End Golf Equipment Snobbery

Snobbery Isn’t Cool

Snobbery in golf is nothing new, but lately it’s been top of mind for me.  I’m writing this because lately I’ve seen some readers (a very small minority, most of you are cool) on social media leaving snobby comments on our posts.

In the next few hundred words, I’m going to identify the two main types of snobbery I see in the golf equipment world and explain why we need to stop it.

“Talent” Snobbery

Those comments I referenced earlier?  If you spend any time on the forums, you probably know exactly the ones I’m talking about and where they’re left.  Any time that we review draw-biased equipment, some clown feels the need to say, “Why don’t you just fix your swing?”

Let’s examine that take for a second, and we’ll start by referencing the graphic above.  For every golf shot, for every golfer, since time immemorial, it has been true that the ball flight is the result of the swing combining with the equipment (club head, ball, shaft).  What this means is that every golfer, regardless of their handicap or skill level, is relying on the equipment to do something.

People seem to think that draw-biased clubs or forgiving clubs are somehow wrong or inferior but using an open-faced club, a fade-biased club, or a low-spin shaft is cool.  It’s the same thing.  I’m not suggesting that there aren’t talent disparities in golf, but regardless of skill, we play our best when our equipment matches our needs.

Money Snobbery

I recently got to see money snobbery in its purest form.  A golfer I was partnered with in a charity event leaned over, pointed, and said, “See, when they have a Top Flite bag I know they’re not a real golfer.”

While the “talent” snobbery is ugly, this is worse.  You’re telling me that you need to have an expensive golf bag to be a “real” golfer?  It makes me wonder how many people think that I, with my minimalist set, think I’m not a “real” golfer because I don’t have enough clubs in my bag.

There’s an interesting discussion to be had about what makes someone a “real” golfer, but none of it relates to money.  Some of the most impassioned golfers I know play clubs that are older than I am.  I played recently with a gentlemen hitting (and hitting well!) a 2-iron from the 1960s.  I dare anyone to tell him he’s not a “real” golfer.

Why We Need to Stop It

If you’re reading this site, I can assume you love the game and have derived joy and great life experiences from it.  What if someone had denied you that joy by driving you away from the game?  That’s what we do any time we employ this kind of snobbery.

Over the last few years, golf has seen a huge infusion of new players.  Whether you’re one of these new players or a seasoned veteran, at one point you made your first trip to the golf store, range, or course.  At one point, you were the person struggling fruitlessly against a slice.  For most of us, there was also a time when we didn’t carry brand name clubs.

I would encourage you to be the person you wish you had played with when you were new.  Rather than being the person who turns up their nose at the Top Flite bag, be the person who grows golf by welcoming that person into the game.

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Matt Saternus

Founder, Editor In Chief at PluggedInGolf.com
Matt is the Founder and Editor in Chief of Plugged In Golf. He's worked in nearly every job in the golf industry from club fitting to instruction to writing and speaking. Matt lives in the northwest suburbs of Chicago with his wife and two daughters.

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27 Comments

  1. Excellent article, very well said

  2. SHAD GOLDSTON

    Matt,
    I recently left a comment about a PXG putter being more value for your dollar than an exact same design of a limited-run Scotty Cameron. I hope this didn’t upset anyone. Talking about money is always a sensitive subject. I just feel that “value for your dollar” is important, especially when it comes to such similar pieces of equipment. Thanks for all you guys do!

    • Matt Saternus

      Shad,

      I appreciate your concern, but this certainly was not written with you in mind. Discussions of value are absolutely fair game to me, especially when they shines a light on equipment that delivers more performance per dollar.

      Best,

      Matt

  3. I’m gettin’ a Top Flite bag for my 1997 Hogans…those random money games gonna’ ATMs

  4. Well said Matty – I’ve always said, look at the end result, before making any comment. People are out here to enjoy the game, scenery and good friends.

    Nuff said.

  5. Kevin Briola

    As in most things in sports the equipment doesn’t make the player.

  6. Went for a putter fitting years in NY using SAM Putt Lab tech. I was so hoping they would put me in a Scotty or Bettinardi. Best fit was an Odyssey #9 …. Third of the price and better results. Trust the data …. Putter style hasn’t left my bag since ….

  7. Great comments and observations, Matt! I have a friend who says, “Golf stands for Going Out with Loving Friends” and that golf is a game to have fun. Not all are aiming to be, care to be or have the ability to be “scratch” golfers. Go out, play and be encouraging to all others!! Enjoy the game!!

  8. Michael Fermino

    Matt snobbery in golf is one of the top 3 reasons golf is not growing.When I first started Back in the 60,s I was amazed at the cost of everything golf.I fought back by learning clubmaking.I started with Golfsmith when Tom Wishon was their designer when it becameaoem barn store I went to Golfworks and Maltby.Golfworks in the last 5 years or so has realley picked up its game .I also worked at a gGolfsmith store mainly to get 20% discount on equipment.I am now a senior 73 year old golfer .I play amixed bag I hit and loved cobra F9 irons that I love and nit very well believe me I got a great deal on them.My driver fairway woods and hybrids and putterareall Maltby I love them and hit as well as oem.s.The price on drivers fw and hybrids and puttersis just silly and a ripoff pure equipment snobbery.

  9. Michael Fermino

    Excuse my crappy spelling and typing

  10. Great article – golf is for everyone and is one of the few sports where the handicap system means that people of all abilities can play together. I have definitely been named and shamed for rocking some Wilson irons in the past but the reality was I couldn’t afford anything better and didn’t play often enough to warrant it. Whilst I was able to laugh it off, had I been a newcomer to the game it def could have made me even more nervous on the first tee than normal and eventually ruin my enjoyment. its also interesting what constitutes a ‘proper’ golfer, i suck big time and i am not worried about it, but i play the game for fun and recreation. I am never going to make it onto the Tour or get down to a scratch handicap but i pay my fees, I support my club and bring friends into the game who don’t have the time to warrant a membership the same as anyone else. I would also point out that i’ve played with plenty of people with all the designer gear who would definitely benefit from a few lessons. As a final point, it would be helpful if top brands thought about their pricing at times, did i hear this week that the new Ping Glide Wedges are £200 each?! You know some people are not taking them out the bag without telling you how much they cost.

  11. I bought a set of DCA’s (Titleist DCI knock offs) 2-PW in the early 90’s for way much less than the DCI’s. Still have them, still use them with no regrets. Only thing I did was regripped them.

  12. This is just perfect. It absolutely amplifies what i see and hear on a regular basis. Pretty sad, but all too common..

    Example:
    I recently had someone approach me at a driving range. i was enjoying the day, banging balls, when some guy walks buy, notices that im using Wilson Staff Tour V6 irons (2nd set as I happen to like them a lot) and proceeds to tell me “Dude, you really need to get some real irons, not that Junk”. The irony was he literally could not get the ball in the air with his “Mizuno’s”. This is not in any way a knock against Mizuno or anyone else, just to make a point about the ridiculous way some people see this game.

    Awesome article Matt, and so glad someone spoke up about it.

  13. Mike Bernard

    Thank you for standing up for the right way to approach all folks who play our game.

  14. Excellent article I used to make a fortune off these snob types showing up for big money games in tennis shoes a beat up carry bag and mismatched clubs.Little did the snobs know the clubs were all perfect specs and I was a pro(golfer and gambler) that was going to beat their brains in with any clubs.I sure miss those days.

  15. Well said and spot on. I have a generic bag and am not too emotional about what anyone spends on equipment. I shoot in 80s to 90s and at 73 not too hung on anything but having fun and improving my game. I hit a big Bertha fusion driver and was told by the guy next to me on the range I should really get some better technology. I hit it straight 200-225 little dispersion so I’ll pass. At least I know wher my ball is headed
    Again great article

  16. As an African American 15 handicap golfer with draw biased clubs in the bag, I really appreciate your commentary, Matt. Thanks for making the rest of us feel welcome into what has historically been a very exclusive (and snobby) space.

  17. Jerry Payne

    Very well written article! Of course, this type of snobbery exists in everything…. from clothing, to cars, and even down to where some choose to eat. I enjoy it when you highlight some lesser known brands in your reviews…..and love to see some unexpected surprises at times in WITB write-ups. I love having some shiny, new club in the bag – but, only if it works! We all have discovered that a lesser known / cheaper option can actually service us better! Thanks!

  18. Donn Rutkoff

    My heart broke one day, recently, I saw a woman with a new big shiny namey expensive bag and clubs, by herself at the range. I don’t think she ever had a lesson. Just no swing at all. Zero. Nothing. How sad. I can’t imagine how frustrated. I was tempted to approach her and tell her how much my instructor had helped me, but I just decided to keep to myself. If she had access to money, why no swing???

  19. Matt – great and timely article. I’ve seen the snobbery happen a number of times. Last week while waiting for the rain to stop an old friend started grabbing the clubs in my bag to see what I was playing – funny thing is that it’s a basic Callaway cart bag with Ping driver-fairway-hybrids, TaylorMade irons, Cleveland wedges and Odyssey putter. The most recent is 1 generation back from previous while the oldest is 10 years plus. Good thing I wasn’t playing the original TA 845s Silver Scots that day or the original Eye2 wedges. My friends play older equipment that suits them well. I recall just before getting back into the game in ‘17, I had a couple of dozen TItleist DT So/Lo balls (nib) that were a door prize win for me. Tried to gift them and was informed that that person’s game had advanced to the point he could only play “certain” balls. That was my first lasting impression so snobbery. I know folks who won’t play certain courses as they are not up to their “par” (pun totally intended). In the end I have used those balls, will continue to play old clubs ans will enjoy each and every opportunity to play and maybe make a friend or two along the way.

  20. Wilson seems to be the target of most gear snobs despite making, in my opinion, some of the best equipment on the market. In addition to their irons and hybrids (the C300s in particular) I find that the DUO Professional golfball is the best ball I’ve ever used. One guy volunteered earlier this year that “no serious golfer plays a Wilson ball, which is why you never find them.” I told him that the reason he never finds them is because we rarely lose them. Which is true.

  21. Excellent commentary Matt and as always Plugged in Golf is a fantastic source of information.

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