The next time you go shopping for new clubs, consider the following advice from Worldwide Golf Shops Purchasing Assistant and club expert Nate McDonough.
>> The first priority should be to pinpoint your specific needs. For instance, a low-ball hitter should focus on new equipment with a low center of gravity to help launch the ball more easily. This criteria alone will eliminate nearly half of the options on the market without having to test every model. It will also ensure that your most pressing need is addressed, which translates to better golf.
>> When shopping for new clubs, focus on the weak spots in your game, because you stand to gain much more out of the purchase.
>> Always bring something from your own bag with you to establish a baseline for your numbers. This takes the guesswork out of interpreting indoor launch monitors versus the golf course.
>> The key to expediting an equipment search is defining the goals. If distance is the primary objective, lightweight technology should be a focal point. This means that the adjustable clubs that tend to be heavier can be eliminated. If a lower trajectory is the top priority, the lightweight clubs should be disregarded as they will only increase the frustrations of a high-ball-hitter. Tendencies are the fastest way to eliminate options.
>> Your necessities should be the only thing guiding the search for new equipment. Once tendencies are understood, you can jump from brand to brand comparing the corresponding technologies.
>> When you come into a store looking for new clubs, the sales person will be asking the majority of the questions to start the fitting process. It’s going to sound something like: What clubs do you play now? Do you play steel or graphite? Stiff or regular? Do you miss left or right? What do you like and dislike about your clubs now? What club do you hit 150 yards? With each answer the fitter gets a better understanding for what your expectations are, and what will help to improve your game.
>> Oftentimes, the final decision is the most difficult, especially when it’s between comparable models offering similar results. In these situations I suggest that preferences should be the determining factor – that is the look, feel and sound of a club. These tend to be the factors that sell themselves.
Customers weigh in on the hottest drivers, fairway woods and hybrids!
Southern California Roger Dunn Golf Shops customers to join us for a day on the driving range testing the latest golf equipment and and recording the results. We narrowed the search to seven golfers of various abilities to test clubs from nine top manufacturers at Strawberry Farms Golf Club in Orange County, considered one of the top high-end courses in the region. In this issue we look at drivers, fairway woods and hybrids, while in our next edition we will feature top irons and wedges.
With so many options in golf equipment today, shoppers can be overwhelmed with where to even begin. The beauty of all these options is that manufacturers have found ways to accommodate nearly every skill levels on the golf course. With that in mind, we gathered a group of everyday golfers to put the most popular brands on the market to the test on the driving range. Here’s what they had to say…
DRIVERS: CALLAWAY XR
THE BASICS: Speed is the driving force behind the new Callaway XR driver. An aerodynamic crown, an R•MOTO face, and maximum shaft load have created a titanium driver that reduces drag and maximizes speed through the swing.
WHAT THEY SAID…
“Looks good. Lightweight and adjustable.” – Robert Lindsay
“Gorgeous all-black club with nice distance.” – Laura Qvistgaard
“Head shape is a bit weird, but it’s easy to swing and I like the matte finish.” – Roy Giannini
“A bit on the heavy side. Impact is different, but I really like the grip and feel of the club.” – Javier Chavez
THE BASICS: First fairway wood with sliding weight for shot shape adjusta- bility. The most ad- justable fairway wood to date. New Front Track system performs like a speed pocket, reducing spin and increasing size of sweet spot.
WHAT THEY SAID…
“I like the adjustability and weight.” – Robert Lindsay
“Easy to control, forgives bad hits and swings fast.” – Javier Chavez
THE BASICS: To increase face deflection and ball speed for adding distance with a higher peak trajectory, the 17-4 stainless steel face uses a stronger H900 heat-treat- ment process, making it thin but strong. The result is more distance with the steeper landing angle to hold shots on the green.
WHAT THEY SAID…
“Very smooth, light and goes far.” – Roy Giannini
“One of my favorites, great feel on the swing and impact.” – Javier Chavez “Solid!” – John Brent
In 1968, Edwin Watts was a 23-year-old assistant professional at a municipal golf course in Fort Walton, Fla., when he was suddenly handed the head professional job. At the time, there wasn’t a great deal of golf in the region, located on the Florida Pan handle about half way between Tallahassee and Mobile, Ala. There were even fewer places to purchase golf equipment. So the young Watts decided to try and take the small pro shop that he inherited along with his new job to the next level. It worked. By the time Watts sold his company in 2003, it had grown to approximately 65 stores spread across the south eastern portion of the United States. Today, Edwin Watts Golf still bears its founder’s name, but it’s now an integral component of Worldwide Golf Shops, which purchased the chain in its largest acquisition to date in December, 2013. “Edwin thought something was missing in the area,” said Kerry Kabase, a Worldwide Golf Shops consultant who began working for Watts in 1978. “He wanted something that not only offered a good selection of clubs, but also apparel and shoes, basically a full service golf shop. that concept hadn’t really taken off yet.” Watts’ shop grew and he gradually came to the realization that a golf store didn’t have to be located on a actual golf course, but could be housed in a stand-alone building. He and his brother opened up another shop in Memphis, Tenn., and then “started picking off areas in the southeast, one at a time,” Kabase said. “It was a slow process because he wasn’t that financed, but when he had enough money to open, he did. And they turned out to be very successful.” By the time Watts sold the company to a private equity firm in 2003, it had grown to dozens of stores, Kabase said. Though Edwin Watts Golf is now part of Worldwide Golf Shops (it currently has 48 stores from Texas to Florida and as far north as Missouri) Kabase said it was a perfect marriage. And what of the man whose name is still affixed to the brand? He’s still around and still making a difference in golf. Kabase said that several years ago, a golf course in Watts’ community was about to be sold to a developer who was going to build on it. Watts got a group of friends together and decided to buy it. “They figured they would buy it themselves and keep the course in the neighborhood,” and Kabase of Shalimar Pointe Golf Club. “And it’s never been more successful.”
TaylorMade’s new Face Slot Technology pays off in a big way.
TaylorMade Golf didn’t become one of the world’s top-selling golf equipment designers and manufacturers by resting on its laurels and living in the past. That’s why the Carlsbad-based company has released a new line of irons, the RSi, incorporating high-tech wizardry and top-notch playability. “The new RSi 1 and RSi 2 models, along with the RSi TP that will be available on Jan. 15th, take face technology to the next level”, according to TaylorMade sales representative Shawn McCaskey.
“The new Face Slot Technology allows golfers to hit it anywhere on the club face and they will get maximum ball speed, launch angles and forgiveness,” McCaskey said. Each model is designed for different players. The RSi 1 for mid-to-higher handicappers, the RSi 2 for mid-to low handicappers, and the TP line for the elite player. The Face Slot Technology found in the club’s heel and toe is indeed the most distinctive feature of all three clubs; it builds on the speed pocket, or slots, that were inserted onto the soles of TaylorMade’s irons two years ago. This improved the ball speed on shots struck low on the face. The face slot provides a similar benefit, increased ball speeds on heel and toe hits. Ball speed, of course, translates into more distance. “No matter what model you play, in my opinion these are the most forgiving, longest and straightest clubs on the market,” McCaskey said.
WATCH how TaylorMade’s new Face Slot Technology is changing the face of the game.
Worldwide Golf Enterprises started as a small San Diego golf store and quickly grew to one of the largest multichannel golf retailers in the country.
The old adage “from mighty oaks, acorns grow” is certainly true for Worldwide Golf Enterprises. What began as one small store in San Diego in 1984 with less than a dozen employees is now an 87 retail store chain stretching from Hawaii to Florida, with over 1,000 employees. “In the early days, we all sensed the growth potential and it was ownership’s vision that put us where we are today,” said Rick Levy, vice president of operations for Van’s Golf Shops, one of the six brands of the Worldwide Golf Enterprises portfolio. “From day one, world class customer service has been our main goal, and we’ve kept that focus through all the expansion.”Worldwide Golf Shops began as Golf Mart, a small golf store on Morena Boulevard in San Diego just below the University of San Diego. The company expanded to nine Golf Marts in San Diego and Northern California before making its first large acquisition. In 1993, Worldwide Golf Enterprises acquired 23 Orange County and Los Angeles area golf stores known as Roger Dunn Golf Shops.
Worldwide Golf Shops incorporated its novel 90-day 100% satisfaction guarantee in its new stores, an innovation it began in 1984. “We felt you couldn’t service a customer better than giving them a 90-day 100% satisfaction guarantee for anything they purchased,” said Levy, who has been with the company since 1984. “If someone returned with a golf shirt, golf club, bag or putter they didn’t like, there was no hesitation … the response was, ‘Let’s see what we can get you that you will like.’“
In 1997, Worldwide Golf purchased nine stores formerly owned by Arizona-based Van’s Golf. Like all its acquisitions, Worldwide Golf kept the original name and a big part of the team. “We look at the existing staff and management as tremendous assets,” Levy said. “They are people with a lot of experience and have immense customer loyalty, which has great value.” In 2009, Worldwide made its biggest geographical leap, acquiring New England-based Golfers’ Warehouse.
The final two acquisitions came in December 2013 with Uinta Golf, based in Utah, and Edwin Watts Golf, based in Florida, Worldwide Golf’s largest acquisition to date. “We were a family-run business with a lot of tenured employees and what is so smart about Worldwide Golf is that they kept as many of the managers and employees as they could,” said Kerry Kabase, who had worked for Edwin Watts Golf for 37 years and today is a consultant with Worldwide Golf. “They allowed us to keep our identity, which was great for our loyal customers. But now they could walk in and see a fully stocked golf shop with that 90-day guarantee. It was a smooth transition and we feel very lucky to be working under their umbrella. They were a lot like us, avid golfers who were all about customer service.”
Currently, Worldwide Golf Shops includes 48 Edwin Watts Golf stores in 12 states; 12 Roger Dunn Golf Shops in California and Hawaii; 10 Golf Marts in California; seven Van’s Golf Shops in Arizona; five Uinta Golf stores in Utah; and five Golfers’ Warehouses in the Northeast. As far as future expansion? “We want to keep every opportunity open, and if there’s a market and there’s a need we wouldn’t hold back” Levy said. “We feel very comfortable right now. We’re in several year-round markets and business is going well.” Even though Worldwide Golf Shops has several regional brands, it makes a concerted effort to make sure that all its customers feel at home at every one of its stores: its 90-day satisfaction guarantee extends to all its stores, as do all store policies. “That’s another smart thing,” Kabase said. “Each one of its brands has its own customer loyalty and now that loyalty extends to the umbrella operation. If you buy a new club in New England and then travel to Hawaii but don’t like it, you can walk into a store there and exchange it, or use a gift card you bought from a Florida store in Arizona. That really helps grow customer confidence.”
Worldwide Golf Shops, already a big player in the Western United States and the Northeast, is now one of the largest national golf retailers with its acquisition earlier this year of Florida-based Edwin Watts Golf, the largest golf retailer in the Southeast. As part of the purchase, Worldwide Golf will operate 48 Edwin Watts Golf stores in 12 states, each of which will keep the Edwin Watts name. “The acquisition of Edwin Watts Golf is a perfect ft into our portfolio of brands, for among many business attributes its main focus is the same as ours, which is outstanding customer service,” said Al Morris, Worldwide Golf Enterprises President.“Edwin Watts Golf rounds out our formidable stable of brands that now operate from coast to coast.”