OK, SirShanks made his bold predictions for 2006 yesterday so today it’s my turn and I’ll get right to it…
Drivers: As we’ve talked about a number of times on the site, the Comp craze is on the way out. Companies are going back to full titanium heads and finding other ways to improve the performance of their driver. This trend will continue into 2006. I think the big thing we are going to see in the Driver market in 2006 is an increased focus on shaft’s. More and more consumers are starting to realize that a good shaft can have just as much benefit as a good head. A number of companies have started offering shaft upgrades for free or for minimal charges. This should keep going and shafts like the Aldila NV and Grafalloy ProLaunch should continue to do well. As far as what drivers will be hot I am looking for the Taylor Made R7 460 and Nike SasQuatch to lead the way. Both have received tons of publicity already and have the tour representation to keep the names out there.
Putters: Yes!Golf had a huge break-out year in 2005 and I look for that to continue. They offer great putters at fairly reasonable prices. The high-MOI putters are obviously doing well and will continue to do so with the Odyssey 2-Ball still leading the way. I think Never Compromise is also going to have a strong year. The new models are interesting and they are starting to market the brand and get the name out to consumers.
Hybrids: Nickent had a big year in 2005 and seemed to only get stronger as the year went by. They have two new hybrids out now and their reputation as a leader in hybrid clubs is going to keep going. I think Taylor Made will have a resurgence as well with the Rescue Dual out and the Adams A2 is getting a lot of good, early reviews.
Fairway Woods: The new Callaway X series fairway wood should clean-up in this department. The clubs look good, come available in a number of lofts, and will be well-priced. The new Ping G5 is another good looking club that should have success in 2006. With the popularity of hybrid clubs the price of fairway woods is going to have to drop in order to drive sales a bit.
Irons: Clubs like the Tour Edge Exotics, Callaway Big Bertha Fusion, TaylorMade CGB’s, and Mizuno MX-900 are setting the bar here. These companies are starting to use different metals in the heads to increase performance of their clubs without having to sacrifice looks or feel. The clubs are pricey but as more people start to hit them and realize how solid they are sales will grow. Graphite shafts in irons are gaining in popularity too as the quality of graphite shafts improves. The lighter shafts just seem to work better with a number of the new clubs on the market.
Tour Predictions: Okay, if I keep picking Sergio to win a major eventually I’m going to be right, right? He seems to play well at the Masters but I don’t think his putting is strong enough so I will give him the PGA Championship. Ernie Els has looked good since coming back from knee surgery and I think the time off might have helped his game mentally, I’ll give him the British Open. Tiger will take the Masters and U.S. Open with some tight competition from Retief Goosen at the Masters. I know, I’m not really making any bold statements here but the top players have had a pretty good hold on the Majors for the last couple of years. I am also looking to Luke Donald to do some big things on both sides of the ocean and Ryan Moore will have a big sophomore season. Vijay really fought with the putter late last year and I think he might have trouble getting back to the form we are used to seeing from him.
Industry Predictions: Watch for the Hogan name to slowly fade away, it hasn’t done anything for Callaway since the Top-Flite/Hogan purchase in 2004. I think we will still see a couple of sets of Hogan irons and maybe a hybrid but that will be about it.
Srixon is garnering some popularity and should have a big year. Robert Allenby just completed the Australian Triple Crown and it seems imminent that Jim Furyk will be joining their staff. Some exciting products as well should make Srixon a name to talk about in 2006.
As more and more companies keep competing in the golf industry we should see prices lowered a little bit again. Companies are realizing that it is almost impossible to sell $500 drivers or $300 fairway woods so we should see prices keep coming down, a good sign for everybody.
So there you have it, SirPuttsAlot’s predictions for 2006. We’ll make sure we keep you updated with the latest news and rumors in the industry and will hopefully have some interesting features coming up in the New Year. Hope everyone has a Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays and keep the emails coming in.