Choosing New Clubs

Choosing New Clubs

I’ve been thinking about getting a new set of clubs recently. I’m not usually a covetous fad freak and regard those who change clubs every couple of years with deep suspicion, but I’ve begun to notice that my own clubs are maybe a little past it. My driver is 9 years old and my irons not that much younger. And who knows, maybe they actually will help my game. They do say technology has come on in the last decade. Apparently.

But, while I’m tempted, the cost of getting a new set, from driver, fairway woods, through all the irons, to a set of half decent wedges is well over £1,500, which is a lot of money on top of my club membership. I know I can get second hand ones and look for deals on some cheaper clubs, but if I’m going to do it I want all the bells and whistles. I want fitted. There, I said it. I want clubs made for me so when I address the ball there isn’t part of me thinking, “The toe looks a bit high off the deck. Maybe this club is wrong”.

My current lot I bought second hand and frankly they could be set up all wrong. Who’s to know if the original owner of my driver had a bad hook and set it up to fade his ball, which is why my beautiful power fade all too often bananas off the course. Maybe I’ve been fighting this mismatch for years. I could be awesome and I don’t even know it because my clubs aren’t fitted!

So, now that I’m sniffing around and trying to win the Lottery to pay for them, what type of clubs could I get? It’s a tough choice because, when all is said and done, they’re probably much of a muchness. I’m a mid to high handicapper (depending on the wind direction, obviously), so the nuances of performance that distinguish them in the hands of a professional are lost to me. I’m not sure feel comes into it when you thin half your shots and fat the rest. Can you shape the ball through a sod of earth? Can anyone?

So if there is little to tell them apart in performance, it really comes down to which brand I would prefer. Which label do I covet the most? When I see other people playing with a Callaway or a Titleist, what do I think about them and do I want to emulate or avoid them? A lot can be said about a man through his choice of golf club and it’s important to get it right.

I have very specific views about golf club brands and these are based largely on nothing but prejudice. I feel certain things when I think about certain brands and I find the best way to describe this is to relate them to cars. So, according to my ridiculous opinion, if golf club brands were cars, what would they be and why:

TaylorMade are BMW. They seem to release a new model or update an old one every three days, so it’s hard to keep up. They make good quality cars but there’s something dubious about the people who drive them. All style over substance.

Callaway are Mercedes. Solid. Dependable. Occasionally get convinced they need to compete with TaylorMade and the results are often disastrous. Much better when they just do their own thing.

Titleist are Jaguar. Great cars. Great heritage. They don't really care what anybody else does. 500 product lines that change every 5 mins? Nah, they'll just have two, thank you very much. And they'll be the same two for years. But both are great and well made. Plus, they make so much money from Land Rover / their golf balls, they don't have to worry about going broke. The car of choice for the discerning gentleman who's not interested in fads.

Mizuno are Lexus. Japanese. Interesting. Curious. Everyone knows they're solid clubs, but when given the choice between a Japanese car or a German car, who the hell chooses a Lexus? Unless it's cheap. Or someone else's.

Nike are Cadillac. In every test possible you can prove that a Caddy these days is as good as a German car, but nobody cares. All the celebrity endorsements in the world doesn't count for shit.

Ping are Volkswagen. Incredibly well made and you can't knock a thing about them. They make some top end cars but they're better known for their mid range, which annihilates all the competition. The trouble is, would you rather people see your VW keys on the bar, or the Merc / Jag ones?

Cobra are Ford. At their best when making hot hatchbacks. Loud, shouty, noisy and good at some things. But there's no strength in depth. And only kids want a bright orange car.

Cleveland are Chevrolet. Apparently they're big in the US, but you've barely heard of them and know little about anything they make. What's that? They're sold as a Daewoo / Srixon in Europe? Well I never.

Wilson are Vauxhall. Apparently they make good cars these days, but nobody actually wants one. That said, there will always be some Vauxhall devoted bore in the clubhouse who will tell you that his GXR goes round the Nurburgring faster than a Ferrari…or something.

Adams are Chrysler. Another brand you know is big in the US and you do see them in Europe from time to time. They're reliable and they have some great, practical models, but you're not sure you could commit your whole game to them. A Voyager would be nice, if you have 6 kids, but why else would you?

Miura is Aston Martin. They’re all hand made and bespoke and cost a bloody fortune. You know that deep down everyone will be impressed and you can’t get better craftsmanship, but do you look like a footballer with more cash than taste? It’s a fine line.

Honma are Rolls Royce. They cost ten times more than an average club but are they ten times as good? Of course not. These are cars for Arab Sheiks. They’re not for the likes of you or I. They come in gold for Heaven’s sake. GOLD! Just put them down and step away.

Yonex aren’t a car. They’re a company that makes badminton racquets. What’s that? They make golf clubs as well? Sorry, I didn’t know that. I’ve never seen any on the course.

Dunlop are any first car. They are the car your parents help you to buy and put on their insurance when you first pass the test. It’s not pretty and it’s not that great, but you’re so excited to be mobile you get all giddy. A year in, though, and you’re looking for that upgrade.

So, much like a car your choice of golf clubs says a lot about you and getting it right is a tricky balance of style and substance. Nobody wants to be too flashy, especially when you’re not that good. And nobody gets super excited about bringing a sales rep saloon home to the driveway. But make a wild choice and suddenly you’re having a mid life crisis like a 55 year old man on a Harley.

Story by golf writer and course reviewer Crawford Anderson-Dillon. To read a selection of Crawford's golf course reviews click here

The views expressed above are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Top 100 Golf Courses.