Golf Academy at West Haven
Virgil Herring, 2002, 2003, 2005 & 2006 Middle-TN PGA Teacher of the Year and 2003 TN PGA Section Teacher of the Year.

Focus on Irons - What Consumers Are Looking For
According to PGA Professionals polled, forgiveness, consistency and game-improvement clubheads are priorities
By SCOTT KRAMER

With so many new irons already out for 2005, and more than a few brands relaying on their irons from the past year to carry the load again this coming year, there is a wide variety of technologies and marketing angles offered to golfers in the iron market. With that in mind, we informally polled a sampling of PGA Professionals recently to see what golfers look for when buying new irons and how much they typically spend on a set. The answered varied: Zack Veasey, PGA Director of golf, Hillandale Golf Club, Durham, N.C.: "Golfers are looking for forgiveness based on any look. Easy-to-hit irons are leading the way in what folks are looking for, with little regard to appeal in the address position. As an example, the Nike Slingshot is our best selling single SKU iron this year, based on what I call the blind taste test, just hitting various irons. In order for an iron set to be sold at the upper end of the scale, say $899 for a set with graphite shafts and $699 with steel, it needs to be demonstrably different both in shelf and hitting appeal. The average selling price this year for me has been $582 based on our 501 sets sold to date."

Eric Lohman, PGA general manager, Black Gold Golf Club, Yorba Linda, Calif.: "Golfers are seeking forgiveness in the form of center of gravity, cavity back, graphite shafts, etc. There's usually a relationship between the cost of the club, the maker of the club and awareness of the club. Customers usually want something that's new, from a top brand, that's 'hot' and affordable. And they are willing to pay between $700 and $1,000 for a set."

Mark Petrucci, PGA Professional, Pine Oaks Golf Course, South Easton, Mass.: "The main feature that they're looking for is if the clubs offer game-improvements clubheads. If they feel that the clubs are more forgiving that the clubs that they're already using, and they perceive them to be a good value, they will usually make the purchase. The next step would be clubfitting. Not just loft and lie but getting fitted into the brand and model that would fit their game best. The most attractive prove right now is between $399 and $450. There are numerous attacking that price point. The customers are seeking to get a top-line club - from the likes of Cleveland, Cobra and Nike - at midline pricing."

Virgil Herring, PGA director of instruction, Springhouse Links at Gaylord Opryland, Nashville, Tenn., owner/founder of Higher Performance Golf Academy: "Due to the fact that I teach many low-to scratch handicappers, we're often making choices that are based around a thin top line, little or no offset, and selecting either the top-of-the-line cast steel or forged carbon steel head that match those general features. When we do sell to the mid-to-high handicappers, we try to steer them to a cavity back set and we encourage them to investigate the hybrid long irons. They will typically pay attention to sets priced at $699 to $799."

Scott Chaffin, PGA director of golf, Mile Square Park Golf Course, Fountain Valley, Calif.: "The feature most golfers are asking for in irons is consistency. I still believe that distance is what they're really seeking and it appears that most are now convinced that fitting is the answer. At our club, there is no chance to sell a set of irons for more than $1,000. Golfers seem to be aware that graphite shafts can assist them with their games, but because a set of them costs more and tends to be over $1,000, there seems to be a challenge for them at our course."

Tom Dirscherl, PGA director of golf, North Shore Golf Club, Orlando, Fla.: "Most players now are looking for the most-forgiving iron they can find without giving up the look of a traditional 'players club' and characteristics like a thin top line, forged look, and not a lot of offset. For some, it's hard to get past the size of the club, more so in drivers. Customers do like to look down and see an appealing looking iron before hitting a shot. They tend to be willing to pay $90 to $100 per club for steel-shafted irons and $100 to $120 for graphite-shafted irons."

  • For information on Virgil Herring's instructional CD-ROM, click here.
  • If you have a question concerning an area of the golf swing or the short game, click here to email Higher Performance Golf Academy.

Virgil is Director of Instruction at:
Westhaven Golf Club
2140 Boyd Mill Pike
Franklin, TN 37064
(615) 579-5190
(Click here for directions)

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