Is an equipment upgrade worth it?

Walking into the PGA Superstore these days must be like what a woman experiences at a department store sale. So many options. Where can you even start? Like cameras, computers and dogs, there’s literally something out there for everyone. The golf ball selection guide on the Bridgestone Golf website gets more personal than a profile. Just like the computer market, golf clubs have gotten to the point where as soon as you place a brand new one in your bag, it’s already out of date. You’d need to add a new wing to your house just to store all the now out-of-date drivers that TaylorMade has sold this millennium.

taylormade golf drivers r7 r5 r1 r9 r11 sldr burner rbz rocketballz
This is not even 10 years of golf clubs

Now, in the business world, assets are depreciated over an estimated standard life span. And at $500 for a driver and pushing $1,000 for a new set of irons, golf clubs are assets. Barges take 10 years to lose their value, an office desk takes 7. A laptop is considered fully used up after 5 years, same as an automobile or a dairy cow. So what would a golf club’s useful life be? If you look at some bags, their clubs only hang around as long as it takes to purchase new ones. Others still carry sticks that even Arnold Palmer might think are a bit outdated. People smarter than me recommend new wedges every 40-50 rounds, or else the grooves get too worn to be of any use. Irons seem to be pretty reliable for more than a few years. I played my Ping i3s for almost 12 years before sending them to retirement. Then it took almost a year just to get used to the new Cleveland TA7s. There is something to be said for comfort, and irons also tend to see the least wear. On an average round you’re pulling out the driver about 10 times, a wedge maybe as many and a putter every hole. But each individual iron might see as little as one or no swings any given day. Putters have long lifespans too. Until they get chucked into a lake, or you decide to go ahead and anchor while you still can.

ping i3 irons
This is the set I spent 12 years with, happily

So then say you feel like upgrading to modern equipment. I’m talking 2013 models and you’re finally ready to ditch the set that still has a 2-iron, Ram Zebra putter and a dozen Titleist Tour Balatas.

persimmon woods
Ok, your clubs probably shouldn’t be this old…

I’ll use Golfsmith pricing on the set I’d like to have.

  • Driver: TaylorMade SLDR TP, $499
  • 3-wood: TaylorMade RocketBallz Stage 2, $179
  • 3- and 4-iron hybrids: TaylorMade RocketBallz Stage 2 rescue, $159 each
  • Irons (5-PW): Cleveland CG Black with steel shafts, $773
  • Wedges (52-, 56- and 60-degrees): Cleveland CG15 Black Pearl, $79 each
  • Putter: Odyssey Metal X 2-Ball, $150
  • A dozen Pro V1s, $47
titleist pro v1 golf ball
These are as valuable a commodity as there is in today’s economy

I’ll regrip them later, so that saves $100. But that 2013 set right there hit the register at $2,203. That’s a lot of money, and if I had to choose, I’d rather take a weekend at Pebble Beach or a week at Bandon Dunes for that price instead with my sad old clubs.

So should you get new clubs? Yes. Is an equipment upgrade worth it? Well, not really. Sure a brand new TaylorMade R1 is gonna be more accurate and I know at least 10 yards longer than my old 580XD from back in 2003. Irons these days are very forgiving and all those NASA engineers that don’t work on the space program any more are designing wedges that can throw darts at any pin for any handicapper. But say you go for the total makeover and drop the handicap from a 9 where I am now to at best a 5 (I’ll never putt well enough to dip below that number). That’s $550.75 a stroke. I’d rather shoot an 85 at Pebble Beach and enjoy an awesome round of golf than put up a 77 at the generic muni course down the street because I blew all my savings on new gear.

pebble beach
A day out here is worth a lot more than a new set of golf clubs…

That being said, new stuff is new stuff. You and I will always gravitate towards something shiny and hot. And it wouldn’t kill you to gradually replace everything over the course of a couple years so that you swing new sticks every decade. I can’t find any clothes from 1999 I would still wear, so why should I keep a putter that’s old enough to buy me a round at the 19th hole? And the equipment these days is incredible. Irons that launch high and consistent. Putters that roll smooth as glass. And drivers that satisfy that desire and basic life requirement that is the 300-yard drive. Golf just wouldn’t be fun without the satisfaction of smoking a tee shot down the center cut and so far out of sight that the golf cart might run out of juice before you can even reach your ball. And really, look at how often new drivers reach the market. Just wait 6 months or a year for the one you want and you can easily find a bargain on great gear. It’s overwhelming to keep up with, I know, but just check in every 5-10 years and all will be fine. But just to show you how crazy things have gotten, look at the TaylorMade drivers that have followed the R580XD I bought in 2004, the last one before the adjustable weight craze where all of a sudden my golf clubs have to come with instruction manuals and a tool box.

But man do I really want that new SLDR…

taylormade sldr driver homer simpson
Yep that pretty much sums it up

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