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When picking a new driver, what makes you decide what to try?

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Just for the sake of being a conversation starter, I was curious as to what my fellow spies used to determine which new drivers to test out before ultimately deciding on their next new club. Do you look at marketing hype, aesthetics, brand loyalty, color, price, what?

 

Me, personally, I don't look at the price, it's the furthest from my mind. More likely, I'll try to find a few reviews for each and compile my list of what I want to test. There are certain manufacturers I've traditionally not liked their product, but I don't ever exclude them from my decision process. Once I've got my list in my mind, I then go and try to find a store that has a place to test them out on a LM (or preferably an outdoor range) against whatever my current driver happens to be. Aesthetics usually play a bigger role once I've narrowed my list down. I've gotta like what I'm looking down at once I get it to just a few choices. I pick whichever one I get the best results with that I'm comfortable looking at. I guess that's why I've gamed everything from a traditional pear shape to a square head to now a ghost head. I don't look down on any manufacturer because I like to think that they can all WOW me.

 

So, what's your process?


In The Bag
Driver: TaylorMade M2 (2017) w/ Project X T1100 HZRDUS Handcrafted 65x 
Strong 3 wood: Taylormade M1 15* w/ ProjectX T1100 HZRDUS handcrafted 75x
3 Hybrid: Adams PRO 18* w/ KBS Tour Hybrid S flex tipped 1/2"
4 Hybrid: Adams PRO 20* (bent to 21*) w/ KBS Tour Hybrid S flex tipped 1/2"
4-AW: TaylorMade P770 w/ Dynamic Gold Tour Issue Black Onyx S400

SW: 56* Scratch Tour Dept(CC grooves) w/ Dynamic Gold Spinner
LW: 60* Scratch Tour Department (CC grooves) w/ Dynamic Gold Spinner
XW: 64* Cally XForged Vintage w/ DG X100 8 iron tiger stepped
Putter: Nike Method Prototype 006 at 34"

Have a ton of back-ups in all categories, but there are always 14 clubs in the bag that differ depending on the course and set-up. Bomb and gouge. Yes, I'm a club gigolo.

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The way I do it is based first and foremost on marketing hype. If there is a lot of hype surrounding a club it goes on my list to test because the curiosity in me has to know if the hype is justified. If a company makes an interesting claim about their club chances are I'll add it to my list. Second it has to look decent for me otherwise I refuse to put it in my bag (I like my clubs to be at least a bit of eye candy inb the bag). When I was younger I was extremely brand washed with Nike because of Tiger but I'm starting to stray away from that a little bit. Price doesn't play as large of a role in it for me as it used to but still is in the back of my mind.

 

--I'm a marketing student so this topic is really interesting for me because I love to see how people think when they make a purchase.


Driver--Taylormade RBZ Tour 9* Aldila RIP Phenom 65s

Fairway Metal--Taylormade R11s 14* Aldila RIP Phenom 70s

Hybrid--Taylormade RBZ Tour 18.5* RE-AX 85 gram S

Irons--Nike Vr Pro-Combo 4-PW True Temper Dynamic Gold S300

Wedges--Nike SV Tour Forged 50*, 56*, 60* True Temper Dynamic Gold

Putter--Scotty Cameron California Del Mar

Ball--Taylormade Lethal

Grips--Lamkin R.E.L 3Gen (Woods-green, Irons-red, Wedges-white)

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My technique is the best...

 

I just wait to see what is on sale from last year and pick from the few items around (which means I never get the opportunity to try a Bridgestone, Mizuno, TourEdge or any exotic brand. We don't get as many brands or model as the U.S. does)

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My technique is the best...

 

I just wait to see what is on sale from last year and pick from the few items around (which means I never get the opportunity to try a Bridgestone, Mizuno, TourEdge or any exotic brand. We don't get as many brands or model as the U.S. does)

 

I think I could do one better. This year I bought a 2007 model with a Fujikura Speeder Tour Spec 660-TR for $80. Even factoring in adjustability and composite materials, I'm not sure that driver technology has made such big leaps in the last 4 years.


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It's been 3 years (or close to it) since I went out and said, "I'm buying a new driver today." My process is more of an ongoing thing: as new clubs come out, I try them out (one of the benefits of working in a golf shop). If something wows me in any way (look, feel, sound, LM numbers), then I will give it a run against my gamer. If it consistently outperforms my gamer by a measurable amount, I will switch. Unfortunately for every new driver out there, that's proven to be very difficult.


Follow me on Twitter: @MattSaternus

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Take the current gamer to the pro shop, after taking a look at the LM numbers, have the pro recommend a few alternatives that could beat the gamer.

 

Try them out. If the numbers are better, then I will consider the price and aesthetics and sound.

 

If price, looks and sound are acceptable for me, bag it.

 

Otherwise, stay with the gamer.

 

I don't have to have the latest/newest... if a model from last season beats my gamer, I will give it a try.


:callaway-small: GBB Epic 9* w/ Aldila Rogue MAX 65 S
:callaway-small: X2 Hot 3 Deep 14.5* w/ Aldila Tour Green 75 S
:taylormade-small: JetSpeed 5W 19* w/ Matrix Velox T 69 S OR :adams-small: Super LS 3H 19* w/ Kuro Kage Black S 80
:mizuno-small: JPX919 Forged 4-PW w/ Modus3 105 S
:titelist-small: Vokey SM7 50/08F, 54/14F & 58/08M w/ Modus3 115 Wedge
:EVNROLL: ER1 34" w/ SuperStroke Fatso 2.0
MfleKCg.jpg Pro / 9dZCgaF.jpgH2NO Lite Cart Bag / :Clicgear: 3.0 / :918457628_PrecisionPro: NX7 Pro LRF

My reviews: MLA Putter // Titleist SM7 // PING i500 // PuttOUT

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I research clubs for months before deciding to buy :)

 

I agree with Maverickping, if it doesn't look good, there's no point of buying it because you'll never enjoy hitting it.

 

Price isn't so much of a factor if I feel I am actually paying the fair price for something. My biggest beef is paying the 40% surcharge from an OEMs advertising budget. That's why I like the component market, you can really mix and match parts that suit you. The main thing I don't like about the components is you can't try it before you build it, so unless you're really confident it's best not to dish out the cash.

 

Another area I've been paying attention to pretty closely is the clearance isle. I figure in 2 years time, the R11 will start showing up there. I know some folks on these forums have gotten some pretty nice Aldila shafts for pennies on the dollar that way. Again though, you probably won't be able to try them first, but by the time something hit clearance, there are so many reviews it's easy to make up your mind.

 

If you have the spare cash though, nothing beats paying an independent fitter to match you with the right driver/shaft/grip combo, but it requires a 2-3k budget for the set. Someday when I pay off the PMI on my house I may do this :).

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  1. The look of the head. That will tell me face angle, alignment aiding, cool factor.
  2. Impact sound is also very important.
  3. Swing weight. Adjustability or lead tape?
  4. Overall quality: paint breaks, construction, gimmicks, etc.

 

 

Overall though the shaft IMO makes the driver, and is my favorite part.


I spy with my little eye something...

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I usually get to test most of the new offerings from the big manufacturers. We have several good golf shops and my schedule allows me to drop in during the day where they just turn me loose with the clubs and the launch monitor! Just the other day I got to hit the new Nike VR Limited and the Cobra Long Tom at Golfsmith. I liked the Nike, its on my short list now! I'm usually not "testing to buy" as I don't usually buy new full priced drivers. But what I am doing is getting a feel for what is out there and what I like. I always keep a list of my favorites and as I'm hitting the next new thing I'll line it up against a couple other new ones that I like, so I always have a "top 3" or so. That's how I ended up with my current TM SuperDeep. Two summers ago I loved that club and probably hit it 15 times against all the other new clubs out there. A year and a half later I bought it with the shaft I wanted for $200 and will probably game it at least through next season as I test out this season's offerings. If anything stands out, there's a good chance I'll pick it up the following year for 1/2 price.


Ping I20 8.5* - Aldila NV 65g S
Adams XTD Super Hybrid 15* - Stock Fubuki S
Adams DHY 21* - Stock Matrix Ozik White Tie S
Mizuno MP58 4-8 Irons - Fujikura MCI 100 S
SCOR 42,46,50,54,58* - SCOR/KBS Genius S
STX Robert Ingman Envision TR 35", Iomic grip

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When there is a demo day or something new in a place I can try, I go immediately to test what I'm going to buy next season or the year after that. If I like it then it goes into the "next year when the price drops" cart...

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I, like Tyk, just sort of work my way through the local shop and demo everything. First impressions will lead me back to certain models to try them again.

 

That being said, I don't see myself buying another driver without going through a fitter and also without improving my swing a bit (OK a lot) first.


Volvo Intorqueo

 

All the cool kids follow me on twitter: @golfspy_dave

 

If you are not a cool kid, following me on twitter will make you cool...

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I used to be a huge ebay buyer, but have lately been slightly scared off with all of the fakes on the market. In addition, my local golfsmith, while good for iron testing, has a tiny bay with walls that I always fear that I'm going to hit when swinging a driver... I make it a point, therefore, to stop by the local golf convention (when it happens once a year) and try out the clubs. To echo the sentiment that others have thrown around in this thread, if I like the club I might buy it when the price drops. I'm one of the crowd that could never shell out 400 for 1 club, that's more like my preferred price for an Iron set :P

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Aesthetics is pretty important to me. A driver must not have a closed look at address, pear-shape, and relatively conservative colors. The shaft however can be an outlandish color or not. I do not care about the markings on top. My Callaway FT9 has nothing on it and I still manage to hit the ball.

Brand loyalty is also important, I have always played Ping, Ben Hogan, Titleist, and Callaway. I have never liked Taylor-made because they seem to come out with a new club every other month meaning that the $400 you just spent is now worth $25. As a matter of fact, all club makers seem to be doing that now. At least Titleist was waiting to do it every two years. Nike's VR line really looks good, and if I were in the market for all new clubs I would have to look at them, not because Tiger plays them but because the VR Pro Combos and hybrids and all look great.

However, feel is the most important thing. I bought a Nike VR Tour or Pro Driver off eBay for $25. I did not expect to win the bid. I have only taken it to the course once and hit 5 or 6 balls and did not like the feel, but time was short so I pulled out the Titleist and played the round. Incidentally, the Titleist did not feel good that morning either but after I got warmed up I did not have time.

But like others on this forum, I do not buy new clubs anymore. Two reasons, first you can get much better deals on last years clubs, second, I bought a brand new set of AP2's, on hole 6 hitting the 6 iron for the very first time, I found a buried rock with my divot and took a chuck out of my brand new club. It made me sick, and I have not gotten over it yet.


 

Driver:      :mizuno-small:  ST190G on Fujikura ATMOS Black

Fairway:   :mizuno-small:  ST190TS 15° on Fujikura ATMOS Black

Hybrids     :mizuno-small:  CLK 22 & 25 (set to 20° & 23°) on Fujikura SPEEDER

Irons:     :mizuno-small:  MP5 5-P on True Temper Dynamic Gold

Wedges: :mizuno-small: MP-T5 52*, 56* & 60* on True Temper Dynamic Gold Wedge

Putter:    :cameron-small: 2018 Select Newport 2

Balls:      :titelist-small: Pro V1X

Shoes:     :footjoy-small:

Range Finder: Precision Pro  NX7 Pro

All grips are BestGrips Micro-Perforated

 

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Before I chime in, first let me say that this topic by itself probably deserves an award just for the length of the Topic and sub-topic lines. Kidding aside, it's a great topic.

 

I think like most people it starts with how the club looks. Ultimately that's what leads us to pull something off the rack. Of course, admittedly, now that it's my job to test golf clubs, looks play less of a role in what goes in my bag. Sound and feel are extremely important to me as well, but if a a particular club performs extremely well for me, I'm willing to overlook just about anything (that is until something better comes along). The Nike VR STR-8 Fit (last year's model) is a great example of this. I was luke warm at best on the looks, didn't care for the sound or the feel, but I hit it just as long as anything at the time, I hit fairways, and more importantly, most of the time, the shot shape was predictable. When you play on a tight course like mine trusting the shot shape is extremely important.

 

There are several holes where simply aiming down the middle and hoping you hit it relatively straight aren't enough. Basically you have to pick a side, and hope the ball moves back where you want it to. Taking on the tree line and watching your draw turn into a fade is not good.

 

There's a saying of sorts that many of our testers have adopted. Basically it's that you learn everything you need to know about a club the first time you mis-hit it. Point is, while it's always tempting to keep our best shots in the forefront of our minds, and use those as the basis for comparison, I would suggest we're ultimately better off basing our buying decisions on a comparative analysis of our misses. So for me, it's not just about how well I hit a club, how well I mis-hit it also plays a large role in determining what makes it into my bag.


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Personally I think the formula of max volume/max cor/max moi/ max weight low and back, etc. that we are force fed by the big OEM's isn't the most viable when it comes to performance. I like to look at what I call "alternative technologies". I always have to chuckle when I out drive the current flavor of the year (this year the R-11) with my trusty old XFactor Super Pro (Jack Hamms USGA legal club). I've also been trialing the Power Pod II from Tiger Shark.

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My first consideration is how the driver looks at address, specifically I don't want the head to look closed. Adjustable drivers solve this problem somewhat, but I prefer the non-adjustable clubs (currently use a Titleist 909D2). For me the difficulty with buying a driver is finding the proper shaft. My fitting experiences have never met my expectations.

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My first consideration is how the driver looks at address, specifically I don't want the head to look closed. Adjustable drivers solve this problem somewhat, but I prefer the non-adjustable clubs (currently use a Titleist 909D2). For me the difficulty with buying a driver is finding the proper shaft. My fitting experiences have never met my expectations.

 

I think that's an interesting (and probably widely-shared) statement. Can you expand on it? Where have you been fit? What did you think was lacking? What were you hoping for?


Follow me on Twitter: @MattSaternus

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My fitting experiences have never met my expectations.

 

I'm willing to bet most fitters only care about selling you a club. That's one great thing about the adjustable drivers from a shop perspective, they're easy to tune quickly and therefore sell quickly. I've done a "fitting" at Dick's a few years ago when buying my first driver and this was my experience at least. Since then, I've found a few places in my area (GolfTEC, Ace of Clubs) that do real fittings, but they're not cheap.

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I'm willing to bet most fitters only care about selling you a club. That's one great thing about the adjustable drivers from a shop perspective, they're easy to tune quickly and therefore sell quickly. I've done a "fitting" at Dick's a few years ago when buying my first driver and this was my experience at least. Since then, I've found a few places in my area (GolfTEC, Ace of Clubs) that do real fittings, but they're not cheap.

 

I think that's a fair point. At this point, I'd much rather pay a fair price for the fitting itself and not deal with someone who's making their money off the sale. I think for gearheads like us, it's tough to be satisfied with a fitting of "either the 9.5 stiff or the 10.5 regular" when we see so much cool stuff out there.


Follow me on Twitter: @MattSaternus

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