Golf is about aesthetics. We love looking down a fairway that pleases our eye. More importantly, we are obsessed with the way we look on the links, the image we portray. We spend more on golf shirts than we could possibly count. In fact, even some CPAs may have some trouble tabulating the damage done to our pocketbooks by the newest Ashworth, Greg Norman and Nike designs, among many others. Not only does it satisfy our eye, but it helps our game as well. When we enjoy the way we look out there, we are comfortable, and when we are comfortable, our scores reflect it.
The same goes for our equipment. No matter how well a club plays, it has to be visually appealing. If our eye is not pleased, nothing else will be. We can never be truly satisfied with a piece of equipment if we hate the way it looks, and our respective games will show it. When we address the ball, and we’re thinking, “Man, that really is ugly,” it is impossible to hit the ideal shot. Even if, by some miracle, we make solid contact, it is tainted by the fact that we know we are still holding this Gorgon in our hands.
Maybe I am too superficial for golf, but I know there are others out there like me, which is why I compiled this list.
These are pieces of equipment that look like a joke played on consumers by research and development gurus. They are the inbred monstrosities of the golf equipment realm, to which someone in production should have stopped and said, “You know what? This is ghastly. What are we doing here?”
No. 5: “Get long. Get feel. Get real.” This has made the squad not for the actual product, but for its packaging. Nike Mojo boasts a psychadelic box decorated by a series of orange and green stripes emerging from what looks to be an image of the Mojo ball at the center of the box. Flames arise from the bottom, reaching up toward the word “Mojo” written in large lettering. It is truly ugly. I am not sure who Nike wants to sells these to, but Jerry Garcia is dead. If it is to the cannabis population, then I cannot see why. Most of them are too busy trying to find their feet to make it into a retail store. And even if they made it out of the house, they would be immensely disappointed to find out that the Mojo box does not contain Cheetos.
The Mojo ball is comparable to most other cost-efficient golf balls out there. At about $20 a dozen, it provides OK distance with OK spin. Do not buy them expecting much, and you won’t be disappointed. And after you play, just hang the box in your living room and you’ve got yourself a cheap, makeshift disco ball.
No. 4: This is a piece of equipment that I found to play very well: the Scotty Cameron Futura. But it is an eyesore. The round back, called the “horseshoe,” leaves the customer with trappings of a UFO rather than a putter. I feel like Mulder and Scully should be looking over my shoulder when I putt, and Leonard Nimoy should be on my bag. Not only that, but it is also gigantic. When looking at the Futura, I expected it to weigh as much as a European automobile, but it doesn’t.
As visually displeasing as the Futura is, it actually plays beautifully. The weight distribution lies mainly at the back of the club, with 75 percent of its mass located in the “horseshoe,” providing a truer roll and a balanced feel. In addition, although it looks like it should weigh a ton, it is actually rather light, helping it to swing nearly effortlessly. Momentum guides you through the ball rather than a concentrated effort. Also, the sound at contact is simply soothing. It could put me to sleep at night. Scotty Cameron knows what he is doing. Don’t get me wrong: The putter is indeed ugly. But if you can get over the aesthetic hiccup, the Futura is a good stick.
No 3: This is a classic in the realm of disgusting-looking golf equipment. The Armour Ti-100 irons hit the market with an MSRP of $1,500. Like the Futura, they are huge. From tip to toe, they look to measure about six inches. They made one wonder how such a skinny shaft could hold such a giant on the end of it. The Ti-100s seem to have more practical use in medieval warfare than on the golf course.
For play, those who have bought them seem to like them, but not for $1,500. Most people have paid around $200 to $400 from a used store or an exchange site. The forgiveness is huge, as it is on any oversized – to put it lightly – golf club. You could close your eyes, spin around 10 times, hop on one leg and swing blindly with one arm and you would probably make contact. (Hopefully with the ball – Don’t try this one on an outing with your boss. It could prove detrimental to your career and to your health, depending on the size of your boss.) Versatility is also a factor. There is so much material to this club, it is difficult to get cleanly through the rough. But if you buy the Ti-100s and you do not like them, do not fret. Simply melt the metal down, and you will have yourself enough material to build yourself that hot rod you’ve always wanted.
No. 2: This made the team simply because of the utmost ugliness of the color of the topline. Somehow Taylor Made invented one of the ugliest colors ever in which to dip their Firesole. It is this vomit-inducing shade of orange that can only be likened to a puddle of petrified baby food blown into bubble form and glued on the end of a shaft. It is the contents of the blender after one mixes carrots, a playground ball and orange Sherbet ice cream. It is the pinnacle of ugliness.
With the new drivers out today, the play of the Firesole is outdated. The sweet spot is decent, as is the feel, although Taylor Made has a knack for making their drivers feel deader than most other drivers around. But the look is what has turned most players off to the Firesole. While working at a retail store, I saw Firesole after Firesole find its way back into the store simply because the player hated looking down at it. For a relationship to work, both parties must be attracted to the other. Unfortunately, I think Firesole will remain single for a long time.
No. 1: Ah, yes. This is an oldie but a goodie. This is the captain of the All-Ugly Team. This is the leader, the piece of equipment to which all other ugly pieces look for guidance. They strive to be this ugly, but there is only one Alien Wedge. Years ago, Pat Simmons put out what remains one of the ugliest clubs ever to hit the market. Like the Futura and the Ti-100s, this club looks like it should tip the scales equal to the likes of Andre the Giant or Akebono. It looks like the designers simply slapped a hunk of metal on the end of a stick and sent it out as a wedge. Looking down at the Alien Ultimate Wedge, one is reminded more of a large spoon with dimples than the face of a sand wedge. The heavily protruding flange in the back also provides the look of having nearly uncontrollable bounce. It is indeed a monstrosity.
As for how it plays, the Alien lacks versatility. It could be likened to a small shovel when scooping the ball out of the sand, but it is difficult to hit from anywhere else besides the fairway. The only market to which this club is a value would be the high-handicappers that are looking for a wedge that they can simply drop on the ball on short pitches from the fairway or out of the sand. But make no mistake about it, even if you are a part of this market, this club is ugly, and it will take years of professional therapy to get used to it.
All in all, this equipment is indeed awful-looking, but it is all an attempt at creating something new in the world of golf. The designers hoped to forge new bounds in equipment. Some worked; some didn’t, but without the innovation of these designers, we would never see new stuff. Everyone would simply design what has been done before, and progress would be impossible. So keep swinging, guys. You’re bound to make solid contact sometime.
March 16, 2005
We all love golf course rankings, but there's quite a bias involved, huh? Host a major championship and you're basically guaranteed a spot on the list. What about the average duffer who's more impressed with the beer list than the slope/rating - or prefers friendliness over the fine, imported lotion in the locker room? Where's our list, hackers? Answer: Right here.
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