Should You Trust OEM Tests?

Numbers are Everywhere

Data is taking over sports.  From the increased prominence of three pointers in basketball to the home run explosion in baseball, data and analytics are changing the way sports are played.

Data is also taking over marketing.  Increasingly, we’re seeing companies put statistics into their ads to prove the superiority of their products.  Numbers are powerful, but should we trust them?  Let’s discuss.

Foreword

Let me start with a word of caution.  I think it can be very easy to slip into the mindset of, “The OEMs are bad, and they’re trying to lie to us and steal our money.”  I don’t think that’s the case.

I think every OEM is trying to make the best products that they can.  This makes sense if you consider their incentives.  OEMs want to make money by selling golf clubs.  The best way to do that is to have their clubs perform well.  If their clubs perform well, people who buy them will be happy, will play better, and will tell their friends which is the best advertising that money can’t buy.

All that said, let’s return to the original question: “Should you trust OEM tests?”

Control the Inputs, Control the Outcome

My answer is either “No” or “Yes, but”.  Let’s dive into the latter.

You should trust the OEM tests, but you should ask questions about the inputs.  Every test has inputs.  If you control the inputs, you can control the outcome.

Here’s an example: I have built a driver that has exceedingly low spin.  I want to show that my driver is longer than every other driver, so I choose to test it at very high speed, with a higher spinning ball, and impact conditions that create more spin.  The results show that my driver is longer than every other driver, and I publish those results.

Have I lied?  No, but I did choose the most favorable conditions for my product.  And, again, this doesn’t necessarily reflect any malice on my part.  I designed a product that I believed would help golfers (or a certain type of golfer) play better, and I marketed it.

A Better Option

Rather than trusting an OEM test which may or may not reflect your game, do your own test.  There’s a name for this: club fitting.

No OEM test is going to perfectly replicate what your swing does.  Only by hitting a product for yourself can you find out if it will make your game better, so do that.  Trust yourself, trust your fitter, and find the best gear for your swing.

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Matt Saternus

Co-Founder, Editor In Chief at PluggedInGolf.com
Matt is a golf instructor, club fitter, and writer living in the northwest suburbs of Chicago. Matt's work has been published in Mulligan Magazine, Chicagoland Golf, South Florida Golf, and other golf media outlets. He's also been a featured speaker in the Online Golf Summit and is a member of Ultimate Golf Advantage's Faculty of Experts.

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7 Comments

  1. Keith Finley

    Well said Matt.

  2. Geralod BARTON

    The same could be said for the launch monitors that are in every golf shop where clubs are sold. For statistics to be accurate there has to be a baseline for comparison. Otherwise it is just numbers. If you are looking to replace a club and you are using a launch monitor, you should always hit both clubs and compare the results. The only way to ensure the best results is to hit the club’s before you buy. That’s just common sense.

  3. patrick MCCLAIN

    It would be interesting to find out what a name brand driver would perform at a average swing speed of 85mph. to include distance with no wind on center hits and off center hits. This would help the consumer have a better idea if the club was for him or her.

  4. Mary L Walsh

    Well written article, but no where does it mention what an OEM is.

  5. Best advice ever. Get fit for every club in your bag, and get fit for your ball as well. After all, you play that ball on every stroke you take. Make sure it fits your game.

  6. Excellent description of OEM potential process and the need for a good fitting

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