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Talking with Golf Pride’s president about the new grip fitting studio at Pinehurst Resort

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The world’s leading manufacturer of golf grips is heading to Pinehurst. Golf Pride plans to open a new facility at America’s Home of Golf as early as 2019. The facility will serve as an incubator for new technology, house the company’s global management and professional teams, and most excitingly, feature a consumer grip fitting studio.

Golf Pride’s new facility will be located within the Pinehurst Resort, next to the Tom Fazio-designed Pinehurst No. 8 course. The company considered a variety of sites, but decided to leverage the location and partnership opportunity with Pinehurst Resort.

The grip fitting studio aims to replicate the service tour professionals get on the range and in the tour van on the PGA Tour. The appointment-only experience will offer personalized concierge-quality service, as well as the opportunity to test new products before they hit the market and offer feedback.

We spoke with James Ledford, president of Golf Pride, about the new facility.

GolfWRX: Where did the idea for the move to Pinehurst in general, and the fitting studio in particular, come from?

James Ledford: A lot of this comes out of what we’ve been doing since about 2012. We launched a lot of new products into the marketplace: CP2, MCC PLUS4, Tour SNSR.

We’ve been doing a lot more prototyping and golfer testing for the last four years to try to bring a lot more innovation to the marketplace. If there’s one thing I could point to, it’s that, and that’s why we’re moving to this new facility. A bunch of avid golfers from all around the world will be driving by this facility to play No. 8, so it’s a great opportunity to connect with them and share some of our latest product ideas, vet them [the ideas] and refine them.

As we started thinking about this new site, we want to take our brand to a different place and start offering experiences to golfers. That’s totally new territory for Golf Pride. We’ve been a product brand, and there isn’t necessarily a Golf Pride experience, so we’ve challenging ourselves to create that.

This area is a golf mecca. Beyond the nine courses at Pinehurst Resort, there’s like 30 golf courses within 10 to 15 minutes of our location. Notable designers. High-quality golf. And I don’t know if that’s top-of-mind to golfers like it could be, so we hope that golfers will take a fresh look at the region.

Grip selection is often something of an afterthought, isn’t it?

JL: The grip in our view is a very personal decision, but honestly a lot of golfers don’t know that much about grips. Even really avid golfers who have been playing a long time might know more about spin rate on drivers.

Guys get fit for everything now, and there’s a lot of great places to do that, but the reality is, after you’ve been fit for a whole set of clubs, you’re kind of exhausted. Our idea is a lot of the guys that make the effort to travel to Pinehurst, they’ve been fit, but they probably were not fit well for grips.

We’re not really doing it as a revenue generating type of thing, but we think we’re going to learn a lot. Grips still are not a heavily studied equipment choice. We see this as an investment in getting to understand golfers even better and coming up with even better ideas.

Is part of the goal here battling some perceptions about the golf grip?

JL: All the power and all the accuracy is translated through that one touchpoint with the golf club, and it matters. If you go from a standard taper to to a plus-four taper, you’re going to feel that impact. Grips matter, but a lot times people don’t know how they matter.

A lot of people see their grip as a sort of handle. We’re trying to transition from “handle” to “equipment choice.” And it may be as important as some of the other equipment choices you’re making, but people haven’t learned structured ways to make that choice. We want to develop the easiest, fastest way to make good decisions about the best grip for each golfer.

What will the studio fitting experience look like?

JL: We’re treating the development of this fitting experience like the development of a new product. We do it in a number of settings, but it isn’t a paid service we offer, so we’re going through concept development right now. We’re going to be testing different ways to walk golfers through, leveraging what we know works on tour and for our OEM partners. But we’re going to try and reinvent the process; we’re not just going to cobble something together and put it out there.

So it’s not going to be “just show up and screw around with some grips?”

JL: That’s a great way to put what it’s not going to be. But I think we have to recognize that a lot of grip choice is that. I do a lot of secret shopping. I wander around golf shops and listen and meet with associates. I saw an avid golfer come in a store once and he was meeting with an associate, and the grip discussion didn’t get any more complicated than, “I like blue ones.” And I think sometimes that’s where the grip knowledge is, and we really want to fight against that. Blue is the last thing we should be talking about, we have to start with performance. We want to turn this into a structured problem-solving session, so that you come out with a grip that complements your game.

Grips are kind of like footwear. It’s not a perfect analogy, but when we look at the most inspiring footwear brands out there, there three elements. It starts with performance, but then there’s this intangible element of “what feels good on your feet might not feel good on my feet.” And with grips, all of hands are different, so there’s a lot of variables there. Then, the last element is style. We’re trying to introduce a bit of style. So, with the fitting, we have to work through those three elements.

I think we have to go into this with humility as well. To go really deep into the fitting process; to be willing to really spend some time with some guys so that we can get it right. We’re hoping that it makes us smarter when we only have five or 10 minutes at the end of a fitting with a manufacturer or Golftec or Hot Stix. So when you only have five minutes, we want to know how to walk through that. We want to make the best use of that time at the end of a fitting and do better with that time than we do today. I think that’s a secondary objective for us [with the fitting studio].

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Zach Cabra WITB 2018

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Equipment is accurate as of the 2018 Houston Open (3/27/2018).

Driver: Callaway GBB Epic Sub Zero (10.5 degrees)
Shaft: Aldila Rogue Max 75X

3 Wood: Titleist 917F3 (15 degrees)
Shaft: Mitsubishi Diamana White d+ 80X

Irons: Mizuno MP-Fli-Hi (2, 3), Piretti Limited Edition (4-PW)
Shaft: Aerotech SteelFiber hls880 (2), Aerotech SteelFiber i80 (3-PW)

Wedges: Callaway MD3 Milled (50-10S, 54-10S), Callaway Mack Daddy PM (60-10)
Shaft: KBS Tour 125 S+

Putter: Piretti 801 CU
Grip: Piretti Pistol

WITB Notes: We spotted Cabra with 15 clubs in the bag ahead of the 2018 Houston Open. We’ll update this post when we confirm the 14 clubs we used in competition.

Discussion: See what GolfWRX members are saying about Cabra’s clubs.

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Equipment

TaylorMade is releasing its TP Black Copper putters to retail

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We first spotted TaylorMade’s new TP Black Copper putters at the 2018 PGA Show, but the company wasn’t saying anything about specs, release date, pricing, technologies, nothing.

Then, we all saw Rory McIlroy switch to a TaylorMade TP Black Copper Soto proto putter ahead of the 2018 Arnold Palmer Invitational, which he won by 3 strokes. Of course, Rory’s specific Soto putter was made with a special insert. Click here for all of the info and specs on Rory’s putter.

Now, TaylorMade is releasing retail versions to the public in four models — Juno, Soto, Ardmore 3 and Mullen 2 — which will hit stores on 4/20 selling for $199 with a standard Black Lamkin Crossbone Pistol grip, and $219 with a SuperStroke Pistol 1.0 GT grip.

The putters have a triple-plated finish; nickel, then copper, then black chrome, according to TaylorMade’s Bill Price (Senior Director of Product Creation for Wedges and Putters). They’re then hand-polished to achieve the antique and non-glare finish. Overtime, and especially on the sole, Price says the copper will tarnish or oxidize to unveil a gradually more antique and rustic look. Rory McIlroy himself actually had a hand in inspiring the new finish.

“Rory was talking about certain finishes,” Price said. “He wanted something non-glare, with an antique type finish…. he wanted to be reminded of something old school.” 

Thus, the TP Black Copper finish was born.

Also, the putters are machined from 303 stainless steel, they have adjustable sole weights and have the company’s familiar Pure Roll inserts in their faces. Check out more info about each of TaylorMade’s TP Black Copper models below.

Juno

  • Hosel: #1 L-Neck
  • Dexterity: RH/LH
  • Toe Hang: 36 degrees
  • Offset: Full shaft
  • Length: 34 and 35 inches
  • Head Weight: 346 grams
  • Loft: 3.5 degrees
  • Lie Angle: 70 degrees

Soto

  • Hosel: Long Curve
  • Dexterity: RH
  • Toe Hang: 47 degrees
  • Offset: Full shaft
  • Length: 34 and 35 inches
  • Head Weight: 346 grams
  • Loft: 3.5 degrees
  • Lie Angle: 70 degrees

Ardmore 3

  • Hosel: #1 L-Neck
  • Dexterity: RH/LH
  • Toe Hang: 12 degrees
  • Offset: Full shaft
  • Length: 34 and 35 inches
  • Head Weight: 350 grams
  • Loft: 3.5 degrees
  • Lie Angle: 70 degrees

Mullen 3

  • Hosel: Double Bend
  • Dexterity: RH/LH
  • Toe Hang: Face Balanced
  • Offset: 3/4 shaft
  • Length: 34 and 35 inches
  • Head Weight: 355 grams
  • Loft: 3.5 degrees
  • Lie Angle: 70 degrees
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Equipment

Spotted: Fourteen Golf CF218 fairway woods, and FH Forged V1 wedges

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We spotted new shallow-faced CF218 fairway woods (15 and 17 degrees) from Fourteen Golf on the range at TPC San Antonio on Tuesday at the 2018 Valero Texas Open, each equipped with Graphite Design TS918 shafts. Also on the range from the company were new FH “Future Heritage” Forged V1 wedges with a different, more raw look than the ones we saw in October at the Shriners Open.

Check out more photos below, and see what GolfWRX Members are saying about the clubs in our forums.

Fourteen Golf CF218 fairway woods

Fourteen Golf’s new FH Forged V1 wedges

Click here for more photos and discussion.

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