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Upswing Golf: "Simply good clubs"

Kiel ChristiansonBy Kiel Christianson,
Senior Writer
Upswing Golf 400cc titanium driver
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Upswing's titanium driver has a classic look and a solid feel. (Courtesy Upswing Golf)

When you write about golf equipment you get all sorts of clubs from companies you've never heard of. The golf-gear industry is as dangerous for new companies as the African veldt is for baby gazelles; only the strongest (and luckiest) survive. No matter how well a golf club performs or how much it costs compared to the competition, chances are it won't catch on.

So why would anyone in their right mind get into it? Mostly out of a devotion to the game and a firm belief that people will seek out and buy solid, high-performance clubs at a reasonable price. These stalwart start-ups usually bring with them years of experience at the big-name companies and a commitment to the idea that buying a good golf club shouldn't break a golfer's budget.

Upswing Golf is precisely this sort of company. Founded in 2005 by Richard Merk and Bret Larsen, Upswing Golf's motto is "Simply good clubs." After testing all their initial club designs, we have to say that the motto is apt.

Philosophy and product line

So what does Upswing Golf offer that other companies don't?

"We believe very strongly that the technology wars that the industry experienced in the '80s and '90s are far gone," says Merk, who has been in golf equipment since the 1970s. "The rulings imposed on club designs by the governing bodies of golf have placed some significant restrictions on products. In many ways they have leveled the playing field so that companies large and small are able to achieve the imposed limits."

As evidence of this leveling, Merk cites the fact that the average driving distance on the PGA Tour has leveled off over the past three years.

Because most of the technology driving the club market today is public knowledge (e.g., large clubheads, light materials with perimeter weighting) and the materials (e.g., titanium) are becoming less expensive, even little guys like Upswing Golf can, "offer is products that compete with a very large percentage of the existing market but at prices far below their MSRP," Merk says.

Upswing can undercut competitors' prices significantly by selling directly through its Web site, eliminating mark-ups. Clubs can be purchased individually or in packages - driver and hybrids, just hybrids, two- or three-wedge packages. The company also targets tournament and event-planning directors by offering excellent deals for prizes, gifts, giveaways, etc. (A heck of a lot nicer than a cap!)

How they play

We tested a number of Upswing Golf clubs, including the 400cc 10.5-degree titanium driver (MSRP $120); the 17- and 21-degree hybrids ($95 each); and the 60-, 56-, and 52-degree wedges ($70 each).

The first thing we noticed was the rather plain-Jane appearance - classic head-shapes, jet-black finish on the driver and hybrids, very standard set-up with the wedges. This look is by design, Merk says.

"Our clubs are very traditional and simple in a 'no-nonsense' approach, just like our tagline says: 'Simply good clubs.' We prefer to let the performance of our clubs speak for [itself]. What is inside the head is truly what counts.

"Our introduction into the golf industry was to start with simple clubs that perform without having to use flash, gimmicks or odd shapes. There will always be people who want to try a bigger headed club or some new twist, but that is not our targeted customer. As we mature and gain brand recognition, we will explore the next evolution of products that perform while at the same time will be affordable for the average golfer."

The Upswing Golf titanium driver, which comes with a standard Aldila graphite shaft, performed admirably for me, both on the range and on the course. Both distance and control were basically on par with big-names clubs I've recently reviewed. What I really enjoyed was the sound at impact: a healthy thwack rather than the usual titanium clink or clank.

Aaron Benjamin, a high-teens handicap from Urbana, Ill., tested the club on the range and liked the performance, but he felt the feedback was muted. Don Hicks, a 20-handicap from Walton, Ind., hit the Upswing Golf model a few times during a round and compared it in both appearance and performance to his favorite (and far more expensive) Vortex driver. TravelGolf.com's own David Theoret reported that he actually put his Cobra driver in the closet in favor of the Upswing Golf club.

The Upswing Golf hybrids have extremely compact heads, perfect for tight lies and for cutting through rough. True to billing, the 17-degree produced a low, boring ball flight. The 21-degree launched the ball higher, just as it should have. Dave Huber, head professional at Lake of the Woods Golf Course in Mahomet, Ill., found the hybrids consistent but not terribly workable.

Benjamin, who had never hit a hybrid before, actually offered to buy them both on the spot.

The Upswing Golf wedges were extremely solid, though they did not stand out from other wedges either big- or small-name. They set up nicely, with a slightly bugling leading edge that, personally, I like. They imparted reasonable spin without chewing up the golf ball. For anyone shopping for new scoring clubs, these are a worth more than a passing look, especially at the price.

The verdict

Often new companies totter into the brutal savannah of the golf-club game like wobbly legged newborn antelopes, and you just know the poor things are going to be devoured by the industry lions waiting behind the next water hazard. Sometimes, though, the newborns survive, relying on guts, brains, solid club-making and just a bit of luck.

Upswing Golf has the first three in spades. We wish them plenty of the fourth.

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Upswing Golf HybridUpswing Golf wedges

Kiel Christianson has lived, worked, traveled and golfed extensively on three continents. As senior writer and equipment editor for WorldGolf.com, he has reviewed courses, resorts, and golf academies from California to Ireland, including his home course, Lake of the Woods G.C. in Mahomet, Ill. Read his golf blog here and follow him on Twitter @GolfWriterKiel.

Reader Comments / Reviews Leave a comment
  • Upswing 5 wood

    Thomas Davies wrote on: Sep 27, 2011

    I have a upswing 7 wood and want to purchase a upswing 5 wood. How do I go about finding a place to purchase this club. Thanks, Tom


  • upswing putters

    jim frye wrote on: Mar 18, 2010

    Can anyone tell me where I can call or email to, to order a upswing lefthand putter? I was told at a golf show in Monroville last weekend that this company still has some of these putters in there warehouse yet. Any help would be much appreciated.
    thank you,
    Jim Frye


      • RE: upswing putters

        dennis moreira wrote on: Jan 28, 2012

        ...... i have an upswing putter ......
        ...love it .... would like to order two more (right handed, mallot style .....
        ...can you help me ...


  • driver and hybrid 17 loft

    stephen kielow wrote on: Oct 6, 2009

    while golfing in las vegas, i bought a $10 hole in one for junior golf, my choice was a driver, putter or wedge. since i liked my wedge and putter, thought i would try the driver. when i ordered the driver with a steel stiff shaft installed instead of the graphite one, i also received for $20 the hybrid 17 degree loft club, WOW, i was impressed. now my son has tried both clubs and is equally impressed. i want to purchase him the two clubs..i definitely recommend people at least give them a try, my hybrid is a consistent 245 whether off the tee box or the carpet in the fairway, and equally good in the rough...great club!
    Stephen Kielow,
    Monroe, Wa


  • My golf 52 degree wedge

    Jackie Imrie wrote on: Sep 22, 2009

    I purchased this club and love the club I have lost my club and can't find another one and am lost without it


      • RE: My golf 52 degree wedge

        kim wrote on: Oct 22, 2011

        I have both a 52 and a 56 that I am willing to sell....brand new - never used....
        Please let me know if you are interested.
        Thanks, Kim


          • RE: RE: My golf 52 degree wedge

            marlene wrote on: Oct 24, 2011

            is this a ladies right hand 52 degree upswing wedge
            if so, how much are you selling it for? is it new or used? does that inlcude s & H? return policy?
            Thnak you


  • Upswing Golf Club Company

    Robert Ruggiano wrote on: Jul 2, 2009

    A couple of years ago I entered a Charity Golf Scramble and received a coupon for a free Upswing driver. Every player in the scramble received this coupon. I subsequently sent in the coupon and was contacted by someone who sent me my free 10.5 degree driver. I subsequently bought other hybrids from your company.
    We are now having a hugh golf Scramble for the benefit of the handicap Special Olympics and would like to know if you still offer these coupons. we would include them with everyones golf entry and as before I'm sure you would get alot of business generated from this. I personally love your clubs and have told everyone running the outing of them. I have showed them your clubs and they seemed interested in knowing more about them.
    In any event can you send me about 120 coupons if they are still available so that I can include them with every entry ticket?? We are the Clermont Florida Senior Mens Golf and have over 100 members.


      • RE: Upswing Golf Club Company

        Mike wrote on: Jul 23, 2009

        According to Better Business Bureau: "This business has no rating because it is out of business".


  • Upswing Golf company

    Dave Swanson wrote on: Jun 8, 2009

    What happened to them? They seem to have vanished from the earth. I own one of their hybrids and their 52 degree gap wedge and they're fine clubs. But they don't answer their phone and their web site no longer exists. Was it just too good of a deal?


      • RE: Upswing Golf company

        Carolyn wrote on: Jan 4, 2010

        I was trying to inquire about old coupons I won from Upswinggolf.com. I also found their site and phone gone. I did some checking and was referred to a phone number 1-888-882-5440. A girl named Patty said that Warrior clubs are now DBA upswing To redeem any coupons you go to: holeinoneredemption.com.
        If you want promotions, deals, etc. you can go to holeinoneinsurance.com.
        Hope this helps


      • RE: Upswing Golf company

        Mark Machuga wrote on: Jun 17, 2009

        I was wondering the same thing. I own one of their 17 degree hybrids, and I love it. It hits like a champ. I can't find their web-site anymore either. If anyone has info, please post.


          • RE: RE: Upswing Golf company

            Ron Case wrote on: Jun 7, 2016

            I have a "1Free golf Club...Really!" coupon. I can't remember when or where I got it but wondered if it is still good. If so I would like to try a driver (with a closed face if possible). Right handed.
            thank you.


          • RE: RE: Upswing Golf company

            Bob Holt wrote on: Aug 25, 2009

            Apparently they've closed their doors, and that's too bad. I just hit a hole in one with their 21degree 7W at 198 yards.


              • RE: RE: RE: Upswing Golf company

                Al Runnels wrote on: Oct 28, 2009

                I was just looking for their web site, so I could direct two of my friends to them, who wanted to use the Upswing Golf coupons from a tournament to order some of their wedges. I got their 52, 56, and 60 degree wedges two years ago. Thought they were great value for the dollar. Anyone know what they did with their inventory of clubs? Surely there must be a way to still order some. Although, odds are they sold their inventory to one of the high volume sellers, who are probably selling them at higher prices.


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