If you’re an avid golfer, you likely come across marketing efforts from club companies on a near daily basis. Ads for new clubs bombard you, whether on TV, in your inbox, on websites, or in other locations.
Even if you are currently happy with the performance of your clubs, it is hard not to be tempted by the shiny new models hitting the market. As you find yourself staring at the latest and greatest clubs from your favorite manufacturer, you may slowly be talking yourself into spending money on new golf equipment.
Of course, you do need golf clubs in order to play this game, and those clubs need to be in good repair. Clubs that are worn out or failing in some way are not only detrimental to your game, they could be downright dangerous.
You always want to hit the first tee with a set of clubs that gives you confidence in your ability to play at the highest possible level. But how do you know when it is time to pull the trigger on a major equipment purchase? That question is not always an easy one to answer.
Ignore the Buzz
The golf club cycle turns over incredibly quickly. The drivers which are supposed to be ‘game changing’ or ‘revolutionary’ one year are cast aside as old and out of date just 12 months later.
Do you really need to spend $500 on a new driver this year after buying one a year ago? No – of course not!
Despite what the equipment companies would have you believe, the performance of the clubs they are offering now is not in any significant way improved over what they offered a year or two ago.
It is important to remember that the performance of USGA-conforming golf clubs is limited by the rules set out by the USGA. If a certain club falls within those limitations, you can be sure it is not going to perform in some incredible manner which has never before been seen. Visions of turning 200-yard drives into 300-yard bombs simply by purchasing a new driver are based solely in fantasy. Those kinds of improvements are up to you and you alone – there isn’t a club on the market which is going to transform your game in a dramatic way.
With that said, equipment does matter. You can certainly play better golf by purchasing quality equipment which has been fitted to your game (see episode 163 of The Golf Podcast for more on this). However, when it comes to equipment, we are talking about the margins of your game.
Think of it this way – your skill, preparation, and technique are going to make up at least 90% of your performance on the course. Your equipment will make up the last 10%, if that.
Put another way, you could trade clubs with a professional golfer on the first tee, and you would still lose. Sure, the pro might have to adjust slightly to different clubs, but his or her ability would shine through in the end.
Pay Attention to Wear
Rather than chasing the latest technology in an attempt to buy a better game, you should be purchasing new equipment based on the needs you see within your set. Golf clubs do wear out over time, and the length of time they last will depend on how frequently you play and how well you care for your clubs.
Sets which are wiped down after each round are going to fare far better than clubs which are left dirty for days on end.
Replacing your golf clubs is kind of like replacing the tires on your car. Sure, you can get slightly better performance out of your car by buying new tires, but you aren’t going to buy them for that purpose alone. Rather, you are going to buy them because your old tires are wearing out.
It’s the same with golf clubs.
As your old sticks wear out, you can take to the market to locate a suitable replacement which includes most of the latest available technologies.
It should be noted that clubs from different parts of your set are going to wear out at different rates. Usually, the wedges and the driver will be the first to go. Wedges need to be replaced because the grooves will wear out, and drivers can go ‘dead’ over time after you hit them frequently on the range and course.
Long irons, on the other hand, may last for many years because they are rarely used. As for your putter, it isn’t going to wear out – if cared for properly, it could last the rest of your golfing life.
Your Fit Can (and Will) Change
Another reason to replace your golf clubs is the potential of a changing fit. Your game is going to change over time, hopefully for the better, and you need to make sure your clubs are keeping up with those changes. For instance, if you have picked up 10 miles per hour on your swing speed as the result of a fitness regime, you might need to move from a regular flex shaft into a stiff flex.
Pay attention to the performance of your clubs over time and adjust to your changing needs as necessary. You might be able to adapt to your needs by simply picking out a new shaft for your driver, or you may decide to replace the entire club. Likewise, if your skills have improved to where you no longer need game improvement irons, you might decide to replace your set with some muscle back or blade irons. Whatever the case, changing club fitting needs is a logical reason to spend money on new gear.
The important lesson to take away from this article is that you don’t need to run out to buy new clubs just because you see an ad on TV while watching a golf tournament. It is helpful to have the right equipment, but don’t fall into the trap of thinking that this year’s clubs are significantly better than what was available last season. Watch the condition of your clubs carefully, and think about replacing them when they can no longer do the job.
As for what you should do with that extra money you will have by skipping out on new sticks, that one is easy – play more golf, of course!
Cover Image via Flickr