Golf equipment quality control: A cautionary tale for equipment manufacturers
This is my favorite time of year, which is odd, really, considering I’m a snowed-in golf fanatic who is jonesing for a round so badly that Britney Spears called me the other day to tell me she was worried about my state of mind.
However, as Equipment Editor for the WorldGolf.com kingdom of golf publications (i.e., Court Jester), it is that time of year – after the PGA Show in Orlando and before most pro shops receive their first big orders of the season’s newest gear – when boxes start showing up at my door.
Lovely long, graceful, rectangular and sometimes triangular boxes. Boxes containing drivers, wedges, putters, fairway woods, and hybrids. Heck, I even get a thrill when I find a squat, square box surely containing some marginally useful practice aid, or a flat but stout envelope that some press agent has jammed a new golf book into.
My favorites, though, are the heaviest boxes, the ones containing entire iron sets.
And trust me, each and every one of them gets a practice swing in my living room, usually as my wife implores me to be careful so that I don’t shatter a lamp or sever a blade from the ceiling fan.
Irons are tricky to review. Some companies just send one, normally a 6-iron. How, I ask, can I review one iron? How can I determine the overall consistency or integrity of the set? This is especially true in these days of hybrid sets, which follow a gradual progression from short-iron to long-hybrid.
The value of seeing and evaluating the entire set was brought home to me – literally brought to my front door – two days ago.
After hauling in one of those most-welcome weighty boxes containing the new Hippo Golf Hex2 irons, opening it, and dutifully examining each and every club in the set, I noticed something very odd: The 8-iron was about ¾"shorter than the 9-iron. Likewise, it was about ¾” longer than the PW. And the 9-iron was ¾” shorter than the 7-iron.
It appears that someone, somewhere in the Hippo facility, accidentally switched the 8-iron and 9-iron shafts. How odd. And how irritating!
Now, if Hippo had just sent me a 6-iron, I would never have given quality control a second thought. As it is, however, I’ll need to contact the company to check whether this happened with more than one set, or if mine was an aberration.
The lesson, however, is clear:
Equipment companies, when shipping clubs to equipment reviewers, should make darn sure that what they send out has been inspected carefully. Because once it’s out there, it’s fair game.
As for me, the lesson I take away is that I have been justified all along in my refusal to review iron “sets” when I’ve only seen and hit one 6-iron. I do not know how many golf publications do review sets based on just one club, but I know some do. I’ve taken heat from companies before for only writing brief blogs or notices of new equipment, rather than full feature reviews, because I did not have the full set to inspect. Now, it seems, this stringent criterion has been vindicated.
Oops. Gotta run. Doorbell’s ringing!
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