Friday, August 28, 2009

A Look Into the Latest Poll Question

Thanks for voting on my last poll of 'What Manufacturer Do You Like the Most?' Here are the results

Miura - 5 votes (4%)
KZG - 3 votes (2%)
Scratch - 5 votes(4%)
Adams - 7 votes (6%)
Cleveland - 6 votes (5%)
Cobra - 3 votes (2%)
Callaway - 9 votes(7%)
Tour Edge - 2 votes (1%)
Titleist - 20 votes (17%)
Nike - 2 votes (1%)
Mizuno - 23 votes (20%)
Bridgestone - 4 votes (3%)
Ping - 17 votes (14%)
Taylor Made - 9 votes (7%)
The results didn't surprise me too much. The winner, Mizuno, has been beloved for their irons for years. I currently carry the MP-62 irons and I think they are fantastic. But now they have a solid line of wedges and hybrids and actually a very good driver in the MP600

I think where they have really stepped up their game is in the game improvement iron line (the MX series). They've provided higher handicappers with a forgiving club that has a great forged feel to it.

I've usually been a Titleist fan, but I'm not too into their current line of products. The ZM and ZB blades I believe are some of their worst blades in years and I don't really care for the AP line. The next line of irons really needs to step up their technology and shaft availability, particularly offering the rising popularity of the KBS and Nippon shafts. However, I really like the Vokey wedges and if you can bend the Cameron putters, then that's a good deal. The big issue with the Camerons is the price. I do not like their current line of drivers and while I still think the ProV1 is a good ball, I like what Taylor Made, Bridgestone and Callaway are offering in the ball market.

I've got a lot of respect for Karsten Solheim's impact on clubmaking, although I don't care much for Ping clubs. The new i15 driver looks really nice.

I'm a forged blade or player CB type of golfer, so their iron line doesn't appeal to me, but I think the S57 and the new i15 irons are still a real nice line of irons for Ping fans. The Redwood putters are very good, surprised they don't have them in a B60 model. I like their wedge line from a few years ago over this line, but overall Ping is doing a solid job with their product line IMO.

Taylor Made still makes a quality product, especially now since they are merged with Adidas which I think makes the best player golf shoe. The only thing that hurts them is I'm not too nuts about their player irons right now. The R9 is a real nice driver as well as the fairway woods. I actually like their wedges as well. Their woods are what draw the customers as I still see people left and right rave about their 2007 Burner driver. But for me the real winner, besides the Adidas 360 shoes, is the golf ball. And now with the Penta coming out in a few months, they may just become better with the golf ball.

I'm not a big fan of Callaway from years ago when I had a Warbird Driver and 3-wood and after struggling badly to hit the driver, I found that the stock shaft actually measured to be a Ladies Stiff (it was marked X-Stiff). I liked their X-Prototype irons, but the price was way too high. Their GI irons are very popular, but I think golfers would be better off hitting either Adams or Mizuno's GI irons. Oddly, I think the product line that has taken a big dip for them is the woods and they'll need to create something like the R9 or the Nike Str8t Fit in their next line of woods to compete. The Tour-i and Tour-ix golf balls are excellent and even the Warbird golf ball is a good high handicapper golf ball. I was disappointed in their wedges as they are very hard and they scuff up the golf ball quite easily.

Despite not owning any Adams clubs, I'm a big fan of the company. The now retired founder Barry Adams would get some flak for not developing clubs meant more for the low handicapper, but seeing what he turned that company into was a magnificent accomplishment. They have a great line of irons from anywhere to the GI to the player irons. The new Pro Black M irons are superb (stock shaft is KBS Tour shafts).

I've heard nothing but rave reviews about their drivers, particularly the Speedline and the 9015D, both of which you can now get for under $200 (the old Speedline model). In fact, I've been told the renown club fitter, CoolClubs in Arizona, highly recommends the Speedline driver to its customers. Also, I find their Puglielli wedges to be vastly underrated. And don't forget their popular line of hybrids.

I actually voted for Cleveland, even though I only carry their Hi-Bore XLS driver and the old BeCu 588 Lob Wedge. Reason being is that I like their total product line and I find from a total product line, Cleveland is hard to beat.

Both their Hi-Bore XLS and Launcher woods are very good clubs. The Hi-Bore XLS hybrids are superb. They have a nice line of irons from the GI Hi-Bore, to the CB in the CG Red and CG Gold, to the player blades in the CG Tour. They also have the Srixon Z-Star ball and the Never Compromise putters. They also have the Cleveland Classic Putters which are probably the best value for a putter you'll find. And let's not forget what made Cleveland famous, their wedges.

Miura and Scratch make some fabulous irons. Miura's founder also designed Titleists' 600-line blades back a few years ago. I would highly suggest Miura for the low handicapper who wants a blade made more like the blades of old with the sweetspot more towards the heel and the Center of Gravity higher up on the face. The 'Small Blade' model looks as good as it gets.

The Miura blades to get rave reviews for their soft feel, but I found them to be about the same softness as my MP-62 irons. Not that they are not soft, but if you want to get them for feel, you may want to look to Mizuno and save yourself about $500. Miura also makes a nice looking like of wedges, fairway woods, drivers and a putter.

Scratch Golf is a component company that is known mostly for their wedges and their ability to customize their clubs down to the last detail. They now have hybrids, irons and putters. Scratch golf also has the softest forged steel in the industry. I plan in getting new irons in the next 2-3 years and Scratch Golf will be one of the manufacturers that I will consider.

Bridgestone makes a solid product, especially with their J36 irons and their golf ball. Still, their West Coast design Wedges and J36 woods are quality products as well.

KZG is another club component company that I've heard rave reviews from. I would like to try their Zero Offset blade irons. A friend of mine has their progressive offset blades which he loves, but I was not too nutty about their look.

I would rate Cobra higher than the votes that they got. The S9-1 drivers are very good as their Pro CB and Pro MB blades are really, really good. I hit their Baffler hybrids and was dissapointed.

The same goes with Nike. The Str8t Fit woods are very, very good. The VR blades and CB irons are solid as well and they make a solid shoe and a decent golf ball and some very good wedges. Tour Edge has some very expensive drivers and fairway woods. They look nice, but they are usually out of price range.

I think the key for these manufacturers in the future is to keep allowing customization of their clubs. One of the problems the club component companies are having is the major OEM's are selling last year's product lines at very cheap prices. I believe the key going into the future is who will provide customization at a cheaper price, especially with shaft options. And with drivers, the ability to adjust loft and face angle will continue to be a big seller. Perhaps if somebody can come up with something for irons and/or being able to work the lie angle, they may be onto something.



Greg Brown said...

Agree mostly with what you wrote, though I am gaming an Cally FT-9 with Fubuki shaft and I love it, easily the most forgiving driver I have hit.

Ping had the best customer service of any company I have every dealt with, golf or otherwise. Great product.

I am very interested to try the new Method putters.

Anonymous said...

Just a question as a point of information, and there is NO intention to offend....because I really like this blog.

Do you get money from anyone(manufacturer or teacher) to help support this blog?

Rich H. said...

I get zero, zilch, nothing, natta.

Anonymous said...

Ok...... thanks again for a great blog.

Anonymous said...

I just got fitted for driver and fairway woods using trackman. My swingspeed ranged from 106 - 108. The Ping Rapture V2 with Diamana gave me the highest ball speed and lowest spin. Give the rapture v2 a try - long and forgiving. The TM R9 fairway with stock shaft was the best fairway for me with Titleist very close behind.