I came across Michael Martinez’ Instagram account a couple of months back and was instantly impressed by what I saw. The U.S. Marine Corps veteran routinely posts club, shoe, and head cover designs. The account, msquare.design, is loaded with some truly interesting creations.
Here are a few examples, so you can get a taste of Martinez’s work.
I wanted to get to know Martinez a little better; and he was kind enough to answer a few questions for us.
Tell us a little bit about your background…
I’m a U.S. Marine Corps Veteran: Signed Nov. 93’ – Entered July 94’/Discharge May 98’, and I volunteered to serve in the Marine Corps Reserve from ‘98 to ‘00. I transferred to multiple schools/universities before landing on my true passion: industrial/product design. I have an Associate’s degree in Fine Arts from Grand Rapids Community College (Grand Rapids, MI) 2005. I also hold a BA graduate of Kendall College of Art and Design – Ferris State University/ Grand Rapids. I graduated with a degree in Fine Arts with a concentration in Industrial Design in 2008.
I also caddied at a local country club. It would provide me with a good amount of information regarding club selection/brand loyalty/buying power/longevity/etc. It was a little different for both men and woman. They definitely approached things differently in both gaming and style. Not a lot of the woman focused on brand loyalty but were more into color and material selections. I did find that both men and women were extremely competitive and took the game very seriously. I met a lot of good people…and some really mean people!
I focused on whether or not they understood weight positioning and ball flight. Even if the user was even really focused on the visual aesthetics when making a initial purchase. I was trying to implement a new way of positioning weights on the sole of the driver. This was around the time TaylorMade introduced the R7 with external weight ports. I wanted to conceal the weights and still give the user the ability to position weights for a fade or draw. My club design was based on a driver Tom Wishon developed years earlier 715CLC; he had strategically positioned a weight on an elbow. It required using a tool and the weight was not changeable. Wishon believed the average golfer would benefit more with a heavier weight, rather than fumbling around with lighter weights. My idea…I wanted to be able to swap the weights and have the ability to turn the internal weight/elbow without using a tool. The spin dial would be detented allowing the user to position his/her desired flight pattern.
Anyway, I later went on to intern at New Balance, where I was working with their running team and then went on to intern at Philips Respironics (Pittsburgh) working on medical equipment. I currently design for one of the largest power tool manufacturers in the World. Our product portfolio consists of hand held power tools to outdoor power equipment.
Tell me about your relationship with golf and how it fits into your life
Watching the Masters in the mid-80s and early 90s with my father and brother: We had no clue how to play, nor did we ever pick up a club. We were so fascinated by the course conditions and the competition of the game.
Golf became more of an idea to really play around the Faldo days…It wasn’t until we started watching Nick win back to back Masters. So, my brother and I would pretend to play golf outside…so my dad came up with a silly idea of making a club. My dad loved to build things with his hands and dabble with wood working projects. One day, he thought he would make his own persimmon driver head. Didn’t work out all that well…he ended up cutting off a portion of his thumb on a table saw. He never finished the project, but today he’s truly a golf nut!
For me, shoes have always been a passion. During that time Nike was getting a lot of attention. I would watch whoever was sponsored by Nike (Curtis Strange). I was a day one Nike guy! I’ve been a Nike fan since a man named Michael Jordan laced them up in the black/red Air Jordan 1s.
My first golf experience didn’t happen until I was at Camp Lejeune Paradise Point Golf Course. While I was in the service, I kept hearing about how my father and brother were taking up golf and taking trips around Michigan to play….I want to say my dad was playing some old Walter Hagens and he had a sweet all leather red bag with the Hagen logo.
My first time ever playing golf, I wasn’t so much interested in playing and perfecting my skills, I was more interested in the technology at the time (it was the introduction of titanium clubs) and cast iron clubs by Ping. For some odd reason the irons really stood out to me. They were extremely oversized irons with white paint-fill. All I know is I really wanted them even though I had no clue how to play the game of golf. So instead of purchasing the Ping Zing 2 Deep Cavity Back or Ping ISI Nickel (last nickel head produced by Ping), I settled for a low-profile PING Ti Hat.
How did you get into design?
I was attending school full-time in Detroit and working part-time in the NW Suburbs. I was looking for an apartment closer to my work; I found an apartment really close to work, but the apartment lease was way out of my budget. It was more for business professionals in the area. The leaser offered to help me find a more financially suitable place close to my employment. The leaser inquired to learn more about me and my future goals. See, he and his wife had kids roughly my age who were also attending school; so, they offered to lease a portion of their home in an affluent part of Detroit. It wasn’t something they had typically done.
I just think they saw something in me…whereas they wanted me to succeed in both school and work. He and his wife were expats from Germany who were working for one of the Big Three in Detroit. He was an automotive designer (exterior/interior) who had worked for Porsche. My best guess was his focus was automotive interiors, b/c he had one of his first designed Porsches in his garage, whereas he had showed me the examples of his design. His home office was decorated with his automotive drawings, which really fascinated me! I wanted to learn more, because I wasn’t all that excited about international business and mechanical engineering. He suggested I take a few fine art courses. I did exactly that, and I was hooked!
What are a few of your favorite creations?
In my professional career ; it would be creating new Visual Brand Languages (VBL) for a couple power tool companies. As far as golf goes, I would say my collaboration with Ben Hogan in 2015 (PTx Irons). I happened to get a hold of Terry Koehler who introduced me to a former Adams Golf employee who was running the R&D department by himself. I sent him my portfolio, and I was off and running as a freelance designer.
I started off by doing initial concept designs for their hybrid line and irons. They already had the Ft Worth irons and TK wedges ready to launch, but they were looking to introduce a cavity-back iron for 2016 with a modern aesthetic…still keeping within the Hogan classic look. They had me in the initial phase of the design process, so I tried my best to sketch out as many thumbnail sketches as possible. I would make refinements to the ones they thought were viable, and then I would move on to other projects that were in the product line-up. It wasn’t too long after that…some of the team members at Ben Hogan left. They brought in a new engineer who I believe also came in from Adams Golf (they had their own split to TM).
Meanwhile (2016), the new/replacement engineer at BH offered me a freelance job outside of BH to assist him in doing wedge project for company that mainly focuses on training aids or game-improvement clubs. I finished at BH in January of 2017.
Cool. What came next?
I went on the search again, and through networking I found a few companies I would go on to do iron designs (Japanese market – sells Japanese production clubs here in US) and putter (up and coming designer – serious Insta following) designs.
I ended up catching up with a gentleman that was part of the wedge project I worked on earlier in 2016. He introduced me to another designer (who had ties to another company that existed in the FT Worth area) in his company, I submitted my sample portfolio once again…then I was off and running doing initial sketches for a new line of products for 2017/2018. I would say this has been one of my more consistent jobs as a freelance designer.
Since then I have been doing fun things on Insta. My initial gallery was sketches of clubs/irons/drivers, but I wasn’t getting followers from the golf community. Most of my hashtags were aimed towards the art community. It wasn’t until Dormie Workshop started running a contest called Cover vs Cover, it changed for me…I came in second in their initial contest. I was pretty bummed! I must have pestered the Bishop brothers with all my submissions for the first contest. I had A LOT of ideas.
Once they announced the 2nd annual Cover vs Cover contest, I wanted to make sure people saw my work whether or not I was selected as a finalist or not. They selected me right off the bat as a finalist, but the only problem was…I only had 100-plus followers. Where was I going to get the votes?! So, I tried my best to post all my golf ideas (bad or good). Fortunately, it worked: I came in first in their 2nd Annual Cover vs Cover contest.
Many people have asked whether or not I’m concerned about my ideas being taken or altered in some sense. Companies know there isn’t much I can do…For instance, I was a graduate out of design school (2009) and submitted a concept proposal to SKLZ Golf about a trainer aid called the Perfect Shot – Where as the user makes perfect iron contact with ball. The device was a U-Shaped mat and you positioned the ball in between the legs of the mat…the user would be trained to hit down on the ball (perfect compression) rather than scoop or hit directly behind the ball. I still have the letter of denial from SKLZ to move the product forward, but it wasn’t until 2011 they brought out the Ball-First Trainer (ball striking mat) featuring Rick Smith. Ain’t that a kick in the ass!
So, I do have concerns with designs being shared or taken…. it’s already happened. A lot of these smaller business are doing the same thing as me…fighting for recognition amongst the golf community.
Talk about other designs, what golf club do you find the most aesthetically pleasing?
In terms of irons: King Cobra Forged SS Irons (softness/organic appeal of the design is clean with the logo centrally located and framed). Nike Forged Blades (simplicity with a hint of sophistication/refinement of the design–logo placement is just done right; with the Swoosh molded in). Cleveland 588 MB Forged Irons (such a visually pleasing iron with the bold script font and the soft body line that runs along the lower qtr. of the iron head). TaylorMade P730 (the machined/milled channel appearance gives it that utilitarian appearance, but its ART at the highest degree). Srixon Z 945 (this is modern design with the variable chamfer – so strong and bold in design…apparent in modern automotive design with strong character/bone lines). Mizuno MP-5 or MP-18 (stunners! What more can you say about the design…these are more than a classic look! It’s a work of art much like a highly crafted samurai sword).
Would you rather design clubs, head covers, or shoes?
Oh, this is a tough question! I lean more towards designing hard goods like golf clubs, but I have a lot of fun designing soft good products. The majority of my Instagram gallery is all in fun–things I would find funny or interesting–items I would like to see in my own bag! I try to think out of the box, breaking the mold of traditional looking headcovers, shoes, and golf clubs. I think people want to more options…more customization! Much like the shoe game, they want the best of the best things to hit the market. Some golfers not only want what the pros are gaming, but they want it to better, no matter the cost. They also know that they will get their return on certain items through online auction sites.
What do you think about the current state of golf apparel and footwear?
I love the fact that there are more options. When I started playing, it was mostly Footjoy that stood out to me, but I have always dreamed up having some type athletic style golf shoe. I always wondered why companies like Nike/adidas/Puma never got in the game earlier. It was that type of styling I’ve always wanted to see in the game.
What do you think about the rise in custom club designs?
There seems to be a market for it at this time, and seems to be really hot! Customized golf gear is extremely hot, so much so in the soft goods area. The accessory companies are all fighting for the same market share, and it’s by any means necessary. That’s either by replicating another brands style or methodology. I do think the vast majority of consumers will soon realize the difference in quality and craftsmanship…sooner or later some of those companies won’t be able to sell at a higher price point, because the product they are providing isn’t up to par with the top tier companies.
What would you like to be doing down the road? What’s the dream?
My number one goal coming out of school was always to work for one of the major golf companies. Do I think it will happen one day? Maybe! I now know…there are other avenues to designing golf clubs. It appears some of the companies outsource some of the work elsewhere; it could mean working for a major design consultancy one day. But, I’m happy with what I do today…power tools are exciting! I learn things every day, and our product range is so vast.
GolfWRX Morning 9: Pro overcomes bad math to win | Koepka | Rory may not limit Euro Tour schedule after all
By Ben Alberstadt (email@example.com)
December 13, 2018
Good Thursday morning, golf fans. (featured image credit: PGA.com)
1. Overcoming bad math
Craig Dolch writing for PGA.com with the details of, a computational error that ultimately worked out in a club pro’s favor at the PGA Tournament Series.
Meanwhile, early at the Alfred Dunhill Championship…
3. Brooks on top, chip on shoulder
Eamon Lynch examines some of the criticism of Brooks Koepka and the reality as he sees it.
4. Rory to remain European Tour fixture?
Despite suggestions to the contrary…
While nobody knows what was said, it seems Pelley was pleased with the result.
5. Highlights from Valentino Dixon
A few of the best sections of Michael Williams’ excellent interview with Valentino Dixon, who served 27 years in prison for a crime he did not commit – and took up golf course-related artwork as a hobby during that time.
6. The Rexys!
Rex Hoggard handed out his (annual?) Rexy Awards for outstanding achievements in the world of golf.
Here are two
7. GolfTV signs European Tour deal
Sports Pro Media report...”The wide-ranging deal with European Tour includes international multi-platform live rights, in selected territories, to all European Tour events and the next two Ryder Cups, as well as Discovery collaborating to further grow the golf body’s digital platforms. The partnership will bring coverage of the European Tour and Ryder Cup together on GolfTV.”
“From January 2019, Discovery will hold exclusive European Tour linear and digital rights in major markets including Italy, Romania, Russia,and Turkey. Additionally, GolfTV has digital streaming rights in Germany, Austria and Switzerland. Portugal, Balkan countries, Eurasia, India, Latin America, Indonesia, Thailand, Singapore and a number of territories in Asia.”
8. The Ryder Cup is never over
Shane Ryan points out the competition has swelled in scale, as has the hype. Is this a good thing?
9. Maybe stagger the announcements, Rolex/PR folks?
(also, earthquake) The below via D.A. Points on Twitter.
Kevin Kisner reveals the level of hatred former college teammates have for Patrick Reed
Patrick Reed hasn’t made many new friends recently after he was the fulcrum of the messy fallout after the USA’s heavy defeat in the 2018 Ryder Cup. Reed’s outspokenness at the time didn’t provoke Tour players to voice their personal opinion on the current Masters Champion, but this week Kevin Kisner aired a stark revelation of how the Texan is view by his former college teammates.
Speaking to Golf Digest, Kisner talked about the level of animosity that Reed’s ex-college teammates still have for him, stating
“They all hate him — any guys that were on the team with him (at Georgia) hate him and that’s the same way at Augusta. I don’t know that they’d piss on him if he was on fire, to tell you the truth.”
In a book written in 2016 by author Shane Ryan, it was revealed that there had been cheating and stealing accusations leveled against Reed from his teammates at Georgia while he was playing for the university. Reed denied the claims, though was subsequently removed from the team in 2009.
It’s worth noting that, Kisner, though a graduate of the University of Georgia, did not attend the school at the same time as Reed, and none of Reed’s teammates from his time in college, including Tour pros Brian Harman, Harris English, and Russell Henley would confirm Kisner’s view to Golf Digest.
Kisner’s revelation comes after an anonymous member of the U.S. Ryder Cup side told the New York Times after this year’s team event that Reed “is so full of shit” and that the 28-year-old “has no clue how to play team golf”.
Reed held his tongue following those incendiary remarks, but whether or not he will do the same after Kisner’s statement remains to be seen.
Valentino Dixon on his time in prison, his golf art, gratitude, and hope
Valentino Dixon, who served 27 years in prison for a crime he did not commit — and took up golf course-related artwork as a hobby during that time — joined Michael Williams on the 19th Hole podcast.
While the full interview doubtless represents one of the most important and impactful GolfWRX podcasts to date, we wanted to present a few excerpts for the more textually inclined.
On the events that led to him spending 27 years in prison
Valentino Dixon: “This was Buffalo, New York…I grew up in a bad area, a drug infested area, a lot of violence and stuff like that and these guys pull up, they start shooting, they shoot a friend of mines and another friend of mines return fire, ended up killing the guy. Anyway, long story short, when the shots rang out I was inside the deli across the street and I actually ran out afterwards and ran to my car, I pulled off.
“Shortly thereafter I was pulled over and taken into custody and questioned and ultimately charged with shooting three people.”
“I knew that I was going to be cleared or at least I felt I was going to be cleared because there was 80 witnesses. So I said, there’s no way that they’re not going to straighten this out and I’ll be out the next day, but that didn’t happen. Two days after I was arrested, this friend of mines turned himself into police, told them what happened. Actually the physical evidence matched his story, they found the dead guy’s gun on the scene and they disregarded him, told him that they didn’t believe him. Seven witnesses came forward, they disregarded those witnesses.”
“I found myself going to trial ten months later, my lawyer promised the jury that he was going to call these witnesses and introduce this confession and did not do it, and this is all on public record. I had a public defender and the jury found me guilty. I didn’t know that later on the jury foreman went to the judge and asked the judge, “Hey, why his lawyer didn’t call the witnesses he promised us?” The judge told him not to worry about it, to go home and sleep well and the judge never revealed that this happened.”
“It was our local paper that went to the foreman and said, “Hey, what happened during the deliberations?” He said, “Hey, I went to the judge and told him I didn’t feel right about this, that something was wrong here.” Anyway, the judge denies that that even took place. I was given 39 years.”
On getting started doing golf course art
VD: “Right. Well, I was known as the artist in Attica. I spent, out of the 27 years, I spent 25 of those years in Attica. So over the years I had publicity on my case because the local newspaper had came to believe in my innocence, but there wasn’t a judge in Buffalo that would do anything about it. So the warden and the officers in Attica knew that I was innocent of the crime and would always check in on me and look in and see if I was all right and everything like that, but they knew that I drew also. So the warden came to me one day and asked me could I draw his favorite hole, which was Augusta, the 12th hole at Augusta.”
“I’d never golfed before. I mean, I’m from the inner city. So it was like all right, I guess I can do it. I knew nothing about golf. I drew the Augusta 12th hole. He loved it. Other inmates loved it and one of the inmates encouraged me to draw more golf holes. I said, “What are you talking about? What for? That doesn’t even makes sense.” He says, “I love the golf course, I think you should draw more.” He planted the seed.”
“A week later I went around and I got some old golf magazines, Golf Digest magazines, and I start pulling out the pictures that I loved. The guy gave me some really old ones that he had in his cell. So I start pulling out the ones that I liked, the ones that I thought was pretty and then from there I started drawing them. Whenever I put my mind into something, I just go in and really hard. So for months and months, all I did was draw golf courses. Okay. “
“Eventually I started reading the columns out of the Golf Digest magazine and I came across Max Adler’s, called Golf Saved My Life. I kind of put the two together because it was like golf was saving my life because being there was really, really stressful and hard and every day was a challenge. I have friends that committed suicide. I didn’t know if I was going to be the next person that my mind was going to snap.”
On the positive reception his art got in Attica
VD: “Well let me tell you this. Right. Like I said, there’s so many guys … I mean guys that done killed three, four people were stopping at the cell saying, “Wow, I love that golf course.” These are guys that had never golfed before. So I’m saying if these guys love the golf courses that I’m drawing, I can only imagine how golfers would feel, because I mean these guys never golf. Maybe one out of 10 have golfed. You know what I’m saying?”
“So it really gave me the boost, the determination it gave me and inspired me to keep pushing it. I felt like, wow, this is something that you really like doing now because I got satisfaction out of other people looking at my drawings and loving them. This is what motivates me.”
On how he spent his time in prison
VD: “Well the thing is, is this. God was always with me. I prayed a lot. I prayed every day. Okay. And I just stayed positive. I read hundreds and hundreds of self help books, motivational books, anything to fill my mind with positive things and energy so that I wouldn’t become negative or fall into that whole negative thing that you see. I’ve seen a lot of prisoners fall into where they lose hope, they become bitter, angry, upset with the world and all that other stuff. I was determined not to allow that to happen to me. So I had to push my willpower to the max.”
“At the same time, I was drawing up to 10 hours a day. So I was really like, listen, if I got to become the best artist in the world in order to get my freedom, then that’s what I’ll do. And this is why I mean I pushed myself to the limit. I’ve done some golf drawings that were … these are all drawings now, not paintings. I’ve done some drawings that people have never even seen. I got a 60 by 90 drawing.”
On his artistic style
VD: “…I had to develop my own style over a course of I would say 20 years. Just every day I had to learn from error. I didn’t have no teacher, so I had to learn through trial and error of what to do, what not to do, how to blend colors, what worked, what didn’t work, how to layer everything on top of each other. My goal has always been to make the drawings look like a painting.”
“Take the whole paper out of it. So when you look at it, you’d say, “That ain’t done on no paper.” That’s the whole goal there. So I had to put so many colors on top of each other to get that painting effect and then drawings are so much more strenuous than paintings because I know how to paint also. But drawing is so much more strenuous because there’s no shortcuts. You got to sit there for … I might sit there for two hours and just do one little corner because you got to get all the detail in there. You know what I’m saying? So it’s way more work that goes into what I do in regards if I was painting. I mean if I’d had done this stuff in painting, I would have thousands of golf painting.”
On gratitude and his perspective
VD: “I’m a very grateful person. I don’t want to sound too religious or anything like that, but we should always be grateful to the creator for what the things that he’s given us. So I mean, I was in a bad situation. I’m sitting in the cell and I’m looking at the people around me and the people around me is doing 10 times worse than me and I had to be grateful. So that’s how I look at it. We had these little eight inch TVs that we could buy on commissary for like $149. Okay. So, right. Yeah, they would beat us on every level that they could. So I’m watching this TV when I can and I’m looking at the world. I’m looking at what’s going on with people out in society.”
“I hate to say it. I was in the worst prison and I’m in a six by eight cell and I felt like I was more blessed than a lot of people on the outside, but people are really struggling out there and doing really bad. Here it is, God preserved me, he kept me in shape, he kept my mind sane, he gave me this talent, he gave me a loving family.”
“So I had to count all those blessings and say, “You know what? I could really be twisted up in here and messed up. So you know what, don’t be bitter, don’t be angry, don’t complain, don’t cry, count your blessings, push your willpower to the highest level. Just push, push, push, push and be the best artist that you can be in the world.” That was my goal.”
All images via Valentino Dixon’s website. His golf art is available for purchase here.
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