|In the past quarter century, the appearance of golf clubs has evolved more so than any time in its illustrious history. We have gone from blade-style irons to cavity back irons, “wooden” woods to stainless steel fairways and titanium drivers, steel wood shafts to graphite shafts, black rubber to colorful high-traction synthetic grips and wound balls to multi-layer balls. Heck, we even invented a whole new category of club – the hybrid golf club.Some of these changes could be attributed to increased popularity of this game along with insatiable demand for new products, while other may say it is new technologies that have allowed us to go more rapidly from idea to finished product. Like any other industry that has gone though such swift changes, the naysayer will exclaim that technology and innovation are at their limit. Nothing new could possibly be that much better than we actually have right now.Often I hear from individuals “Isn’t technology capped right now with all the stipulations by the USGA?” The answer to that question is no, as there is still much to improve on as we learn more and more about how custom golf clubs operate. That may sound silly to you, after all golf is over 500 years old and you would think we learned a little along the way.But in all due respect, we are still learning more about how the shaft and clubhead operate as a system, plus more behavior regarding ballistics and their cause and effects with each and every new product we test and player that is fit.Yes, the USGA did put limits on clubs for volume (size), MOI (forgiveness), spring-face technology (distance). But if you read the Rules of Golf, there are many more stipulations regarding how equipment is made. You can also believe there will be many more limits in the future as well.
While the USGA have put these caps on in recent years, you have to remember golf clubs changed very little before as the “customary in form and function” rule limited to a certain degree what could be designed. Manufacturers didn’t dare put a square head or any other geometric design out there, even though there were previous attempts, in fear the USGA would arbitrarily say, “Sorry, that doesn’t conform.” If anything, I believe they may be more relaxed in their thinking now that that have done more testing themselves to realize what is marketing hype from reality.
No, we may find new materials, new manufacturing techniques, etc., that will enable us to provide better products than what we do now. Cross that out, it should say “will”. That process may be gradual or explode as it did in the past 25 years. One just doesn’t know as cycles are hard to predict. But maybe we just need a breather from technology overload. After all it wasn’t that long ago that a manufacturer expected a model to last 5 years. Now product cycles have gone to a year or less in some cases as consumers have expected manufacturers to tantalize them with something better on a more frequent basis.
Right now Hireko, as well as of dozens of other golf club manufactures, are developing new and innovative products for the coming year. Stay tuned…