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Q&A with TaylorMade Executive Sean Toulon

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TaylorMade’s Sean Toulon has had a front-row seat for the many changes that have occurred in the golf industry in the last two decades.

The Madison, Wis., native began his career with TaylorMade as a sales rep for the territories of Wisconsin, Minnesota and North and South Dakota. Now, in his 21st year with the company, Toulon has a leading voice as the company’s executive vice president of product creation.

“The title has changed, but I’ve pretty much had the same job since 2000,” Toulon says.

Toulon leads a team that is responsible for the design and creation of TaylorMade’s products. It works in tandem with a team lead by another TaylorMade veteran, Chief Technical Officer Benoit Vincent, who leads the development of the technologies that go into TaylorMade products.

GolfWRX Managing Editor Zak Kozuchowski sat down with Toulon at this year’s PGA Merchandise Show to discuss the company’s strategy, its controversial product launches and TaylorMade’s plan for growing the game of golf.

ZK: Tell me about the state of TaylorMade at this moment.

ST: We just finished the second best year that we’ve ever had, second best only to 2012. That means it’s the second best year anybody’s ever had, so that’s a pretty exciting thing for us. It was a little bit more challenging year than what we hoped for. It was such a difficult start. I really don’t think there was much golf played almost anywhere for the first three months of the year. I know it’s easy to blame weather, but it was really difficult as compared to the prior year. So that made it a little challenging to rebound from the negative momentum to start the year. But I think we got through that very, very well and finished off pretty strong. We’re excited about where we are sitting today with our product line up so we’re very optimistic.

ZK: What’s the difference in the company’s strategy for 2014 versus 2013?

ST: I would say that we’re more focused than we were, which is only good. When things start to get more challenging, a little bit more time and effort goes into your strategic planning. Trying to figure out where products fit, where maybe they don’t. What to launch and what not to launch. So I think we’ve got the ball really, really intensely. We’re just looking at the opportunities that we have to grow our share in drivers, fairways, rescues and overall metal woods, and we think there is substantial room for us to grow. The iron is doing very, very well but we have lots of room to grow there. Footwear and apparel business, we’re doing well and we have room to grow there. So I’d say that we’re focused and really, really energized going into 2014.

ZK: Many of your product launches on our site have been met with some skepticism and negativity. But as you said, this is your second best year all time for you and the second best year anybody has ever had in the golf industry. How does it make you feel when you see those negative posts in the forums?

ST: Well, I wish everybody said nothing but unbelievably great things. The negativity that you mean, I don’t mind it if those are their true feelings. If they have other motives, that would be unfortunate. I see it, I read it. I have a really good idea for what the vibe is. I think there are two things that happen. One, we’re the most successful company so that’s an easy one for people to take shots at. In some ways, people hate the Yankees. If we’re the New York Yankees of golf or something like that then you’re going to get some of that. The second part is, they just don’t have the luxury of having the same information that we have. So where some of the things that we do might be curious to them, or even sometimes disappointing, I just don’t think they have all the information and they’re not going to, so we understand that. Part of it just comes with the territory.

ZK: You’re in your own territory though, especially with drivers where you have really touted moving the center of gravity (CG) low and forward in the club heads. I think every serious golfer knows that TaylorMade’s CG is low and forward so if that was your goal, you’ve accomplished it. But why do you seem to be the only company embracing that space right now?

ST: Our company, Zak, has always been courageous enough to stand alone. And that’s really hard for people to do. Since 1979, we’ve bucked a trend and I think we’ve continued to do that as we’ve developed products, especially since 2000. So when we have something that we’re so sure is better, even to some extent, the more controversial the concept might be, the bigger the potential reward. And we’re really, really comfortable playing in that space. SLDR for us, when everybody’s talking about low back, that’s where we were. That’s where everybody really is other than us. We know there is a better way and the better way is low and forward and we think everybody will eventually chase us there. I think that would just be great for the industry because, ultimately, everybody wants to get toward these launch conditions. They’re going to have to figure out a way to scrub spin off and get launch angle up, which is probably going to mean lofting up with lower CG clubs. We, being the first ones there, will reap the most benefit. I think it’ll be fantastic.

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Above: TaylorMade’s SLDR driver is one of the most popular — and also most controversial — drivers on the market. It’s low, forward CG makes it one of golf’s lowest-spinning drivers, but critics say its design compromises forgiveness and consistency. We awarded the SLDR a rating of 5 out of 5 stars in our review for its ability to reduce spin, as well as its high peak ball speeds and pleasing look, sound and feel.

ZK: Why is TaylorMade as a company so concerned with growing the game? It seems that your energy has really shifted there in the last two years.

ST: Well, the reason why we’re interested in growing the game is because the game is in big trouble and I think the same minds have been talking about it for a long time and, in fairness, they have tried some initiatives, a whole bunch of different initiatives, but if you look at the numbers, maybe the decline is not as steep as it would have been without those. But the bottom line is that 5 million core golfers have left the game in 10 years and golfers in the age bracket of 18 to 34 have declined by 30 percent. That’s a big problem. We love this game and to see it in a state of decline is sad. So, I know it’s really hard for people to think that TaylorMade can be altruistic, but we’re a bunch of golfers just like you guys and the people on your site are. We fear that the game is in a fairly long term potential state of decline. That’s not good so we want to help.

ZK: Is there one thing that you can point to… that you can say is this is the biggest hurdle that the golf industry has to conquer.

ST: I think for golfers, it isn’t about time, it isn’t about expense or difficulty (skills are factors, of course), but the two things that I think are really, really hampering golf are getting new people in the game and keeping beginning golfers excited to get in and get better, because it’s really not much fun for them. When you go to a golf course and you have to worry about how long your shorts are, or oh my god, my shirt is untucked in the back or your hat is on a little crooked, or a country club crime like my phone goes off in the grill room, that’s not fun. Can you imagine being a beginning golfer sitting in front of a green five-chipping while you’ve got a bunch of people yelling at you from the fairway to hurry up? So that’s the idea, that it’s no fun. And when it gets really, really ugly, it gets to the point where new golfers are just totally intimidated by that. Why would I go though the time, the expense, the difficulty, all of that if I am made to not feel welcome and I don’t experience any fun when I’m there. That’s the problem. That’s what needs to be fixed.

ZK: At next year’s PGA show, let’s say I am having the same conversation with you. What are the things that you hope you can say golf moved toward, and that TaylorMade moved toward?

ST: Well, let me do TaylorMade first. Obviously we’re going to continue to innovate. We’ve built our company around a concept of relentless innovation. That means, the different groups in the company, whether it’s my group in design and creation of the products, or Benoit Vincent’s group of creating the technologies and bringing these things together. A supply chain that is able to take ideas and concepts and prototypes and not make one, but make hundreds and thousands or even millions of them. We do that, I think, better than anybody. We’ve systematically grown our company to be able to do that. So, that we would continue to innovate and our innovations would lead to massive performance gains that we see on paper. I think that’s going to come true and I think you’re going to begin to see it, really this year with SLDR because those gains are massive in distance. They’re very, very real and the runway for future gain is not only defined, it’s very long. We’re super bullish about that.

And as far as the game, I would hope that Hack Golf… already the ideas are coming in from the launch of that. And that these ideas would come from many, many, many of the 25 million players that love the game. I hope that we’ll be able to put some of these things into experimental mode and that we would get a path that would be clear from that, and begin to really attack some of these problems that golf is no fun and that it’s intimidating and that we’re making new progress there.

ZK: Do you have an idea to grow the game?

ST: I do, but in some ways that’s kind of the problem. I do have ideas and I’ve been doing this for 30 years, right? So you only have so much creative capacity. You know, there’s only so much in there. We’re looking at our company, the whole idea of hacking golf came from an initiative in our company called TaylorMade 3.0, where internally we’re blowing up the hierarchy of our company. We have an executive staff and there is about 10 of us on it, and most of the strategic decisions were made by these same 10 people. We’re all smart, experienced people, but there is a fixed amount of brainpower there. Which means the ideas are… they could be good ones, but it’s from a pretty narrow and pretty well worn lens. So the idea is real creativity, and that leaders should emerge from everywhere. Not only just to be able to hear what they have to say, but teach and train people how to be more creative and more innovative. So, the idea is, let’s open source some of these discussions and these strategies and let’s get more ideas. We don’t have too many good ideas. That’s what’s really gonna happen with Hack Golf. When you start to have ideas coming in from potentially 25 million people instead of 10 or 12, you’re gonna get some pretty crazy things.

ZK: Thank you for your time, Sean.

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58 Comments

58 Comments

  1. LonD

    Nov 15, 2014 at 1:36 pm

    Zak, having known Sean for many years the main thing to know about him is his love for the Game of Golf. He is as nervous and tense as anyone else on the first Tee and playing the game, so really he feels what everyone else does out there. What he brings to Golf is the fulfillment of “Confidence” in playing TaylorMade clubs. Reason being that Golf is so mental and confidence in equipment is essential, so, what I see Sean developing is product that has exciting looks, has perceived performance enhancement and has the feel of the best product on the market. Pertaining to comments about arrogance made previously, business is competitive and so called best product and company “HYPE” is important to promoting player confidence in the product and staying in business for the company. Who wants to play clubs that do not have perceived best play-ability or performance capability and looks cheap or poor quality? It is easy to take things out of context because one does not know Sean and the intent of his comments, but be assured he is serious about keeping a player image of TaylorMade as Number 1 and as To the “NY Yankee” statement, he is in it to be the best, so all things considered, a load of crap or arrogant? I don’t think so.

  2. LonD

    Nov 15, 2014 at 12:32 pm

    Zak, having known Sean for many years, the main thing to know about him is that he is a lover of the game. He is as nervous and as tense as anyone else on the first Tee and feels what everyone else feels playing the game. What he brings to Golf is fulfillment of “Confidence” in ones equipment. Golf is so mental that the so called “Hype” in equipment being “the best” helps one feel better and likely play better. I was in club design and now, being a golf teaching Pro, stress to my students that playing the right fitting, best equipment available will help with ones confidence and thus performance. No nagging doubt of “is there a better product that would help my game, is it my clubs?” So regardless of the comparable testing statistics mentioned with Wood Wood or what ever other clubs, it boils down to making a product for the consumer that has an exciting look, has perceived credibility and has the feel of playing the best club out there. So Sean of all people, is aware of how to keep TaylorMade NO 1 in the industry and will continue to be in my opinion one of the great guys in Golf – he will see to it that TaylorMade’s product creates excitement and exudes confidence. So yes, I do play and will continue to play all TaylorMade Products and encourage others to do so.

  3. vjc

    May 9, 2014 at 2:23 am

    love the Yankees analogy, spot on. Toulon and company have been copying the same tactics as apple for years…new hot product as the consumer demands it (look at the launch videos and compare)…if you didn’t buy it, they’d be fired, but someone does even if it isn’t the commentators on this blog…I love the idea of growing the game and think that he has the right mindset to do it…the key being that he acknowledges he is too close to it….that is humble and admirable.

  4. golfingbadger

    Feb 27, 2014 at 2:15 pm

    Not a tmag hater…I’m just sayin they are not the first-

    Other manufacturers have gone the super low cg route with their drivers about 10-15 years ago…and pulled back. One size does not fit all and think the big bertha alpha is the first of many vertical cg adjustable drivers to come.
    l

  5. RG

    Feb 22, 2014 at 11:21 pm

    Taylormade sets themselves up because they release a new model every 3-4 months and always hype it as “better, longer, faster”. If its not then why put out an inferior product? So if you are going to improve an existing model, why not give the existing model a chance at life? And every Taylormade driver has some new breakthrough technology that supposedly makes everything else obsolete. So that means 1 of 2 things, either you are outsmarting yourself every 3 months, or your using confidence in a marketing scheme. As a manufacturer you cannot hype products the way TM does and not get some negative commentary from those whom know better. When it comes to TM my motto is “Don’t believe the hype.”

  6. Bames

    Feb 22, 2014 at 9:56 am

    I appreciate the comments on the prohibitive costs of golf. over the past 3 years I’ve worked to get my girlfriend into the game. It has not been cheap. But I need to ask all those who are commenting on the price of green fees being too expensive… Have you ever run a golf course? Have you ever paid the fertilizer and water bill? If not, then I don’t think you’re in any position to comment on how much a round of golf should cost. I have. There are very few golf courses in the country who make enough money from green fees to break even. Pebble is one of them. I agree golf is too expensive and time consuming for most. But if you knew what went into keeping your course open you would happily pay the $50 and repair your ball marks with a smile.

    • D Louis

      Feb 22, 2014 at 10:29 am

      Actually, I have for over 11 years and yes, I know what it costs and that the majority of the courses struggle to make money and therefore the green fees must stay relatively high. I don’t think there is the “good vs bad” in relation to the high cost…it just is expensive and will be prohibitive to some to play… but for Mr. Toulon to say that cost didn’t matter was somewhat either ignorant or ill informed.

      • 8thehardway

        Feb 23, 2014 at 2:53 am

        If you read the entire paragraph you’ll be pleased to learn he considers ‘beginners not having fun’ the biggest hurdle while acknowledging in his next-to-last sentence “the time, the expense, the difficulty” as additional hurdles.

    • John

      Feb 22, 2014 at 11:24 pm

      We as a consumer are the ones who drive the markets not companies such as TM! But anyhow, I tested TM’s first metal wood with a project x black 6.5 shaft against a “wood” wood (wilson) driver with the same shaft and also the r11 and titleist 913D3 (pro x 7.0). The two older drivers I bought for a couple dollars at the good will in town! What I found in comparison with all these clubs is a matter of 5-7 yards! In fact 2 of the 5 balls hit with the wood headed wilson were longer then the titleist 913D3 and 1 was longer then the r11! My conclusions were simple…it seems that most companies products are just simply to sell but as a consumer society we are the ones that keep enabling this! Thus, TM keep on keeping on because we will keep buying!! Oh yeah, all tests were conducted on the same hole, same day with the same brand and model ball. I hit each driver five times with my normal swing (115mph on good days) just going for distance comparison…not forgiveness or workability! But 60% of the TM original metal wood and the wilson wood found the short grass as well!

      Great interview and great discussion from all it’s always fun to read comments!

  7. 8thehardway

    Feb 21, 2014 at 7:55 pm

    “Why would I go though the time, the expense, the difficulty, all of that if I am made to not feel welcome and I don’t experience any fun when I’m there.”

    Exactly! If a beginner feels welcome he’ll deal with the demands of golf. Most times an observation, being enthusiastic about a good (by his standards) or just reassuring him that we all struggle is enough to create an amazing experience.

    I’d like to see a ‘friend of golf’ day, pairing two or three beginners with a decent, pleasant golfer. Beginners could play nine holes, the mentor plays free and gives support and help as needed.

  8. Roger

    Feb 21, 2014 at 3:36 pm

    Zak, i thought it was a solid interview, so thanks.

    New products are the lifeblood of innovation and sales.
    Profits Must be made so Employees remain employed.
    New/Innovative/Flashy sells….get used to it.
    Like my TM 200 driver !
    We can definitely feel the coooolness to TM on this thread !

  9. david

    Feb 21, 2014 at 11:24 am

    Sean is a class act.

    • Beth toulon

      Feb 21, 2014 at 2:25 pm

      Thank you! he is a true class act. on and off the green.

  10. melrosegod

    Feb 21, 2014 at 11:23 am

    Sean is a great exec for Taylor Made. He could care less about the game being more enjoyable, his concern is profit. Golf lovers already play as much as we can (we would love play more but time and money ARE an obstacle) and we have our habits as to how often we purchase equipment. The real sales growth comes from “growing the game”, nothing better than new and very naive buyers!

    • Beth toulon

      Feb 21, 2014 at 2:22 pm

      Eanye s not just a great executive he’s an unbelievable person and brother that would do anything for you. I’m so lucky to have Him my life. good for you Seany!

  11. John

    Feb 21, 2014 at 10:59 am

    Wow, some of the responses posted here just go to show how truly ignorant some people are.

  12. Ian

    Feb 21, 2014 at 5:01 am

    Every Taylormade driver that comes out guarantees ’10 yards more’ With the frequency that they bring them out, the average player should be hitting 350 yard drives by now and 400 by the end of 2014…

    • Jeremiah

      Feb 21, 2014 at 4:18 pm

      Callaway is the only company now claiming their clubs go ‘x yards’ further than the last. They also have twice as many ads in this year’s Golf Digest issues compared to any other company. They are late in trying to jump on the bandwagon that has already come and gone.

  13. JH

    Feb 21, 2014 at 1:59 am

    Way to deliver an intelligent, hard-hitting interview, golfwrx! Your staff really asked the tough questions of this out-of-touch and clueless golf exec. He has no idea what he’s doing, nor any idea about what his actions might mean 5-10 years from now with regards to the golf equipment industry. And you guys have even less of an idea about what you are doing. Are you just a puppet for whoever the biggest player is in golf equipment? Do you care about the consumer at all? Make your decision and choose a path, WRX.

  14. Marko

    Feb 21, 2014 at 1:13 am

    This guy is so far off. He does not know what the golfing public wants.
    These big OEMs are concerned about profit only!
    The more products they release and tell us ” this is the longest and most forgiving ever” means they charge higher prices and hype it up with lies!
    Not much has changed in the last 5 years. Except price!

  15. newgolfer

    Feb 21, 2014 at 12:28 am

    So how much time can Taylormade put into developing new equipment when they are pumping out new equipment every quarter? Most of their equipment are the EXACT same thing with a different sticker on it@! Someone tell me the difference between the speedblade irons and the rocketbladez. They even look the same. WTF! This is why I have no respect for Taylormade. All in it to make a quick buck. Could give a crap what they sell to us. Slap a new sticker and come up with a fancy new commercial and all you Taylormade fan boys hop on board.

    • Tony

      Feb 21, 2014 at 4:25 pm

      Speedblade has a different style pocket, making it more forgiving on the heel and toe regions when compared to RocketBladez. It feels better and sounds better (which is part of feel).

      Where it may not be enough to justify upgrading every release, there are improvements. But you would know that if your ignorance didn’t blind you.

      TM doesn’t start a new project only after releasing the last, they are constantly working on future endeavors/projects/technology/clubs. Stuff scheduled to be released 1-2 years from now is already in the making. That’s how R&D works. They don’t expect people to upgrade clubs every release (they know people typically change irons once every 4-5 years, driver every 2-3 years, etc), so they are ensuring there is something new each cycle for those who are finally making the decision to upgrade. Go try and run a profitable business by ensuring you don’t have what the public demands, I’m sure it will work great for you 🙂

    • wcavanau

      Feb 24, 2014 at 3:32 pm

      I’m not sure why anyone cares how many products they bring out, unless you are a golf shop/golf store that has to worry about old inventory. TM is in business for one reason, to make money. If putting out new products is how they make money more power to them. I also believe most of it is marketing hype, but there is a segment of golfers that have to have the latest and the greatest!!

  16. Haywood

    Feb 20, 2014 at 10:05 pm

    I’m 31 and have been an avid golfer my whole life as far as I can remember, but I’ll back up those who have named time as the #1 culprit. If you’re playing golf in the first place money is probably not the main driver. I’ll respectfully disagree with Sean and say that the pomp and circumstance of clubs can often be part of the heritage of the game (think Billy Payne chastising Fowler for a backwards cap). Agreed we shouldn’t berate new golfer, but if you’ve hit 3 chips already and there’s a group waiting, then for christssake pick the $&@!ing thing up! I simply can’t take 7 hours out of my day on a weekend. Speed up rounds and you’ll find more people willing to get out and bring new golfers with them.

    • Bob

      Feb 20, 2014 at 11:54 pm

      Bingo! Hitting your 8th? Hit it if must and then pick the d%#ned ball up. It’s public golf, not the Open.

  17. Jason Wescott

    Feb 20, 2014 at 10:03 pm

    Great interview Zak! I had the pleasure of meeting Sean on the #InsideTMag trip and can confirm he loves all aspects of golf as much or more than most of us. He is a great guy it was awesome to get to hear his take on things, as well as some of the stories he shared with us.

  18. Craig

    Feb 20, 2014 at 8:58 pm

    Someone should have asked why do yall come out with new clubs every 6 months. That is why i dont play Taylormade. I got the white R1 and they have already came out with 4 different drivers since then. Titleist and Ping are really the only ones let that stick to the two year cycle.

    • Jason Wescott

      Feb 20, 2014 at 10:09 pm

      They release clubs when they feel like they’ve made a significant improvement over what’s available. Two year cycles are great for resale value, but if you really thought what you’ve created is a big improvement, then why wait? Get it in the hands of the people who will benefit from it, and if you make some money, even better.

      It amazes me how a site 99% filled with equipment junkies don’t like it when company’s release new equipment. How boring would this place be if everyone released on a two year cycle?

      • Joe

        Feb 21, 2014 at 12:12 am

        This is the best reply in the history of golfwrx. The whole site is club junkies and each one of them complain about Taylormade yet they all play Taylormade drivers.

      • Rich

        Feb 21, 2014 at 7:38 am

        I’m sorry but this is what THEY are telling you. No manufacturer can make a meaningful improvement to a golf club in 6 months, let alone the claims they make. They just know that their hype and marketing loses momentum after 6 months so they repaint it and start a new campaign. TMAG are just a money making machine. Nothing more. Low and forward CG means low MOI. Low and forward will go the way of the white driver. People could care less about low spin and high launch if they can’t hit it straight or find the sweetspot. TMAG are the king of gimmicks and it will always be the case. You only need to look at their latest marketing stunt with puppets to see they rely on marketing rather than substance.

        • Tony

          Feb 21, 2014 at 4:29 pm

          Do you know how R&D works? They aren’t starting fresh every 6 months. Some projects are in the making for years before finally being released. Sometimes they find improvements on what has recently been made and released, after being tested by the masses.

        • Holdma Deeek

          Feb 21, 2014 at 6:40 pm

          What exactly do you mean “go the way of the white driver?” Does that mean it will dominate the market? Does that mean half of all golfers will have a driver with low and forward CG by the end of the year? You’re probably right.

    • Dave

      Feb 21, 2014 at 12:19 pm

      Titleist down 16%

      Ping down (I think) 7%.

      How is that working for them? Seems old strategy to me. But you think you can run a business better? Good luck to you

  19. paul

    Feb 20, 2014 at 7:42 pm

    They could address the difficulty part by making clubs with the shaft in the middle of the head legal.

    • Dave

      Feb 20, 2014 at 10:53 pm

      ???

      • paul

        Feb 22, 2014 at 2:12 pm

        If the shaft is in the center the club twists less on mis hits. Rule makers deemed it illegal because it makes the game to easy off the tee. They wanted to also stick with tradition. There is a company or two that make the clubs this way.

  20. Steve Barry

    Feb 20, 2014 at 6:30 pm

    I thought it was a good, honest interview. He knows his company is at the top and he’s acting like it. I see nothing wrong with that. The statement about not knowing all the info, is in fact true. We don’t have all the same information they have, and they make decisions at that level with somewhere around 60-70% of the information available. They know if they wait any longer, someone else will come out with it first and that’s not their gameplan.

    Guys from other companies have mentioned the leapfrog tactic, and I don’t think either is right or wrong, they’re just different.

    I love the fact TM keeps pumping out more and more equipment, it forces other companies to step up their game and move forward as well, which ultimately, benefits us.

  21. Danny

    Feb 20, 2014 at 6:29 pm

    Also, nobody cares about growing the game of golf except the guys who have to earn a living from it. As an avid golfer the last thing I want is more hacks playing it. It means higher demand for tee times (higher prices) and longer rounds. Where can I sign up?

    • Evan

      Feb 21, 2014 at 12:06 pm

      Bingo! The “growth of golf” is much different than the “state of golf” or the “longterm health of golf”. Part of the industries problem is that golf HAS to grow from year to year, in profit especially. That just isn’t realistic and sometimes the harder you push the worse it gets. Golf is starting to look rather desperate and tacky with it’s reliance on equipment manufacturers, marketing, and PGA tour stars.

      Golf is not for everyone, as figure skating is not for everyone. There are soooo many entertainment/ sporting options out there that you cannot expect everyone to be interested in golf. Be honest and dedicated to your core and that’s where long term stability will come from.

    • Harold

      Feb 21, 2014 at 4:32 pm

      And what happens to green fees when no one is showing up to the course? The club will either raise prices to try and compensate, or just shut down. This is ALREADY HAPPENING to clubs. Fewer courses and higher prices, where can I sign up for that?

      • Danny

        Feb 21, 2014 at 5:42 pm

        The strong will survive, welcome to AMERICA. Not every club belongs in business

  22. Danny

    Feb 20, 2014 at 6:27 pm

    Lol at him thinking you are the Yankees!

    People hate Taylormade because you sell drivers that are obsolete in 2 months and half price. You stick small golf shops and pro shops with the difference and there is no value for the consumer. You are also a competitor with you outlets since you sell direct on your website. I’d never buy a Taylormade club because it’s like catching a falling sword, pay $400 today when I can get it for $200 in a month? No thanks.

    Come to think of it, you are the Evil Empire. Your comparison to the Yankees is spot on.

  23. GJR

    Feb 20, 2014 at 4:31 pm

    The #1 problem with golf is expense. It costs $7 to hit 30 golf balls at the range. Or it costs $50 to play at your local muni on a Saturday morning with a cart. And if you want new clubs? Forget it. Golf is still perceived as middle aged white men with disposable income.

    The #2 problem with golf is time. 99% of golfers are weekend warriors. Most have kids. You expect them to pony up $50 and another 5-7 hours on the course too?

    The #3 problem is the sport is very difficult. When something is expensive and time consuming, that’s hard enough. Throw in that most people don’t enjoy shooting 125-150 on their round, while spending most of the day and half their weeks budget on groceries, and I can see why golf is in decline.

    Taylor Made – find ways to sell new clubs at a cheaper price. Sell your surplus of previous year(s) model clubs at a steep discount.

    Golf courses – keep on pace of play. You have a foursome that is 6 beers in on the 4th hole and each taking 6 shots on the hole? Time to move up to the #6 tee box.

    PGA Pros – Here in MN, most guys want $100 for an hour lesson if they are a PGA certified pro. I’m not saying you shouldn’t charge your rate, but get creative. Go walk around a local muni during the week at the range. Hand out some cards and offer ‘on the spot quick fix lessons’ for $10-$20 for 10-15 minutes of your time and instruction.

    • jcorbran

      Feb 20, 2014 at 6:03 pm

      they do sell old models discounted, speedbladez $700, rocketbladez $500, rocketballz $400, jetsteel $300, rbz stage 2 $200, rbz $150. current prices.

    • MB

      Feb 20, 2014 at 7:31 pm

      GIR is spot on he get’s it i can relate to every point. nice response

      • Ron H

        Feb 21, 2014 at 4:46 pm

        The elephant in the room wrt the popularity of golf is the difficulty of the game and the time and effort it takes to improve. Let’s face it, we live in a society where people – especially the young- want instant gratification. Look at how popular basketball is among teenagers. You know why b’ball is the #1game among that demographic? It’s pretty easy to sink a basket and that is gratifying – especially when your peers see you doing it. Now, being very good at basketball requires no less dedication than being very good at golf. But, ramping up to a competence level that makes the game fun is MUCH easier with a game like basketball than it is with golf. People today want their entertainment NOW, not later. Why do you think Netflix instant streaming is so wildly popular?… the word “instant”. And golf isn’t “instant”.

        • Evan

          Feb 22, 2014 at 8:55 pm

          I think this is very true with younger adults/ kids who are new to the game. Most who pick it up and stay with it are either very naturally talented or have a group of friends who encourage the game. Golf is not easy, it never has been. Golf has also rarely been “cool” amongst younger people. It is a very addicting game that you can play into your later years, that is golf’s biggest advantage. Young people will not always understand that initially. I think the way to reach young people is to reach families. What a great way to spend time together as a family. It might not currently be a popular option but in the future I think this is a way to reach more people AND spend time together as a family and not having golf take that time away.

  24. Large chris

    Feb 20, 2014 at 2:54 pm

    Although there are a load of annoying corporate buzzwords in there, I don’t see a problem with TM innovating, diversifying into cheaper and premium lines etc.

    But lets be serious, time time time is the number one reason for declining participation. And a lot of that is the fault of PGA tour, seems to be no shot timing enforcement going on at the match play this week.

  25. Zach Heusser

    Feb 20, 2014 at 1:59 pm

    Thanks for the interview, Zak. Sean is one best guys in the golf business and has been a role model for many from Wisconsin.

  26. D Louis

    Feb 20, 2014 at 1:02 pm

    I was also thinking how arrogant Taylormade has become now that they are at the top…pretty soon they’ll pull a “Wilson” and introduce something like the “Fatshaft” and find themselves struggling

    • MBA-J

      Feb 20, 2014 at 1:17 pm

      I agree, D Louis: Sean Toulon came off as very arrogant during this interview. Statements such as the “New York Yankees of golf,” and “I just don’t think (customers) have all the information and they’re not going to, so we understand that” are a bit condescending.

      I have a relatively neutral opinion about TM, but something about this interview rubbed me the wrong way. This was a “good get” for GolfWRX as far as the interview is concerned; however, I think that TM did themselves no favors with this interview. In my opinion, if TM wanted to turn previously unfavorable opinions into favorable perceptions of the company, this interview missed the mark.

      • Holdma Deeek

        Feb 20, 2014 at 4:27 pm

        Well you don’t have all the information so it makes sense that you don’t understand.

  27. RanchoBob

    Feb 20, 2014 at 12:42 pm

    I find it funny that Mr. Toulon says, “I think for golfers, it isn’t about time, it isn’t about expense or difficulty….”

    This morning, out of ten posts on the front page of TaylorMade’s Hack Golf web page, six specifically mention those items.

  28. D Louis

    Feb 20, 2014 at 12:26 pm

    What a clown, “its not about the expense, time or difficulty”

    • Tyler

      Feb 20, 2014 at 6:36 pm

      “it’s not about the expense, time or difficulty” This guy doesn’t have a firm grasp on reality if that is what he thinks, because those three things are exactly the problem with golf. That’s why Taylormade is selling drivers that cost $600, make the ball go an extra 100 yards into the woods right and cause slower play due to having to spend time finding a $6 ball. How do you fix golf? Easy:

      1. Cheaper more forgiving equipment. The length of the equipment these days causes slow play because the most time consuming thing is finding a “bombed” drive. Extra length off the tee is hurting the game.

      2. Cheaper course fees, or at least deeply discounted passes and especially deeply discounted junior/college passes. I’d rather get a pass from the wife for christmas than have to explain myself paying each time.

      3. More instructors who know how to use a computer and can critique a golf swing filmed on an iPhone. People are more comfortable with that, it’s more convenient and it wouldn’t cost as much.

    • paul

      Feb 20, 2014 at 7:41 pm

      Yeah, load of crap. Time and money are the two biggest factors by far. Fun, hitting an iron flush to a green is fun. I don’t need more then that. Birdies are fun to, I suppose…

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Equipment

Tiger Woods opts for lead tape on his Newport 2 rather than a heavier putter: Here’s why it makes sense

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After days of speculation about which putter Tiger Woods might end up with an attempt to tame the greens at Royal Portrush, we now officially know he settled on his old faithful GSS Scotty Cameron but with a twist—some added lead tape.

The whole reason the speculation was in high gear early in the week was because of Tiger was spotted with a new custom Scotty that had the Studio Select weights in the sole to increase head weight to help with slow greens, something Tiger has talked about in the past—especially when it comes to the greens at The Open Championship.

We can even look back a few years ago when Tiger finally put a Nike putter in play, the original Method (those were nice putters) and talked about both the increased head weight and the grooves on the face to help get the ball rolling on slower greens.

The decision to stick with the old faithful with added lead tape goes beyond just a comfort level, even if the two putters look the same at address, it’s about feel and MOI around the axis.

Let me explain. Sure the putter heads weight the same, but depending on where the mass is located it will change the MOI. The putter with the Select weights vs. lead tape in the middle will have a higher MOI because there is more weight on the perimeter of the head—it’s like a blade vs. cavity back iron. Sure, two 7-irons can weigh the same but the performance will vary significantly.

For a player with such deft feel like Tiger Woods, any change like that can could cause doubt. Tweaking an already great putting stroke and on the eve of the last major of the year is not really something you want to do, which is why it isn’t surprising he stuck with his legendary Newport 2.

Lead tape in the middle allows Tiger to increase the head weight with very little change to the natural rate of rotation for hit putter and hopefully manage the slower Portrush greens better.

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Forum Thread of the Day: “Your optimal wedge set-up?”

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Today’s Forum Thread of the Day comes from ClevelandKyle who brings up the subject of wedge set-ups. In the thread, our members discuss what wedges they like to carry as well as answering ClevelandKyle’s question: “If you had to carry two wedges for the rest of your life, what would they be (degree, make, model) and why?”

Here are a few posts from the thread, but make sure to check out the entire discussion and have your say at the link below.

  • SEP1006: “PW / GW – 0311P PXG GEN 2, same as irons. 54/12 and 58/06 – Ping Glide Stealth 2.0: best wedges I’ve ever played by far, very versatile.”
  • cardoustie: “Like the OP, I keep going back to old school Vokey sm2’s .. 50/54/60. TVD m grinds. No wedge spins it as well or feels as good. I am ordering a Glide 3.0 eye 2 58 though.”
  • manoagolfer: “Vokey 48, 54, 58 and 62. Just added the 62 for the short stuff around the greens and steep faced bunkers.”
  • BCULAW: “RTX4 Raw 46 mid, 50 mid, 56 full, 60 low. After playing Vokeys almost exclusively for the last ten years or so, these Clevelands have been a real eye-opener. Spin is greatly increased, and the grind on the 60 is stellar. Highly recommended.”

Entire Thread: “Your optimal wedge set-up?”

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Forum Thread of the Day: “1 or 2-iron recommendations?”

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Today’s Forum Thread of the Day comes from Afor1991 who is on the hunt for a 1 or 2-iron after having no luck with hybrids. With a swing speed in the low 100s, Afor1991 is confident he has the speed and consistency to make a 1 or 2-iron work for him, and our members have been giving him their best suggestions in our forum.

Here are a few posts from the thread, but make sure to check out the entire discussion and have your say at the link below.

  • boggyman: “1st generation TM UDI 16* hard to beat with right shaft for a 1-iron, IF you could find one. Used mine in a set of OL Cobras for a while. Need to re-shaft it now though.”
  • Pepperturbo: “I have been effectively using T-MB 17* 2 iron since it was introduced. Now and again put my old Mizuno Pro 16* 1 iron in the bag to remind me those clubs require a good swing. Good luck with your choice.”
  • joelsim: “It depends on how much you value consistency over distance. And of course what your handicap is. I don’t have an official handicap but am regularly scoring in the 70s at my home club, at most 85 if I have a really bad day. And I tried a UDI #2 a couple of weeks ago and sold it a day later. Will stick to my G400 #4 Iron at power spec 19*. Gives me 195y carry consistently with run out according to ground hardness. So far it beats G and G400 Crossovers, Cobra King Utility and TM UDI #2 hands down.”
  • wam78: “Currently playing Mizuno mp h5 2 iron and I absolutely love it! Feels good, easy to hit high and low and can be found for a good price.”

Entire Thread: “1 or 2-iron recommendations?”

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