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Callaway Big Bertha Irons and Hybrids

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In the last two years, Callaway Golf has seen its U.S. dollar share in golf equipment sales — that is the amount of money consumers spend on Callaway’s clubs versus other companies’ clubs — grow 37 percent.

The company’s growth points to several factors, such as the strong play of Callaway Staff members and the revival of iconic golf clubs names such as Big Bertha and Apex. Inside company headquarters, however, there seems to be one key development that sounds through the halls of its R&D department, its marketing team and even CEO Chip Brewer. It’s the face cup technology that debuted on Callaway’s 2013 X Hot line of fairway woods.

Remember when Phil Mickelson used Callaway’s X Hot 3Deep fairway wood as his driver in route to winning the Scottish Open and Open Championship in back-to-back weeks? The extra distance he was getting from his 3 wood was thanks to a face cup.

Last year, Callaway added face cups to its X2 Hot and X2 Hot Pro hybrids to much fanfare and a perfect showing in our 2014 Gear Trials: Best Hybrids list. And now, for the first time, face cups will make an appearance in a Callaway iron: the 2015 Big Bertha.

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The debut of face cup technology in the new Big Bertha irons comes with a bold claim of more distance. Just how much more? According to Callaway, the Big Bertha irons will be up to two clubs longer for certain golfers.

Note: Callaway’s distance claim is based on head-to-head testing against its 2011 RAZR X HL irons. 

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Let’s be clear: not every type of golfer is going to see game-changing distance from the new irons, nor will every golfer want it. Many better players will hit the Big Bertha irons too high, struggle to work they ball with them and they probably won’t enjoy their appearance at address, either. They’re larger than the company’s current Apex and X2 Hot irons, with wide soles, generous blade lengths and quite a bit of offset.

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A Big Bertha 5 iron at address

Scott Manwaring, Callaway’s director of design, put it this way:

[quote_box_center]“[The Big Bertha irons] are for center-of-the-green players. They’re past aiming for pins and they’re not necessarily working on their game.”[/quote_box_center]

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One of the easiest ways for golfers to hit more greens is to hit a shorter club into those greens, which is why the Big Bertha irons were designed with two parts. The first part is a lightweight face cup that’s made to be as hot as possible. Those faces are welded to the second part: stainless steel bodies that move weight low in the head for a higher launch. Both the club heads and faces are cast from 17-4 stainless steel.

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So what creates all the distance? The face cups, of course. Their construction allows for extremely deep undercuts that sit behind the bottom of the club faces and act as hinges at impact. The more these hinges bend, Manwaring said, the more ball speed can be created, which is why the hinges are shaped to create as much bending as possible. The theory is similar to the one that has companies putting slots in its metal woods and irons for more distance, although Manwaring believes the benefits of face cups outweigh those of slots.

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The Big Bertha irons ($999 steel, $1099 graphite) are available in 4-PW, AW and SW, although most golfers who are a fit for the clubs might want to skip the long irons. For them, Callaway has designed Big Bertha hybrids, which are adjustable to help golfers fill the distance gaps the long-flying irons are sure to create. The hybrids use the same Opti-Fit hosels as the company’s Big Bertha drivers, giving them a 3-degree range of loft adjustability and two independent lie angle settings: neutral and upright.

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The Big Bertha hybrids also have the same 455 Carpenter Steel Hyper Speed Face Cups as Callaway’s X2 Hot hybrids, although they have a larger, more fairway-wood like shape than those hybrids. That makes them more forgiving and slightly higher spinning.

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They’re available in the following models: 3H (19 degrees), 4H (22 degrees), 5H (25 degrees), 6H (28 degrees) and 7H (31 degrees). By themselves, the hybrids sell for $249 each, but golfers can create an 8-piece Big Bertha combo set with 2 hybrids and 6 irons for $1299.

The Big Bertha irons and hybrids will be in stores October 17.

Specs

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Click here to see what GolfWRX Members are saying about the 2015 Big Bertha irons in our forum.

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52 Comments

52 Comments

  1. Want to buy em

    Feb 15, 2015 at 5:40 pm

    When will the price drop
    Hate to buy em and a week later
    Could’ve got em for $300 less

  2. Mark

    Nov 20, 2014 at 11:11 pm

    I hit the alpha Hybrid during some testing and gained 30 yards consistently on the hybrid. current 3 hybrid is a 250 club worth 260 on a perfect strike, and hit the alpha 280 repetatively but 290 on a perfect strike. couldn’t even feel the ball off of the face. I can’t wait for another day of testing more product.

  3. Bert

    Nov 3, 2014 at 1:13 pm

    Wife decided her new Mizuno’s were out of the bag and going in were the 2015 Big Bertha irons with “Recoil” shafts. Lucky she hesitated and asked the right questions and I did the research and found the supposed Recoil shafts are not offered by Callaway and to get “real” Recoil shafts you must pay a $75 upgrade per club. Now think about it; Callaway charges you $75 upgrade for a $40 shaft and keeps the original shaft (whatever a 460 Recoil is. This is another gimmick to fool the buyer into believing they’re not. My wife was fitted by a rep using their fitting cart. She hit an iron with a 660 Recoil shaft and was never told the shafts she received would be different (460’s). She was never told the factory shafts were something of less quality.

    Advice; BUYER BEWARE and stay abreast of technology since the fitter will tell you anything you wish to hear and sell you something you weren’t fitted with.

    So the bottom line is the shafts being sold in the 2015 Callaway Big Bertha Irons are not the Recoil shafts played by better golfers and Callaway will not tell you such. They are a lesser, cheaper iron shaft and if you desire a Recoil Shaft be prepared to pay quite a bit more.

  4. Chris

    Oct 17, 2014 at 12:32 pm

    Would love to see the handicaps of people commenting on these irons. Also consider most high handicappers slice the ball. In fact roughly 80 percent of golfers slice the ball.

    There is definitely a target group of golfers for these irons, and they will help them. Personally, I’m hitting the hybrids on my way home. I currently game the 913H.

  5. Alex T

    Oct 7, 2014 at 4:45 pm

    Seen it all before. Fusion. Slingshot. Rocketballz. Etc. These kinds of designs are as niche as butter knife thin blades. There’s only about 1% of golfers who could actually get any benefit out of them, the only difference being that everybody wishes they were good enough to hit blades. Nobody wishes they were bad enough to hit these monstrosities. These will be forgotten in a heartbeat and will be on sale for $499 by next march. Here’s a tip: If you want two clubs more distance hit two clubs more. 20 yards more distance and I won’t even charge you $1000 dollars for it.

  6. marcel

    Sep 30, 2014 at 2:13 am

    well what counts is being on the fairway… yes BB hit further but he lost control and ended up in sand… these clubs are “game improvement” clubs for 30+ handicapers

  7. simon

    Sep 25, 2014 at 4:00 am

    I’m pretty sure if you measured the swing speed on those two 6 iron shots they would be very different.
    Maybe the Big Bertha does go further but certainly not 23 yards.
    Plus they are seriously ugly to my eye.The top edge must 8-10mm. A little thicker than a garden spade.

  8. JH

    Sep 25, 2014 at 1:39 am

    Is the target golfer of these clubs really going to plunk down $1000+ for a set of these?

    Can’t believe that price tag.

  9. BeenInHB33

    Sep 25, 2014 at 12:53 am

    Maybe the ugliest irons I’ve ever seen.

  10. Phat

    Sep 25, 2014 at 12:37 am

    Haha so the old 1 or 2 iron is now a 4 iron. Took me a while to figure out why the new school 4 irons were hard to hit.

  11. Gonzo

    Sep 25, 2014 at 12:30 am

    I wonder if these will stay at this price point, like the Apex, or be subject to massive price cuts, like the X2 Hot.

  12. Jeff Daschel

    Sep 24, 2014 at 11:17 pm

    Anybody else think it’s funny P Reed hit a hook with the new big Bertha iron ? Middle of the fairway 186 or 209 in the left bunker? No wonder high caps don’t get better

    • BeenInHB33

      Sep 25, 2014 at 12:55 am

      HAHA was thinking the same thing! There’s like a foot of offset on these “irons” lol. Terrible. These should cost $75 or less.

    • Ben

      Sep 25, 2014 at 2:00 pm

      Way too much offset. I feel bad for the high capper who struggles with a hook because the GI selections on the market will only make it worse.

      • Eugene Marchetti

        Dec 19, 2014 at 9:08 pm

        I totally agree. I hit these hybrids/irons this week and the offset was very visible. Consequently, I actually hit them way right because I was so afraid I would hook the heck out of them, I didn’t release the club. Too thick and too offset for me.

  13. Joey

    Sep 24, 2014 at 9:34 pm

    Tisk tisk. The more things change the more they stay the same. Pure propaganda, their selling campaign at this point.

  14. Jimmy

    Sep 24, 2014 at 9:12 pm

    1300 bucks with hybrids and the irons are not forged WONDER WHY NO ONE WANTS TO PLAY THIS GAME ANYMORE i could see if it was hybrid 3-7 irons 9-pw with graphite shafts all around but man those are nit cheap you better get your 2 clubs worth of distance

  15. Vandy

    Sep 24, 2014 at 8:39 pm

    Anyone else notice that the specs read that the 4 iron is at 20.5…. about half a degree stronger than a normal 3 iron, and are at 39.125″. So yeah their “4” iron will go farther than yours.

  16. Justin

    Sep 24, 2014 at 6:31 pm

    Is it just me, or does the hybrid look similar to a Titleist 910h?

    • Peter

      Sep 25, 2014 at 10:42 pm

      yes they do. the only reason why i read some comments was to see if anyone else thought so too. i think its the big fat toe on the above view and it also has a surefit hosel lol.

  17. Desmond

    Sep 24, 2014 at 4:39 pm

    In the late 90’s those would be called hybrids, not irons….

  18. Pingbrad

    Sep 24, 2014 at 3:55 pm

    The longer distance comes from bending the clubs stronger and lengthening the shafts. The 5 iron is this set equivalent to most other manufactures 4 iron.

  19. Feel

    Sep 24, 2014 at 3:35 pm

    They feel awesome!

  20. Don

    Sep 24, 2014 at 3:11 pm

    Sometimes I get the feeling these companies think we are all lemmings and that they can guide us to the cliff.

  21. mrjoe

    Sep 24, 2014 at 2:52 pm

    So what’s new here? Cup face has been done in irons. Max COR has been done in irons.

    Callaway just catching up.

  22. Lime Shark

    Sep 24, 2014 at 2:07 pm

    The Callaway 7-iron has a loft of 30 degrees and a length of 37.25 inches.

    Compare that to the Ping G5:

    Ping G5 6-iron – loft = 30.5 degrees, length = 37.25 inches.

    Ping G% 7-iron – loft = 34 degrees, length = 36.75 inches.

    At least one club worth of “extra length” can be attributed to the fact that the 7-iron is really a 6-iron.

    • TW

      Sep 24, 2014 at 2:52 pm

      I was gonna say the same thing.
      most standard 4 irons are 24-25 degrees, callaways is 20.5. I am and have been a pure callaway guy for a few years. Will likely keep my hex chrome plus but will be looking to go another route on irons this season. (looking at titleist first and might give nike a shot, on balls and irons but doubt I switch balls)

  23. Thomas J Coyne jr

    Sep 24, 2014 at 1:38 pm

    And we all wonder what the reasoning is for the loss of golfers, beginners, sales of equipment, golf course closures? All of this stuff is made in China. All of it is also duplicated with another name, like Bertha/Bursur. The new gimmicks, soul weighting, comeon, Browning did that with the 440 and 440 plus 40 years ago. I’m still hitting them and regrove them myself. I also have a set of Bursurs. Talked to the importer-he said they come from the same factory as Callaway’s. Only the price is 90% cheaper. We live near a small country golf course, 9 holes, par 36 each 9 from 2 sets of tees, some holes are short but it’s in good shape and hilly, greens are small, upsets visiting pros, when they barely break par. Price for 9 is around 10 or 12 for seniors. Cart for another 5 or 6. Affordable, but it’s the only deal in the Portland, Oregon area. All others are in the 40’s plus for 18. In these economy days this is why golfers are dropping out, plus the fact that there is less organized golf now. Used to have local men’s clubs, every Sat., all gone as the clubs want fresh money and it’s not there, so they lost all around.
    I asked some kids why they were spending more time on the I-phone than playing sports. Easier, less cost, no instruction, no pressure from coaches, teach themselves, Keep up with their friends or what they call important stuff. It’s all about money-eh?

  24. Scooter McGavin

    Sep 24, 2014 at 12:42 pm

    And people need to stop complaining about strong lofts on distance irons. That lower loft is there to help with distance. You can’t compare your old or Player’s club lofts to something where the weighting has been engineered to launch the ball higher. Higher launch means they can strengthen the clubs and still maintain ideal ball launch/height.

    • Lane

      Sep 24, 2014 at 1:48 pm

      So at what point does it become apples to apples? You say can’t compare because of weighting, yet the manufacturer will want to compare when they make distance claims (2 clubs longer). So how about you call them up and say they can’t claim that because the weighting of the club is different and can’t be compared to older irons?

      • NMBob

        Sep 24, 2014 at 11:21 pm

        exactly. If this goes two clubs farther..ha ha ha what a crock of you know what. That would make my pitching wedge go a full 150. What iron set has no irons you can score with inside 150. Did they just reinvent the nike slingshot? You guys know how many guys I have had to sell real pitching wedges to that had burner 2s or diablos with 41.5 deg pitching wedges that cam e in the set. At what point do folks start to remember they need a set of tools spread across distances to help them score and changing the numbers on clubs and in truth simply removing the Pw and now almost 9 irons from folks sets leaves them without the tools to score from certain yardages. Also, making that shaft longer, how many 4 or 5 irons are now pushed out of the realm of consisting hitting because it is just too long?

    • Chris

      Oct 17, 2014 at 12:28 pm

      Titleist explained this well last year with the new 714 line, and how moving the CG around necessitates the decreasing in loft to get the proper trajectory for each iron.

      People continue to go on, and on, ad nauseam about “de-lofting”, “longer shafts”, blah, blah, blah. If you don’t like them, don’t buy them. You aren’t offering anything earth shattering to the equation here.

      • Viper

        Oct 21, 2014 at 9:59 pm

        I agree with Chris if you don’t like the irons, don’t buy them and moved on. I just played our club championships (match play) the guy who came runner up, gamed this irons and his almost scratch 1.1 index, his in mid 30s and using the F3 Regular Flex Recoil.

  25. Scooter McGavin

    Sep 24, 2014 at 12:38 pm

    I thought it was called a “cup face”, not a “face cup”.

    • OhioGolfDude

      Sep 25, 2014 at 9:50 am

      Take a look at the photo of the hybrid – it specifically states “Hyper Speed Face Cup”

  26. Boner

    Sep 24, 2014 at 12:31 pm

    Wow the ball went on fire with the Big Bertha iron!!!!!! Those irons mean serious business! I have already per-ordered, can’t wait!!!!!!

  27. dapadre

    Sep 24, 2014 at 12:28 pm

    These look more like Hybrid irons. I find the 2 clubs longer claim though, sighting that my 5 iron is 28deg and this is 23deg. So essentially my 5 iron is their 7/8 iron, ok I get it. Do like the look of the hybrid but at $249, come on.

  28. Ev

    Sep 24, 2014 at 12:14 pm

    Think I’ve finally found a possibly replacement for my X-12’s!

  29. RobN

    Sep 24, 2014 at 12:12 pm

    The irons? No thanks, I’ll stick with my Apex. Now that hybrid I DO like!! The adjustable hosel should make that one a winner. But I’m still not giving up my X2 Hots. They are just too good.

  30. Don

    Sep 24, 2014 at 12:10 pm

    These look … clunky to me. Not really drumming up any excitement for Callaway for me.

  31. jc

    Sep 24, 2014 at 12:08 pm

    that’s why I went to ping….not as many changes…and only every couple of years between the next ones….I will stick with my g25s even if they don’t have turbulators or a new name.

  32. JIMMY

    Sep 24, 2014 at 12:05 pm

    Yikes, probably great for 25-capper, that huge offset screams,
    FORE LEFT!!!!!!!

    • Roger S.

      Sep 24, 2014 at 2:24 pm

      I would seriously hook those clubs about 100 yards left. The ball would probably make a 90* in the air.

      • li0scc0

        Jul 28, 2017 at 9:36 am

        Then you are not a very good golfer. I’m a 12 handicap, and I can hit these, or a zero offset, straight. My 6 iron distance is 198, generally. Offset does not cause hooks, draws, etc.

  33. BcavWecllh

    Sep 24, 2014 at 12:04 pm

    The sole of the irons look like the Rocketballz.

  34. David Smith

    Sep 24, 2014 at 11:58 am

    This is sad… what is going on?!?!

  35. cb

    Sep 24, 2014 at 11:56 am

    Hey patrick swing easy with this club and now really go at it with this club. Oh my gosh! your second swing went farther than the first!

  36. WHY!?

    Sep 24, 2014 at 11:43 am

    So many lines and models. Its TM vs. Callaway these days. I can see Monte playing these when you consider his current gamers.The hybrid doesnt look that bad. Not much offset and nice shape.

  37. SMH

    Sep 24, 2014 at 11:17 am

    Sadly they’re really starting to become like TMAG and just jamming product after product down the consumer’s throat. I still haven’t hit a hybrid yet that I would take over the old Titleist 503H that I’ve been playing since it first came out.

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Equipment

What It’s Like: TaylorMade Golf’s “The Kingdom”

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One of the best parts of this job, beyond the people we get to meet, is the facilities. All of the core OEMs have a “place” that is exclusive, away from anything normal, and you gotta know someone to get a ticket in.

That’s what the “What It’s Like” series is about. Those certain OEM places with no doors open to the public. Those places that if you happened to sneak in, there is no way you can Fletch your way around into two steak sandwiches and a bloody mary.

I never admit this, but I used to manage a night club in Los Angeles called Les Deux (it was cool for a minute). It was a fun although soul-sucking endeavor but the thing that made the experience stick out was the exclusivity of it. If you got in by knowing someone, greased the door guy (me), or got invited, it was four hours of awesome. Yes, it’s a lame example, but there is, unfortunately, something about getting to the other side of a closed door that is just awesome.

TaylorMade Golf’s Kingdom is location No. 1, and as you would expect, it’s nothing short of pure golf ecstasy.

My Experience

I have been to TaylorMade HQ quite a number of times, and typically those visits involve time at what I call the gear junkie mecca (short of Tiger Woods’ garage or the Nike Oven graveyard now called Artisan) AKA The Kingdom.

The coolest thing about it is how subtle the location is. Located just steps away from the front door of TM HQ (and a very random corporate basketball hoop) sits a small-yet-elegant building that if you didn’t know was there, you would fly past it. Once you pull into the side parking lot, unload your sticks, and head to the door, there is still that feeling of “will they actually let me in?”

Here’s the thing. The best (all of them) have been in here. To test, practice, hang out, get fit, get wowed to potentially be on staff and everything in-between. A schmuck like me should get nervous, but then it happens, the door opens and you are not only let in but you are greeted by the master of ceremonies and a man I truly adore Tom “TK” Kroll.

With the passion to match not only yours but anyone else who walks in, he makes sure every nuance is seen and experienced. From the lobby with current TM athletes on the wall to the locker room with your custom locker that sits next to an exact replica of Tiger’s bag. There are snacks, extras shoes, gloves, swag, coffee, beer, and all your wildest dreams…and we are barely in the facility.

From a 35,000 foot view, The Kingdom has everything a golfer would ever want, need, or wish for. Starting with Duane Anderson’s putter studio that has tested thousands of strokes from players ranging from a 20 handicap to Rory McIlroy. The data compiled in this room is staggering. We did a video (link below) that gives you the full rundown.

There are three (one with an Iron Byron for testing) main inside hitting bays with all the bells and whistles you would assume. TrackMans, cameras, big screens, fresh gloves hanging on the wall, and a club fitting matrix with every TM combination you could think of.

The outside hitting area is heaven on earth. There is no other way to describe. Huge hitting area with multiple styles of grass, lies, pins, etc. Any shot you would need to hit can be recreated here on grass with a ball flying into the air and not into a screen. My favorite area is the Flick Tee. In honor of the great teacher and longtime TM staffer Jim Flick. Its tucked up high and privately in the corner of the range under a tree and this may sound ridiculous but you can almost feel Mr. Flick standing there with you as you look out onto the facility. I get goosebumps just thinking about it.

As mentioned, the man who manages your experience is Tom Kroll. He’s about as respected and beloved as anyone in the industry and for good reason. You combine passion with service you get an awesome human to hang out with. Everyone that has been through these doors has a TK story, which includes a chuckle and a smile.

I chatted with him recently about The Kingdom, and this is what he had to say.

JW: Walk me through how The Kingdom came to be what it is now? Basically origin to current day…

TK: Back in 1994, I was in R&D, running player testing, and we needed to find our own testing range. We built our headquarters in Carlsbad in the 1990s and added the range in 1998. Only robot, cannon and player testing were done at the start. Once in a while, a tour or staff pro would come out and test, but it was all operated from one building. At the time, what’s currently the clubhouse at The Kingdom was actually a maintenance building. But in 2010, The Kingdom was reimagined to the layout we have now.

Over the last three years I’ve been at The Kingdom, we’ve added GEARS, Quintic high-speed cameras, and a Foresight simulator bay. We transformed the putting lab with a Perfection Platforms articulating floor and SAM technology. Last year we resurfaced the main tee, redesigned and dedicated the Flick Tee, underwent a complete renovation of the short game area with new bunker complexes, redesigned the targeting downrange, and developed a par-3 routing. We partnered with Kurt Bowman Design, a longtime designer under Jack Nicklaus.

Our superintendent Mark Warren and his crew have done incredible work with our current maintenance equipment, and I can’t wait to see the conditions after we deliver a brand new fleet of brand new Toro equipment. We structured a long-term partnership with Toro and Turf Star Western.

JW: What is the simple function of The Kingdom? 

TK: We still have the robot bay and R&D does development work almost every day. We are mostly a resource for the entire company: Global Sports Marketing (Tour), developmental pros and ams, AJGA standouts, our Crusaders (club professionals), and commercial teams. We host pre-lines to introduce new product to our at-large teams and training events. We’re even a PR resource, hosting media, social influencers, celebrities, and professional athletes.

We also act as a hub for our Crusaders. They send their members to us, and we wholesale back to the staff account. I’ll do a significant amount of corporate events, charity events and have had “Flicks at The Kingdom” where we set up a giant projector and our employees bring their kids, beach chairs and blankets to watch a movie out on the range. Really a fun and cool event.

JW: Give me three awesome stories or experiences from your time there that you are cool sharing.

TK: It’s tough to only pick three! From Reggie Jackson stopping by to Matt Ryan, Drew Brees, Aaron Rodgers, Albert Pujols, Mike Trout, Jake Arrieta, Zack Greinke, President Bush. Those may be the most haughty name drops of all time! What can I say, it is beyond the coolest job I have ever had! It’s truly tough to pick, but here are my three…

Story 1: Tiger was preparing to make his first PGA Tour start after fusion surgery and he just spends the day grinding out here. He was testing an early proto of the TW irons and to see how much speed he still had. There’s a sound that only he and maybe two or three others make when they center it up. That sound is something that goes through your body, I can still hear it. It sticks with you.

He’s playing old school lofts, which are three degrees weaker than any other tour pro, but the carry distances were still there, the windows he hits it through, holding it against the wind, flighting a 6-iron even ripping a 5-wood 275 yards. His feedback and ability to discern the most minute details working with the advanced teams developing the irons was fantastic to witness.

To come full circle, I played with him in the Southern Cal Amateur when he was 16-years-old and had a front-row to his 62 at Hacienda, I was keeping his scorecard so he has my autograph. To again be standing three feet from him while he goes through the process is just special.

Story 2: I’m going to put two guys in the same bucket (because The Kingdom is so magical, I hope the golf gods are okay with it). Rory now spends a day out here the week of Farmers–he has for the last two years, and with the U.S. Open there 2021, I think he’s a lock for the next few. He went through two sets of irons in a wind quartering off the right at 20-25 mph. The consistency of launch, speed and spin were shockingly close! It was one of the greatest ball-striking exhibitions I’ve ever witnessed. We handpicked the range after his day, it took us 10 minutes He’s also the most gracious, down to earth person.

Jon Rahm stops by five or six times a year. To watch his sessions in the putting lab, to see Duane show him what’s changing and getting Jon back to baseline and see his confidence, to the 4-iron flop shots after we tell our Seve stories. Jon is part of the family. His brother and dad came out before Jon and Kelly’s wedding. He’s one of the two or three others where the sound goes through you.

Story 3: Has to be Operation Game On (OGO). We have partnered with  Tony Perez for over 15 years, we are the cherry on top of a 6-10 week program where wounded veterans take lessons and the graduation is a fitting at The Kingdom. I had a dear friend, Joe Horowitz, who’s a golfer and a musician, here late one day and I mentioned the OGO guys were coming the next day. It’s Veteran’s Day and the Marine Corps Birthday. Not to mention Jon Rahm would be here for a last tweak before he left for Dubai. Joe shows me a video of him singing the national anthem at the Jaguars game a few weeks before, and we both say let’s do that for the OGO guys. I get in early and send an email to all employees to be on the tee at 9 a.m. sharp. We have the OGO guys arrive and Jon is hanging in the locker room. I’m stalling to get all the employees onto the tee through the side gate, I walk the boys into the bay and hit the roll up door. Outside are 250 employees cheering these guys on! Joe sings the anthem (goose bumps every time), then happy birthday to Jon and the marine corps. There’s fittings, a pizza truck, Jon Rahm signed U.S. Open staff bags for the OGO boys. Then, get this, Jon goes on and wins that week in Dubai!

JW: If you could change anything about the property or the experience what would it be?

TK: At TaylorMade, the relentless pursuit of improving is in our DNA. The Kingdom is no different. We’re constantly innovating and reimagining the downrange experience. From targeting, to conditions and turf types, we’re always nuancing and squeaking out ways to be better. One example, we’re designing each of our targets with a specific purpose. When players are testing at The Kingdom, we want them to feel that every shot has a consequence. So, we want to deliver a real-world experience in every testing situation. We went through a massive redesign last fall and are currently still working with the advanced research team on new ways to enhance our testing and fitting experiences to meet the way that players perform in competition.

When it comes to the overall experience, The Kingdom has transformed from a predominantly R&D and fitting facility to the most capable environment to test, measure and understand how equipment performs and how golfers interact with their equipment. I call it the ultimate truth machine. We help golfers at every level uncover the insights they need to improve. After each session, we’re going to know everything about the club, the player and the ball flight.

So we came from a place where we were mainly focused on research, fitting, and selling. Our goals have changed. Now we obsess over how to help golfers get better.

What would I change? If you’re curious and passionate about making change, the answers are out there. The first thing we do is listen. We’re going to change everything that needs to be changed in order to meet our goals. I have an incredible focus group to bounce ideas off of. To ask our tour pros, club professionals, and teachers for feedback on the design ideas and what they like and prefer is fortunate. We’re constantly learning, we’re constantly improving, and if there’s a better way do something, then we’re going to figure it out and do it.

JW: What does the kingdom look like in 10 years?

TK: We have a lot of incredible plans for new targeting, bunker complexes, and refining the purposeful design of the range and short game area. Beyond that, we have designs for new teeing areas, a new short game complex, adding another GEARS system and Foresight Simulator, along with other new technologies. I can’t disclose all we do, since the R&D guys get a bit jumpy when I start going on about all the cool stuff and high science! I don’t know exactly what The Kingdom looks like in 10 years as technologies and our understanding continue to improve, but I do know give me six months, and we’ll have done something new. Always grinding to get better!

JW: Tell me a little bit about your career at TaylorMade.

TK: 31 years is hard to do in a “little bit” but I’ll try to give you the Clif Notes! Bob Vokey ran our Tour department and had me running his repair shop in Vista after George Willett took a job driving the Tour truck for TaylorMade. I was refinishing wooden clubs and repairing clubs for the local country clubs. I told Bob I was going broke making $4.50 an hour and driving all over San Diego. I asked if he could get me a job at TaylorMade and I started on the custom line with Wade Liles! Get to work at 2 p.m., off at 1 a.m. and golf in the morning. It was the life! Not to mention, I was lucky enough to meet my wife who worked for the company.

I started our player testing and worked for the great Dr. Benoit Vincent–the smartest man I know. I was a pretty good player, and I played a bunch of USGA and national amateur events. But when I did a TV commercial, I lost my amateur status and made the decision to turn pro. I quit my job and started that journey. Our CEO wanted me to take a leavem and I said: “I need to be all-in on this.” I had two children, a mortgage, car payments and had to buy health insurance while getting through all three stages of Q School. I realized I was a better amateur than a tour pro. We had our third child, and then I got the sales rep job in San Diego. After 10 years of sales, I moved inside the building and the ran innovations department before taking over our metalwoods category when we hit our highest market share in history. I spent a few years in product creation, ran global experiential for a few years and then got the best gig in all of golf here at The Kingdom. Been here for three years, and we’re just getting started!

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Puma Golf teams up with Ernie Els in support of Autism Awareness Month

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Puma X Els Autism

April is National Autism Awareness Month, and Puma Golf has teamed up with ambassador Ernie Els in support of the Els for Autism Foundation.

Throughout April, Puma will donate a portion of every individual sale of the brand’s Ignite Pwradapt Caged shoes with the proceeds going towards the Els for Autism Foundation.

Puma X Els Autism

Every pair of Caged shoes sold this month will include a blue Els for Autism shoe bag and puzzle piece ribbon lapel pin – with the color blue and the puzzle pieces representing Autism Awareness.

Puma X Els Autism

The Els for Autism Foundation helps deliver and facilitate programs designed to serve individuals with autism spectrum disorder. You can purchase the shoes here.

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What GolfWRXers are saying about “Boutique brands vs Major OEMs”

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In our forums, our members have been discussing both boutique brands and major OEMs and why the former “trail the OEMs in drivers and woods”. WRXer ‘gr8 flopshot’, who plays a bag full of boutique clubs bar woods, poses the question and it’s got our members talking 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.

  • DaRiz: “Irons, wedges, and putters don’t change much, and for all the technology OEMs try to pack in there, it’s more about how they look and feel. So boutique can fit in nicely here. Drivers/FW, on the other hand, definitely benefit from the millions of dollars in R&D, and it is probably really hard to compete. You can argue that COR is maxed out, but the tiny changes in launch conditions, spin rates, and forgiveness add up.”
  • MattM97: “One reason why I and most other lefties don’t go boutique is options. At least with OEM’s for drivers and most woods we get the most of what is released, some versions and loft we don’t get but better than nothing. I’m not against boutique; I love my putters, I love the look of a lot of wedges, I would absolutely love a set of Japanese forged CB irons one day. Just woods I’ll stick to OEM options.”
  • sniper: “The Wishon 560’s I had built years ago were as good (or better) as anything I’ve had. My current set of MP-18SC’s and Wishon’s are the best feeling irons I’ve played. Both came from a club builder and not built by the OEM. Obviously on the Wishon’s.”
  • RogerInNewZealand: “Genuinely good point. It’s like why we buy JDM, Yonex Ezone 420…and the famed J33 Bridgestone driver from long ago! T.E.E is another one..always a surprise there. With your wood/driver if your sorted that’s fine! You don’t have to bag an exotic club to hit fairways.”

Entire Thread: “Boutique brands vs Major OEMs”

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