A few weeks ago, we asked you about the clubs in your bag. We called it the Golfer’s Choice Survey because we wanted to know which brands you chose to add to your bag most recently. The idea was to give us a sense of how brands are performing with our readers and to gauge what impact COVID has had on equipment replacement cycles.
It’s well-accepted that the typical replacement cycle (how frequently golfers replace their clubs) is three to six years, depending on the club category and how avid the golfer is. We’d expect the average MyGolfSpy reader falls on the shorter end of that range but, nevertheless, what that means is that in any given one-year period, approximately 15 to 30 percent of you will replace some of your clubs.
Drivers are replaced most often while fairway woods tend to linger more than five years. Data for hybrid replacement is sketchy as many golfers are still playing the first hybrid they bought. Even for avid golfers, the typical replacement cycle for wedges is just under four years. (That’s not good.)
Did you buck the trend over the last year?
More than 9,500 (9,640) of you completed our survey. Some of the numbers are eye-popping.
The numbers in our survey results are dramatic:
- Almost half of you bought a new driver within the last year.
- More than 40 percent of you bought a new fairway wood while nearly a third of you bought a new hybrid.
- Despite the higher price point, nearly 45 percent of you bought new irons.
- More than half of you have never bought a utility iron and, yet, more than 30 percent of you bought a new one within the last year.
- Just under 60 percent of you bought new wedges. (You were probably due.)
- Just a bit less than half of you purchased a new putter.
Before we move on to the specifics of what you bought, let’s look at your responses to a couple of categorical questions. We asked about the category or type of iron you play because better understanding the type of irons our readers play will help us prioritize our Most Wanted test schedule. With respect to putter type … call it a curiosity.
Within the larger marketplace, game improvement and super game improvement are typically the biggest movers. With that in mind, it’s eye-opening to see the distribution among our readers.
- Game improvement irons are a popular choice (28%) but the largest percentage of you (35%) have a player’s cavity-back in the bag.
- The player’s distance is popular (18%) and likely growing in popularity but perhaps isn’t as popular with our readers as we had assumed.
- More than 10 percent of you are playing blades/musclebacks. Some sensible context here: blade/MB sales are typically only 1- to 2-percent of the market.
- Only 3 percent of you are playing super game improvement clubs.
- Fewer than 5 percent report playing a combo set. For no other reasons than my own feelings, I expected this number to be significantly higher.
Mallets Versus Blades
Mallets are more popular than blades. That’s your headline.
My hunch is that if we had asked this question a few years ago, the results would have been flipped.
Individual Club Purchases
As we move into our breakdown of brand decisions, keep in mind the data comes from golfers who reported buying new clubs within the last year. To keep the charts concise and readable, we’ve included only those brands which accounted for at least 1 percent of your purchases.
- By a slim margin, more of you (20.38%) purchased TaylorMade drivers than any other brand.
- PING and Callaway account for 19.71 percent and 19.07 percent of your new purchases, respectively.
- The top four brands accounted for 75 percent of new driver purchases. With COBRA’s 11 percent included, it’s 86 percent. Adding PXG (5%), brings the total to 90 percent of new driver purchases spread over six brands.
Fairway Wood Purchases
At the risk of being repetitious, more than 40 percent of you purchased new fairway woods within the last year. This is well above typical replacement expectations.
- Callaway and TaylorMade (functionally tied) accounted for nearly 22 percent of sales each.
- PING and Titleist were around 15 percent each.
- The data nearly mirrors the driver category. The top-five brands accounted for nearly 85 percent of your purchases.
- Purchases of PXG again eclipsed several more established brands.
- DTC brand Sub 70 accounted for just over 1 percent of your purchases.
- TaylorMade was the most popular choice among our readers, accounting for 18 percent of recent purchases. Score one for the Adams legacy.
- PING and Callaway grabbed 17 percent each, while Titleist was around 15.5 percent.
- The same six brands continue to appear at the top of the charts with Mizuno and Tour Edge not far behind.
- Sub 70 accounted for a higher percentage of your hybrid purchases than both Cleveland and Wilson.
It’s worth reiterating that fewer than 20 percent of you reported purchasing a new utility iron within the last year. That’s the smallest turnover of any category.
- TaylorMade was purchased most often by a comfortable margin.
- Titleist is a strong second.
- Srixon and Mizuno were purchased more often than PING and COBRA.
- Sub 70 again registers as a strong DTC offering.
- As we’ve come to expect from our readers, Mizuno irons (20%) were purchased most often and at a rate of nearly two times the company’s actual market share.
- Once again, TaylorMade and Callaway had just a few tenths of a percentage point between them.
- The same is true for Titleist and PING (fourth and fiifth, respectively).
- Srixon (nearly 7%) accounted for a healthy share of purchases.
- Despite being better known as an iron brand, PXG irons weren’t as popular as their metalwoods. Price may be a factor.
- Several smaller/DTC brands accounted for more than 1 percent of your purchases.
First, let me first say you’re probably not replacing your wedges often enough. Reasonably, wedges should be the most often replaced clubs in the bag by a wide margin. That said …
- Not surprisingly, Vokey was dominant, accounting for 32 percent of your new wedge purchases.
- Cleveland surpassed Callaway by a healthy margin, suggesting the brand remains strong in the wedge space.
- Mizuno’s share is disproportionally low (6%), relative to its iron sales.
- Given its strength in nearly every other category, it’s borderline shocking that only 6 percent of you chose PING wedges.
- Costco Kirkland Signature Wedges were good for 1.4 percent of your purchases. That’s roughly the same as PXG and Wilson.
- Callaway’s Odyssey franchise, which includes the Toulon brand, accounted for the lion’s share (26%) of your recent purchases.
- Nearly 18 percent of you purchased Scotty Cameron putters.
- Surprising (to me anyway), TaylorMade (14%) accounted for nearly as many of your recent putter purchases as PING and Evnroll combined.
- Several smaller brands including Wilson, Tommy Armour, Costco and LAB accounted for more than 1 percent each of your purchases.
- The dominant brands are the dominant brands. Sure, that’s obvious enough but it’s worth pointing out that TaylorMade, Callaway, PING, Titleist and COBRA factored in nearly every category.
- Mizuno continues to overperform in the iron category. In every survey we do, Mizuno is comfortably No. 1 in the iron category with our readers.
- Too many of you are playing blades. Not enough of you are playing combo sets.
- Among the DTC brands, Sub 70 appears to be opening up a lead on the field.
- While not yet a Tier 1 brand, PXG accounted for a higher percentage of your purchases than several long-established Tier 2 brands. It’s not yet a force in the golf equipment industry, but it’s climbing the ladder.
- The replacement cycles aren’t likely to hold. COVID has likely accelerated buying cycles. While there’s hope a healthy percentage of new golfers will be retained, it’s likely sales will decline in 2022.