Golf is full of big names, both in terms of golfers and club manufactures. Over the last few years there has been an increase in smaller brands challenging the status quo, offering cost effective clubs and NOT at the cost of poor quality. Over the next coming weeks I’ll be doing a few more product reviews and some of these will come from lesser known brands. Today starts the series of an insight into one of these small brands.
Old Tom Golf, who has recently changed to Caley Golf, was started by Ryan Atha a keen golfer from Scotland that traded a career in London to start this brand. Despite getting the brand and new range up and running Ryan still manages to get out once a week (before COVID-19). Playing to a respectable handicap of 10, if you play around the Edinburgh area or visit, there is a good chance you might see him at Mortonhall
The Old Tom Range consists of a Driver, 3 wood, wedges and a mini mallet putter. Whilst the new range under Caley has a new look driver, 3 wood, wedges and even a full iron set.
Go to their website and check them out www.oldtom.golf
This article is not a review but an insight the brand. Ryan was kind enough to spare me some time to talk to me about the process of designing clubs mainly the wedges as I’m testing and reviewing their wedges as I type. The article is going to be a little bit of a change for the regular reader it’s going to me more of a Q&A with Ryan.
RG: Before starting the brand, did you know much about design of a golf club and how to get them made?
Ryan: Nothing formal although I’ve always had a keen interest in golf clubs and the ever-evolving technology. Growing up I worked at a driving range – collecting and washing the golf balls then I worked at American Golf. I would regularly buy Bunkered or other golf magazines. So, I knew a fair amount about golf club not about how to design and manufacture them. This has been a learning experience and the manufacturer that we have partnered with has helped us with the process
RG: What were you looking for in your wedges?
Ryan: All our clubs are designed first and foremost for forgiveness. Golf is difficult enough as it is – clubs should help the golfer, not make the game any more difficult.
Secondly, the clubs need to look great. We prefer a clean, minimalist aesthetic.
One of the unique things I find about the wedges from Old Tom/Caley is that they are sold in a set rather than individual. You might think this be a gimmick to increase the sales value but the set of 3 wedges retail at £200 that’s £67 a wedge. Compare that to the SM7 Vokey’s at £99 a wedge (based on Club House Golf prices) you can see the appeal.
The wedges only come in 52, 56 and 60 degrees with no current plans offer different lofts.
RG. How did you go about getting the look you wanted? Was there many designs?
Ryan: There was a lot of going back and forth with our manufacturer in regards to different designs. We are on our second design now which is proving to be very popular.
RG: How did you go about getting the feel you wanted? You mention on the website about going for a forged head… Was there anything else needed to achieve the desired affect?
Ryan: Trial and error. Our manufacturer will send us over samples and it’s just about testing them and finding what’s best. Amongst my friends and family there is a good mix of handicaps – so we can get a good understanding of how they suited different levels of golfers.
It took 5 variations to get the design that is available Today, showing that not just any old wedge will do. There is some pride and passion gone into these and not just mass bought from a factory.
RG: Are they confirming to R&A standards and able to be used in club competitions?
Ryan: They are conforming to R&A and USGA standards. We are yet to send them to be added to the list of conforming clubs but will be doing so shortly.
A good test of how popular and willing golfers are to try out lesser brands for golf equipment is sales. Since launching the Old Tom Wedges, they have shipped over 150 sets, that’s more than 450 individual wedges. All this since the brand started in 2018.
With the recent change to Caley golf, I wanted to find out a little more about why and the name itself.
Caley is a short for Caledonia the name the Romans gave Scotland and remains an affectionate term used today. Something I genuinely did not know.
RG: The Caley brand, can you talk to me about that? How does that differ from the Old Tom Range?
Ryan: We are starting to phase out the Old Tom brand and Caley will eventually take its place. Despite Old Tom having good success for a new brand and gaining decent traction in the market, we feel Caley will better represent our values.
Under the Caley name Ryan has already launched the new driver, 3 wood, wedges and iron set for pre-orders. He has plans for a golf bag and golf balls this or next season. In addition to that Ryan has further plans to offer ladies and kids clubs as well as more accessories such as clothing.
A review of the wedges will follow in a few weeks.
Until Next Time, Happy Golfing