As we took one final pass through the data from our recent iron buying study, we became intrigued by the breakdown of iron use across the various handicap ranges we surveyed. We decided to take a look at the data to see what we could learn about what brands are most popular among better players compared to what brands are most popular among average players.

The data is based on information gleaned from nearly 4400 survey responses. Focusing on your most recent iron purchase, we asked you a really simple question: What brand of irons did you purchase?

Here's what you told us.

All Golfers Surveyed

Survey Notes:

  • The first thing that should be noted is that among our readers, Mizuno and Other shares are significantly higher than they are in the market as a whole.
  • The bulk of that comes out of Callaway whose actual share is significantly higher than 18.2%.
  • Among the brands not specifically included as a choice in the original survey, PXG is the only one whose market (dollar) share is currently above 5%.
  • Where not specifically noted in the remaining text, please remember that all of the numbers provided should be prefaced with "among MyGolfSpy readers."

Handicaps 3 & UNDER

3andunder-pie

Observations:

  • Among our readers, Mizuno leads the field, accounting for 18.2% of your most recent iron purchases.
  • Titleist, which is regarded as a brand for better players, accounted for 12.3% of better player purchases – slightly less than PING, which is often regarded as being more for the average golfer.
  • Among the 16.6% who listed Other, Srixon was by far the most popular choice followed, though not closely, by PXG.

Handicaps 4-10

5-10-pie

Observations:

  • Within this group, Callaway (the industry’s current retail leader) rises to the top at 19.42%.
  • With 17.62%, Mizuno is third among our readers. As noted, this is significantly higher than it is across the larger population of golfers.
  • Other again ranks 2nd, and again Srixon is the most popular choice with PXG and Ben Hogan trailing closely.

Handicaps 11-15

11-15-pie

Observations:

  • Callaway is again the most popular choice, accounting for more than 20% of your most recent iron purchases.
  • As we begin the transition to the game-improvement space, Mizuno’s share among our readers (19.2%) remains strong.
  • Among other (15.9%) Srixon is again the most popular selection, followed (not closely), by Wishon, Bridgestone, and Ben Hogan.

Handicaps 16-20

16-20-pie

Observations:

  • The numbers suggest that within this range is where brand perceptions change dramatically.
  • TaylorMade is the most popular choice, accounting for 18.22% of recent purchases among this demographic. This is particularly interesting and even ironic given the company’s past efforts to position itself as a brand for elite golfers.
  • As we jump above 15 handicaps, Cobra’s share nearly triples, Titleist’s is cut in half, PING picks up 4 percentage points, while Mizuno and Callaway lose 5.
  • One interpretation is that consumers focus on perceptions of brand positions, and not individual products when considering what irons to purchase.
  • Among the 17.32% who chose other (#2 in the category), Srixon, Adams were the most popular choices.

Handicaps 21 & Above

20-plus-pie

Observations:

  • Perhaps not surprisingly, Other (23.5%) is the most popular among the highest handicap golfers surveyed, with the top brand listed being Adams, followed by Wishon and Srixon.
  • Not surprisingly, PING is 2nd at 15.9%.
  • Callaway’s share within this demographic of reader’s dips to 14.4%, its lowest in the survey.
  • Titleist drops to 6.1%, also the lowest for the brand.
  • Cobra climbs to 12.1% (its highest), which places it 3rd within this demographic.
  • Mizuno slips again to 8.3%, the suggestion being that it’s not viewed as a good fit for super game-improvement players, and presumably seniors.

Following the Trends

iron-purchase-line-chart

The above chart is particularly interesting as it reveals how, among our readers, individual brand iron share ebbs and flows between different handicap ranges.

Observations:

  • Callaway’s biggest strength is playing to the middle where it averages roughly a 20% share among handicaps 4 to 15. While that’s the wheelhouse, it should be noted that the brand ranks among the leaders across all handicap ranges.
  • Cobra is relatively flat (near 5%) until we transition towards the 16-20 demographic, at which point share among our readers more than doubles. This suggests it’s still regarded as a brand for the game-improvement and senior crowd.
  • Mizuno's curve gives some indication of brand perception across different ability levels. Among our readers, the brand is hugely popular (and steady) until we hit the 16-20 demographic, at which point its share drops significantly.
  • Nike doesn’t clear the 5% barrier until we reach the highest handicap demographic. We're not sure what to make of that particular fact, but it helps illustrate at least part of the reason why Nike chose to leave the equipment space.
  • PING offers one of the most interesting curves on the chart. It ranks 3rd among named brands among the best players surveyed and stays relatively flat until we reach the game-improvement space where its share increases significantly. This is what we'd expect.
  • Titleist is a near-mirror image of PING (which is why I broke alphabetical order to discuss it here). Its share among our better players is nearly identical to PING (and is identical to TaylorMade), but as PING gains popularity in the game-improvement space, Titleist usage declines on nearly the same scale. This too is what we'd expect.
  • TaylorMade’s share among readers would be nearly flat (11%-12%) if not for the sizeable jump (18.22%) within the 16-20 demographic. Whether this is related to brand perception or affinity for a specific product is unclear.
  • Wilson’s share is the flattest among the brands included in the survey. It peaks at 3.8% (21+), and bottoms out at 2.2% (16-20).

Shocks, Surprises?

While I can't say anything in the charts totally blew our minds, the popularity of Srixon among the list of Others was a bit of a surprise.

What stands out to you?