There’s a very boring phrase in the corporate consumer goods world: disruption of mundane products. “Ohh… what’s that?” I don’t hear you asking. Well, while ago, companies realized that rather than pouring loads of cash into reinventing the wheel to try to be innovative, they could take rote products and make them “exciting” by changing how they were sold, adding just a dash of R&D and nice design of their own. Presto.
Thanks to the convenience of direct-to-consumer internet sales, we got things like the mattress-in-a-box craze, where a boring mattress was delivered to your door with some funky color trim added to make it hip. We also got razor companies like Dollar Shave Club and Harry’s looking to undercut big brands like Gillette with cheaper prices and better-looking handles and accessories, while at the same time locking customers into a postal subscription model for blades.
It’s been quite the success for some, which is why Stix wants in on this direct-to-consumer action, but with golf clubs.
The company has hit upon the idea that most people who play golf aren’t really that good. The sport is filled with weekend hackers who don’t practice enough, or players in the “fair to middling” bracket who can at least find their way around a bag of irons.
The open secret in golf is that just because you can afford an $ 1,800 Honma Beres driver doesn’t mean you know how to make it work. Champagne budgets won’t help Kool-Aid skills. Unless you are very good, it’s useless spanking thousands of dollars on a set of clubs. Stix has zoomed in on this, and the company has created what it claims is the ideal set of golf clubs for beginners to middle players of the game. The build quality is nice, and the value can’t be ignored. The Stix clubs aim to look the part of serious equipment, serve you just fine out on the course, but not cost the earth. Is it a winning formula?
There’s no denying that the first impression of Stix’s all-black full set of 14 clubs is a fine one. You get everything from driver to putter, including 3- and 5-woods, a 4-hybrid, irons from 5 through to pitching wedge, three additional wedges (52, 56, and 60 degrees), and a putter.
They do indeed look the part, all stealthy and powerful in their Vader-worthy matte darkness. And the woods look as good as the irons too. Titanium and stainless steel heads are evident, as well as graphite shafts, which provide more flex and greater clubhead speed than steel. The grips also feel high quality and give confidence, particularly on the putter.
The $ 185 weather-resistant stand bag, sold out at the time of writing, is well worth the extra investment, being well organized (five-way divider and two full-length inner dividers) and lightweight (4.5 pounds) with plenty of pocket space (six in all, with a fleece-lined valuables pocket and insulated cooler pocket for mid-round refreshment). It all matches the clubs’ aesthetic.
The $ 65 Stix headcovers, however, are a different story. Here we get the first clear glimpse of corners being cut to save cost. The look and feel cheap. Ugly, in fact, compared to the rest of the set. Why Stix has fallen short here, design-wise, I’m not sure, but it lets the side down and is the one thing that I would suggest leaving well alone and instead finding options elsewhere.
Beauty Only Skin-Deep
You’re going to need headcovers, though, as after only a few sessions with the Stix clubs I quickly became aware of their second, and perhaps biggest, failing: the black finish. While it looks superb out of the box, this chic veneer will not last long. Rest the iron heads on a paved surface and when you pick them up you’ll see glints of metal shining through scratches on the black.
A few swings through the sand will likely also reveal scratches forming. And unless you have headcovers protecting your drivers, these will pick up unsightly marks almost instantly as your clubs rub up against each other being carted about.