Golfsmith is done

People who have been reading the blog for a while know my feelings towards Golfsmith. I called it the saddest place in Dallas. It was always over priced and way over staffed. I didnt think it was going to survive. Little did I know how right I was. A few weeks ago the company filed for bankruptcy. Stores are slowly starting to liquidate some of their assets

What went wrong?

Thats the million dollar questions isnt it? Honestly all I can do is speculate. The biggest thing in my mind is the sheer size of the stores. Every Golfsmith I went to was MASSIVE. The stores didnt need to be that big. The rent at those locations had to be astronomical. When you are paying a ton of money to just be open its got to hurt the bottom line. Next up is the amount of inventory they had. When you have that large of a building you need to stock it full of inventory. This meant buying large loads of clubs,useless accessories, and bad used clubs. All of that costs lots of money.  I have spent a ton of money and I havent even opened or staffed my store. Add in the cost of the staff and you need to sell a ton of golf clubs to even break even.

golfsmith-indoors

The Shopping Experience

As I have said on the blog before the “Golfsmith Experience” is not something they should be proud of. For a store that took up so much space it always felt crowded. There were displays everywhere. From club displays to training aid displays. It was madness. At every store I went to the employees seemed upset. It was never very friendly. Every time I went up to an employee they always seemed very annoyed I would even be bothering them. It was always way over staffed yet getting help was a struggle. Dont even get me started on the prices at Golfsmith. Im going to focus mostly on used clubs because I have a decent amount of experience in that area. I have walked into Golfsmith and seen  5 year old iron sets still selling for $500+ dollars. I have literally been standing in a store looking at the exact same clubs on ebay for $200 cheaper. It was absurd. I went into one about a week ago to check out some sales they were having and I saw a Bridgestone J40 Driver with a 6.0 Project X shaft for $285 according to the PGA Value guide it should sell for $101. Thats absurd. Trade in value is $53 . That wont sell. Instead of trying to sell it for something they would rather have it sitting there making no money. The stubbornness of Golfsmith I believe led to its downfall. It took great names like Macgregor and Snake Eyes and turned them into jokes. Their website is one of the worst in the golf business. They were one of the best component names in the world. The moved away from that and it was a big down fall from there. Its a shame for the folks losing their jobs but I guess thats how it goes

Wilson FG Tour V6 Irons

duo-urethane

The most underrated company in the golf world right now has to be Wilson Staff. They have the best golf ball available at this moment with the Duo Urethane. I would be playing it but 30 bucks a box is a little too much for me. I cant wait for them to end up on lostgolfballs.com, end up on sale for the end of season sales, or for Wilson to fall in love with me and send me a lifetime supply. They have a pretty good driver. They have a driver for every level golfer. They have the FG Tour F5 for your better players and the D-200 which is a light weight driver designed to promote distance. The FW Woods are good as well. The FG PMP wedge is soft and performs really well. The iron lineup from Wilson Staff is probably where the brand shines the most. The C-200 irons are a nice cast game improvement iron. It doesnt feel as nice as a forged club but it goes a mile and still feels pretty good. I have always been an advocate of performance over looks and feel.

v5

The best part of the iron line up in my opinion is the FG Tour V5. Its a great forged game improvement club. The clubs feel super soft and perform like a champ. It falls under what Wilson likes to call their crossover line. Basically the player demands ability to work the ball and a more traditional look while also needs some help on some shots. Wilson does have a muscleback iron. If you want the feel of the blade with the performance of the C line then the V5 was for you.

tungsten

Notice I said was not is. Wilson announced on Monday that they plan on releasing a new FG Tour club. It will be the V6. I personally cant wait. They have added some more tungsten to the club. Tungsten allows companies to add weight in certain places without having to take it from other places. This is very useful for engineers. The V6 adds more weight to the bottom of the club to help launch the ball higher making those long irons easier to hit. While the clubs performed just as good as any other club out there it wasnt perfect. One of my biggest gripes with the line before was the use of gold. Wilson has cleaned up the cavity a little bit and gotten rid of a lot of the ugly gold. Its still there but its not nearly as prominent. This is obviously a change I can get behind.

3-club-combo

Get ready folks Wilson Staff has been making its way up for the last few years. All they need is to get into more stores so more folks can try these clubs. If these perform like every FG Tour iron before it then they will have a winner. Do what you can to get your hands on a demo.

Ben Hogan PTx Review

When I rolled up the drive way I saw a little brown box. I sprinted up the stairs grabbed the box and opened the door. I ran to the extra bed room and heard a whimpering. I totally forgot to let the dogs out in my excitement. I had to quit opening the clubs and let the dogs out of their kennels and put them outside. Whoops! Look how pretty this packaging is!

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When I was in college, I didnt take the game too seriously because money was tight,and I couldnt afford to play very often. That all changed when I took a job at a top 100 club fitting facility. They also had some of the top teachers in the Houston area. Working around such great golfers and instructors I couldnt help get better. While working there, I shot my all time best round of a 75. I was training to pass my PAT when I got an offer to work for the Houston Texans.

I took that job and since then the handicap has gone up. When you aren’t at the range and getting instruction every day, that tends to happen. After shooting in the 70’s, I now shoot in the mid 80’s. Since then my swing has “evolved”. Luckily, I have kept my swing speed which hovers around 100-105. If I really step on it, I have touched 108. I never like going there and, honestly, when I hit 108 it was on accident. I hit my swing speed with a fairly quick tempo. It is almost too fast, and I can’t control it. When that happens, I catch it thin. It will go straight but not very high. I lose distance and it is incredibly frustrating. My other miss is a push. It will start right and stay right. It wont turn right it will just stay right. This is very evident when you put a driver in my hand. I feel my scores would be better if I could keep the ball on the course. It is frustrating hitting your 3rd shot from the tee box. Where I “shine” is when you put me 30 or less yards from the green and a wedge in my hand. If you need a chip or pitch, I am your guy. When my ball striking is on I play a nice draw. On some other days a nice cut is what I have going on.It can change from day to day but it is consistent all day long.

 

This test is going to be very interesting for me. I currently really like my irons. I play the Cleveland 588 CB. I think they are one of the best looking irons around. They provide forgiveness while also giving me the ability to flight the ball. They have s300 shafts in them and I play 4-PW. Since Hogan uses the loft system, I will be giving the lofts of all my irons here

4- 24*

5- 27*

6- 31*

7- 35*

8- 39*

9- 43*

P- 47

For the Hogans, I decided to not match my irons loft wise. I really want to test the consistent gaping theory of Hogan. I honestly don’t care if I gain or lose yards. Since Hogan wants consistent gaping I decided to go with this set up:

 

22

26

30

34

38

42

46

You will notice every club is stronger than the one they “match”. This was the configuration that fit my wedge set up. Since I play a 50/54/58 wedge set up, I wanted to keep the 4 degree gaping in all of the clubs. The gaping theory makes sense to me so why not use it?

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The Hogans are going up against the incumbent Cleveland 588cb. As you may know Hogan does not use traditional club numbering. They only use lofts. They allow you to choose any lofts you like. They want to make sure all players have proper gaping between irons. In many modern irons you see an inconsistent gaping through a set. Rather than matching my current irons I decided to test this constant gaping theory. I felt I was here to test the Hogan irons not compare the Hogans to my current irons. With that being said I got a set of 22-46 with 4 degree gaping between irons.

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Performance

Performance at the Range

When I got these I unpacked them and took them straight out to the range. I tend to spend quite a bit of time on the  range. I like the calm and relaxation of the range. I can throw in some headphones and really focus. With that being said I couldnt put in headphones because I wanted to hear these and feel these. I really wanted to focus on a few things when I was out for the first time with these.

  1. Accuracy
  2. Turf Interaction
  3. Distance

I may not have had my best swing that day because I wasnt hitting the Hogans or my Clevelands like I wanted to. Thats just fine though because it allowed me to check out the mishits and how forgiving these clubs were. When I caught one pure it went about 5-10 yards longer than when I mishit it. That being said the misses were consistent. I hate when a mishit flies very short and way off line. In this case it was shorter (expected) but consistent. Mishits all landed close to one another. I love this and allows me to prepare just in case. I know that the club will fly short 5 yards and have a fade on it. If have trouble that way I know I should club up or try harder to avoid that area with my aim.

Most of my range sessions are actually at the PGA Superstore. This allowed me to have quite a few simulator sessions. I know these are not 100% accurate but it did allow me to compare apples to apples. I took my 22,38,46 degree Hogans and my 24,39,47 degree Clevelands to the simulator for a show down. As you can see the Hogans are stronger. To my surprise the distance on the Hogans was actually shorter on the 38 and 46 by about half a club. I was able to explain this a couple of ways. First off was the amount of spin I was getting with the Hogans. They had brand new grooves and were creating a ton of spin compared to the Clevelands. The clubs also flew much higher than the Clevelands. Again this had to do with the amount of spin but I am sure the shaft difference had something to do with it as well. I was going from a DG S300 to a KBS Tour V 110. It was lighter and higher launching. One thing I did like more than the Clevelands was the consistency. I could tell you EXACTLY where the Hogans were going. Everything flew within 5 yards of each other and landed in a nice neat area. The Clevelands were a little sporadic. I did appreciate this and honestly I am willing to give up distance for consistency. One feature I wanted to test on these at the range was the V-Sole. In my two outdoor range sessions I have found this very interesting. I found it to be very efficent on getting through the dry Texas soil. It reminds me quite a bit of the Srixon sole. I found I was able to “stick it” more with these irons on the range.

Range Score: 8 (Out of 10 points) It loses points for being shorter despite having stronger lofts but it gains it right back for consistency

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Performance on the Course

Ill be 100 percent honest with you about a week before I got these the wheels had started to come off my swing. I couldnt keep a drive on the reservation. When you cant keep a drive in play it can make an iron review a little difficult. When I did find a part of the course that wasnt covered in trees these clubs were mind blowingly good. This swing I was fighting was leading to a big cut on the ball. The good thing was these clubs flew true. I knew I could aim left and the ball would cut right back to the right. It was so consistent. I couldnt believe it. Bad swings flew consistent. Good shots flew consistent. What else could I want? I decided since I cant keep a driver in the fairway I was going to cheat a little and take driver out of play. I went over to the local 9 hole par 3 course. This allowed me to hit the irons and see how they performed. When sitting on the tee box with the irons I had some confidence. Considering this was only day 7 of having them I was very happy. As I took them to the range more I became more and more comfortable with the shot shape I would hit. I figured out the swing hitch after some range time and thats when these clubs went to the next level.

When I first got these clubs I was surprised to see that the club that most closely matched my Clevelands was actually 5-10 yards short despite being 2 degrees stronger in loft. I first noticed this out on the range but was able to confirm it at the course. Despite this, They were consistent. I knew the 38 degree was going to go 145. When I figured out the swing flaw that popped up,the clubs were starting to go normal distances again. I have played 5 rounds on a full 18 and 2 on a par 3 course. On the par 3 course I was hitting greens at a fairly good rate. I was making balls dance like I never had before. I was making golf balls back up 10-15 feet. When they didnt dance back they were putting craters the green. Here in Texas thats a HUGE deal. On municipal courses that I play, plush and soft greens are not the norm. I usually have to play a little roll out no matter the ball. With these it was actually back from its pitch mark. I was beyond impressed. After a few weeks I was used to them and able to hit them much better. When that happened I was getting closer to the 150 I got with my Clevelands.

Another thing for me when it comes to irons is being able to flight them properly. I want to be able to hit it low or high. These irons like to hit it high but if I needed to I could play the ball back and get the ball to fly low. These clubs have some offset but that doesnt mean you cant work the ball. Left or right these clubs handle it. Im not much of a shot shaper. I dont like moving it side to side. I will try to fly it lower though especially in Dallas with our large amounts of wind. When I wanted to do that the clubs did exactly as I planned

Course Score: 27 (Out of 30 points)

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Subjective

Looks

Look, they are pretty. Gorgeous chrome goodness. Its not a giant cavity back but its not a blade either. I took the ones from the rack at a PGA Superstore and compared it to other irons. The closest match I found was the Cobra King LTD CB. As far as offset goes this club has some but its no Ping G Max. Its a nice compact CB with a little bit of offset. Think of most of the player CB irons and this falls in line with those. I hate doing this because it is incredible nit picky but I would change a couple of things about the irons looks. The cavity on the longer irons is smooth with paint. On the short irons there is some milling lines. The inconsistency drives me a little crazy. Its nit picky but hey thats why they ask us to do these.

Looks Score: 18 (Out of 20 points)

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Sound and Feel

This is probably the most interesting aspect of these irons for me. The sound on these irons is very unique. The Hogans have a titanium face and a hollow body. If youre thinking that sounds a lot like the build of a hybrid, I thought the same thing. In the longer irons this is very noticeable. It really sounds like a hybrid. It really threw me off the first few times. Im not saying its bad its just…..different. The short irons sound more iron like. These dont have that mushy soft Mizuno or Miura sound. Its more clicky. Again not bad. Sounds better than a M2. Its a forged clicky.It is more clicky like a Nike forging. I cant argue with that at all.With that said they are oh so soft. I wanted to see just how soft these could feel. I bought a sleeve of Wilson Staff Duo balls. It was like hitting a marshmallow with a warm stick of butter. Go to the kitchen and try that. Ill wait……Ok thanks for returning. Howd that feel? Wonderful huh? Thats what it feels to hit a Duo with a PTX iron. With a harder golf ball like my e5 it still felt great. I love the grip. Its soft but feels tacky. The caveat on this is the grip has got to be pretty clean. I lost my glove for a hole but was still able to swing these pretty well. I have done that with other clubs and it was awful. Honestly the grip may be one of my favorite parts of this club. I kind of want to email Hogan and get them on all of my clubs.I also love the fact you know when you mishit it. You can feel a mishit but it doesnt hurt. It doesnt punish you too much but does let you know something wasnt right.

When hit pure I will put these up against anything in terms of feel. The sound on the long iron is a little weird but they still feel nice

Sound and Feel Score: 17 (Out of 20 points) They only lose points because the long irons and short irons sound so different

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Conclusion

Like I said earlier these clubs are a strong step towards a perfect golf club. They offer forgiveness,good looks, and consistency. They could improve the sound of the clubs but if it meant changing the performance of the club I wouldnt do it. I have a little more practice to determine if I am finalizing them in the bag. If these are any indicator of how the Hogan brand will continue forward. I cant wait to see what the new CEO will bring to the company

 

Total Score: 90 (Add up all 5 categories and present a total score)

If you want something new you wont waste your time looking at these I promise.

What a summer

Sorry again for yet another break. Life gets crazy during the summer around here. My wife is gone 4 weeks out of the summer.Leaving me to take care of the house and everything else. I played a ton of golf but unfortunately the handicap is really starting to creep up. I have hit double digits. I barely hit it but I still hit it. The quest is not going so well.

The biggest thing for me this summer was the fact I was given the opportunity to review the Ben Hogan PTx irons. I was chosen to do this and it was an honor. The biggest perk was the fact that I got to keep them. They have been reviewed and I cant wait to share it with you tomorrow night. Its been an adventure and it has been incredibly fun.

I have also gotten a new to me driver. I got a JDM Spec SLDR Driver. IT has been good and bad. The good is really good and the bad is really bad. I think it may be a shaft issue but im enjoying it nevertheless.

Nike filed for bankruptcy. That is huge. We will see where the various players will go. As I said in my article about it I am also interested in where the rest of  engineers will go. I heard the 2017 Nike line was going to be killer! Such a shame to see it go. In other news on the equipment front, Golfsmith has filed for bankruptcy.  As I wrote in an article a few months ago it was inevitable. I called it the saddest place in Dallas and I stand by that. Its a shame to see some folks lose their jobs but thats capitalism.

Some of the major manufacturers have started putting out their 2017 clubs. Look out for the 917, steelhead irons and hybrids, Fusion driver, and some other great offerings. I cant wait ot get my hands on them and let you know what I think.

Strap in folks. We have a super exciting fall coming at The Quest For Scratch. Look for a new logo and even possibly a new website design. Get ready its time to have some fun!