The majority of consumer fanfare is typically reserved for eagerly anticipated (and often over-hyped) releases of marquee products, most of which have already been subject to a variety of well-orchestrated pre-embargo media leaks.

The same can’t be said of more affordable, second-tier product, but the reality is the majority of golfers aren’t the individuals buying a $500+ driver every year or pre-ordering equipment sight unseen.

There are roughly 24 million golfing consumers, 33% of which make up a core contingent are of early adopters and thus far have consistently followed major OEMs up the pricing ladder. As a result, there’s a valid argument to be made (and some decent profit as well) that the average golfer is under-serviced and on the verge of becoming priced out of the retail market.

It’s a fascinating topic and one which several brands (most notably Tour Edge and Tommy Armour) believe represents a tremendous opportunity to leverage changing market dynamics by filling this void with high-quality equipment at lower price points, which perhaps ironically, seemed normal not that long ago.

WHAT’S NEW?

Building on the success of the HL3 line, Tour Edge is releasing the HL4 series of clubs. The new line targets the mid/high handicap golfer who finds value in basic custom fitting, Amazon Prime quick delivery (all custom orders are turned around in 48 hours), and is keen to purchase a driver and a couple of fairway woods for a bit less than a flagship driver from the market leaders. In point of fact, HL4 (and Hot Launch in general) serves as a comprehensive line of dedicated Game-Improvement equipment.

As with HL3, the menu of technology in HL4 is limited by quantity, not necessarily by quality. That said, at $199 for the HL4 driver ($139 for the fairway), the features and benefits are limited as compared to $500+ models. One can certainly argue how many bells and whistles are really necessary for most golfers, but Tour Edge is going with the less is just the right amount for most approach.

Specific to the driver and fairway models, HL4 won’t have sliding weights, combo-brazed faces, the highest-grade titanium or a full-slate of no upcharge, premium shafts.  But what it will have is, what Tour Edge believes, is modern technology which gives the target golfer more of what they need the most – forgiveness

The most notable improvements (from HL3) center around increased MOI, which comes about the same way most engineers change mass properties to boost forgiveness. Save some weight (via lighter materials, improve construction/manufacturing processes) and reposition it to pull the CG lower/deeper (away from the geometric center of the clubface).

In HL4, Tour Edge states a 12% MOI increase over HL3, putting the heel-toe MOI just above 5000 grams per cubic centimeter. At the most basic level, increased MOI makes a club more stable (more resistant to twisting) at impact, which should lead to straighter shots and more retained ball speed on miss-hits.

Additionally, a deeper cup face should yield more pleasing acoustics, and a forged 6-4 Titanium head coupled with a wider and deeper Power Channel (promotes face flex) increase ball speed on all shots.

The HL4 fairway woods feature a similar tech story with a thinner, lighter 17-4 forged steel crown and more aerodynamic design engineered to produce MOI benefits similar to that of the HL4 driver. According to David Glod (Tour Edge founder) the HL4 fairway wood “is our straightest and most forgiving design ever, and it also features the fastest launch characteristics we’ve ever seen.”

Taking a step back, the vast majority of technological improvements are evolutionary, not revolutionary and it’s reasonable to surmise HL4 will offer some benefits over HL3, particularly if a little more forgiveness is what your game needs. As a side note, both HL4 fairway woods and hybrids are part of Most Wanted testing, results of which should be available mid-late July.

At face value, HL4 is a counter-punch to the general trend of increasing prices, but more so it invites an important question: what is the minimum amount of technology needed to achieve satisfactory performance for the bulk of golfers? Is HL4 enough?

Tell us what you think.

SPECS & AVAILABILITY

HL4 Driver ($199.99)

  • HL4 (straight neck) driver comes in lofts of 9.5°, 10.5° and 12°
  • HL4 Offset driver is available in 10.5°, 12°, and 13.5° lofts.
  • Only the 10.5° Offset model is available in left-handed.
  • The stock shaft from UST Mamiya has a more stable tip section and is available in L, A, Regular and Stiff flexes and ranges in weight from 48 to 60 grams.
  • The stock grip a Lamkin Z5 (available in standard or midsize)

HL4 Fairway ($139.99)

  • HL4 (straight neck) fairway wood comes in lofts of 15°, 17°, 19°, and 22°
  • HL4 Offset fairway wood is available in 15.5°, 19.5°, 22.5°, 24.5°, and 26.5° lofts.
  • The 15.5° 3-wood, 19.5° 5-wood and 22.5° 7-wood in the offset version will be available in left-handed.
  • UST Mamiya is also the stock fairway wood shaft and is available in L, A, Regula and Stiff flexes and ranges in weight from 45 to 65 grams.
  • The stock grip a Lamkin Z5 (available in standard or midsize)

The entire Tour Edge HL4 line will be available at retail on August 1st