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Adidas “actively seeking buyer” for TaylorMade

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The Adidas Group has made its plans for TaylorMade Golf very clear. It “will actively seek a buyer for the remainder of its golf business, which mainly consists of the TaylorMade brand, as well as the Adams and Ashworth brands.”

The announcement came in Adidas’ 2016 Quarter 1 earnings report, which was rosey for the German athletic apparel company. Currency-neutral sales increased 22 percent in Q1, with accelerating momentum in both the Adidas and Reebok brands. TaylorMade, on the other hand, saw currency-neutral revenues decrease 1 percent, as growth in TaylorMade’s core products “was more than offset by sales declines at Ashworth and Adams.” Product margins were also lower at TaylorMade, although they’re expected to rebound.

“TaylorMade is a very viable business,” said Herbert Hainer, Adidas Group CEO. “However, we decided that now is the time to focus even more on our core strength in the athletic footwear and apparel market. “With its leadership position in the industry and the turnaround plan gaining traction, which is clearly reflected in the top- and bottom-line improvements recorded in Q1 as well as recent market share gains, I am convinced that TaylorMade offers attractive growth opportunities in the future. At the same time, the planned divestiture will allow us to reduce complexity and focus our efforts on those areas of our business that offer the highest return and where we can have the biggest impact in reaching our consumers and winning their loyalty for the Adidas and Reebok brands.”

According to the release, Adidas plans to keep a foothold in golf through its footwear and apparel business.

“Going forward, the Group intends to focus its efforts in this market segment on further strengthening its position as a leading provider of innovative golf footwear and apparel through the Adidas Golf brand,” the company said in its press release.

A final decision on the divestiture of TaylorMade, including the detailed terms of a potential agreement, is subject to approval by the Supervisory Board.

View the full Adidas Group release here

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71 Comments

71 Comments

  1. Jack

    May 20, 2016 at 8:02 pm

    Just bought a used set of RSI TPs w/ kbs c tapers for $340. That should tell you everything that is wrong w/ their business model. 1 model old premier set…and a $800 discount (thank you fellow GOLFWRX’r… I appreciate it BIG time!)

    Why would I buy PSI when I can get the RSI TPs for that price!?

  2. Matt

    May 7, 2016 at 11:44 pm

    Sold.

  3. Gorden

    May 5, 2016 at 9:29 pm

    Maybe the Slazenger/Dunlop group can come back and take over the Taylormade ball plant……be nice to have American made Maxfli golf balls back again. And as far as Ashworth, I would hope someone jumps on them and keeps the sizing the same, golf was made to be played with shirts an inch to wide in shoulders and selves that almost reach the elbows….

  4. don d.

    May 5, 2016 at 7:59 am

    Great equipment. Look at all the players who always seem to be hitting the latest and greatest TM drivers. The golf business is always evolving and it really does not matter to us addicts. All you need is a ball and a stick and let’s go play!

  5. Piter

    May 5, 2016 at 6:40 am

    Don’t really understand why TM is always so critized, for bringing out new models each year? Been playing since 2011 and as any new golfer I blame my high h’cap on the equipment, surely my beautiful swing is not at fault.. Am a keen reader of equipment reviews therefore and it seems to me that just about every big manufacturer brings out new versions of their clubs evry year, so why slag TM? (Been meaning to check some of these model updates to see how often the weight moves from the back to the front to the bottom to the sides and back to the back again, but that’s a different story.) One complaint I read I think of TM is having less loft on clubs than most competitors but to me that is the PGAs fault for not standardizing what loft each club should have. Anyway, TM seems to work for Jason Day so cant be all bad. No TM fan per se, though I just hit my longest drive ever yesterday (285m) with a TM driver, but it is the only TM in the bag among 5 other brands.

    • Summit

      May 9, 2016 at 5:16 pm

      The arguments against Taylormade are for many reasons.
      Their product cycles have been less than a year, and they have been accused of flooding the market with product. While other companies do this as well, Taylormade is best known for it and it has come back to bite them now and Adidas has realized it. The new president of Callaway outlined it real well at the 2015 PGA show I believe. By over producing product, club prices are reduced in the market faster. With the dropping prices of golf equipment, consumers are now purchasing more and more product on discount every year. While this is great for consumers who are getting the current year’s product at a discount, it drives the average sell price of products down, reducing margins for manufacturers. Sure they sell more product, but the number of golfers buying product at the new introductory price decreases, thus making the company less money overall, as Taylormade has seen over the last 3 years.
      The President of Callaway Golf mentioned that their company has done that as well, and has now shifted gears over the last 3 years. Their products are now mostly 2-year life cycles, with limited run quantities, meaning that they will typically sell out of equipment before any major price cuts. It seems to be working as they are one of the only profitable companies in the industry now.

  6. SPANKY

    May 4, 2016 at 11:39 pm

    This is one of the worst web sites of all time- they should blather less about bs like this and talk more about why ALL YOU HACKERS are still HACKERS and what’s with all the asians who refuse to figure our that a rake isn’t for cooking a rat over the club houses artificial fire pit!

    • Brad

      May 5, 2016 at 11:10 am

      Your attempt at trolling was an epic fail to say the least….

      If you are going to try and poke the bear, you could have at least used proper grammar, and spelled words correctly. For a website that you claim is so horrible, it is interesting that you took the time to read an article and then proceed to write a poorly worded comment on it. Seems like an awful large waste of time…

      Since you are apparently such an amazing golfer, shouldn’t you be out on the course shooting a 59 or something right about now? Get a life dude.

    • Brandon

      May 5, 2016 at 2:40 pm

      You seem like a joy to be around!

    • Forsbrand

      May 8, 2016 at 4:04 am

      Come on man no need for racism on here please! There’s enough fighting in the world over religion at the moment.

      Have some fun by all means but let’s keep it clean, we have some young members on here.

      Peace out!

  7. Nath

    May 4, 2016 at 10:18 pm

    Adidas squeezed TM for every last penny to near death of the company and the industry for that matter, this process has been happening for the last five years.

  8. Pe'a

    May 4, 2016 at 9:43 pm

    TM take the M and turn it up side down that’s who’s gonna buy the company. With TW as a face of that company boom TM can make quick turn around. It’s all about who’s wearing this whose hitting this and that club. But that’s if TW cut off Nike. Just a thought lol $1 hole? ????

    • painter33

      May 9, 2016 at 10:59 am

      Oh, you mean like Air Jordan is to Nike. Not an altogether bad idea, although I can’t imagine TW using the clubs.

  9. Goof

    May 4, 2016 at 9:13 pm

    TRUMP TRUMP TRUMP. Donald’s kids could run the biz.

  10. tlmck

    May 4, 2016 at 8:17 pm

    As long as they continue to make Adicross I do not care.

  11. Cdub

    May 4, 2016 at 6:06 pm

    Taylormade will find a buyer no problem. An altered business model would do magic for their profitability. Adams and ashworth are dead brands.

    I’m surprised they are selling the whole lot vs. divesting Adams and Ashworth and “restructuring” Taylor Made.

    My money is on UA for Taylor Made.

    Should be interesting

  12. Bobcat pee

    May 4, 2016 at 5:52 pm

    Everyone on golfwrx chip in $100 and we buy it? Could then have some input on what gets put out there.

    • Goof

      May 4, 2016 at 9:07 pm

      Yeah. Then we can have a new Driver every MONTH from the new TM for sure. lmao you goof

  13. Slimeone

    May 4, 2016 at 4:41 pm

    It’s like the TM brand is now following the same pattern as the TM product cycles and being run out at bargain prices. It seems karmic.

  14. Mark

    May 4, 2016 at 3:57 pm

    Adidas have obviously seen TM peak and want out before they shrink while still supporting an expensive tour staff and R&D budget. Every driver maker has a few golden years then slumps. Ping have been the only ones to buck the trend.

    • Mike

      May 5, 2016 at 8:08 am

      yeah Ping has always been average

    • Summit

      May 9, 2016 at 5:18 pm

      I wouldn’t say Ping has been the only one. While Titleist and Callaway have seen slow years, they have really only seen them during lulls in the market. They have both been premier brands along with Ping. That’s partially why all 3 hold their value better than any other manufacturers.

  15. Blmarlin

    May 4, 2016 at 3:56 pm

    Perhaps the Royal Lifestyle guy should buy them….

  16. MGB

    May 4, 2016 at 2:10 pm

    I really do not think many of you read past the headline in these articles. The reason sales are down is not because of Taylormade or Adidas Golf clothing but because of increasingly declining sales from Ashworth and Adams, two smaller branded companies owned in the same portfolio. I think it would be amazing for Taylormade to be purchased and rebranded like Titleist – focused on high quality materials and R&D, slow to development and release of new products, and focus on the top 70% of income playing customer base.

  17. Andy

    May 4, 2016 at 1:52 pm

    adidas sank TM. Kept asking for more profits, which led to pulling forward of product, which finally caught up with them. Should have stopped being “yes men” and acted more responsible to the consumer. adidas selling TM might be the best thing going for them.

  18. Forsbrand

    May 4, 2016 at 1:05 pm

    Than you for brining yesterday’s news tomorrow?

    This story is so stale, certainly in stock booking circles

  19. Hack

    May 4, 2016 at 12:57 pm

    I don’t think there is a viable marriage with the apparel or club companies people want to throw around. Look for the final suitor to be a private equity firm you have never heard of.

  20. Gary

    May 4, 2016 at 12:23 pm

    Callaway is licking their chops now. Buy Taylormade, take their R & D and then make Taylormade a “store line” club (for Walmart, Costco).

    • Weekend Duffer

      May 4, 2016 at 1:55 pm

      Callaway will be next if they keep releasing 10 drivers every year

  21. Mike Honcho

    May 4, 2016 at 12:21 pm

    Adams will be the next Golfsmith brand. Bob Parsons will buy TM, TM becomes little sister to PXG.

  22. Mike Honcho

    May 4, 2016 at 12:20 pm

    Adams will be the next Dick’s / Edwin Watts / Golfsmith brand. Bob Parsons will buy TM. TM will be a little sister to PXG.

  23. Hoops

    May 4, 2016 at 12:14 pm

    Symptom of the bigger issues in the golf industry. Too many brands. Too much product. Money being drained out of the industry to players and managers. Not enough consumers to support everything. Supply much greater than demand. So there will be casualties, sure as night follows day.

    Golf is not “cool”, not attractive to younger consumers any more. Golf insiders say Spieth and McIlroy will appeal to younger generations because they are young themselves….but they are a long way from being “cool”. Nice guys, fabulous golfers….but not “cool”. Nothing about golf attracts the kids now…dodgy clothing, expensive clubs, archaic clubhouse rules, takes too long to play, etc etc. So overall, no surprise Adidas is looking to get rid of TM, Ashworth and Adams. Much easier money to be made in other sports and categories.

    • Kenneth

      May 4, 2016 at 12:57 pm

      I’m pretty sure Jordan and Rory are “cool”… that whole generation who are kind of friendly and competitive at the same time is a great breath of fresh air…

      • Hoops

        May 5, 2016 at 6:44 am

        That’s the point…..people who are already golfers think Rory & Spieth are cool..and compared to most other pro golfers they are. But to young non-golfers who are yet to get into the sport, they are distinctly un-cool in the wider perspective….clothing, hairstyles, repetitive bland interviews, no intense rivalries (eg Borg/McEnroe) etc etc. Until golf understands how non-golfers view it, it cannot truly address the slump in participation.

  24. Rob

    May 4, 2016 at 11:15 am

    I know Taylormade takes a lot heat for their product releases and heavy marketing tactics but over the last 10 years they have done a lot of good for the game of golf. Their strategy of adding new clubs every year and offering previous years model at a discount price fundamentally changed the equipment industry. “New” clubs could now be had for used club prices which allows budget conscious people the opportunity to upgrade their clubs or allows people new to the game to buy new clubs and a fraction of the cost of buying brand new. Taylormade has also been a leader in club technology. Look at how far they have pushed the envelope in club head design, club material, adjust-ability etc etc. over the last 10 years. Taylormade has never been afraid to test the limits of their clubs and we are all better for it. Just look at how forgiving most of their clubs are now compared to 10 years ago. The technological advancements we see across all manufacturers is courtesy of Taylormade. We could all do without the heavy “XXX yards further than previous models” marketing tactics but take a step back and look at the contributions they have made to the equipment industry, they really have revolutionized it.

    • Aaron

      May 4, 2016 at 12:54 pm

      Sorry Rob but your statement is indicative of the ignorance within the golf product and manufacturers landscape. They did this to themselves with a business model that cannibalized their own product. By releasing clubs in such quick fashion you devalued the prior model and therefore reduced your overall sales numbers and significantly reduced your already thin margins. You continue that methodology over a handful of years and, voila, you are now for sale… I called this out multiple times over the past 5 years and it doesn’t take an MBA or a business genius to understand the multitude of flaws with TM’s model… After the release of the R9 woods they also lacked any true innovation. Everything that came after was a recycled tech or a borrowed idea tweaked in a TM way. You then pile onto their books the huge list of pros paid to be ambassadors of their product and with weak retail sales it was just too much… I don’t dislike TM but they strayed from the successful business model of the early 2000’s up to about 2010 that gave them the market share and energy around there brand and they became a marketing joke. Just jump on this site and you will find countless arguments about their direction and purely stupid release cycles. They went from leader to laughing stock because of their own hubris and greed.

      • Rob

        May 4, 2016 at 4:25 pm

        I agree with your statements to a degree. You are right, they may have shot themselves in the foot with their year over year product cycles and it doesn’t take a genius to figure out how that will hurt the bottom line but it was taking the initial step in that direction that changed the industry as a whole.

        There have been plenty of innovations since the R9, most of which we cant see. Innovations in material combinations, weight distribution, MOI, CG…. All in the name of forgiveness and making golf an easier game for the masses. Regardless of whether or not you agree with their marketing practices and business model they have been an industry leader in club design and almost every other manufacturer has had to play catch up.

        I don’t like their tactics any more than the next guy, but to me, those are two very positive impacts they have had on the game.

      • Art Vandelay

        May 4, 2016 at 6:54 pm

        Aaron, what do you know from reading drivel on a website and attempting to extrapolate that into your knowledge? It is clear, very clear, that you are totally ignorant of any true mechanical engineering knowledge that’s tied to golf product manufacturing. The business model is sadly based on parent company demands, no arguments can be made against its market MAP pricing value erosion. You are right about that and the hopeless marketing machine, but no clear innovation since the R9??? That is so proposterously ignorant and indicative of some of the delusions readily accepted on this comical website, it hurts to even acknowledge your lack of understanding in this arena. You are just so off base, truly. Great run down about the other stuff but stick to what you know my friend, even companies like Wilson have drivers out now that could probably beat an R9 on Byron.

    • Shank

      May 4, 2016 at 1:08 pm

      They just re-badge clubs every year and call them new!

      A good set of irons will last for years but they tell people otherwise!

  25. TOM

    May 4, 2016 at 10:39 am

    well there we have it. Suspicions confirmed.

  26. Weekend Duffer

    May 4, 2016 at 9:53 am

    Will this delay next month’s M3 release?

  27. Stoo

    May 4, 2016 at 9:46 am

    The one person who makes sense for TM is………

    TRUMP.

  28. Insider

    May 4, 2016 at 8:59 am

    totally could see UA buying Taylormade, dropping the name, and putting UnderArmour on the clubs

    • Scooter McGavin

      May 4, 2016 at 9:41 am

      I doubt it. You don’t just scrap a name with decades of reputation as a leader in the industry and slap on a name that people have never associated with the product. Not going to speak to whether UA would buy them, but that would be an enormous risk to spend millions or billions on a company and just to toss all of the reputation it has built out the window and start from square 1.

      • Mike

        May 5, 2016 at 8:13 am

        exactly. Many other major brands exist with an apparel partner – cobra/puma, titlest/footjoy, Taylormade/adidas, etc

        can’t see why Taylormade/Underarmor couldn’t co-exist

    • Stoo

      May 4, 2016 at 9:45 am

      That is the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard.

    • LabraeGolfer

      May 4, 2016 at 10:16 am

      Or they could just run it as a separate division that would make sense. I heard that Under Armour was interested in Cleveland Golf. I just heard the other day that Cleveland was going to put the focus of Woods and irons to Srixon and leave the Cleveland branding for the wedges and flatsticks it makes a lot of sense to me.

    • steve

      May 4, 2016 at 11:46 am

      Why would UA want this mess? Golf equipment companies make little to no money. Nike a UA rival in the same space, losses money in the Golf equipment biz. All UA would have to do is look at Nike and say what is the benefit for us.
      Golf is a shrinking business, the Tiger effect that carried alot of golf courses, equipment companies is over. These new guys on tour, albeit super talented are not going to have a effect no matter how many times they tell you golf is in a good place. Ratings are down, sales are down, courses are struggling. What applies to horse racing and nascar applies here. How do you make a small fortune in the Golf business, start with a big fortune.

      • Zorro

        May 4, 2016 at 1:36 pm

        All this is very true. Golf course sustainability is even darker than the equipment manufacturer’s. GolfNow makes the game affordable for ordinary people, but very difficult for ownership to operate a business.

      • Goof

        May 4, 2016 at 9:12 pm

        Exactly, Steve. Well said. Besides, what would UA do with Spieth’s contract? Give him more to cut it, or hope that he comes over and uses TM? that’ll be a laugh

  29. mitch

    May 4, 2016 at 8:56 am

    and flooding the market leads to this..

  30. steve

    May 4, 2016 at 8:49 am

    Their selling because their bleeding red. Why would anyone want to buy this? It is buying a promblem. Golf equipment business is not a good place to make money.

    • Scooter McGavin

      May 4, 2016 at 10:10 am

      For the right price it could work. You can keep the name and reputation, streamline, cut out waste, etc. and make it viable again. I am by no means an expert on the subject, but I would assume that the millions they pay out to tour pros probably doesn’t provide the intended return on investment. I think the same question could be posed regarding what they spend on advertising.

    • kingfish

      May 4, 2016 at 10:21 am

      They’re and They’re

      sorry bothers me.

    • Nolanski

      May 4, 2016 at 10:25 am

      Somebody would be buying the brand, not the business model.

  31. James G

    May 4, 2016 at 8:41 am

    Nike should buy TM and quit making clubs themselves. Nike-TM could be huge. Though, I suspect TM may not even align with an apparel/shoe company. Could be bought and re-established sort of like Titleist-Footjoy.

    • cb

      May 4, 2016 at 9:24 am

      but you also have to take into the account that whoever buys TM will also probably have to pick up the tab for all the players sponsored under TM

  32. Milo

    May 4, 2016 at 8:33 am

    How much do they want? I’ll buy it!

  33. DJ

    May 4, 2016 at 8:30 am

    Please not under armour. My stock will tank!

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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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