As 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.
The 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.
Perhaps 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!
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.
Perhaps 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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