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GolfWRX exclusive: The story behind the new Costco KS1 putter

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Costco, together with its Kirkland Signature brand, is one of the biggest forces in retail. Once again, it is disrupting the golf equipment space with the introduction of the company’s very first original golf club: the KS1 putter.

In an exclusive interview with GolfWRX, Tim Farmer, Costco vice president and general merchandise manager, dug into the details behind the putter. Farmer also spoke at great length about Costco’s other golf products, including the wildly popular Kirkland Signature four-piece golf ball and the current Kirkland three-piece urethane ball, which upon the time of publication has over 17,000 reviews and a 4.5/5 star rating.

The Costco Golf story

“The approach to creating the KS1 putter was no different than creating any other Kirkland Signature product – to work with a manufacturer to create something that offers exceptional value to our customers”

-Tim Farmer

First, some background on the Kirkland Signature brand, from Costco 

“By taking the lead in sourcing and formulating new products, co-branding with premium national and international brands, and partnering with top manufacturers around the world, we’ve created an exclusive range of (Kirkland Signature) products that reflect our members’ tastes and exceed their expectations.”

The approach, from a Costco’s perspective, is to capitalize within a market where they believe an opportunity exists to be a price disruptor to other products currently available. The research includes talking with venders, working with Costco’s long list of approved suppliers, and visiting trade shows—including the PGA Merchandise Show.

The $1.25 Golf Ball That Flew Off Costco's Shelves Is Only Growing ...

The original golf breakthrough came with the introduction of the Kirkland Signature Tour Performance four-piece ball in late 2016. The story goes, Costco was approached by a manufacturer with its own IP on a golf ball design and the opportunity to produce a ball under the Kirkland brand. Independent testing conducted by a third party and Costco’s own internal testing proved the four-piece ball offered exceptional performance. The ball was then approved and shortly after arrived in warehouses. “That’s when things went a little crazy,” says Farmer.

The price of $29.99 for two dozen four-piece urethane balls seemed too good to be true, but in the age of social media and launch monitors, golfers were buzzing, and the balls sold out almost immediately company-wide. Demand and buzz even created a secondary market where the golf balls were selling for 4-5 times their initial price including on eBay. Costco was both shocked and excited, and the ball became the proof of concept that its own line of golf products could be in high demand by members.

The Costco KS1 putter story

Considering the number of options Costco had for potentially producing a golf club, a putter was selected for its relative simplicity and the knowledge that of all the clubs in the bag, golfers love to experiment and test putters the most.

Farmer admitted that he, (a 9 handicap) along with a lot of other employees and members of the board of directors at Costco, are golf nuts themselves, and the putter was an exciting product to develop. It was an attractive product because the company knew it was a category where it could offer the best value and performance comparable to other products on the market.

The Costco buyers approached a well-respected manufacturer in China that also produces putters for a number of well-known OEMs to help develop the KS1. After working through initial prototypes and multiple designs, the wide-body plumbers neck was the final choice based on its popularity and mass appeal.

Farmer made the point that mass appeal is a huge part of the Costco merchandising philosophy because the average Costco Warehouse is 160,000 square feet, and at most, merchandises only 3,700 items per store. When you compare that to other big box stores of similar size, they could carry upwards of 120,000 different items. Fewer products create more value, which at the end of the day, is Costco’s biggest goal.

Costco KS1 putter specs

The specs of the putter clearly reflect the greatest opportunity to offer a club to the largest part of the bell curve for the best possible value.

  • Construction: 100% milled from 303 stainless steel. Also has a 303 insert.
  • Length: 34.5″
  • Loft: 3 degrees
  • Lie: 71 degrees
  • Head weight:  340g with stock 10g adjustable weights. A separate weight kit will be available for 34.99 (online only) and will come with a wrench and adjustable 5g (x2) and 15g (x2) weights.
  • Grip:  Superstroke Countercore
  • Head cover included
  • Right-hand only 

One of the interesting details from my conversation with Farmer concerned the reason the weight kit is being sold separately: “Research shows the majority of golfers don’t tinker with weights and settings of their clubs,” he said. “So to offer the best value, we are making it available online.”

It’s a smart decision that falls right in line with Costco’s directive to offer the greatest value while still creating options for members who are looking for something extra.

Availability & price

According to Farmer, the putter should become available online within the next couple of weeks. They don’t have an exact in-store date yet since pallets (how everything at Costco is moved around, stored, and merchandised) are currently in the process of being built and delivered—but expect to see them around three weeks from now.

The current plan is to have the putters in a select 80 stores to start with the potential to have them expand once the initial volume and sales data is analyzed. Like all things Costco, from mayonnaise to socks, every item has to earn its floor space. But if the putter sells anything like the golf ball, you can expect to see a potential second and third run.

The KS1 putter will be sold for $139.99 USD and the weight kit (available online only) will be a separate $34.99

The putter might just be the beginning…

Toward the end of my conversation with Farmer, the one question I had to ask is if other clubs and balls are on the horizon for Costco and the Kirkland Signature brand. I asked specifically about a rumored three-wedge set, and if they planned to update the current three-piece urethane ball.

Although Farmer was unable to provide specific details about any clubs beyond saying, “we are always working on new products that offer value to our members,” he was willing to say they are excited to see the reaction to the KS1 Putter. As for the three-piece golf ball, Costco is currently going through the testing phase for a potential replacement possibly by the end of the year.

When it comes to offering value, quality, and trust, there really is no other company in the entire consumer goods space that has the ability to deliver on a grand scale like Costco, and the Costco KS1 putter could be another game-changer for this constantly innovating retail giant.

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Ryan Barath is part of the Digital Content Creation Team for GolfWRX. He hosts the "On Spec" Podcast on the GolfWRX Radio Network which focuses on discussing everything golf, including gear, technology, fitting, and course architecture. He is a club-fitter & master club builder with more than 17 years of experience working with golfers of all skill levels, including PGA Tour players. He is the former Build Shop Manager & Social Media Coordinator for Modern Golf. He now works independently from his home shop and is a member of advisory panels to a select number of golf equipment manufacturers. You can find Ryan on Twitter and Instagram where he's always willing to chat golf, and share his passion for club building, course architecture and wedge grinding.

43 Comments

43 Comments

  1. stanley

    May 24, 2020 at 2:53 pm

    rick shiels put up a video review of this putter. i guess it is what you expected.

  2. uhgolfguy1

    May 18, 2020 at 1:02 am

    You’d think quality control could be an issue but given the nature of the milling process, the putters should have good quality.

    303 SS is a great material for putters… just ask Scotty Cameron.

    Me personally, I think the KS1 is a bit chunky for my taste, but I’m sure it feels great.

    • Simms

      May 23, 2020 at 2:18 pm

      Very much a Odyssey looking putter, I ordered one first thing on line and 8 days latter still waiting, but I went into a COSTCO yesterday and they had a pallet full of them…so I got a hands on look….will be sending mine back when it comes without even opening, not anything special until they drop the price to say $79…

  3. stanley

    May 13, 2020 at 11:58 pm

    can’t lie. i am excited to see some reviews for these putters. but lets keep in mind that we have some amazing american milled putters here.

  4. Cody Reeder

    May 13, 2020 at 1:36 pm

    I just want to know where it is made… and by who.. Sean Toulon says it is not made or has anything to do with Odyssey soo… Who??

    • Spitfisher

      May 26, 2020 at 2:25 pm

      Do you really honestly believe any manufacturer would come clean with a ” yeah, we make it” statement?

      Besides there is no Odyssey, toulon etc factory anywhere in the world. A factory is tooled for product, proto types and QC samples are produced, vendor writes a PO ahead of time, production starts, product and marketing material is produced and a way it goes.

  5. Jimmy Ray

    May 8, 2020 at 10:59 am

    Right Hand only…nuf said.

    • curt j benjamins

      May 9, 2020 at 5:22 pm

      Damn it we lefties always get shafted, no pun intended

  6. Bill

    May 7, 2020 at 11:38 pm

    Does this look like an Odyssey O-Works #1 with a different insert and color scheme?

    • Duke

      May 8, 2020 at 10:54 am

      It is just that. I listened to a podcast the other day and it revolved around this putter. It is constructed by same plant with very similar characteristics.

      • Mike

        May 8, 2020 at 2:03 pm

        I believe it’s technically the exact same putter that comes with the Callaway Edge set that they sell, but gets branded as Odyssey with their license agreement.

  7. stanley

    May 7, 2020 at 11:16 pm

    i thought about this….. and it’s a no go. but we will see. kirkland sells everything.

  8. Jack

    May 7, 2020 at 10:10 pm

    Thing is, the design is just atrocious. Did they do any consumer forums before finalizing on the design?

    • Michaele

      May 8, 2020 at 9:30 am

      One picture shooting primarily the bottom of the putter is your basis for your comment?

      Your comment is atrocious too.

      • Duke

        May 8, 2020 at 10:56 am

        It is constructed by same plant with very similar characteristics as the Odyssey line.

  9. Bob

    May 7, 2020 at 8:36 pm

    You can buy a full set of 10 Callaway Edge clubs from Costco and that includes an Odyssey putter. These must be made for Costco as they are not available anywhere else. A review of them made them sound like a good deal for an average golfer. I hope that I survive this Covid and get a chance to play them. B.

  10. Duh!

    May 7, 2020 at 7:13 pm

    Made in a Wuhan lab to destroy American golfers everywhere.

    • Gary Mohlenkamp

      May 8, 2020 at 12:35 pm

      I agree! I will never purchase anything made in China if I have a choice.

      • Delbert

        May 8, 2020 at 3:46 pm

        Why do companies continue to do business with a country that steals IP like they do? Their government and economy are set up in such a way to prevent creativity. Do not buy this putter. It will give you the YIPS! There, I said it. But I didn’t say shank.

        • Jbone

          May 19, 2020 at 8:37 pm

          Agreed. The one positive of this virus is China getting exposed. Hopefully people speak with their wallets

  11. Martin

    May 7, 2020 at 6:52 pm

    Time will tell if it will sell, but i have a feeling it well.

  12. Calvin

    May 7, 2020 at 6:41 pm

    I don’t understand why you would do a CNC machined 303SS putter and just to put in a machined 303SS face insert. Doesn’t it just defeats the purpose of the CNC precision and you are not trying to affect the impact feel with different material anyways?

    • Homer Simpson

      May 8, 2020 at 10:42 am

      You’re a club homer. Only you would would dissect the club like this. Calvin, tell me, what’s your favorite hole on your golf bag?

  13. Joe McManuis

    May 7, 2020 at 5:20 pm

    Any indication whether it will be available in Canada this summer and whether weight kit will also be available?

  14. Al

    May 7, 2020 at 4:31 pm

    Lot of occasional golf dads will see this come June.

  15. Chris

    May 7, 2020 at 2:13 pm

    So why did conversation on 4 piece ball stop? They should have talked about why they stopped making the 4 piece ball and why they won’t have the same problem with the putter…or will they?

  16. BingHogan

    May 7, 2020 at 11:09 am

    They only want to sell you chicken.! And a $65.00 “club” fee.

    Not sure how many members they have now but I have heard they make about $70 million per year.

    The Costco Country Club. Has a nice ring to it…

  17. Paulo

    May 7, 2020 at 10:59 am

    Is this Piece an advert for Costco ? Maybe state that st the top like they used to in magazines

  18. Vanilla Ice

    May 7, 2020 at 10:57 am

    Balls – Hero
    Putter – Zero

  19. steve

    May 7, 2020 at 10:21 am

    $150 OTD for this club seems more in line with buying a club from a traditional gilf retailer. Why would someone make this purchase versus numerous other options from other well known manufacturers? This example of value in no way it compares to that of the original four piece ball that they sold. Thanks Costco but I think you’re whiffing on this one

  20. John

    May 7, 2020 at 9:26 am

    I don’t know about you folks… but sure reminds me of a Scotty Cameron Newport 2

  21. Stanley

    May 7, 2020 at 9:04 am

    No pics from address?

    • Paulo

      May 8, 2020 at 1:06 am

      The Costco marketing dept didn’t send any…

  22. DB

    May 7, 2020 at 8:42 am

    Sorry, not interested in another putter coming from some cheap Chinese factory when there are so many great putter makers milling their putters right here in the USA.

  23. jim

    May 7, 2020 at 8:05 am

    139.99 in my opinion is not a “real Value”. plus another $35 for weight kit (for those who want it) puts it very in-line with other putters in the big box stores.

    • Homer Simpson

      May 8, 2020 at 10:46 am

      It is a value. Not everyone buys used golf clubs on wrx for a value. I like this site but there are too many club homers and poors trying To flip and make money.

  24. MJ 23

    May 7, 2020 at 5:01 am

    Now THAT is funny! Does it come with a corn dog?

    • brian

      May 7, 2020 at 8:43 am

      The only putter line that really puts it in line with are the cheaper Cleveland putters and low-end Odyssey White Hot line, none of which have adjustability features.

      • Brandon

        May 7, 2020 at 9:48 am

        You can find plenty of new past model year higher end Odyssey putters for right around 130 bucks. Got by eye on a stroke lab double wide right now.

        • brian

          May 7, 2020 at 1:22 pm

          I’m only seeing used Stroke Lab putters for under $150 doing a search.

        • Guy

          May 8, 2020 at 7:24 pm

          I just bought a brand new O-works #2 for $70. There’s deals to be found if you strike at the right times.

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Equipment

Wunder: Titleist TSi driver first impressions

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Three things I want to address before I kick this off.

  1. “Better, best” will not be addressed. It’s never about that these days only what works for me or you.
  2. I’m not adding TrackMan data to this for one simple reason: It doesn’t matter to me for a first impression. I can get lost in the data and ultimately it confuses my ability to just enjoy the sound feel and look of the driver. Obviously, the fitting was on TrackMan, but in the past, successful drivers for me started with the emotional part. Simply, do I like the thing? Can I look at it? Can I trust it? Can I hit shots with it? That’s it.
  3. When I say “spin this” and “spin that,” it’s always addressing a positive aspect.

On Tuesday of this week, I had the good fortune of visiting the Titleist Performance Institute (TPI in Oceanside, California) to do my TSi metal woods fitting. Won’t get too far into that, but essentially it’s golf heaven in every sense of the word. Like TaylorMade’s Kingdom or Callaway’s ECPC, TPI it’s a gearhead paradise.

Titleist Master Fitter Joey Saewitz (@thejoeysaewitz on IG) was my fitter and after hitting a few balls to warm up, we dug into my gamer driver that I adore.

Current Gamer Spec

TaylorMade SIM (9 degrees @ 8.5). Fujikura Ventus Black 6X (no tipping) 45 inches, D4, GolfPride BCT 58R

I have been constantly messing with my driver between new shafts, lofts, lie, etc. Since I’ve been playing a bit more this month, I’ve had the chance to work on my swing and the driver has been the last thing to come around. I’m working on decreasing dynamic loft through the bag and have not adjusted my driver to match. The point is, I’m hitting the driver solid but have lost a ton of height and spin to keep it in the air.

I’m saying this now because for key metrics I was at a deficiency because of the craftsman not his tools. The SIM I was fit into was/is excellent. So, as you read on, keep in mind that I knew that numbers-wise apples to apples my setup was vulnerable to getting beat out due to my tinkering.

Thoughts

My average numbers these days are are 105-108 mph swing speed, 155-160 mph ball speed, 14-degree launch, and 1,800-2,000 spin. At 43-years-old, when I’m hitting it solid I get a lot out of my driver. IF I’m swinging well, at my low spin, off days can be nauseating with the driver.

LOOKS

TSi3: If two of my favorite drivers 975D and R7 Superquad TP had a baby, the TSi3 would be it. Its flawless appearance-wise. The heel section gives it an onset look that the faders will love and the top line toe section is a bit rounded off to give it an open look without having to crank it open. Not the first time we have heard that but nonetheless, Titleist nailed it.

The face has a cool matte finish that I can’t get into yet, but it frames a white ball excellently.

TSi2: Like the TS2, it has that high-MOI shape, although I will say the top line and transitions are a bit softer on the eye. It’s a driver that looks like it just wants to go high and far. If I wanted to hit something as hard as I could that’s the shape I would look for.

Side note—the black shafts in the TSi3 are almost too cool to even look at—the closest thing to a Darth Vader golf club I have ever seen.

FEEL/SOUND

This is where they really figured it out. Titleist drivers in the past to my ear sounded good but not great. There was always an essence of ting that I couldn’t fall in love with. The TSi series fixed that in totality, like all the great drivers on the market in 2020 it has that hammerhead thud that I adore. When you crunch it, you literally hear crunch. At impact, however, it has a more compressiony (is that a word?) feel than its competitors. The comparison would be a one-piece forged feel vs a hollow body players iron. Both feel excellent but there is a difference. You can feel the ball squeeze into the face which I think most will notice and respond well to.

PERFORMANCE—Not going to compare it to my gamer as it’s not fair, I gear headed my gamer to the point of lunacy. I will only comment on what the TSi series did while testing.

TSi3: The biggest standout here was usable spin. I am not a high-spin player by any stretch, so if I can find a driver that gets me 2,100-2,200 consistently when I flush it, it’s a contender. For a player at my speed to sneak it out there with the big hitters, I have to launch it at 14 at 1,700 spin, and hope I’m aimed correctly. What I found with the TSi was I was getting that performance at 2,100-2,200, and if anything only giving up 2-3 yards all while doing it 5/10 times as opposed to 2/10.

What does all that jibberish add up to? Consistency and something I can play with. Is it longer than my gamer? I have no idea, but we will find out. What I know is I hit a bunch of really good shots with TSi3, and after I got going with it, it was point and shoot. Stable? Yes. Long? Yes. Forgiving? Yes. Playable? Yes.

TSi2: To be honest I only hit a few with the Tsi2 as its not my genre of music. What I can say is it feels apples to apples with the Tsi3, launches higher with a bit more spin, and goes really straight. No shocker there. The high MOI category has a bunch of contenders, and in my opinion, it’s a head weight game. Heavy is always better for stability.

The setup I landed on

I was fit into the (D4 SureFit setting 9 degrees @ 9.75, flat) however after testing a bit at home on course and range, I landed on the D1 setting, which I like. For whatever reason, I can play Tsi3 at 8.25 and still maintain height spin and it flew about five yards further.

Final setup

Driver: Titleist TSi3 (9 degrees @8.25, D1 SureFit, 44.5 inches, D4 swing weight)

Shaft: Fujikura Ventus Black 6 X (tipped 1)

Overall, the TSi Series drivers will be VERY popular but not for the reasons you would think. It’s playable, you can hit shots with it, that’s the mark of a GREAT golf club. It’s not all ball speeds and carry anymore in my opinion. This is a driver I can go out and play well with, that’s huge for a hack like me. In my experience, I can’t say that about a lot of drivers I’ve tried to make work in the last four to five years. That’s just me. Lots of great drivers every year but I’m a hard case and finding one that’s just right is a challenge.

Ultimately, for me, the best driver on the market is SIM hands down because it performs in the hitting bay and even better on the course—my hunch is Titleist has something that will do the same.

It’s a beautiful driver that I thoroughly enjoyed getting to know.

 

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Equipment

GolfWRX Classifieds (9/25/20): Titleist U510, XXIO Red, Tour issue M5 head

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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 Yenmaster – TaylorMade M5 driver head

If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it 100 times—if you already have a shaft that you love, buying a driver head is the best way to upgrade and save a few bucks along the way. Is it time for you to trade up?

To see the full listing and additional pictures check out the link here: M5 Driver head

Member dansrixon – XXIO X Red Driver

This listing is littered with really cool and rare drivers and fairway woods from Cleveland, Srixon, and XXIO, including the XXIO Red driver looking for a new home.

To see the full listing and additional pictures check out the link here: XXIO Driver

Member kkennedy – Titleist U510 1-iron

The new U500 series utilities are the fastest and most forgiving Titleist have ever made, so if you are looking for a club to keep the ball out of the wind—here you go!

To see the full listing and additional pictures check out the link here: Titleist 1 Iron

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

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Whats in the Bag

WITB GolfWRX Members Edition: Rkelso1984

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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 Rkelso1984.

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

Member: Rkelso1984

Rkelso1984WITB

Driver: Callaway Mavrik Max (10.5 degrees, set to 9.25 degrees)
Shaft: Oban Devotion-6 04 Flex 65g

3-wood: Callaway Mavrik Sub Zero (15 degrees)
Shaft: Aldila Rouge 130MSI 70s

5-wood: Callaway Mavrik Sub Zero (18 degrees)
Shaft: Aldila Rouge 130MSI 70s

Hybrid: Titleist TS2 (19 degrees, set to 20.5 degrees)
Shaft: Project X Evenflow 6.0S 90g HY

Irons: Mizuno JPX 919 HMP (5-PW)
Shafts: KBS C-Taper lite 110s

Wedges:  Mizuno JPX 919 (50 degrees), Callaway Jaws (54, 58 degrees)
Shafts: KBS C-Taper lite 110s, KBS Hi-Rev 125s

Putter: Ping Heppler Ketsch (34″)

Putter Grip: Golf Pride Tour SNSR Contour Pro 140cc

Golf Ball: Taylormade TP5x PIX

Grips: SuperStroke TX1 Mid + 1 Wrap

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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