From The Inbox

From the Morning Read inbox

That great gear divide: 10-percenters vs. Everyman
For all of the talk about “growing the game,” the golf industry continues to put the lie to that statement in most ways. Many of us are smart and/or thrifty enough to compare real gain to cost and leave our wallets in our pockets (“Soaring club prices ignore golf’s reality,” Jan. 8).

Equipment sellers need to decide whom they’re marketing to: the 10-percenters or to Everyman. You can sell at a much higher markup to the 10 percent, but I have to believe that you will sell a lot more (and thus make more) selling at a lower price point to Everyman. That’s not even taking into consideration “growing the game.”

How many new players are they going to find to fill the ranks of the fallen when you have to pay $2,500 or more for equipment to play a game that takes more than 4½ hours and penalizes you for hitting into the fairway but landing in a hole created by the guys in front of you?

Unless things change soon – and radically – the number of golf courses available for play will be halved or worse, and golf will return to being a sport enjoyed solely by the pampered rich.

Timothy Vice
Margate, Fla.

‘A total rip-off’
Club prices have gotten to be ridiculous (“Soaring club prices ignore golf’s reality,” Jan. 8).

Then, a further insult is the peanuts that they say your clubs are worth on trade-in, even after only one year. Gouging is what best describes these golf-club companies, along with those trade-in prices. It’s a total rip-off.

Gregory Tatoian
Port St. Lucie, Fla.

'Marketing hype' fuels price of clubs
The actual technological advances between manufacturers has been very little – just a lot of marketing hype to differentiate sets (“Soaring club prices ignore golf’s reality,” Jan. 8). That’s what we are paying for. Don’t forget, all those pros who get everything for free.

Pretty soon, only fairly wealthy people are going to be able to afford equipment and the green fees. There are not going to be enough players to sustain the number of courses available, and many more will close because the volume of golfers has dropped drastically.

I don’t begrudge a company a fair profit. Not every manufacturer should follow the PXG model.

Dick Erdmann
St. Charles, Mich.

It’s simple math
Unfortunately for golf, Gary Van Sickle hit the nail on the head (“Soaring club prices ignore golf’s reality,” Jan. 8).

I live near Myrtle Beach, S.C., and a number of courses have closed recently. We still have 80-plus. The cost of new equipment is beyond what the average Joe can pay, and more of my friends are playing less.

What I believe is really an eye-opener is, if you look at the clubs carefully, they are all manufactured in China. I cannot believe those workers are making a ton of money. However, the markups are tremendous. I compare this to markups on golf apparel. Again, look closely, and all are manufactured overseas.

Something has to give at some point. And the experts wonder why the game is not expanding. Even a simpleton like me can solve this math problem.

John Martin
Kingstree, S.C.

Caution signs for a ‘stagnant’ game
Gary Van Sickle is spot on (“Soaring club prices ignore golf’s reality,” Jan. 8).

The game I love has been stagnant for years. The golf industry (manufacturers, club owners, architects, PGA, USGA, etc.) have failed in their attempts to reverse the trend.

Jim Andreottola
Ipswich, Mass.

Cut out the middleman
I want to commend Gary Van Sickle on his article (“Soaring club prices ignore golf’s reality,” Jan. 8). He is spot-on. Skyrocketing golf club prices are unnecessary and hurt the game.

Ben Hogan Golf Equipment Co.’s “factory-direct” business model allows golfers to buy tour-quality, custom-crafted forged clubs at about half the price of other leading brands. Our formula is simple: No middleman nor retail markup plus minimal advertising and tour-endorsement costs equals exceptional value.

Yes, the Ben Hogan Golf Equipment Co. is listening.

Scott White
Carlsbad, Calif.
(White is the president and chief executive officer of Ben Hogan Equipment Co. in Fort Worth, Texas)

New clubs? Nah, just a new tee box
After reading Gary Van Sickle’s piece on the price of golf clubs (“Soaring club prices ignore golf’s reality,” Jan. 8), I’ve canceled plans to replace my 8-year-old steel-shafted irons this spring.

I had planned to replace them with graphite-shafted irons more suitable for my senior status. I figure it’s much more cost effective to move up a set of tees while playing.

Dave Conlon
Ann Arbor, Mich.

Hedge bets on ShotLink
I often use ShotTracker (fueled by ShotLink) to follow golf on Thursday and Friday. It can be completely wrong in real time, and it can be several holes later before the data are updated. That would be a nightmare for someone gambling in real time on shots or holes, because you wouldn't know where you stand before placing your next bet (“Monahan positions PGA Tour for big bet,” Jan. 7).

They have a lot of work to do on ShotLink before they are ready for betting.

David Williams
Graham, N.C.

Way to go, Woodland
I just have to say how impressed I was with Gary Woodland in the Sentry Tournament of Champions (“Maui surprise: Schauffele surges in T of C,” Jan. 7).

All week long, TV commentators were talking about how much Woodland wanted to win and how much it meant to him. Yet on the 18th green, when he missed that potential typing putt, instead of having a fit like so many players would’ve had, he just shrugged it off. But the coolest thing was when Woodland came up and clapped winner Xander Schauffele on the shoulders and gave him an “attaboy” afterwards.

Class act, and an easy guy to root for.

Dean Vent
La Quinta, Calif.

Putting an end to those costly gimmes
The guys in my group used to give gimmes (“From the Morning Read inbox,” Jan. 8). Then they realized they were losing a lot of money. I missed as many “in the leather” as I did from 10 feet.

Bruce Wyrwitzke
Astoria, Ore.

A way out of that pesky divot
As for reader Dave Richner's plaintive cry for fairness in following the Rules of Golf, I have some bad news and some good news (“From the Morning Read inbox,” Jan. 7).

The bad news is that the word “fair” just doesn't make an appearance in the new rule book, unless one is fairly searching for one's ball.

The good news, Dave, is that there is now an opportunity for you to obtain free relief from that dreaded sand-filled divot. A ball that is embedded in sand in a closely-mown area may be lifted, cleaned, and dropped in the relief area, at no charge. Of course, an embedded ball, by definition, must be at least partly below the level of the ground, and it must have arrived there as a result of the previous shot.

So, the next time your ball flies into a sanded divot and is embedded, feel free to take relief, and be sure to thank the USGA for making the game more fair.

Jim Kavanagh
St. Augustine, Fla.

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