Two years ago, golf shops could hardly give away those McGregor putters with the extra large silver heads. "We had about 40 of them in, and people would come in and laugh at those things, " said Uinta Golf salesman Rick McGarry.
Then, all of a sudden, the putters sold like hotcakes. "Within two days, they were all gone," said McGarry.The difference? Well, a guy named Jack Nicklaus went out and won the Masters one weekend in April using that same putter, and suddenly the putters resembled magic wands. Everyone wanted one.
But if you'd like to purchase one of those putters now, you'll have no problem getting one.
"We couldn't keep them in stock for awhile, but now sales have slowed to a trickle," said Uinta Golf manager Jon Unger.
Such is the capricious nature of the golf equipment business. What's hot this year may not be next year. And whatever the pros on TV are using today, the everyday hacker will be trying tomorrow.
These days one of the top selling putters is the 50-inch pendulum-style model with split grips called the Slim Jim. It's a putter that Orville Moody and other Senior Tour players have made popular this year. Local golfers who watched the Showdown Classic at Jeremy Ranch last month are looking to those putters as a cure to their troubles.
Currently, metal woods are in, colored balls are out. Graphite shafts are getting more popular, featherweight shafts have gone by the wayside. The hollow-back, cast-iron, heel-toe balanced irons are in, while the traditional forged irons are out.
When it comes to golf equipment, golfers are always looking for that edge that will make up for their bad swings and inability to hit the ball.
According to Jerry Marchino, the owner at Pro Golf, metal woods make up 75 to 80 percent of his sales of woods. Unger agrees that 75 percent of his wood sales are metal.
"Since there is a trend towards metal woods on the Tour, the average player sees them hitting so well and wants to do what the pros do," said Unger.
"Metal woods with graphite shafts are the big thing now," says Marchino. "Everything is getting so high-tech, its unbelieveable."
Many golfers want the Taylor-Made or Ping woods that pros use, but several other less-expensive brands made by Spalding, Wilson and Pin-seeker are comparable.
The big advantage to metal woods is that they go straighter. That's because they are metal around the edges and hollow on the inside, making for less torque on a mis-hit. They also have a lower center of gravity, making them easier to get the ball up in the air.
The cast-iron clubs with square grooves have been very popular, but the square grooves may go out of style now that the USGA has outlawed their use in the future.
Just last week the Ben Hogan company introduced the first line of forged perimeter-weighted golf clubs with a full cavity back. The club is supposed to provide golfers with "the feel of a traditional forged club plus the performance of the modern cavity-back design."
Colored balls became popular early in the decade and, according to Marchino, his sales were once one-third white, one-third yellow and one-third orange. Nowadays, the colored balls represent less than 20 percent of his sales.
Unger estimates his sale of colored balls is closer to 10 percent and says, "Again, it all comes back to how many Tour players are using them. For awhile, Jerry Pate and others used them, but you just don't see them using the colored balls any more."
Twenty-five years ago, most balls were "wound" and made with balata covers. When the "two-piece balls" with surlyn covers came into vogue a few years later, most everyday golfers bought them because they lasted longer. The reason? It's nearly impossible to put a smile in a surlyn cover.
The low-handicap golfers prefer the balata balls because of their "feel" and their ability to stop on the green.
Now a couple of manufacturers have come out with balls with synthetic covers that have the feel of balata, but hold up like surlyn. The price is more expensive than the surlyn balls but a little less than the balata. One is the Spalding Tour Edition made of Zinthane, and the other is the Lithium Balata made by Ram.
Golf stands, which keep your bag upright and out of the mud and wet grass, are becoming more popular. A basic stand, which can be hooked up to your bag, runs for around $12. A popular seller is a built-in bag stand by Eclipse that includes a compartmentalized bag and stand for around $80.
Golf shoes are also changing, with the wing-tip Sunday style shoes being replaced by lightweight shoes that look more like gym shoes with spikes on the bottom. Spikeless shoes are also becoming quite popular.
In the golf accessory department, things like ball retrievers, umbrellas, tees and practice balls will never go out of style. Something hot these days is the golf video. The videos, which are mostly instructional, run anywhere from $15 to $80. Something else is a computerized scorekeeper that will keep track of all the players in your foursome and even factor in the handicaps.
The only thing that hasn't been invented is something guaranteed to keep your score under par. Until that miraculous invention comes about, people will keep buying the latest golf gimmicks to try help them lower their scores.