MacGregor Golf 2010 Lineup – Farewell To An Old Friend

| April 14, 2010 | 19 Comments

MacGregor VIP Iron - 2010As you may or may not be aware, MacGregor golf was sold to Golfsmith about a year ago. The struggling club company was reborn this April, and I took a stroll through my local Golfsmith store earlier this week to check out the new lineup. As I expressed in my previous article about the new MacGregor line, I was worried that the once proud and prestigious MacGregor brand would become just another Golfsmith component brand like SnakeEyes and Lynx.

Golfsmith has officially re-launched the MacGregor brand, and I’m afraid to say that coming from the perspective of a scratch player like myself, the future doesn’t look to good for MacGregor fans in my opinion. The Golfsmith influence is immediately apparent in the new offerings, and that is exactly what I was afraid of. The typical MacGregor customer is looking for a fine forged club with traditional styling, but these new clubs reek of Golfsmith’s design team.

The new VIP iron would appear to measure up to the old standards – they are forged of 1025 carbon steel and feature top notch KBS Tour shafts, but upon closer inspection I can see that this isn’t the MacGregor of old. The shape of the irons, while traditional, has been softened a bit. The top line has been thickened just a touch, and the offset is just a bit more than normal. Overall the VIP is a pretty club, but it lacks the classic MacGregor touches like the diamond face framing of the grooves, or the fancy multi piece ferrules that set MacGregor irons apart from the rest. I have not had a chance to hit the new VIP irons, but I suspect they will retain the long sought-after forged blade feel that MacGregor was famous for. The store price of $799 is a bit steep. If you want a set of these, wait for a few months until they drop the price,  as they most surely will.

MacGregor M85T DriverThe new MacGregor Tourney M85T Driver is in a word – disappointing. MacGregor has not had an impact on the driver market in years, and by the looks of it, this new offering is sure to maintain that level of mediocrity. To me the M85T looks way too much like a component Snake Eyes Viper Tour driver head. Sure, they don’t look identical, but it doesn’t seem to me that there was much thought put into the design. To make a splash in today’s driver market you have to have a gimmick or a feature that stands out. Instead, they painted the M85T black, gave it the now cliche weight ports which are purely for looks, and the adjustable hosel feature that allows 3 positions. Closed, Neutral and Open. I’ll give Golfsmith kudos for their selection of the premium UST Mamiya AXIVCore shaft but at the $299 price point they are going up against the Ping G15, TaylorMade Burner SuperFast and R9460, Cleveland Launcher DST, Cobra S2, Callaway Diablo Edge and several more. Good luck selling me on a MacGregor M85T when I can get any one of those for the same price.

Snake Eyes Viper Tour DriverPerhaps the biggest surprise to me regarding the 2010 line up – both good and bad – were the new MacGregor putters. Called the ROTA series, after the British Open rota, each putter is named after a famous open course. There are three models so far: Hoylake, Prestwick and Lytham. Just like the courses they represent on the open rota, you could do better. Perhaps the designers were aiming low? After all, if they called the putters St.Andrews, Muirfield and Carnoustie, perhaps they would have had to measure up to a higher standard. It’s too bad that they don’t still have Clay Long designing their putters, as he did for the legendary Response putter that was used by Jack Nicklaus to win the ’86 Masters. Instead, it looks like these designs were turned out in haste, with the “ARC face technology” being borrowed from the Snake Eyes component putters and the soft lines and over rounded corners leaving me with the feeling that these putters will be passed over in golf shop putter racks as cheap bargain offerings. Not so fast! They will carry a price tag of $129! Bargain putters they are not!

MacGregor and SnakeEyes Putters

MacGregor Prestwick (Left) & Snake Eyes Tour Platinum 7801 (Right)

I must admit however that these putters have plenty of weight to them and feel good rolling the ball. They feel well made and solid, but again, in the $129 price point you have the Odyssey White Ice, Ping i-Series, and several others. Maybe I am the only one, but I don’t see myself dropping $129 for a Golfsmith putter.

MacGregor Prestwick PutterPerhaps I’m missing the point, or maybe I’m allowing the fact that Golfsmith is now in charge of the MacGregor brand blind me into thinking they have become just another cheap knockoff, but Golfsmith has taken a few other once well respected names and driven them into obscurity. Snake Eyes once made the most sought after wedges in the game, and Lynx once made what are still one of the best iron sets ever designed in the Lynx Black Cat. Fred Couples won the Masters with Lynx clubs. Now, Snake Eyes and Lynx are just another cheap component you’ll find in Golfsmith’s catalog and discount club makers all over. I’m not a Golfsmith hater, but don’t want to see my beloved MacGregor turned into another second rate component. I’ve proudly played with MacGregor irons since I started the game, from the old circa ’53 Colokrom irons I had re-chromed in college to the 1025M V-Foils I still keep today as a backup set.

I thought Golfsmith would throw us a bone and give us one last year of top notch forgings and classic designs, but it seems that they have already spilled the Golfsmith special sauce all over the MacGregor name. Gone forever is the MacGregor I knew and loved. Rest in Peace.


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Comments (19)

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  1. Jeremy says:

    Nice review of the brand. I never played MacGregor, and I probably never will, after reading this.

  2. John Duval says:

    Jeremy,
    I have always been a fan of MacGregor, so it pains me to see this happen to the brand. They really were the best forged irons in the world for years and years but now, who knows. If you ever have a chance to pick up a used set of the older blades, you’ll see what I mean. They were pure. As for these new models, I won’t totally recommend against them since I haven’t hit them (except the putters), but at the current prices they are not on my short list…

  3. Lynn Luczkowski says:

    Everyone has an opinion. Just curious, did you actually go out and play with the clubs? or are you basing everything on looks (which don’t get me wrong matters)?

    I wonder if it is difficult to separate your feelings about Golfsmith and other in-house brands from that of the MacGregor brand?

    Interestingly enough, some veteran golf equipment writers have been singing high praises on the design (in phone calls and early communications). I guess we’ll have to see what else makes it to print.

    regards,
    LL

  4. John Duval says:

    Lynn,
    Being a long time fan and player of MacGregor clubs, I admit that my criticism of the new offerings is harsh. I don’t want to see their great legacy of top notch forged irons be diminished from the standard they set many years ago. Perhaps I was over critical of Golfsmith simply because of what has happened with the Snake Eyes and Lynx brands over time, and I don’t want the same to happen to MacGregor. Golfsmith has a line of products which fill a much needed segment of the market and make many golfers happy, but in my opinion the MacGregor brand should never become a component club, and I sincerely hope this never happens.

    I appreciate the feedback Lynn. I also received an email from Golfsmith’s VP of Product Development and International Business David Lowe. (His email is below) I would love an opportunity to test out the new clubs and I will certainly amend my post should they in fact perform as well as my older MacGregor irons. Thanks.

    I hope this note finds you well and with any luck the weather in your area has provided an opportunity for you to play some golf this spring. I had a chance to read your coverage of our 2010 line of MacGregor products, and while I am very pleased to have publicity of any kind for our brand, I disagree with your assessment of the line and how we approached the design of these new products. I am a 28 year golf industry veteran and have worked both sides of the wholesale/retail equipment industry. I have had the pleasure to play many different brands and products during my life time in golf, including a stint where I not only played, but also collected MacGregor clubs in the 1980’s and 90’s. I have also had the opportunity over my career to sell all of the major equipment brands in golf to retailers, golf professionals, and consumers so I believe my perspective, though my own, is well informed. I, along with my business partners here at Golfsmith, have a great respect for the MacGregor brand and it’s history and I firmly believe we can help this great historic brand live on. I’d be very happy to discuss with you our approach to the new line as well as what we have planned for the future of MacGregor. Please let me know if you might be interested in a phone discussion on this or any other golf industry related matter.
    Respectfully yours,

    David Lowe
    VP, Product Development and International Business
    Golfsmith International, Inc.

  5. John,

    I agree with much of your assessment although I am also biased as I worked for MacGregor Golf for many years right up until almost the last day. The Golfsmith price points are likely to be a challenge as the “old” MacGregor struggled to gain market share at those same price points. The old MacG had the benefit of much broader distribution, a sales force doing hundreds of demo days and a tour staff headed by Greg Norman and it failed, so it will be interesting to see what Golfsmith is able to accomplish. I would not count them out though as the brand still carries some “equity” with the older players and if Golfsmith targets a more youthful audience, they may just have a chance.

    As for the new product, I think it looks pretty cool in most cases and I am glad to see them bringing back some of the old MacG sub-brands like VIP and Tourney. The VIP irons and wedges look great!

  6. Edog says:

    Ok, so its been a while since you ran this story. Don’t you think its time to post a more serious review of some of the actual gear? I get that you don’t see the old line and its traditions in the look and feel of this product, but based on that alone you were pretty harsh.

    Given that these irons and drivers are not museum pieces, but sporting gear maybe you should post a more serious and detailed review of a few of these items. I mean, my take from this write up is some blogger really liked Macgregor and hates Golfsmith. Seems like the tone of the other articles on your site is more informative than that.

  7. DANA says:

    JUST BOUGHT THE M85T DRIVER ON SALE AT GOLFSMITH FOR $199. INCLUDING A #3 FAIRWAY WOOD. IS GOLFSMITH DESPERATE TO UNLOAD THIS LINE OR JUST CLEANING HOUSE FOR NEWEST VERSIONS?
    ARE THE MOVABLE PARTS ON THE DRIVER GOING TO BE A PROBLEM DOWN THE ROAD? WHEN I SAW THIS LINE (MACGREGOR) I THOUGHT I WAS LOOKING AT ,LIKE WOW MAN, THIS IS MACGREGOR, PLUS AN EXTRA #3 THROWN IN!!CAN’T LOSE, RIGHT? WHEN I RETURNED MY M75T DRIVER FOR THE M85T, I WAS TOLD THAT IT IS GOLFSMITH MADE EQUIPMENT. WELL MY HEART SANK THINKING “WHAT HAVE I DONE?” SO I SWALLOWED THAT BIT OF NEWS AND CONTINUED THE EXCHANGE. I HAVEN’T USED THE DRIVER YET BUT IF ITS A STEP UP FROM THE M75T I’LL KEEP IT. AN EXPLANATION WASN’T GIVEN AS TO HOW ONE ADJUSTS THE HEAD NOR WHAT TOOLS SHOULD BE USED TO DO IT,OR HOW OFTEN WILL THE ADJUSTMENT PROCESS LAST BEFORE IT MALFUNCTIONS .
    I CAN VISUALIZE SOME GUY USING A SLEDGE HAMMER AND CROWBAR, yuk yuk.
    . OK SO I’VE DECIDED TO KEEP THE CLUBS ON CONDITION THAT IF ANYTHING GOES WRONG I CAN TAKE IT BACK–“NO PROBLEM” !!WE’LL SEE..
    AS FOR THE SALES PEOPLE, A-1, APART FROM NO DIRECTIONS THAT IS !!
    …62 YR. YOUNG WANNABE, STILL LEARNING THE ROPES!!

  8. Mike says:

    I agreewith Edog, a review based entirely on looks and style for sporting equipment is a little ridiculous. I have hit the m85 and m75 drivers, and they hit just as well as any of the other $300-$400 drivers, and the forged wedges play just s nice if not better than vokey and clevelands.

  9. Jim says:

    Mike, I agree. I’ve always played major brands. You name it I’ve had it or have it…wedges, drivers, irons and putters. I think that the problem with many golfers is that they can’t believe that a brand like this would be as good as Taylor Made and others. There are those of us who remember when starting out that Callaway made clubs with fake wooden shafts. My feeling is this….would I buy a driver at Wal-mart? No, but being able to hit balls at Golfsmith and try several drivers out, I picked the M75T. The price and the extra club had something to do with it. But, it came down to how solid the club felt and how straight could I hit it. Because my wife is out of work, I needed to find a bit softer price with the driver so I could pick up a new set of irons. I have my eye on some Callaway Razr X or Titleist AP 2’s. But, I will consider MacGregor and I will buy at Golfsmith.

  10. b-ford says:

    first of all the drivers you mentioned are not even in the same category. g15, burner superfast, launcher dst, diablo, r9 460.
    All of these drivers are large 460 (most i think) limited, forgiving drivers. The M85T is a smaller, deeper faced driver for workability and control and low spin. COMPLETELY different. A comparable to this TYPE of driver would be ping i15 or the taylormade superdeep in which the ping is over $400 and the superdeep being harder to find is over $500! lastly if your saying that the viper tour (which looks nothing like the m85t) is a good looking club? shame on you.

    The new vip irons aren’t going to be like macgregor of old…in fact i love the new VIP irons. the badging around the grooves aren’t involved anymore because A.> golfsmith is a bit cheap with looks. and B.> they could afflict against the groove rule if someone were to challenge the idea.
    i own wilson staff fg tour irons. they arent anything like the FG-17, 59, fluid feel blades. only thing i can compare them to is the long irons in the original forged “Progressive” set.

    I like the ROTA putters but only one model. the Hoylake. you can’t find a newer gen blade (8802) style putter with the technology to make rolling the rock more consistent. good on golfsmith. If they roll the ball well, have good weight, and overall feel good, how are they not worth 129?
    thats like saying a murcielago lp670 SV is good in every way a super car should be but it isnt as good as a ferrari 458 because “it isnt a ferrari”.

    I recently picked up 2 VIP forged wedges from golfsmith which im surprised you didn’t tear those up as well. considering the 685bx wedge by snake eyes looks relatively the exact same as the VIP in both black (pvd) chrome and reg chrome.

    i like the VIPs wedges much more though….soft and traditional
    unfortunately a person like yourself thinks that macgregor should make things the same everytime and nothing different. unfortunately, thats why they went out of business in most cases. give them a chance…they might surprise you

  11. Dan says:

    My path to Macgregor was a bit different. I had been experimenting hitting some different golf balls, and was introduced to the VIP MacGregors at Golfsmith. Upon hitting them, they had great distance, soft feel, very similar to the much more costly Tour balls. These are the balls I play now, and have been very pleased.

    Well, next, I was in the market for a new 3 wood, and decided I would try the MacGregor’s, again was extremely pleased by the feel, and oh btw, if I bought a driver, I would get the 3wood for free, no brainer. I bought the M85T. Not only does this club crush the ball (my driver 320-350 yds), very similar to what I was hitting my other name brand driver at, but the right to left misses have dramatically decreased.

    Finally, I’ve been playing my Tour irons for the past 4 years, and in the market for a new set. The success that I’ve had with MacGregor has been tremendous, and led me to test out the VIP irons. Loved the feel, and was custom fitted for a set with X-Stiff shafts. Should have them soon, and can’t wait to play em.

    I’ve been questioned by friends and family who I regularly play with for playing MacGregor, most likely b/c it is not as relevant a name and fixture on Tour, but it tickles me when I now hear that they are now playing the VIP balls. Has to start somewhere. Believe!

  12. Mr Jolly says:

    John, c’mon. Hit the irons. Golfspy ranked these irons 3rd among all forged cavity-backs back in 2010: http://www.mygolfspy.com/forged-cb-irons/. They used measurable data collected from players who actually hit golf balls with golf clubs. In fact, these irons finished first in accuracy in that test. They use quality materials, and they’ve included KBS shafts. Plus, the price is ridiculously low right now (I paid 399.00 for my set, and they came with two free VIP forged wedges). I’d say this review epitomizes the danger of nostalgia. . .

  13. John Duval says:

    Mr. Jolly,
    At the time I wrote that article, the price was $799. That’s a steep price for MacGregor irons these days in my opinion. They don’t have the market share they once had, and predictably, the price came way down and you got a good deal as a result. I don’t dispute Mygolfspy’s results – I know those guys and they do a good job testing clubs. If you read the comments, I was contacted by Golfsmith’s VP of Product Development and International Business David Lowe and I also said “I would love an opportunity to test out the new clubs and I will certainly amend my post should they in fact perform as well as my older MacGregor irons.” I was eagerly awaiting a set or irons to test, but nothing ever came, so until I get to hit them for myself, I stand by my original comments.

  14. Toby says:

    John,

    Goflsmith VP David Lowe invited your phone call to discuss. You say you were expecting them to send you a set of irons because you mentioned in this thread that you would love to test them, but did you contact him to personally solicit such a test? VPs are busy guys and even though your post hit his radar at some point in the past, it’s not always reasonable to expect them to be continually watching conversation thread(s) so they can find a request like yours buried in the text. If you’ve pursued him and made a direct request that was denied, then your disappointment may valid. But if not, I’d encourage you to do so and see what happens.

  15. John Duval says:

    If you recall the original article I wasn’t lamenting the lack of quality or poor craftsmanship, but the influence of Golfsmith’s design team in the shape and features of the new irons. My request to Mr. Lowe and Golfsmith’s PR firm for a review set was not answered. However, I will follow up and ask to review the irons once again because this issue has not been laid to rest. More to come…

  16. John Duval says:

    I reached out to Golfsmith VP David Lowe and he wants to wait until the fall when they release the new VIP irons. At that time we’ll arrange for a trial and post a full review of the new irons tested head to head with the MacGregor VIP 1025M V-Foil irons. Stay tuned…

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