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Oakley as a golf brand? Exactly

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On the surface, it doesn’t make much sense. Why would Oakley — a brand beloved by surfers, snowboarders, skiers, skaters and otherwise “cool” people — want to be a golf brand? Doesn’t it know that golfers are notoriously uncool, and that for every Tiger Woods or Rory McIlroy there are 50 Tour players who make Chris Kirk seem exciting?

GolfWRX regulars might have noticed that we’ve been learning a lot about the Southern-California based company lately. When Oakley signed Zach Johnson and Bubba Watson in 2013, we did a Q&A with the company’s sports marketing manager. We followed up with a feature on the impact Bubba Watson has had in shaping Oakley product this spring, and spent this summer reviewing Oakley’s Carbon Pro 2 golf shoes, M2 Frame and Holbrook sunglasses and its latest golf apparel.

What we’ve found is that few companies spend as much time perfecting its products as The Ellipse, which became even more evident when I visited Oakley headquarters.

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Oakley HQ, nicknamed the “Design Bunker,” looks like a spaceship that might blast off from its Foothills Ranch, Calif. location. Even though it’s a public facility that includes a retail store and a walk-in warranty department, the winding, tank-equipped driveaway screams “keep out” to poindexters.

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The coolness threshold was reinforced in the lobby, where I was instructed to wait for my tour guide in an authentic fighter jet ejector seat. I, in khakis and a polo, wondered if I was about to be propelled through the vaulted ceilings of the main lobby. Was I cool enough to be in this place?

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Luckily, it was another case of a journalist making stuff up, and I made my way through the public lobby and into the private Oakley hallways unscathed.

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If you’re waiting for a photo tour of HQ, the production facilities and research labs I saw, you’re out of luck, as just about all of the areas were off limits for photography. Oakley protects its prototype products and procedures more tightly than any golf apparel company I’ve ever toured, which is why it makes sense to shift the conversation from what exactly Oakley does to produce its apparel, footwear and accessories to why it does it in the first place.

For that answer, I talked to Nathan Strange, Oakley’s head of global golf marketing. Strange spent a decade working at one of the golf equipment industry’s traditional powerhouses, and is the man responsible for the now famous Bubba Hovercraft video.

The outside-the-box video was perfect for the Oakley brand, Strange said, as it showcased what I kept hearing from every member of the Oakley golf team.

“We’re different,” they kept saying.

I, like you, have seen the barrage of Oakley marketing material that has hit the internet in 2014. It includes the message that Oakley is “Disruptive by Design” and celebrates the company’s 30-year anniversary of releasing innovative products. In the early days, those products included motorcycle hand grips, goggles and performance sunglasses that were a hit with extreme sports athletes.

How do you know that you’ve been sufficiently disruptive since? I won’t play the game of what’s disruptive and what’s not, but I will say this. When your brand is healthy enough to get House of Cards frontman Kevin Spacey to narrate your video, you’re doing better than ok.

But a spokesman like Spacey, or even endorsers such as Bubba Watson and Zach Johnson don’t actually change a brand or a sub brand. They might change its perception, or even offer a new insight, but their affiliation does not by itself make something different.

So what actually makes Oakley different? I kept wondering this, and prodded team members with questions that I hoped would lead me to that answer. It didn’t hit home until I sat with Strange at the end of my visit that I finally figured it out.

At the core of Oakley’s business has always been an obsession with individual athletes, the hard-working, go-it-alone perfectionists who do whatever it takes to reach their goal. That’s when it occurred to me that while golf will never be labeled as an extreme sport, the demands golf places on its players are extreme. Few other sports need its athletes to be as precise and consistent as golfers need to be in the time it takes golfers to play 18 holes, and even fewer sports place those athletes on ever-changing courses and climates that are as variable as the ones golfers face.

Let’s look at Oakley’s marquee product in golf, its sunglasses, which became popular in part thanks to their use by David Duval and Annika Sorenstam in the late 1990s and early 2000s. Sunglasses were nothing new to the sport, but Oakley’s models were comfortable, precise and protective against the damage the sun and debris can do to a golfer’s eyes. It didn’t hurt, either, that people thought they were cool.

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Above is Bubba Watson’s outfit script for Sunday at the 2014 PGA Championship, with White Take 3.0 pants and the Markus Polo.

Now, Oakley is making even better sunglasses that are more adaptable and available in more styles. Its expanded into performance-first polos, jackets, accessories and golf pants that look the part on the course, but could just as easily be worn in yoga class. They’re that soft, lightweight, bendable and breathable. Again, nothing new, but they just perform a little better.

So why is Oakley in the golf business? Simply put, its team thinks it can make better apparel and accessories than the big guys. In fact, its team thinks that it already has. For the team of performance-obsessed sports product people, what’s cooler than that?

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11 Comments

11 Comments

  1. Pingback: The Takeaway: A Look at the Golf Industry (November 2014) « Grow the Game Central

  2. stripe

    Oct 16, 2014 at 3:34 pm

    I can get down with the clothes but will always stick with FJ.

  3. Gregg

    Oct 15, 2014 at 10:49 am

    At the high school golf level I see a lot of Under Armour clothing and very little Oakley stuff.

  4. Craig

    Oct 15, 2014 at 9:55 am

    I hate to be the bearer of bad news, Oakley lost it’s cool factor a long time ago. And Bubba has never been cool.

  5. hjsdl

    Oct 14, 2014 at 11:57 am

    Oakley makes very good products and had Rory not signed with Nike, Oakley might have been one of the top selling clothing brands in golf by now.

  6. Corny

    Oct 14, 2014 at 2:43 am

    I hate that O symbol, it gets in the way of everything, it looks so out of place and corny. It’s corny baby, yeah, corny!

  7. J

    Oct 14, 2014 at 12:44 am

    Wonder when Oakley makes a putter…. Bet they do.

  8. RumtumTim

    Oct 13, 2014 at 10:16 pm

    Oakley hasn’t been “cool” since the LeMond days.

    • Ponjo

      Oct 14, 2014 at 5:25 pm

      That’s like saying Nike has not been cool since Tiger did what he did.

  9. Mike Belkin

    Oct 13, 2014 at 9:06 pm

    I do view Oakley as a disruptive brand especially in the golf space, but am surprised at how little we see Oakley product on our NCCGA college golfers. Part of that may be that NCCGA college teams are somewhat geographically East-coast centric, however.

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Equipment

The most popular rangefinders on Amazon right now (Summer 2020 edition)

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What are the most popular rangefinders on Amazon right now? From time to time, we like to get out of our little bubble of OEM releases and what’s being played on tour to look at what golf consumers are buying on one of the largest online retail marketplaces: Amazon.

Here are some of the best-selling rangefinders on Amazon as of September 2020.

1. TecTecTec VPRO500 Golf Rangefinder

The TecTecTec VPRO500 rangefinder is currently the best-selling rangefinder on Amazon

From the listing:The VPRO500 Golf Laser Rangefinder is a premium product, measuring up to 540 yards with continuous scan mode, advanced Pin-Seeker technology, and a durable rainproof body. Provides fast measurement with +/- 1 yard accuracy, together with Pin-Seeker technology to accurately measure overlapping subjects, perfect for measuring golf flags, hazards and wooded areas.”

Price: $149.99

Buy here.

2. Callaway 300 Pro Golf Laser Rangefinder

Callaway’s 300 Pro Golf Laser rangefinder features slope measurement and can scan multiple targets at once

From the listing:Slope feature measures angle of incline/decline and automatically calculates slope adjusted distance. 6x magnification; range 5-1000 yards with +/- 1 yard accuracy. Pin acquisition technology (P.A.T.) quickly locks onto the pin from up to 300 yards away. Exclusive BIRDIE feature delivers audible “chirp” to confirm distance acquisition to flagstick.”

Price: $199.99

Buy here.

3. Gogogo Laser Rangefinder

The Gogogo laser rangefinder, which can measure up to 650 yards, is designed for golf, hunting and bowhunting

From the listing:The most cost-effective rangefinder you can find on the market to provide you everything you need for golfing, hunting, bowhunting and other professional application with reliable product quality and after sales service. Both models have slope function. The physical slope switch is for tournament legal. Provide high-precision distance measurement. Integrates latest functions such as continuous range readings, ARC (angle range compensation), Pin-Seeking and Flagpole-Locking Vibration (Vibrate when the flagpole is locked) and Speed Measuring.”

Price: $90

Buy here.

4. Wosports Golf Rangefinder

Featuring 650 yards range with slope and flag lock, the Wosports rangefinder takes fourth spot

From the listing:Innovative battery cover design, battery cover and range finder are inseparable. Don’t worry about missing battery cover. Meter and Yards Switching: In the boot state, Please long press “MODE” button for more than 3 seconds.”

Price: $109.99

Buy here.

5. Acegmet Golf Rangefinder

The Acegmet rangefinder features 6x magnification and can measure up to 650 yards

From the listing: “Many range finders have the function of locking on the flag, but when golfers use it on the golf course, they will find that they can only lock the grass. And our rangefinder golf is used to measure small objects in the distance. The golf laser range finder automatically excludes interference from surrounding objects. Prioritize the nearest measurement target for ranging. And when locked on the flag, the golf range finder will provide a short vibration for the golfer.”

Price: $80.84

Buy here.

6. TecTecTec Laser Golf Rangefinder VPRO500S

The second TecTecTec rangefinder that is popular amongst Amazon consumers 

From the listing:Our VPRO500S Laser Rangefinder is a premium product, measuring up to 540 yards with continuous scan mode, advanced Pin-Sensor technology, and a durable, water resistant body.Gives you the actual distance with Slope or without Slope (conforms to UGSA Rule 14-3). Advanced Pin-Sensor Technology and NEW Slope estimated distance mode.”

Price: $179.99

Buy here.

7. MiLESEEY Professional Precision Laser Golf Rangefinder

Includes slope compensation and a target range of up to 660 yards

From the listing: “Mileseey Laser range finder golf developed with TOF (Time of Flight) technology and angle slope compensation system provide the accurate angel-compensated distance for uphill and downhill shot, Flagpole Lock(scanning), distance/angle/speed measurement; Speed Measuring Range: 18 ~ 300km/h; Perfect rangefinder for Golf, hunting, engineering measurements and outdoor activities, suitable for outdoor long-distance measurement.”

Price: $88.90

Buy here.

8. TecTecTec ULT-X Golf Rangefinder

With a range of up to 1,000 yards it’s no surprise the TecTecTec ULT-X rangefinder is a popular product on Amazon

From the listing:Struggling to lock on to flags over 150 yards away? With TLT (Target Lock Technology), your ULT-X laser rangefinder will instantly catch flags at up to 450 yards and hazards at up to 1000 yards with high quality 6x magnification providing bright, clear images. Using the latest optical technology, the ULT-X gives you the most accurate and reliable measurements with an unprecedented accuracy of ± 0.3 yards at distances of up to 300 yards, ± 0.5 yards at distances of up to 600 yards and ± 1 yard at distances up to 1,000 yards.”

Price: $249.99

Buy here.

9. Pro Golf Rangefinder

Another powerful rangefinder with a 656 yard range

From the listing: “Measuring the maximum distance of 656Yard (600m), the measurement unit can be freely switched between m and YD, the measurement accuracy is ±0.54Yard, the laser wavelength is 905nm, the telescope magnification is 6X,perfect for measuring golf flags, hazards and wooded areas.Built-in rechargeable lithium battery, more convenient to use.”

Price: $79.99

Buy here.

10. Bushnell Hybrid Rangefinder

Featuring the first ever integrated laser/GPS display, the Bushnell Hybrid Rangefinder rounds out the list

From the listing:First ever integrated Laser/GPS display. Dual battery source (CR2 for Laser and USB for GPS). PinSeeker with JOLT Technology. Range to a flag: 400 yards. Accurate to 1 yard.

Price: $339.99

Buy here.

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Whats in the Bag

WITB GolfWRX Members Edition: Msd71

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Recently we put out the call for our members to submit their WITBs in our forum to be featured on the GolfWRX front page. Since then, our members have been responding in numbers!

Now it’s time to take a look at the bag of Msd71.

*Full details on the submission process can be found here, and you can submit your WITB in this forum thread.*

Member: Msd71

Msd71 WITB

Driver: TaylorMade M6 (10.5 degrees)
Shaft: Graphite Design Tour AD MJ 6 X (44.25″)

4-wood: Ping Anser (16 degrees)
Shaft: Graphite Design Tour AD GT 7 X, 42.5″

(Refinished by Continental Golf)

Hybrid:  Srixon H45 (19, 22 degrees)
Shaft: Aldila NVS Hybrid 85 X

Irons: Yonex TC Forged (5-PW)
Shafts: Nippon Modus 125 S

Wedges: Titleist Vokey SM7 (50, 56, 60 degrees)
Shafts: Nippon Modus 125 S

Putter: TaylorMade TP Black Copper Soto (35″)

Grips: Golf Pride Tour Velvet

Ball: TaylorMade TP5

Get submitting your WITB in our forum as we’ll be publishing more and more of them on our front page over the coming days and weeks.

Feel free to make it your own too by including some thoughts on your setup, your age, handicap, etc. Anything you feel is relevant!

Share your WITBs here.

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Equipment

GolfWRX Classifieds (9/24/20): TaylorMade SIM driver, Titleist 915 heads, and TaylorMade P7MC Irons

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At GolfWRX, we love golf equipment plain and simple.

We are a community of like-minded individuals that all experience and express our enjoyment for the game in many ways. It’s that sense of community that drives day-to-day interactions in the forums on topics that range from best driver to what marker you use to mark your ball, it even allows us to share another thing – the equipment itself.

One of the best ways to enjoy equipment is to experiment and whether you are looking to buy-sell-or trade (as the name suggests) you can find almost anything in the GolfWRX BST Forum. From one-off custom Scotty Cameron Circle T putters, to iron sets, wedges, and barely hit drivers, you can find it all in our constantly updated marketplace.

These are some of the latest cool finds from the GolfWRX BST, and if you are curious about the rules to participate in the BST Forum you can check them out here: GolfWRX BST Rules

Member lilceasar – Titleist 915 driver, 3 wood, & hybrids

If you need to spice up your long game, this set of 915 Titleist heads has everything you’re gonna need and comes in at a great price.

To see the full listing and additional pictures check out the link here: Titleist 915 Heads

Member Jw231176 – TaylorMade P7MC iron set

The P7MCs have already become one of the most sought after iron sets in golf at the moment, and if you are someone that likes to wait for those first “new” sets to hit the used market then snatch these up quick.

To see the full listing and additional pictures check out the link here: P7MV irons

Member TaylorMadeHunter1 – Sim 8° Driver head

Brand new and ready to ship, this 8-degree SIM head makes for the perfect spin killing driver—all you need is a shaft and you will be good to go.

To see the full listing and additional pictures check out the link here: TM SIM head

Remember that you can always browse the GolfWRX Classifieds any time here in our forums: GolfWRX Classifieds

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