Anatomy of a Golf Club
By Terry Koehler, The Wedge Guy
Terry Koehler has been in the golf industry for over 30 years and currently spends his days as the President of EIDOLON Golf, a small premium wedge company in Victoria, Texas. He's been blogging for over 3 years and has written hundreds of articles ranging from golf tips to equipment issues. His blog will appear on ClubSG twice per week. You can reach Terry to have your golf questions answered at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I received an inquiry this week from a reader who was curious about the cost of premium golf equipment. He posed several questions related to cost and pricing, and I thought many of you would also be interested in an in-depth look into the subject of how golf club pricing works, and how smaller companies can compete with the major brands. Specifically, here’s what he posted:
It seems to me that everyone is pricing their equipment at or around the same price point. If this is the case, are we as consumers being ripped-off from the name brand manufacturers? Yourself included.While the same pricing/cost principles will apply to woods, irons and putters, I’ll contain this dialog to the comparison of how EIDOLON approaches the building and selling premium wedges, as compared to the methods of the major brands. We can begin from the established retail price point for premium wedges – typically in the range of $109-139, depending on what you buy and where. But let’s go back to the beginning of the process to see how we all get there.
The starting point of any golf club is the components that go into making it. With wedges, we’re talking a head, shaft and grip. The major brands use the same foundries in China that we do for their clubheads, to ensure top grade quality, but their purchasing power gives them a significant cost advantage over any niche brands. That same volume purchasing results in lower costs for shafts and grips as well. So, before either of us start actually building a golf club, the major brands are “into” their clubs as much as 30-45% lower than we smaller brands are.
From there, the major difference between EIDOLON and the major brand wedges lies in the way they are manufactured and sold. Titleist® and Cleveland® build about 3/4 of a million wedges a year between them. Think about that for a minute. If their factories work 250 days a year, that’s a daily production output of 3,000 wedges. That kind of volume requires very efficient assembly lines, and mass production requires a set of production standards that doesn’t vary. While they offer a myriad of different head models, their “one size fits all” approach to making and selling wedges allows this type of manufacturing – each model gets the same shaft, at the same length, the same grip size, etc. They write their orders and deliver their wedges to the stores and golf shops in batches of dozens and hundreds of identical models, and they go on the display rack for golfers to peruse.
Those wedges leave the big factory at a wholesale trade price, less discounts and incentives, and with a Suggested Retail Price of $129-139. But because you can buy the same exact wedge at every retail store or golf shop, online or off, there can be serious price competition that creates a “street price” well under that Suggested Retail. This principle of retail pricing applies to every mass-marketed product, not just golf clubs, obviously. The brand creates the consumer awareness and demand through advertising and promotion, and establishes wide distribution that ensures retail price competition. These costs have to be built into the costs of the product, right?
Because we are a challenger to the established name brands, EIDOLON (and any other successful niche brand) has to do things differently . . . better . . . to compete effectively. Our approach, in contrast to theirs, is to build each wedge or set of wedges specifically to order for the golfer who’s going to play them. We think it’s a better way to ensure that you have the scoring tools that will give you optimum performance and feel in your short game, so that’s our market identity. Because we don’t have the budget to drive massive awareness and demand, we deliver value in other ways. For example, we have some kind of personal interaction, whether email or phone call, with over half of our customers who purchase our wedges, whereas the major brands don’t have any.
In our case, EIDOLON competes with the major brands by giving you an alternative that really works. We craft wedges around our patented V-SOLE, CNC-mill the faces and grooves to ensure the maximum spin “allowed by law”, hold exacting quality standards, use only premium shafts, and build each and every one specifically for the golfer who’s going to play them. And because you don’t know us as well as you think you know them, we back our wedges with an unconditional No Risk Guarantee – if you don’t like it/them, we’ll buy you any other wedge you think you would like better.
It’s not the only way, but it’s our way.
As to that other question, regardless of whether you choose a major brand or niche company like EIDOLON, you are not being “ripped off”. The quality standards are pretty darn good in this industry, and you get what you pay for . . .for the most part.
* The Wedge Guy's views and opinions are his own do not necessarily reflect those of SkyGolf.
The Wedge Guy is sponsored by SCOR Golf, where Terry Koehler is President/CEO. He encourages you to submit your questions or topics to be considered for his columns on Tuesdays and Fridays. Each submission automatically enters you to win a SCOR4161 wedge to be given away monthly. Click the button below to submit your question or topic today.
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