Women’s Equipment Progression


Women continue to be a mystery, an X-factor, as it relates to golf’s future growth potential. On one hand it’s been stated repeatedly in recent times that the women’s demographic is the game’s fastest growing segment. On the other, the industry is occasionally furnished with data confirming that women leave the game as fast as they enter it.

Consider this from the 2012 Canadian Golf Consumer Behaviour Study commissioned by the National Allied Golf Association. It clearly underscores the obvious disconnect.

“Women represent an important segment for potential growth, however, many do not believe the cost of golf and the value proposition is justified. Women are entering then leaving the game at a much higher rate than men. There needs to be a more focused effort on women and there is no easy win to positively impact behaviour among this important segment.”

One of the areas of the women’s demographic where there is one less thing to consider, at least in the practical sense, is equipment. Long gone are the days when women were forced to default to hand-me-down clubs from their husbands that were either way too long, way too heavy or a combination of both. There were also steel shafts that were not near flexible enough and woods without sufficient loft to help get the ball airborne.

None of that applies now. Though women do not have the same scope of product choice their male counterparts do, there is no question they have access to the same technology and happily to more options for gear than ever before.

I was reminded of this just last week. On a visit to TaylorMade-adidas Canada headquarters in Woodridge, Ont., the guys gave me a sneak preview of Kalea. The Carlsbad, Calif, company launched this women’s exclusive product — its first in a decade — on Monday. It showcases the kind of progress TaylorMade, and by extension the rest of the industry, has made with women’s golf equipment.

How much? First, the line is not pink. Too often over the years OEMs dabbling in the category were too quick to anoint pink as the colour of choice for women’s golf clubs. Good idea maybe back then; really bad idea now. Women consumers are way too sophisticated for that.

As much as anything, women want their clubs to be as fashionable as they are. That means they expect the gear they buy to have style and aesthetic points of difference. Kalea, for example, is accented with soft greens and yellows. PING’s Rhapsody product for women, which debuted early this year, is trimmed in turquoise blue. Cobra will simultaneously be launching its brand new KING F6 women irons the same time they will its men’s. Those will come out on January 15, 2016 in silver with ultramarine blue and raspberry accents. It will feature graphite Matrix Red Tie Q4 shafts and Cobra Winn grips.

Where women don’t want compromise is with two things: playability and innovation. It is here where the biggest strides have been made by the OEMs with women’s golf clubs. In January I was with chairman John Solheim in Orlando when the company debuted Rhapsody. I asked him why innovation was so important in the women’s segment.

“My wife deserves the same experience, the same satisfaction from playing the game as I do,” he said. “That means having equipment that not only will help her play better but play her best. All women playing the game deserve that.”

PING staff member Azahara Munoz agreed.

“You don’t want women to feel left out and we shouldn’t be when it comes to equipment,” she said shortly after I spoke with Solheim. “PING, to its credit, has a women’s line they put a lot of effort and detail into. It’s lightweight and it helps women get the ball in the air. Some companies don’t have a women’s line even though the women’s side of the game is growing.”

Composition of a set makeup is important for any golfer. For the women’s demographic it is critical. It means a set configuration needs to be flexible. Kalea is available in 13 clubs. That includes driver, three-, five- and seven-woods; four- and five-rescue clubs; six- and seven transition irons; eight and nine-irons, pitching wedge, sand wedge and putter.

Cobra will offer a progressive set makeup of the KING F6 product in six irons (sven-PW) and two KING F6 Hyrids (four-five H and five-six H). Cobra’s latest women’s product, most importantly, will feature the exact same technology as the men’s KING F6. That includes half hollow mid-irons and deep undercut cavity-back short irons.

“In designing the KING F6 irons we are answering the different needs of all golfers. You shouldn’t have to choose between distance, forgiveness, feel or accuracy. You can have it all,” said Cobra’s director of product marketing Jose Miraflor.

With Kalea consumers can buy the set individually (including an accompanying putter and bag) or they can purchase Kalea as an eight-piece combo set. Either way they are going to get a product with extensive technology attributes. TaylorMade’s R&D team has infused the line with optimized lofts, low and back centre of gravity locations, slot technology in the soles, special SlimTech shafts with smaller tip diameters that add launch at impact. The company’s goal was to have all of Kalea’s features work together to offer maximized performance for slower swing speed types. According to TaylorMade, the set is also designed to create a smoother transition between the different club types by managing lofts, lengths and head shapes. That ensures each club is as easy to hit as the next. By the way the company didn’t stop with clubs. Also being launched is the two-piece, soft cover, low compression Kalea golf ball.

“We’ve learned a great deal about product performance in the last decade, much of which was geared toward faster swing speeds,” said Tomo Bystedt, TaylorMade’s senior director of product creation in a company release. “For us, Kalea was a great opportunity to take our learnings on slower swing speeds and bring them to market with products that provide meaningful performance for female players.”

Women should expect nothing less.

Article Written By: Rick Young
Article Date: 11/24/2015
Original Article: SCORE Golf