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Tour Players and the Major Brands

One frequently asked question in the golf club business is, "Why do tour players always play golf clubs manufactured by the major brands? If your clubs are so good, why don't the players on tour use them?" The answer is more complicated than "they are sponsored".

Many best players are under endorsement contracts. These can be very lucrative and sometimes net a player several million dollars a year. However, every player on tour is a commodity.

When players first get their PGA tour card they are offered "Tee up money" to play a specific brand of golf club. It does not matter who you are, you get paid if you are in the field. You will make more if you make the cut. Obviously, if you win the check can be very large.

The goal is to win the "count". Every week the Darrell Survey publishes how many players played with what product. These figures are then used in the manufacturer's ad campaigns. Clearly, having more drivers in play will dramatically increases your chance of grabbing the title.

Naturally, tour players would not use the endorsed product if they did not feel they could play well with it. Brand name manufacturers put in extra effort to make sure the player is comfortable with the product. They will adjust loft and lie, change the shaft and even customize the head weighting to fit the tour player.

In the past, tee-up compensation has gotten more prevalent and lucrative. It now extends to mini tours and the LPGA. There is nothing unethical or illegal about the practice. It is simply a way to advertise and market a product. It is up to the consumer to understand that the reason 46 players on tour are now using the newest generation Titanium driver is in part due to the brand name companies marketing budget.

Tour support is another reason tour players choose their equipment from one of several high profile nationally advertised brands. When a manufacturer decides that tour player endorsement is going to be a part of their marketing plan, then they must invest in a means to support the players’ needs.

To start, this includes a "tour van" and support personnel. These vans are virtually well supplied golf club factories. They have all the necessary equipments to alter lies, change shafts, grind a bounce or anything else a tour player may need to play his or her best.

Obviously, this commitment to the tour player is expensive and inevitably adds significantly to the cost of golf equipment. That said, a tour player's support does provide benefits beyond the marketing arena. It helps to make new product development easier and faster.

A tour player's feedback can be an important part of the development process. That explains why innovations like moveable weight ports and 460cc drivers are usually introduced by manufacturers with tour staffs. Companies who follow the trends must wait a month or two before the innovations can be made available to their customers.

Both brand name and custom clubs offer golfers benefits. Custom clubs can be made to fit a golfer's physical measurements and are generally less expensive than brand name clubs. On the other hand, brand name clubs have been successful on tour. This can inspire confidence over the golf ball. If off the rack standard specifications are right for you than brand name clubs may help you play better golf.

The idea is to get out there and play. Do not get too hung up on the equipment you use. A beautiful golf shot does not really care where you bought your clubs. 



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