops faded away, especially in big metro areas.

 

Some of the component club sources include the Maltby line from GolfWorks (now owned by Golf Galaxy), and the Snake Eyes line from Golfsmith. Maltby/GolfWorks has its own R&D operation, and also rates new irons each year from the major OEMs in the Maltby Playability Factor system.

 

A lot of the custom club shops will find an open-model family of iron, metal wood and wedge heads from different golf equipment foundaries. These models are fairly stable from year to year, and can be customized with the shop's label, or for a label used by a group of shops. The best way to see what's going on is to find a small custom shop, and talk to the people who run it.

 

Also, talk to the shop's customers. If you find out several of the area's serious golfers use clubs made by the shop, chances are you've found something.

post #10 of 24

What do you consider cheap???

 

You pay for the name... with the higher priced stuff...

 

Im a wilson fan.. Played with hagens which were really wilsons and then staff midsized... Looking at forged now because thats as close to old technology as you can get.. Like callaway x forged or FG wilsons...
 

post #11 of 24
Golfingnoob, your question, while insightful is pretty broad. If you are talking about the difference between say a $179 combination set from Wal-Mart vs. the latest from Callaway or Titleist, then there will be a difference in performance at some level. There are several other variables to consider as well. A rank beginner, unless exceptional, would probably be better off with the set from Wal-Mart than a set of Titleist muscle back blades, or a pro-lofted driver with too stiff a shaft. A pro on the other hand, would probably hook the Walmart set off the planet, at least the first few shots, but after they became acclimated, would beat my pants off even if I had the best and most forgiving Callaways fitted down to my pulse rate. As Clearwaterms said, the chief difference will be in the quality of the shaft. Again, a rank beginner might not notice the difference, but even a bogey golfer who has played a while will. Also, there will often be differences in the quality of the grip which is the only part of the club one touches during the swing. Cheap is a relative term. Custom built clubs using quality components are not a lot less expensive than name brands by the time you get the heads, choose the shaft, choose the grip, and pay for assembly, but they are often a great value because they are tailored to you and still less than off the rack name brands, and certainly less than custom fitting from most "pro lines". There are less expensive alternatives to buying the latest and greatest. As others have said, last years model is often still available if you can find your specs for 30-40% less than the newest. Used is also an alternative. So, "cheap" is relative, and quality does not necessarily mean list price.
post #12 of 24

The WalMart or Target offerings are an iffy proposition.

 

The boxed sets you can get at a golf shop are better, as they often are made  by a division of a major golf club maker. This depends on the intensity with which you enter golfdom. If you play three times a month and practice on occasion, the boxed sets will do you fine.

 

If you start out playing twice a week and practicing twice a week over the six-month season, you may "wear out" the clubs by early season 3. But, if you wear out your boxed set through aggressive golfing, you'll have cool stories to tell your playing partners and grandchildren!

post #13 of 24
I wore out my strata set in 7 weeks. Cheap quality.
post #14 of 24

My first set of irons were Knights, that I bought in 2000 from Sports Authority for $100 including the bag.  The irons seemed well made and held up well, though admittedly I didn't use them much except for a trip to Myrtle Beach.  I can't comment of the playing performance of the irons since I was just starting out, but I never broke an club. 

 

I see a lot of people show up at the local range with "cheap" box set clubs and it seems the quality of these clubs is far below the Knights I owned and major brands given the number of heads that break off and go flying into the grass at the range.  I watched a guy break three irons and his driver from his brand new set in less than a 1/2 hour this past Sunday. 

 

Obviously when you buy major brand names you pay for the name, but you're also paying for their efforts to protect their name by building quality products and standing behind them.  A cheap box set that costs $100 isn't going to compare quality wise to a set that costs $800. 

post #15 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by edindallas View Post

I wore out my strata set in 7 weeks. Cheap quality.

When you say wore out, what do you mean? 

 

When I first started, I got a set from walmart in a dunlop bag, the entire set probably only cost $100.  They lasted longer than 7 weeks, and I didn't know how to play golf at all.  I probably banged those clubs into the ground 1/2 dozen times and they still lasted longer than 7 weeks. 

post #16 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by newtogolf View Post
Obviously when you buy major brand names you pay for the name, but you're also paying for their efforts to protect their name by building quality products and standing behind them.  A cheap box set that costs $100 isn't going to compare quality wise to a set that costs $800. 

I can't speak to other brands, because the only nice set of clubs I have ever purchased were pings.  But for $800 for the set of Irons, I got a set that was custom built to my specifications.  The clubs arrived approx. 2 weeks after I ordered them and came with a toe tag that indicated which shaft, grip, etc. That I ordered. 

 

Each club head was weighed, and the final product was verified to all have the same swing weight.  I know for a fact that the sets from big box stores don't include that level of detail.  Like you said, the quality control is much lower.

 

But as others have posted.  Just because a high line club from a major golf store costs $600~$800 doesn't mean that the set further down the wall that costs $200 is inferior quality.  Honestly, golf clubs are sold on the value proposition, not on margin.  Some bean counter somewhere has found out that a golfer will pay $600~$800 for a new set of Irons, so manufacturers charge $600 to $800.  In Hong Kong, they sell golf clubs at thousands of dollars, and when I was looking, they appeared to be the same clubs that I could purchase in the states for 1/2 the price.  They are not twice the clubs, honestly they were probably the same club.  But the value proposition dictates that is what they can reasonably charge for equipment and people that are serious enough will buy it. 

post #17 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by clearwaterms View Post

I can't speak to other brands, because the only nice set of clubs I have ever purchased were pings.  But for $800 for the set of Irons, I got a set that was custom built to my specifications.  The clubs arrived approx. 2 weeks after I ordered them and came with a toe tag that indicated which shaft, grip, etc. That I ordered. 

 

Each club head was weighed, and the final product was verified to all have the same swing weight.  I know for a fact that the sets from big box stores don't include that level of detail.  Like you said, the quality control is much lower.

 

But as others have posted.  Just because a high line club from a major golf store costs $600~$800 doesn't mean that the set further down the wall that costs $200 is inferior quality.  Honestly, golf clubs are sold on the value proposition, not on margin.  Some bean counter somewhere has found out that a golfer will pay $600~$800 for a new set of Irons, so manufacturers charge $600 to $800.  In Hong Kong, they sell golf clubs at thousands of dollars, and when I was looking, they appeared to be the same clubs that I could purchase in the states for 1/2 the price.  They are not twice the clubs, honestly they were probably the same club.  But the value proposition dictates that is what they can reasonably charge for equipment and people that are serious enough will buy it. 

There's a value proposition for every industry, ultimately businesses have to charge enough money over their actual costs (hard and soft) to turn a profit or it doesn't make sense to be in business. 

 

The company that sells $100 sets, spends $0 money on marketing or R&D, but still has to purchase the heads, shafts, grips and packaging material.  On 10 clubs, the cost of grips is probably $20, packaging $5, that leaves $75 for shafts, heads, labor and profits. 

 

If you tried to build clubs on your own using quality components you'd likely spend $20 - $25 per iron shaft and grip.  The numbers just don't add up for the $100 sets, they have to reduce the quality of the materials to provide that price point.     

post #18 of 24
Thread Starter 

thanks for the replies guys. I think once I play some more, if I ever "outgrow" my clubs, I may go for a more known golfing brand

 

for now, when I say "cheap" I mean I just got some Dunlop Tour Elite irons that were £3 each new lol. even as a budget brand I'm quite surprised as I think this is a low price. I'm hoping when they turn up they're not just drawings of golf clubs b3_huh.gif

 

Anyway, I just want to see as well, does anyone think using cheaper clubs will give me any bad habits? say if I was to upgrade them, would the fact they might be "heavier" or something make a big difference, or is that the same as going from say a set of Pings to a set of Callaway irons?

 

edit: btw I already have a TP12 driver, 3 wood, putter and p/s wedges and they're fine. I got a dunlop bag too, I will actually be a walking billboard for Dunlop f3_laugh.gif

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