But, the big time review channels consist of British golf pros like:
Rick Shiels (265k subscribers) (https://www.youtube.com/user/RickShielsPGAGolf)
Mark Crossfield (236k subscribers) (https://www.youtube.com/user/4golfonline)
Peter Finch (126k subscribers) (https://www.youtube.com/user/peterfinchgolf)
In fact, Shiels has reached such popularity that he has been named as one of the judges for Wilson Golf’s next Driver vs. Driver 2 reality show coming up on The Golf Channel this year.
I had mentioned that Shiels was going to be one of the judges in my 2018 PGA Merchandise Show review and that I thought it was a great choice, even though I’m not a big fan of the reviews.
My issue with the reviews is that regardless of the reviewer, the reviews are pretty much the same and it’s mostly subjective data. The reviewer will go over the club(s) they are going to review. What the marketing behind the club says and then hit a bunch of shots with a launch monitor and go over the ball flight numbers (the only real objective data in the review) and mostly go with what their thoughts are on the feel and looks of the club. I’ve even seen Rick Shiels review the naming of the model such as his dislike of the name ‘Epic’ for the Callaway models.
This really is not a knock against those reviewers as looks and feel play a huge role in a club purchase. I believe that not only do most golfers purchase equipment based on looks and feel, but that there is normally a universal standard of sorts when it comes to looks. Most people find blade irons to be pretty while they just don’t see game improvement irons to look that great. The same goes for the Wilson Triton driver which I’ve mostly heard from owners that it performed great…but the looks and feel (mostly from the sound) were underwhelming.
But my point is that the lack of objective data in these reviews leaves a lot left to be desired for more critical golfers like myself. For instance, I tend to put too much spin on the ball so I am always looking for a low spinning driver head. But, it’s difficult to tell a comparison of what heads will derive more or less spin or lower or higher launch angles unless you actually get fitted. And many fitters do not have all of the driver heads a golfer could want to try in order to find the best possible fit. And the ones that do are quite pricey and provide ‘ala carte’ pricing.
For instance, let’s say you are fitted for the Ping G400 driver with a Mitsubishi Tensei shaft and a GolfPride Multi-Compound grip. The pricing would be as follows in ‘ala carte’ pricing:
And that does not include the fee for the club fitter to put the club together which usually is around $100 to $150 (and they often charge sales tax). By the end you’re looking at a driver that costs over $950. And drivers due lose some of their COR (spring effect) after a couple of years of use as Kelvin Miyahira tested this out a few years ago (it’s one of the big selling points of the Krank Golf drivers…their heads don’t lose COR over time). So you could pay nearly $1,000 for a custom fitted that could need to be replaced in 3 years and by then that model is no longer being sold.
In essence, there really needs to be a better way to do this for the consumer. There really needs to be a Consumer Reports version of studying golf equipment using objective data and stop relying solely on how the reviewer(s) just happen to be swinging the club that day. Fortunately, we may have finally come across that with The Golf Lab’s video of the Taylor Made M1 vs. Taylor Made M3 driver head study
The Golf Lab is based out of Barrie, Ontario a suburb of Toronto. It is headed up by golf instructor Liam Mucklow who was awarded the Canadian Golf Instructor of the Year award in 2014. Here’s a list of The Golf Lab Team and their credentials and backgrounds:
What The Golf Lab has created is one of the most state of the art facilities in the world for golf instruction and club fitting.
As many readers already know, I’ve been a huge fan of the GolfMechanix products since I purchased their MOI Auditor Machine back in 2012. But GolfMechanix has so many other great products that The Golf Lab has in their studio such as the digital lie and loft bending machine that can measure the loft and face angle at different parts of the face.
As Tom Wishon pointed out years ago with his head designs…the loft changes on OEM driver heads throughout the face. This is due to the ‘roll’ design of the heads. The loft gets lower towards the bottom of the head and the loft increase towards the crown of the head. Wishon created drivers with what he calls Graduated Roll Technology in order to not lose loft on shots hit low on the head…while only seeing a slight increase in the loft on shots struck higher on the head.
The Golf Lab also has GolfMechanix’s Center of Gravity locator machine (retails about at $5,500). This is the key piece of equipment in these reviews. Most driver heads are fairly similar in terms of size (roughly 460 cc), lie angle and loft options as well as the COR. Companies have a regulation in terms of COR and each company pushes the limit on COR. Thus, any claim that you will hit this driver ’20 yards further!’ should be taken with a grain of salt.
It’s not that a golfer cannot hit a certain driver 20 yards further, but it has little to do with the driver having a ‘hotter’ face and it’s unlikely they will be able to be able to swing the club with faster club speed and a faster resultant ball speed that, by themselves, would produce 20 yards more distance. Instead, if you can find the head with the right Center of Gravity for your swing (as well as the right shaft), then you can start to get into a legitimate conversation of hitting it 20 yards further and straighter. And thus you’re getting into a conversation of actually making a smart, logical decision in purchasing a piece of equipment.
In recent years I feel that OEM’s have made great strides in creating legitimate differences in their driver heads. I feel the TaylorMade twist face is legitimate in terms of making off-center hits better. Also companies like TaylorMade, Callaway and Ping have found better designs of the Center of Gravity and loft specs to create better performance. Check out this Be Better Golf video at the 11:00 minute mark where they Brendon DeVore hits a very popular 2007 TaylorMade driver model versus the M1 at the MyGolfSpy lab.
And that is what The Golf Lab’s M1 vs. M3 driver head study is about:
Access to the entire video costs $13 and can be found here:
The Golf Lab has stated that they plan to more videos. Hopefully they can find a membership plan or a lower price point to do more videos so one can carefully examine and compare year’s models of all OEM drivers.
I won’t go into the findings here because that is what the video is for. But Mucklow and his assistant, Carson Hau, do a great job of clearly explaining what the numbers mean and how that will affect the ball flight conditions. Mucklow also hits each the M1 and the M3 driver with the weight moved all the way forward and the weight moved all the way back and shows the results and explains the conclusions as to why the ball performed different with each head and where they moved the weight. And just as importantly, unlike most reviewers…Mucklow uses the same golf shaft in each head (and each weight location)…a Fujikura Atmos Blue 6 X-Stiff shaft that he says is his gamer shaft. That is critical because most reviewers use a different shaft when they compare clubs and the shaft properties can easily alter the launch conditions of a shot.
Hopefully, this can develop into something similar to the Wishon Shaft Bend Profile database that Tom Wishon has that can tell you the properties of thousands of golf shafts. In the meantime, it’s an excellent presentation of understanding the design of a driver head. And whether you are an amateur or a golf instructor, shouldn’t you understand the fundamentals of the equipment you are using?
I think so.