Are you just beginning to play and are looking for a set to play with? Like any wise shopper, you are researching for your big investment and you find a whole gamut of prices to choose from. The local pro shop has a single driver at $299, while you go to a discount or big box store and find a whole set for the same price, and that even includes the bag. You are probably wondering what the difference really is and how it may influence your game.First, let’s explain some of the terms so you will become a more informed shopper. Pro-line equipment is, well…what the pros play (for the most part with customized shafts and grips suited to them). The large companies such as Callaway, TaylorMade and Nike pay millions of dollars to professional golfers as means of endorsing or increasing awareness of their brand. Companies bank on the fact that the core golfers will eventually purchase the same brand of equipment that their favorite golfer plays, whether it is Tiger, Phil or Annika. Furthermore, these same companies will spend many more millions of dollars to advertise their brand or latest equipment in major golf magazines and television networks. Usually the marketing cost can constitute about two-thirds of the price of each club.
Store-line equipment is just the opposite scenario. Many of these clubs you find in the department stores, retail chains or discount houses will be off-brands, some of which are their own generic house brands. But this is one part of the reason why the cost is considerably lower than pro-line equipment.
Pro-line golf clubs employ engineers in their R&D departments to do extensive testing to create new and improved clubhead designs using the latest aerospace materials and production techniques. The golf professionals as well at robot and launch monitor testing, spring-board the advent of newer designs and technologies and certainly factor in the price of each club. Store-line equipment clubheads will not be the same cutting edge designs with the most advanced materials available, but more open sourced models provided by the many foundries that supplier the equipment industry.
Nearly all of the pro-line drivers will be made of different grades of titanium and fairway wood and most irons cast from stainless steel. This may not be the case with store-line equipment. As a means of cutting cost, certain materials are used for exclusively for starter or boxed sets. Driver may be much smaller (normally not as forgiving) and made from stainless steel. If the driver is large it is produced from aluminum (even though they may have names like Ti alloy or Ti matrix). Aluminum heads have to have their faces made much thicker for durability and as a result the ball coming off the clubhead will not come off the face at the same velocity as a titanium-face driver.
The irons could be made of zinc, which would be noted by the much larger hosel diameter (where the shaft is inserted) as zinc does not possess the same strength as stainless steel. It should be noted that not all of the store-line equipment may use these materials. The price of each set will more than like indicate what materials are used. Lastly, the specifications of pro-line clubheads tend to be tighter or more consistent from head-to-head than what you would find in a store-line set as well.
The shafts and grips that are found in pro-line equipment tend to be better quality than store-line clubs. Another way of cutting costs to produce a starter set is to use less expensive materials. The shafts may consist of fiberglass as an additive or as a high percentage of the overall shaft. This tends to make the shafts heavier in weight, not quite as stiff and possess a high torque (or greater amount of twisting). The results are typically a higher ball flight with slightly less accuracy. The grips on store-line clubs may be made from lesser grade of rubber or synthetic rubber compounds that are typically not as slip-resistant as grips you would find on pro-line products.
In many cases there is a big difference between a $299 store-line set than what a complete pro-line set will cost (around $2000 including the bag). There are alternatives in-between the two. One is purchasing completed clubs from Hireko, where comparable heads, shafts and grips cost about one-third that of the pro-line clubs. We utilize the same cutting edge
technology in clubhead design and offer than same name brand shafts (Aldila, Grafalloy, True Temper, etc.) and grips (Golf Pride, Lamkin, Winn, etc.) as found standard on pro-line equipment. Remember, not paying professional golfers or spending million in advertising on branding is what makes the difference without sacrificing quality.
Buying from Hireko, you can get pro-line quality at almost store-line pricing!
by Jeff Summitt
Hireko Technical Director