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Equip yourself for the course

With so many options, buying gear can be tricky or even misleading.

By Brian LichtermanPublished: June, 2012

This  month is all about equipment. Clubs, balls, accessories, apparel and everything else you impulse-buy that’s near the pro-shop counter. There seems to be new equipment released regularly, so this issue is specifically about customization and adjustability.

Everything from the face angle of your new driver to the design of the polo shirts you wear can be personalized. Everything is in your hands. This isn’t a new concept, but it has never been so widely available to non-PGA Tour players.

Golf is an equipment-heavy sport. No other sport’s participants are so meticulous when it comes to the details. The grooves of a wedge, the height of a tee, the urethane cover of a ball and the fit of a shoe can all affect a golf swing – although we tend to notice only the negative effects.

Baseball has its cleats and bats; basketball has its sneakers and sweatbands, but golf has a multi-billion dollar industry based solely on the concept. You mention that you’re into golf, and every gift thereafter has something (probably tenuous) to do with golf - the golf snow globe, the golf coffee table book, a dozen golf balls of a brand you’ve never heard of, etc. There’s a lot of golf “stuff.”

It’s also amazing how far the technology and playability of golf gear has come. I definitely encourage everybody to try it all out. Two of the hottest items of 2012 so far are adjustable woods and long/belly putters; it seems like everybody has one. But equipment trends such as mallet putters and dimple-designed balls ebb and flow. They’re hot for a while, but then they cool off. However, customization is here for the long haul. It’s like having a fitting truck in your bag.

My final point is regarding gear - and the tendency many of us have to spend thousands of hard-earned dollars on the latest in clubs and accessories: While it can be valuable to be aware of innovations in gear, and technological advances will  continue, it’s not enough for your game to simply buy the supposedly greatest new thing. Sometimes it’s better to spend $400 on lessons than that spiffy driver. Take my bag. Sure, I have a new R11s in my bag, but I also have Titleist 690 CBs that are ancient.

I spent years working at a golf course watching people pour money down the drain buying equipment that hadn’t been fitted to their game or that they had not needed in the first place. Money that could have gone to improving their game through lessons.

Remember that the next time you’re perusing the aisles of a golf shop. New equipment is great, but if there’s no rhyme or reason to why you’re buying a product, hold off.


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