I wrote this recently and thought what better place to share it than to dump it onto The Refuge and watch the fireworks…
I have very specific views about golf club brands and these are based largely on nothing but prejudice. I feel certain things when I think about certain brands and I find the best way to describe this is to relate them to cars. So, according to my ridiculous opinion, if golf club brands were cars, what would they be and why:
TaylorMade are BMW. All brash and loud and shouty. Driven by people convinced by advertising hubris. They’ll throw a piece of carbon at anything and their customers will wax lyrical about how they can definitely tell the difference while snap hooking it into the range netting.
Callaway are Mercedes. Solid. Dependable. They occasionally get convinced they need to compete with TaylorMade and the results are usually disastrous. Much better when they just do their own thing and now they have finally caught up with the technological revolution, they’re doing it quietly well. They’ll never be cool if you’re in your 20’s though.
Titleist are Jaguar. Great cars. Great heritage. They don’t really care what anybody else does. 500 product lines that change every 5 mins? Nah, they’ll just have a couple, thank you very much. And they’ll be the same couple for years. But they’re are great and well made. Plus, they make so much money from Land Rover (their golf balls) they don’t have to worry about going broke. The car of choice for the discerning gentleman who’s not interested in fads.
Mizuno are Lexus. Japanese. Interesting. Curious. Everyone knows they’re expertly made clubs, but when given the choice between a Japanese car or a German car, who chooses a Lexus? Rebels and geeks, that’s who. Unless it’s cheap. Or someone else’s.
Ping are Volkswagen. Incredibly well made and you can’t knock a thing about them. They make some top end cars but they’re better known for their mid range, which annihilates all the competition. The trouble is, would you rather people see your VW keys on the bar, or the Merc / Jag ones? No, I didn’t think so. Even their logo is a little … well, dull.
Cobra are Ford. At their best when making hotrods. Loud, shouty, noisy and extremely good at some things. But there’s no strength in depth and in recent years you’ve been half expecting to wake up one morning and find they’ve gone bust. Plus, only kids want a bright orange car.
Cleveland are Chevrolet. Driven second hand by first time drivers and old people for runs to the drug store. They have one car deserving of respect, the Corvette / Launcher. The rest is just… meh. What’s that? They’re sold as a Daewoo / Srixon in Europe? Well I never.
Wilson are Nissan. Apparently they make good cars these days, but nobody actually wants one. That said, there will always be some Nissan devoted bore in the clubhouse who will tell you that his GTR goes round the Nurburgring faster than a Ferrari…or something.
Adams are Chrysler. Another brand for old people and soccer moms. They’re reliable and they have some great, practical models, but you’re not sure you could commit your whole game to them. A Town & Country would be nice, if you have 6 kids, or an oxygen tank to drag around, but why else would you?
PXG is Aston Martin. They’re all hand made and bespoke and cost a bloody fortune. You know that deep down everyone will be impressed and you can’t get better craftsmanship, but do you look like a footballer with more cash than taste? It’s a fine line and unless you play off scratch you’re probably on the wrong side of it.
Honma are Rolls Royce. They cost ten times more than an average club but are they ten times as good? Of course not. These are cars for Arab Sheiks. They’re not for the likes of you or I. They come in gold for Heaven’s sake. GOLD! Just put them down and step away.
Yonex aren’t a car. They’re a company that makes badminton racquets. What’s that? They make golf clubs as well? Sorry, I didn’t know that. I’ve never seen any on the course… They cost HOW MUCH?!
Strata are any first car. They are the car your parents help you to buy and put on their insurance when you first pass the test. It’s not pretty and it’s not that great, but you’re so excited to be mobile you get all giddy. A year in, though, and you’re looking for that upgrade.
Nike were Cadillac. In every test possible you could prove that a Caddy these days is as good as a German car, but nobody cared. All the celebrity endorsements in the world didn’t count for shit. RIP Nike.
So, much like a car your choice of golf clubs says a lot about you and getting it right is a tricky balance of style and substance. Nobody wants to be too flashy, especially when you’re not that good. And nobody gets super excited about bringing a dull station wagon home to the driveway. But make a wild choice and suddenly you’re having a mid life crisis like a 55 year old man on a Harley.