It’s an age-old question for golf equipment manufacturers: How much are golfers willing to pay for clubs?
It’s an age-old question for golf equipment manufacturers: How much are golfers willing to pay for clubs? Apparently, the answer is: Some will pay more than others.
Ever since premium became a category, a few club companies are testing the limits. If you drive a Mercedes and can afford a Maserati, will you buy one?
Callaway Golf is putting a toe in the premium water with its Epic Forged irons, which retail for a pricey $300 a club.
“As a company, we’re all about technology and innovation,” says Steven Sourigno, a product manager at Callaway. “We saw a segment in the market that we wanted to take a crack at. We didn’t have any restrictions and now we’re able to put all our technology into a forged body and create this rocket of an iron.”
The Epic Forged is full of technology, featuring a forged body, Callaway’s signature urethane microspheres, tungsten weights and a 360 face cup that results in a flexible clubface. To create a whole out of all the parts is its own challenge.
“It’s multi-material construction and any time we have many materials coming together in the space of one iron, we have to focus on the way they come together, the manufacturing precision has to be best in class in order to get the performance out of all the various materials,” said Dr. Alan Hocknall, Callaway’s senior vice president of research and development.
The body of the Epic Forged is 1025 carbon steel, which contributes to the feel but is not as strong as the cast body of the previous Epic irons.
“One of the technical achievements is to make that carbon steel body capable of withstanding the forces that are involved in a very powerful and flexible face cup,” Hocknall said.
To control the trajectory in a club that has overly strong lofts, Callaway engineers placed tungsten weights suspended in the body of the club by injecting liquid urethane microspheres into the head. In that way, the tungsten weights can be placed low in the body of the longer irons for higher trajectory and lower in the shorter irons to bring the ball flight down.
In addition, Callaway’s variable face technology (VFT) is adjusted to add spin to stronger lofted irons that might need more spin.
As a result, the Epic Forged is a performance club with forged feel. Sourigno says that one of the Callaway managers put Apex and Epic Forged side-by-side and he hit the Epic Forged 20 yards farther. “It’s totally player dependent and not everyone will see that,” Sourigno says.
The stock shaft options for the Epic Forged is premium in themselves. Aerotech Steelfiber FC and Mitsubishi Tensei AV Silver are high-end shafts.
“(The Epic Forged is for) someone in that premium market who wants the best for their game and price is not a barrier,” Sourigno says. “We understand that this iron not necessarily for everyone but for someone looking for the best-looking, best performing with no budget.”
Mike Purkey has written about golf for more than 30 years for a number of publications, including Golf Magazine and Global Golf Post. He lives in Charlotte, N.C.