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Tony Covey MGS

What is Golf Club Perfection

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We're looking into adapting our ULTIMATE REVIEW system for 2011 based on what we've learned during our tests over the past several months, as well as from the input we have, and hopefully will receive from our readers.

 

I've been working on these changes almost from the time my first review was published here at MyGolfSpy. As we've pointed out, we've made some minor tweaks along the way, but I expect the next major version of the review process to be even better, and more importantly, provide even more benefit to our readers. There are still some details to be worked out, and like just about everything we do here, some other "logistical" things to work through, but I think what we're working on will be a huge improvement to what I believe is already the most thorough golf review process on the internet today.

 

I'm hoping some of you guys can help me flush out the details a bit. By providing answers to a few simple questions, I'm hoping you'll give me the insight I need to redefine our process.

 

For now, let's not talk about the subjective stuff (looks, feel, sound). Please focus exclusively on performance (that which can be measured on a launch monitor). My assumption is that there are 3 performance indicators that really matter:

 

  • Distance - How far does the ball travel
  • Accuraccy - How close is the ball to my target/center line
  • Forgiveness - What I like to call consistency. How different are my bad shots from my good?

 

There are the things we can reasonably place a point value on or assign a score to. For the most part, longer is better. More accurate is always better. We all want "forgiving" clubs.

 

What else would you like us to include? Swing speed, ball speed, launch angle, spin rate, apex (max height); we could include them all.

 

To be PERFECT, how does club A need to differ from club B?

  • How many yards longer?
  • How much closer to the center line (or does it need to be on the center line)
  • How much more forgiving or consistent?

 

I need your help guys. Help me figure it out...What is Perfection in terms of golf club performance?

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Personally adding Swing speed, ball speed, launch angle, spin rate in one of those colour charts would be great. Two of my personal biggest things when looking at clubs is launch angle and spin rate as I tend to hit the ball to high and with way to much spin. Being able to cut clubs out that don't fall in line from a demo day or the like saves me a whole bunch of time for other things.

 

Also the swing speed/ball speed would give me a better grip on which of your test subjects I match up against and a better baseline for what I can expect. I don't care if Johnny football can cranky the ball 300 plus yards when his swing speed is 130 while mine is 100, his numbers mean about the same to me as the numbers from a robot, zippo (they will however matter to someone is the same category).

 

Might be in left field and might fall into the subjectivity field but what about a small section on the adjustability of the club? Do the adjustments make a difference, is it easy to make the adjustments both to the head and/or face, etc.

 

To be PERFECT category: I doubt this will work from a logistics issue but is it possible to test multiple shafts of the same club? Just curious as I know there will be variation in the R flex in the same driver but it would be nice to see what the acceptable variation is.

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I would think adding additional technical data would provide a better basis on which to judge the reviews. Especially testing the standard shafts in different flexes for a particular model (not everyone will go to a third party shaft or pay to upgrade). Having said that, a variety of testers is required as each will have their own swing characteristics that will affect the data. It would be good to know the testers swing particulars and the data relating to that swing.

 

On the subject of perfection, I would say it is a club that will optimize the swing of a particular person. If I swing at 100mph with a driver, I want a club that helps me achieve a launch angle and ball speed that is optimal for that swing speed. This probably is not the best head (as the post above says) for a 130mph swing.

 

The Ultimate Reviews I have read so far are quite excellent and pointed to products that don't receive as much hype as worthy items to try. Keep up the good work!!!!

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To me, smash factor is something I like to look at in correlation to swing speed and ball speed. I like to see how well of a trampoline effect is generated and how much energy is transferred. That way I know which drivers transfer the most energy on well struck balls. I know smash factor is only ball speed divided by swing speed, but given a smash factor #, I can see which transfers the most energy the most effeciently without having to guess at the swing speed to derive ball speed. I also like to look at spin numbers, both backspin and sidespin. I want to know if a club is really spinny or if it's a knuckleball hitter. That makes me figure out a basis for what to try as I know what I need in a club.

 

Another thing I like to consider when trying any club is feel. The problem is, feel is subjective and hard to test. What one person thinks is butter another might feel is hard as a brick, so that's kind of hard to correlate into words. That's one best left out, IMO, unless there's a mechanical test using robots that somehow develop feel.

 

As for the perfect club, does it really exist? I like when I gain distance, but not at the sacrifice of losing accuracy. There again, I love gaining accuracy, but not at the sake of giving up a bunch of distance. I also like a club that is kind of forgiving, but not so much so that I can't tell when I've struck a ball poorly, as that allows flaws to creep into the swing, IMO. A perfect club, for me, is a good blend of all three. Some added distance, added accuracy and just the right amount of forgiveness. I'm looking for the Martha Stewart of golf clubs here, a little of this, a pinch of that and there it is, perfect little nougats of goodness.

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Thanks for the feedback guys, and I sure hope more of our readers will share their thoughts on this as what we hear will absolutely shape the next generation of reviews here at MyGolfSpy.

 

Here's another question...Should we even bother having a scoring system?

 

People seem to like putting scores on things, and always arriving at an "out of 100" score is clean, but, it's not without issues. How do I weight distance vs. accuracy? Should spin rate count in wedge scoring? How do we balance performance against subjective? What if we could present all the data, clearly and concisely, along with the results of our subjective surveys, and simply pointed out some facts along the way? Would that be enough for everyone to draw their own conclusions, or should we continue to formulate scores and arrive at a winner?

 

RookieBlue7 - We're actually already looking into adding the data points you suggested (including smash factor). Left to Right measurements such as side spin and "accuracy" are problematic because when you average misses left and misses right, you end up with a number that's closer to 0 than it ought to be. You can account for it by using absolute values, but it's not a perfect measurement.

 

As much as I'm not always on board with quantifying things like look and feel (especially when our testers don't agree with me), the reality is those "numbers" have proven to be more reflective of what a given tester will buy than the actual performance of the golf club itself. It's bad enough when a golfer tells me he wants a club that isn't the best for him in terms of performance, but you wouldn't believe how many times a golfer has told me that the club he's most likely to buy is the one that performed most poorly. When I ask which they think is longest, or straightest on average, more often than not, they give wrong answers, and even then, most don't care.

 

The one thing I've learned is people want what they want.

 

 

Anyway...I'm working on what I think will prove to be some really, really cool stuff. Definitely keep the suggestions coming.

 

Thanks,

T

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Something I think would be neat, especially in comparison based reviews would be to put up the article with, say, 5 clubs scored on a scale, giving everything that's quantitative in a table. Label them club A-E, with no brands or models listed. Give the numbers for each. Then go into points based reviews on the clubs, labeled the same. Go through the whole comparative review for them, and do not reveal what club did what until the very end, or possibly do a poll and see what people think each club did, numbers and points wise and reveal the actual scores in a separate, second part a day or two later. This will get people looking at quantitative values of clubs instead of the name on the head first. After they make their assumptions, then let the numbers for each be revealed. I'm sure there would be some shock value in a comparative review that is done that way versus revealing which club did what in one review. This will make people start to look at other things besides their comfort brands.

 

The reason I say this is because I used to be one of those that got tangled up in a comfort brand. I liked what I liked. When I started digging deeper for more insight and more information is when I got outside of my comfort zone. For a long time, I dismissed the brand that dominates my bag currently. I'd hit some of their first clubs and wasn't impressed, mainly because they were their first clubs they'd made. So I dismissed them, and carried on playing what I was comfortable with, drawing my own conclusions without looking at data. About 5 years ago, I started doing a little club building here and there and repairs for my friends. It spiraled into this out of control obsession. And what do you know, I ended up playing the brand I'd dismissed way back when. That brand? Adams golf. I'd tried their tight lies clubs and a few of their first iron sets and hated them. Why? Because they didn't suit my game and were beginner's clubs. Now, however, Adams has developed a product line to rival the big boys and their numbers are staggering when you look at them. I don't know of another company out there that consistently makes quality, low spin hot drivers like they do. And their hybrids leave nothing to be desired. Now, everything but my wedges and putter are Adams. And they all suit my game and produce the best numbers after doing comparative testing and demoing.

 

That's why I think something with numbers and no names revealed immediately would be beneficial to a lot of people that would otherwise dismiss a club because it doesn't have their big boy, comfort brand's name on it. Tour Edge Exotics is another such company that comes to mind. Scratch is another. There are lots of those type B companies out there that lots of people dismiss simply because they're not mass marketed or they've never or rarely heard of them.

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Blind testing is a great idea, as is the inclusion of as much raw data as possible. Different readers will associate differing levels of importance to different stat values. The more data the better, providing it can be easily viewed and compared with the other items.

 

I think that the overall score is a nice way for someone who is just skimming the article to get a quick impression of the club. I like the rank out of 100 rather than the grade letters though. Seeing the high or low number could provide the initial motivation to explore the clubs in more detail. It can be the hook of the article. If you look at video game rankings, the number is always first with the review following.

 

One other helpful recommendation that could be included is "Who should demo this club?". This type of data can help readers to truly identify the gear that fits, and may ultimately improve his or her game. This is especially important for the mid to high capper stuff. Specific information about forgiveness and such is critical. The voice for this information is also important. A low hcp player saying that a iron looks like a shovel and lacks workability is not helpful. Odds are that a 20 hcp player would not have truly useful information about playing blades either. It seems obvious that the reviewer of the club should be the target player for the club. No one who has watched me play is interested in my review of AP2's but they may be curious how the G15 or K15 irons played for me on the course.

 

One final idea is to be sure that all of the reviews get assembled in one easy to access area with a simple interface for access. Adding areas for member comments would also be welcome.

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Here's another question...Should we even bother having a scoring system?

 

People seem to like putting scores on things, and always arriving at an "out of 100" score is clean, but, it's not without issues. How do I weight distance vs. accuracy? Should spin rate count in wedge scoring? How do we balance performance against subjective? What if we could present all the data, clearly and concisely, along with the results of our subjective surveys, and simply pointed out some facts along the way? Would that be enough for everyone to draw their own conclusions, or should we continue to formulate scores and arrive at a winner?

 

 

I think the question about the value of a "score" is a great one. My initial reaction was "No, it's not valuable, get rid of it." As you said, there are too many questions about the relative weight of different categories, as well as the question of what categories should even be considered. However, when I read Sactown's response, I appreciated the value of the score in providing a summary, in hooking readers, and in terms of ranking clubs.

 

Ultimately, I think that the score does have value, but I would like to see the subjective elements removed. You can show the readers the look at address and let them decide for themselves whether or not it looks good; the fact that 4/5 random guys think it looks good doesn't matter to me. Same with sound and feel. I don't mind seeing comments about these things, but I don't think they should go into the score. I would like to see the reviews feature lots of data (which you guys do a great job with), a few thoughts on the feel/sound/look, and a final score that reflects performance only. JMO. Keep up the great work!

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Notes about sound and feel, although subjective, should be included though maybe not quantitatively. For example, this past weekend I hit the new black machspeed at the local shop. Like the way it looks a bunch, but as soon as I hit it I knew it was not for me due to tone at impact. Granted hitting the club allowed me to figure this out, but for folk who can't immediately demo a club it may be a helpful bit of info.

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This is great feedback guys, keep it coming...

 

For the next part of the discussion, lets say we do remove inherently subjective categories (looks, sound, feel) from the scoring equation (but continue to present survey results for your consideration), what data points would you like to see factor into a performance-based score?

 

And how would you balance absolute performance (launch monitor data) with what I call subjective performance? We can't collect detailed data for everybody who hits the clubs we test (at least not yet), but we can ask which do you think was longest, which do you think was most accurate? How should that factor in the scoring?

 

For drivers, and woods, and possibly hybrids, both distance and accuracy really matter, but what's the appropriate balance between them (60/40, 50/50)? What about irons? Does distance matter at all (I don't think it should, but others may disagree. And if it does matter, how should we account for the difference in length and loft between clubs (we're doing some iron testing now and one iron is significantly longer than 9 others, but it also has less loft and a longer shaft, so it should be). It's not exactly a fair fight.

 

It's hard to quantify ball speed when it's tied to swing speed, which is further tied to an individual. Maybe smash factor is the number that really matters? Launch angle? Side spin?

 

What about wedges? Is it safe to assume that everyone thinks more spin is better? Should points be awarded based on wedge spin?

 

GolfSpy X and I and have had probably 10 conversations in the last month around exactly these questions (and that's before we even start talking about how to present the data). All I'm certain of at this point is that there aren't any easy/obvious answers here, but we're certainly trying to figure it out. Every time I think I do have it figured out, we find something that forces me to take two steps back and reevaluate. I definitely think we're getting closer, and your feedback is invaluable towards helping us figure the rest of this out.

 

As I said...please, please keep the thoughts coming.

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IMO, "subjective performance" should not be factored into the score because, as you mentioned in your last post, people have no idea what actually works for them. Base the score on the shots that they hit on the monitor. Alternately, break it up and say, "80% of the DISTANCE score is based on launch monitor data, 20% on results reported by the testers."

 

For drivers, I think a 50/50 balance between distance and accuracy would be good. Same with fairway woods. Hybrids, IMO, should be more like 75/25 in favor of accuracy. With irons, I would be most interested in dispersion/distance lost on off-center hits. I don't care which iron goes the longest - that could be the result of jacked up lofts or longer shafts. I do want to know if an iron is going to lose 10 yards because I mishit it or if it will lose just 3. I'm also very interested in the left-to-right dispersion on irons.

 

I think a full grid with ball speed, swing speed, and smash factor solves all of the problems. IMO, when in doubt, give us more raw data.

 

For wedges: yes, more spin is better. More spin should equal more points. Besides that, I'd be interested in performance on half and quarter wedge shots, plus the same info we get for irons: distance dispersion and R to L dispersion.

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Personally there is only one factor I'm interested in for Drivers: put these drivers on an Iron Byron, and see which brand / model carries the longest.

 

The problem with testing by humans is that nobody can hit the ball exactly the same every time. So when people say this or that club hits 20 yards further, it really didn't mean much to me.

 

All I like to see is given that everything remain the same, which driver hits further with perfect contact, then which driver loose less distance when contact is not perfect.

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An Iron Byron would be a great addition to MyGolfSpy...although there is more to drivers and clubs then just raw distance. Especially when it comes to irons and wedges. So we want to develop the ultimate review process for all clubs. But if you know of anyone that wants to get rid of an Iron Byron for a good price let us know :( We would love to add it to the arsenal.

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An Iron Byron would be a great addition to MyGolfSpy...although there is more to drivers and clubs then just raw distance. Especially when it comes to irons and wedges. So we want to develop the ultimate review process for all clubs. But if you know of anyone that wants to get rid of an Iron Byron for a good price let us know B) We would love to add it to the arsenal.

 

Now that would be cool for our site to have it's own Iron Byron. Just to get the chance to run all the clubs thru robotic testing and having all that data at your finger tips. then to be able to do real world testing vs. robotic and have those comparrison #'s it gets me all kind of warm and tingly inside. I just like that kind of stuff..... I would love to run an Iron Byron and mess with the swing speeds and swing paths to see what these clubs do in comparrison to say ..... ME! lol. seriously how much does one of those Iron Byron's cost? Plus you would also need a Trackman since the trackman is the best equipment out there for all those great figures we love to hear about!! I'd be willing to throw 10.00-20.00 up to start a fund raising drive to get an Iron Byron.... as long as I'm aloud to see it work in person. Just let me know and I'm there.

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Well the first ones cost about $30,000-40,000 to build. But you don't have to have an official "Iron Byron". Maybe we will talk to a few engineers about making one from scratch and see what the costs would be. It would not be cheap.

 

Only talking about a years worth of revenue or so B) But definitely worth looking into...never know we might be able to find a good deal on something that would work for us.

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