These old-school advertisements will make you want retro golf gear
Golf Magazine Archives
Old books and magazines are windows into years gone by, and when it comes to golf history there is a lot of great information that can be mined from those resources. From instructional articles to interviews with some of the greatest to ever play the game, you can get lost searching out these features all over the internet or in dusty libraries.
But when it comes to GOLF.com and GOLF Magazine (which began well before the age of the internet) we are lucky to have access to almost every issue of GOLF Magazine ever published from cover to cover, which, lucky for us, has all those instructional pieces, essays, and…ads for golf equipment! I
I should let you know that you can access these same archives when you become an InsideGOLF member.
With that in mind, let’s take a trip down memory lane and look back at some of the ads from golf’s early brands including a few of the very first ads from some of the biggest equipment makers.
Things sure have changed
One of the biggest changes that has occurred in magazine advertisements over the years is obvious right from the start and that is the amount of actual words. Or as we say in the biz — copy. Each ad clearly leans on the written word to explain the clubs and products being sold. Since there was no other way of relaying a message to consumers, many of these ads including the below examples from MacGregor and Ben Hogan have more words than some articles nowadays.
It was just the beginning
TaylorMade Golf was founded in 1979 by Gary Adams, who also happens to lay claim to creating the original metal wood — the Pittsburgh Persimmon. Although that club debuted in 1979, persimmon drivers were relevant for the next 15 years, as the final men’s major was won with a true persimmon driver in 1993 thanks to Bernhard Langer.
By 1983 TaylorMade was very committed to the driver game, with five different models to choose from, including some names that golfers are still familiar with today. The below ad pages are from a 1983 edition of Golf Magazine and covered seven back-to-back pages.
According to the ads, drivers and fairway woods — or metals — were $90 with a steel shaft or $150 with a graphite one. To put that $150 into perspective, according to inflation calculations that is just under $500 in 2023 bucks, so not a bad deal when you think about it.
Putters on the other hand were a complete steal with a suggested retail price of $30, or a whopping $35 for the premium DirectAim model.
Ahead of their time
Any time we mention that Ping pioneered custom fitting, we really mean it. They focused on fitting to the point that you could send your personal measurements to Ping using a self-addressed pre-paid card and they would offer you fitting recommendations in return.
Now speaking of more firsts, the below ad from Ping features an odd invention that today is a mainstay in the golf world, and that is a lightweight carry bag with an automatic popout stand.
When it was first launched the Ping L8+ was considered something that might never catch on, but look where stand bags are today. Everywhere.
PING Women’s G Le3 Irons
Women’s clubs have come a long way
Considering how many options golfers of all abilities have in today’s modern game, it’s hard to imagine a world when your options as a new golfer were either blades or a different set of blades — even for women. As the first ad from Ben Hogan demonstrates, they were at least using different shaft options that would help make the game a little easier in 1970.
Almost a decade and a half later, TaylorMade had the Ladies’ Technicians that offered more mass lower in the head to make the irons more forgiving and easier to hit, but you won’t find many men’s or women’s sets offering a 3-iron anymore.
Hopefully you enjoyed this trip down memory lane, and don’t worry there is plenty more where this came from in the GOLF Magazine archives, which you can always access as an InsideGOLF member.
Want to overhaul your bag for 2023? Find a fitting location near you at True Spec Golf.