So, part of my job consists of people trying their drivers against the new stuff in an apples-to-apples comparison. And sometimes those results are embarrassing.
Today I had a customer try their Big Bertha II against the Big Bertha Diablo. Logic suggests the reconfigured center of gravity, higher moment of inertia, and lighter (gaudy) shaft in the Diablo would lead to longer, straighter drivers and outperform a decade-old club. The hyperbolic face technology Callaway currently employs (and the reported $30 million spent in the club’s R&D) should make the club’s sweet spot bigger, and produce more forgiving off-center shots. However, the truth is it really doesn’t.
This has happened to me three times now. The old stuff outperforms the new stuff. Hands down.
Maybe it’s because golfers hone their swing to their driver, and it’s crazy frequencies, and subconsciously are able to adjust and hit the damn thing better than the newer technology. Or maybe the newer technology isn’t as good as the old stuff, plain and simple.
I’m leaning toward the latter.
Furthermore, I’m wondering if my unsubstantiated findings are a tell-tale sign of the brand. Does the company’s S2H2, hosel-less old-school technology actually fly longer and straighter than the Diablo series?
Signs point to yes. And if the current state of Callaway is any indication, things aren’t going to get better any time soon.
Today, at the crack of dawn I attended Callaway training in Roseville. A crew of five experts flew in from Carlsbad, Calif. to discuss the company’s new line tour and Diable Edge drivers, irons and hybrids. If not for the free coffee, donuts and complimentary golf balls, it might have been a complete loss. Don’t get me wrong, these were pleasant guys who were pretty knowledgeable. Their training might help me sell more clubs, but the new product is spectacularly ugly, and Callaway has decided to launch its drivers much later than its “neighbors down the street” a.k.a. TaylorMade. That probably won’t help sell their product.
Did I mention the shafts are fugly? Maybe they think the emerging Pan-Asian markets (which in 2010 will actually be bigger than the American market for the first time) like crazy devil signs, idiotic headcovers, and over-priced irons.
You see, the new “forged” diablo irons aren’t really forged. The “cradle” is forged. The face is carpenter steel. WTF Callaway. For $1,000 the consumer probably wants a set of irons that are more pure than Taylor Swift. And ones that don’t look like Lady Gaga.
Again, to be fair, I haven’t hit the FT-IZ line of drivers, which the reps claimed to be the “longest, straightest driver Callaway’s ever made” and maybe it is. But their $399 “tour” driver is underwhelming as far as I’m concerned.
And the marketing is still, in a word, terrible. Please, Callaway marketing department wizards, enough with the tacky Diablo campaign. These people actually had the audacity to photoshop Rocco Mediate’s head on this Yakuza-dude’s body. That actually happened. And these signs were put up in stores all over the U.S. Huh …
Anyway, check ’em out for yourself and let me know what you think. Personally, I’m not too impressed, and suggest Callaway stick with what got them here – good golf clubs, with a clean look, aimed at average players.