As you’ve probably seen, we’re bombarded with ads from golf club manufacturers that want us to change our gear every year to see some type of “improvement”.
They promise more yards, better accuracy, bragging rights with friends and cats that give high-fives. OK, so the last one’s not exactly true, but it’s still cute. But if you’re wondering how often you should change golf clubs, this article will help you figure it out.
Should I Switch?
I’m going to tell you this right away: if you like your clubs and you’re comfortable with your results, wondering how often should you change golf clubs isn’t worth the trouble.
Let’s put it this way: if you like your washing machine and it’s doing a good job cleaning your clothes, would you switch it out for something new just because a company releases a new model (or two or three models) this year?
Could a new washing machine wash your clothes better than your current model? Maybe… but do you want to spend $300+ every three to six months trying to find one that might, when the one we currently have is working? Why do we feel we should do this with golf clubs?
They’re a tool that allows us to play a game; maybe there’s a model out there that will allow someone to hit the ball a little farther and maybe a little straighter, but at $300+ a pop, can you afford that kind of experimentation?
Now for the part that really irks me: so-called “experts” that, at least on the surface, appear to be paid mouthpieces for the major OEMs. There was an old back-and-forth I went through with Golf Digest’s Mike Stachura back in 2008… unfortunately, they killed the page. You can find the “Page Not Found” here; you can see the little lead-in to the aftermath here (it’s the next to last heading on that page). Anyway, you can see my little mini-rant about it here.
The gist of it is, Stachura noted that anyone that doesn’t “upgrade” their gear at least every two years is “pretending” to golf.
Knowing that not everyone can drop $1500+ every two years on new gear, I was a little incensed about that comment. Knowing that all the major specs of a golf club (COR, MOI, etc.) have been maxed for well over six years, it upgraded “incensed” to “pissed”.
It’s like “Really?” Explain:
- Phil Mickelson going to the old Ping Eye2 LW? Was HE “pretending” to golf with it?
- Brandt Snedeker won the 2015 AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am with a putter that was nine years old, a driver that was five years old (both totaling a whopping $34 on the market today) and a four year old set of irons.
- And let’s not forget Henrik Stenson winning the Open Championship with an old 3w he could hit 300 yards
By Stachura’s logic, Mickelson, Snedeker, and Stenson just “pretended” to win those tournaments…
Here’s a pic of the winning $24 (trade-in cost, per the PGA Value Guide) driver Sned’s used:
It’s asshat comments like that that make me feel ashamed of our game, sometimes.
It’s bad enough that outsiders believe this game is an overly expensive, elitist sport/hobby… but jerk comments like Stachura’s don’t help make the perception better. That’s where my core value is at: I want to help everyday people play golf, even if they don’t think they can afford it. There are always options (or here!).
In the interest of fairness, I hope that Stachura has softened his stance. I took a very, very long break from reading Golf Digest/Golf World magazines and websites, so I honestly don’t know if he has or not. His writing partner, E. Michael Johnson, has always struck me as a pretty level-headed guy, so there’s always the possibility.
If you come to me and ask how often you should change golf clubs, I’m going to tell you “If you want to”, or “If you can afford it”.
Let me put it this way:
- You can spend $300-$400 on a brand name driver that’s maybe custom-fitted
- A bare-bones driver- for example, an Acer XF with no shaft or grip upgrades- would cost $94.95 from Hireko’s website.
For some, $400 is a lot for a golf club. For others, $100 is a lot. Don’t forget you can always check out someplace like Ebay for more deals.
I’ll tell you one thing: if you were to ever get fit by me and you tell me your budget, more often than not I’ll be able to stay under your budget. Within reason; if you’re expecting a just-released name-brand driver with that brand-new “it” shaft and have it under $200, good luck. If you’re flexible and are willing to look at component brands, clone brands, or shopping around on Ebay, things will get better.
There are plenty of options available
for any golfer’s budget… some are just
a little harder to find than others.
But the point is, you don’t have to switch if you don’t want to. Despite all the marketing claims, we as an average aren’t really getting any longer. Take my earlier post about “high launch, high spin” and its not-so-crazy effect on driver distance for professionals. These guys, for the most part, are playing new gear every time it rolls out. That’s part of what they’re paid to do: they’re walking advertisements.
Consider these two pictures:
On the left is from the WGC-Cadillac (’15), the right is from the Valspar Championship (’14). The three constants- Bubba Watson, Dustin Johnson and JB Holmes- all have shorter carry distances this year compared to a year ago. But in fairness, I’m going to believe that weather has had something to do with this, so really we’re looking at the best of the best, playing the latest and greatest, are holding constant. Not increasing, not decreasing by significant margins… holding steady. Even the PGA Tour average is basically in a holding pattern, with a less than three yard gain.
The Final Word(s)
Is that a case for upgrading when you want? I don’t know about you, but I take it that way. How often you should change golf clubs is nothing more than a personal matter. They can make all the “hot lists”, “most wanted” lists, crazy advertising claims and I can talk til I’m blue in the face… but YOU, dear reader, are the final determinate for deciding when, or even if, you should change your golf clubs.
So, how’s about it? What’s the oldest club you have in your bag? Do you ever feel like trading it in?