Focus on Irons - What
Consumers Are Looking For
to PGA Professionals polled, forgiveness, consistency and game-improvement clubheads
By SCOTT KRAMER
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."
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."
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."
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."
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."
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
information on Virgil Herring's instructional CD-ROM, click
you have a question concerning an area of the golf swing or the short game, click
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