How Golf Clubs are Sold in Today’s World

Before you purchase your next golf club, you should consider the following ahead of plucking down your hard earned money. Like many other products in today’s world, there are a number of ways golf clubs are bought and sold. Hireko is a different type of company who manages to sell our products through different distribution channels than traditional manufacturers.  The reason for this will become self-evident as we explain each of the four basic methods below.

Ready Made
The most common way that golf clubs are purchased today is what I will call “ready made or pre-assembled”.  In this day and age I avoid the term off-the-rack because so many consumers have opted to order on-line where a golf club is already pre-assembled and sitting in a box waiting for someone to buy it rather in a traditional retail environment where is may be on a rack, shelf or back room.

Why? The overwhelmingly number one reason is convenience.  This is the same reason why you decide to buy a shirt.  It is an impulse purchase that you must have now rather than wait to satisfy a need or want.  Like any impulse purchase, there is buyer’s remorse if transaction provides less than satisfactory results.

For example, that large shirt doesn’t seem to fit even though all the other shirts in your closet are labeled as large and yet you can wear them on a regular basis and the fit is fine. It will eventually be moved to the back of the closet probably never to see the light of day before it end up at a yard sale or donated to Goodwill or someone you think can use it.

You see each and every ready made golf club model will be built exactly the same whether you buy it off-the-rack or from a warehouse in Miami, FL, Bangor, ME, Seattle, WA, San Diego, CA or anywhere in the American Heartland.  These golf clubs amount to be nothing more than commodities when you think about it as you are buying based on price and convenience.

Manufacturer has already decided to use certain components (head, shaft, grip, etc.) and specifications (lengths and swingweights) that the club will be built to. These are what are referred to as stock options. But these same clubs may have different options for loft, flex and (right or left) handedness to offer different option to fit as wide a range as possibly with the fewest number of SKUs (stock keeping units) possible.

Consumers should be aware the selections could be very limited, such as the steel shaft in the iron is only offered in their “Uniflex” option.  There may be only one loft in left hand or the wedge comes only equipped with a “Wedge Shaft” or what many of you would know basically as an S-flex Dynamic Gold.  In some cases the club could be offered in all five flexes (L, A, R, S and X) and 3 lofts.  However, when was the last time you saw all those options on a rack (like an X-flex 12º driver) and ended up having to special order the club from a warehouse far away?

Ready made equipment is also fine and dandy is you are fortunate enough to be Mr. or Mrs. Average.  So check the name on your driver’s license now and also check to see if you are the typical height and weight while you are at it too.  Let me tell you this, if you happen to be tall, short, lanky or portly, you have one arm or leg longer than the other or simply clothes off-the-rack don’t ever seem to fit, you have probably looked into our next possibility which is made to order or sometimes said as made to measure.

Made to Order
No, we are not talking about the movie comedy from 1987 starring Ally Sheedy with a similar name.  The concept behind made to order is the complete opposite of ready made.  While there may be inventory or raw materials, there is no finished product sitting on a shelf or in a box.  Rather the product is built from scratch by selecting different component like the fabric, zipper and buttons to make a jacket.  The basic pattern may be identical to a model, but alterations are made to change the appearance or improve the quality of the final product.

For example you could go to our website or to an independent clubmaker and say I want that club.  But instead of the standard grip option, you say “I would rather have that grip instead.  Also, while you are at it, I like this shaft option instead because I like that brand or color better”, even though the specifications are somewhat similar to that of the suggested model.

The other possibility is to take a standard club off-of-the rack and have it altered.  Not only do you have the initial cost of the club that you have already paid someone to build the clubs, but now you have to pay someone else to alter it. Plus don’t forget about the cost of the replacement components.  Add it up and the cost can get out of hand when you could have waited to have the clubs made to order in the first place.

Custom Made
This next point is very important to understand.  Custom made simply means that the final product varies from one to the next.  Think about a custom made house.  The floor plan may be same, but the exterior colors, cabinet finishes, etc may be changed to suit the need of the owner.  Custom made can also mean that the final product could be more than just a cosmetic change.  An addition for a guest bedroom could be added above the garage or the kitchen could be moved to where the dining room and den used to be is just a couple of examples.

Independent clubmakers and hobbyists from around the world have at their disposal clubmaking catalogs from the likes of Hireko Golf where there are a plethora of clubhead designs to choose from.  For instance there may be eight right-handed 10.5º drivers. On top of that there may be 70 different shafts that might fit the driver’s inside diameter and another 100 grips to choose from.  That is just the tip of the iceberg as that is over 50,000 possibilities and we haven’t even factored in other things like length, swingweight or final grip size.

The concept of custom made is that each product is not set to any one standard that a ready made golf club on the market might have.  Some may argue that you cannot just slap together three different golf components and have them work well.  With endless possibilities that is always a risk.  However, the risk is minimized by the support material and information the component distributor provides to the consumer for each of their products.  The slight risk can far outweighs the limited number of options ready made clubs are offered in, especially if the only difference is ½” longer or shorter to accommodate the size of the golfer using it. This is the reason why component suppliers sell tens of millions of dollars annually in shafts, grips and supplies for independent clubmakers, club fitters and hobbyists to retro-fit existing equipment.

Custom Fit

The next term “custom fit” has a whole world of different definitions depending on who you talk to.  It offers some element that a process is used to “fit” the player and that club is then custom made with those exact components and specifications where as custom made does not.  The “fit” could be far ranging from filling out a simple online form or utility for basic information like their hand size and height to a performance center with all the latest gadgetry that professional golfers are privy to and everything in-between.  We won’t get into that right now as that will take better part of a book to address correctly.  But remember some fitting, no matter how basic is might be, is often better than none whatsoever.

Hireko sells the vast majority of their heads, shafts and grips to independent clubmaking, repair and fitting centers across the globe.  Each shop may have their own methods to fit the players in their locality.  There may be some that conduct their fitting strictly outdoors using limited tools and demo clubs, those that fit indoors with the assistance of computer launch monitors and some they may do both.  However, the common goal is to make sure what you buy fits you.

If you are in doubt of what you really need to improve your game and lower your score – seek out these individuals.  Ask fellow golfers who have been fit, referrals, what their success has been after the fitting.  Remember that pricing can vary greatly depending upon the level of fit, final components fitted for, but you can be assured they will be lower in cost than comparable fitted name brand clubs.  But most importantly, you will be assured that the final product fits you.

As I mentioned ahead of time, Hireko sells through different distribution channels for a reason.  We strongly feel that one club with one standard set of specifications does not fit all.  While we do offer a limited number of products on our site are ready made like junior clubs or boxed sets that a beginner may need to get started, our products fall into the category of made to order and thus finding an exact demo of what you want won’t be the same as a national retail brand.  But remember you have an almost unlimited number of custom options at you disposal with Hireko branded clubs.

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One comment

  1. The impulse buyer responds to price and PGA Tour notoriety. Other underlying sales factors are special promotions and retailer rebates offered by the OEM’s. Club fitters are in need of an effective marketing strategy to compete for this segment of consumers. Thanks for succinctly differentiating the features of ready-made, custom-made, and custom-fit golf equipment. The better educated the consumer, the better he or she can benefit from custom crafted golf clubs.

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