What goes through your mind when you test a golf club? As readers of this blog know, I have the opportunity to test many different pieces of golf equipment through the year. Many of the major golf companies send me their new clubs to test, comment on and (sometimes) promote. At the end of the day, I am able to provide a real, honest testimonial on a golf club that you might buy.
When testing clubs, I try to do it from the perspective of someone who would buy the product in a store. That might sound obvious, but there is a huge difference between testing a club for feel and testing a club's performance with the help of a ball launch monitor, Trackman, or other analytic hardware.
A majority of folks buy a golf club after hitting it at the range or on a golf simulator, hoping that what they saw/felt today will be replicated on the golf course tomorrow. So what is the tipping point? What makes you pick one club over the other?
Feel is king for most golf club consumers. After all, every golf club does the same job, right? It helps you advance your golf ball toward an intended target. Some clubs just help you do it more accurately or with more distance than another club option. If one club "feels" better in your hands or at impact, you'll probably purchase that club.
Speaking of distance, many more consumers will factor that variable in to buying one club over another. If one driver goes 10 yards further than another -- and you don't have to change your swing -- then chances are the longer club gets rung up at the cashier. But how many times have you hit a 4-iron or 6-iron on a golf simulator to gauge distance? Don't you want your scoring clubs to fly a specific yardage?
That's where the third variable comes into play: golfer "pain". Any product from any industry is marketed to appeal to the consumer's pain point. Companies want to tell you how your life will be better if you use their product. Golf clubs are no different. Can't hit the ball far enough? Buy this driver!
Finally, brand loyalty also plays a role in which club a consumer will choose. Some golfers will only play clubs from one company. There are many reasons for brand loyalty, but more often than not it relates to past experience. A golfer may have shot his best score using a Callaway driver, so he is more likely to buy another Callaway club in the future. That golfer's buying decision literally has nothing to do with the new club.
Whatever your reason might be for choosing one club over another, we all agree on the end goal: to lower our scores. Unfortunately for golf companies, the only way for a golfer to know if a new, shiny golf club will help him achieve that goal is by using it over time.
Some companies now allow a "try before you buy" program, but not nearly enough. It would be in their best interest to give golfers enough time to test equipment and to believe that the new club can actually benefit their game.