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GolfWRX Audio Chat Transcripts and Audio Download - Sonartec Golf Clubs

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Posted 22 June 2007 - 10:30 PM

Part I Audio Download

hPart II Audio Download

Part III Audio Download

GolfWRX your all inclusive internet golf headquarters is proud to present an interview with Sonartec Golf and Erik Boysen, Marketing Manager.  

Part I

0:10 – GolfWRX:  Okay, we’re here today with Erik Boysen, Marketing Manager for Sonartec Golf.  Erik, how are you doing today?

0:18 – Erik Boysen:  Very good, thanks for having me on GolfWRX today.  

0:20 – GolfWRX:  Thanks a lot for being on, we really appreciate the time you and Sonartec have been putting into the site, it means a lot with all the club giveaways and such.  We were wondering before we start if you could give us a quick background on your history with Sonartec and golf in general?

0:36 – Erik Boysen:  Sure, I’ve been working with Sonartec for four years now.  I originally started with Never Compromise Putters which was originally in Carlsbad and was purchased by Cleveland golf.  I’ve been in the golf industry now ten years.  It’s just a passion of mine, I love playing, I used to play in high school competitively – sort of my second sport.  I always wanted to be in the golf industry.  I was born and raised in the Bay Area, and moved to Chicago where I worked for a large women’s handbag manufacturer.  My wife and I both quit our jobs and moved to Carlsbad, or San Diego this is our hometown and wanted to be in the golf industry.  So I got on board with Never Compromise, did that for about three and a half or four years.  Then I just saw Sonartec moving up on the Darrel Survey, especially after David Duval’s win after the 2001 British Open and said I need to check these guys out.  So I put in me resume, they were looking for a Sales Manager at the time and came on board.  It’s been a wild ride with major wins and wins on Tour at all levels – amateur status, some of the U.S. Amateur winners have used Sonartec to win to major champions.  That’s where I’m at today.  As of January 2007, from the Sales Manager to the Marketing Manager, Toru Kamatari, the President of Sonartec and I see eye to eye on some things and have sort of the same vision.  He thought I would be a good voice and face for Sonartec golf, so here we are today.

2:22 – GolfWRX:  How did the Sonartec brand get started, and have fairway woods always been their main focus?

2:37 – Erik Boysen:  They have.  I mentioned Toru Kamatari, Toru is the President of Sonartec and one of the owners.  Toru has an interesting background, Toru was born and raised in Japan and then moved to Hawaii after he graduated from college.  There he worked for a golf shop called Peace of Time.  They were a high end collectible putters store and they also did in-line product at the time.  He was the store manager and with his knowledge of the Japan Market, which is sort of the needle of the golf industry, they’re always pushing ahead and making unique designs and changes to golf clubs.  Toru knew of this company called Royal Collection.  Their fairway woods retail, probably from $600-$800 U.S. Dollars, so they’re a premium top of the line brand.  Toru saw this demand for Royal Collection in Hawaii so he met with the owners and he handled the distributorship of Royal Collection in Hawaii, out of Hawaii.  That was seven years ago.  He changed the name to Excedo golf, the Excedo name was already being used, so he had to change the name to Sonartec.  Toru is also a dive instructor, and you hear sonar when you’re underwater when you’re diving, so it’s “Sonar-technology.”  Royal Collection was a fairway wood company and Toru brought their fairway woods over, so fairway woods have been the focus for Sonartec golf and will continue to be because that’s what put us on the map.  That’s how Sonartec, or why Sonartec is in fairway woods today.

4:38 – GolfWRX:  That’s a perfect segue to my next question which is the relationship between Sonartec and The Royal Collection.  Many people comment that Sonartec clubs simply look like re-badged TRC clubs, is there any truth to that?

4:51 – Erik Boysen:  I know I’ve been questioned quite heavily about this by some individuals on GolfWRX, and that’s fine.  Toru Kamatari, and there’s two other Japanese gentlement, J.J. and Kimie, I can’t pronounce their last names perfectly, so I’ll just use their first names.  J.J. and Kimmie are also partners in the Sonartec brand, but they are also the owners for The Royal Collection brand.  So yes, we’re sister companies.  Sonartec has distribution rights through the world, except any of the Asian market.  Royal Collection is in the Asian market due to the Royal Collection brand was already in those markets.  Yes, we’re sister companies, yes we share technologies.  The clubs are no better than the other – Royal Collection is not better than Sonartec, nor is Sonartec better than Royal Collection.  Sonartec clubs have to be modified and changed for the rest of the world.  There’s swing and weight differences, we put in heavier sole plates, but a lot of the technology is the same, but we do have to modify the clubs that come in as the Sonartec brand.  We do have three engineers at Sonartec that make those changes with the foundries so they’re a different club.  I don’t know because I’m not 100% on the R&D end, because that’s been kept very private until recently with me getting in the market.  I see more of the modifications they’re making between The Royal Collection brand and the Sonartec brand.  There is a relationship there, but in some ways we do things differently.  Yes, we see The Royal Collection heads we like, and we test them, but we make modifications so there are slight changes and a lot of them are internal which you can’t see.  So it might look like a reprint or a copy of a Royal Collection head, but it is not.

7:22 – GolfWRX:  Excellent, thanks a lot for clearing that up.  Sonartec has always been known as a cult brand, especially among better players.  Do you guys relish that position, or are you trying to change it?  How has that status worked out for you?

7:38 – Erik Boysen:  We like it and we’re trying to change it.  Obviously we’re trying to continue with the cult following.  I get customers calling me that say, “I have four sets at every one of my country clubs, it’s the best fairway wood, can I have a hat and towel?”  There are people out there that follow Sonartec only, the T-15’s, the first round of T-35’s.  We do accept it, but we’re going to change it here in the next year.  We want to make the brand for the accomplished golfer.  That sort of segues into the next question you’re going to ask here, what audience we’re trying to target the high, the mid, or the low handicapper?  I think Sonartec is a low to mid handicap golf club.  Our lofts are true lofts, when you set up a Sonartec club, on the sole plate is says 15, it’s going to be a 15 club.  We don’t use a lower end shaft, if we put a high performance shaft in there you see greater things from Sonartec golf clubs – better ball trajectory, better feel.  We don’t want to be too elite, but yet we want an accomplished golfer to feel the club he’s buying at a little bit higher price point is going to be true to his expectations.  

9:33 – GolfWRX:  Now given your Tour staff, I think Nick Price is the keystone of your current Tour staff.

9:37 – Erik Boysen:  Nick is on our staff.  He’s transitioned into the Champions Tour and has been working on his game.  He is one of the nicest men in the world.  A tinkerer, there was an article a couple of years ago about the shop in his house which is enormous and he builds a lot of his own clubs, but he lets Matt build a lot of his clubs for him.  All of his grips have to be closed a certain angle, if that makes sense.  The logos have to be about 2 closed when they’re set up, so Nick has an eye.  The first time I met Nick he was being inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame and he was about to do a presentation in front of 500 people and Nick grabbed me and said, “Come on, let’s go to my room, I designed this club and I want to show it to you.”  I said, “Nick, they’re about to do a presentation . . .”  He replied, “Don’t worry about that.”  He’s such a club junkie we’re running down the hallway of a hotel for him.  He said, “I took an MD and I carved out the sole plate and I want more relief on the heel and toe, give this back to Toru and I want to see a prototype in a couple of weeks.”  Nick is a tinkerer.  Yes he’s one of our staff players, but what we take even more pride in is we have some of the best golfers in the world using Sonartec.  They use it because it’s the best fairway wood, hybrid or wedge we can get in the bag.  We had the 2007 Masters Champion using a Sonartec and he’s been using it for several years.  We had the number three player in the world use it for several wins, four or five wins.  We have the best players in the world we feel using our product.  We have the number one LPGA player in the world use our 21 MD.  She was using a stock off the rack 21 MD with a blue I-Rod.  We did change the lie angle which is possible on MD but she was using what anyone in the world can buy off the rack.  That’s pretty cool because it shows how high quality our product is, a world class player can go and play our stock product and I think she won five or six tournaments last year.  So it’s pretty amazing.  We are proud of everyone who uses our product.  I wish we could have a staff, but with the amount of money required, it’s just not possible for Sonartec today.  Hopefully one day we’ll have a staff of five or six guys, or girls winning.  But we’re getting there.  We’re still young; there are challenges of the cost of having a professional staff program.

12:29 – GolfWRX:  Can we have a brief walk-through for how the club design process starts for Sonartec and how it differs for you since you have such a narrow focus compared to other OEM’s?

12:39 – Erik Boysen:  We’re very lucky because we have several great Tour reps who work with some of the best players in the world.  So if we have a prototype or we’ve thought of something, we’ll get some samples made and brought out to all the tours and have the best players in the world hit it and get feed back where they’ll say:  it’s a little too hot, it’s a little too long, the face needs to opened or closed.  So we get feedback from the best players in the world.  We make those changes and then work with our foundries on the changes and bring in some more prototypes.  That’s when we bring it to the accomplished golfer, or the average golfer.  We just do blind testing and get feedback.  We use a lot of guys and girls in the office here.  We go to local driving ranges, we go to some of the best club fitters in the world we have relationships with and go off their launch monitors and see what they feel.  So our process is different, it’s not someone sitting in front of a computer all day with a CAD design.  We take product that we have and modify it, or some things we have molds and work with our foundries to make some small changes.  We’re hands on testing, probably a lot of the big OEMs do that as well, but we just do it a little differently.  Once we test the product and feel it can go to mass production, we make the final changes in regard to sole plate design and names.  Four or five of us sit in a conference room all day and try to throw stuff on a board and see if the name catches and see how it works.

14:32 – GolfWRX:  Once you have a club design, obviously people are starting to discover the importance of finding the correct shaft, how do you go about finding the correct shaft to match such a wide variety of golfers and different swing types.  

14:44 – Sonartec:  That’s a really good question.  This is probably one of the best parts of my job.  Being in Carlsbad, we have some of the best shaft manufacturers in the world.  We have Fujikura, Aldila, UST even though they’re down in Texas they overnight us stuff, Graphite Design, pretty much all the major shaft manufacturers.  We call in the regional rep and tell him what we’re working on, the characteristics we’re looking for.  High launch and low spin is the talk of the town.  We like feel in a lot of our shafts.  We don’t like too much stiffness or too much what I call it is “boardy-dead feel.”  Then we request what they design what they feel fits what we’re looking for and they send us blank shafts - just solid blank shafts that are distinguished by a part number and a flex, then we shaft up from A to X flex, two lofts per flex and do some outdoor testing.  No one knows who the shaft manufacturer is, they’re all black shafts.  We do ten people at a time.  We go to some local driving ranges and start swinging away and getting feedback.  We have ten questions we ask people, feel characteristics like shot pattern, what was the result, was it too high, too low, and then we set those ten people free and bring in ten more.  We do it with about 30 to 40 people, all different handicaps, ages, male, female and crunch the data and feedback.  Then we bring back those people for a second round.  We probably eliminate almost 70% so we’re down to about three or four shafts because you can see which ones stand out right away.  Out of those three or four shafts we select the best piece.  We really don’t look at costs we look at performance.  The Red Ice shaft just jumped out when we did testing for the GS Tour was the shaft that everyone said the feel, the ball flight, shot dispersion, was what they were looking for.  They can hit it off the deck, they can hit it off the tee box, and that’s why we chose the Red Ice.  It’s a fun process to get feedback from an individual who really doesn’t know what they’re looking at or testing and to get the feedback we want is really exciting.  

17:21 – GolfWRX:  Anytime anybody mentions Sonartec, the next image that pops into their mind is the Driving Cavity.  Why has the Driving Cavity been such a staple throughout Sonartec’s history, what does it provide for the golfer, and will it always be a part of Sonartec clubs?

17:42 – Erik Boysen:  The Driving Cavity was created with Royal Collection.  The design of the Driving Cavity was able to raise the center of gravity.  With a lot of clubs the center of gravity is actually low to the ground or in the sole plate.  What happens there when you have too much weight in the sole plate, the ball gets a very high launch and a backspin effect.  Once the ball gets to the pinnacle of its flight, the backspin creates, one poor shot dispersion, and two the knuckleball where the ball sort of falls back to Earth.  You don’t get any release on the ball, and people lose distance.  With the driving cavity you’re able to get a flatter ball flight, but a ball flight at its pinnacle that turns over and releases.  That’s the Sonartec distance.  That’s why when someone hits a Sonartec pure in the sweet spot, they go, “Wow, what was that.”  For example, one of the best players in the world, I wish I could use names but I can’t, we were testing a 1.5 and he wants to hit his three wood anywhere from 260-265 maximum.  We were trying to get him in a 2.5 so we said, here let’s test the 2.5 same shaft same loft, everything is built to perfect specs.  But the 2.5 was hotter and he said, “I don’t need a three wood that goes 275-280,” that’s a driver length for him.  You can see the Driving Cavity, if you go to a retail store and grab a 2.5 a 3.5 and a GS Tour, take your pinkie and drop your pinkie into the driving cavity and you can see there’s actually differences in depth.  The 3.5 will have the deepest Driving Cavity which will produce the lowest ball flight but will also create the most spin for the player that wants to work the ball.  AKA the 2007 Masters champion likes to work the ball, he’s a feel player, he likes to work the ball.  Someone who wants to get the ball up in the air with lower spin will want to go with the 2.5 because the driving cavity is a little bit lower because the Driving Cavity is a little bit shallower and produces a little bit higher launch, but still that Sonartec ball flight where it turns over and runs a little bit.  With the GS Tour we’ve taken the Driving Cavity depth of the 2.5 and 3.5 and combined them together but we’ve put the performance with the 3.5 that’s a little bit more workable.  We’re sort of taking the best of all our past products and combining them into the GS Tour into what we feel is the perfect ball flight with the perfect shaft.  We feel and with the reviews that are coming out the GS Tour is probably one of the best fairway woods we’ve ever made.  Yes, the Driving Cavity is important.  Will it always be a part of Sonartec clubs?  Maybe, maybe not, maybe we will have some changes and I’ll leave it at that.  It is great for a marketing point of view because when you see someone hit it on TV you know what it is, there’s that little Driving Cavity on the sole plate.  

Part II

0:11 – GolfWRX:  Obviously the big news has been the GS Tour, I know you went into this a little bit, but can you give us a little more detail on what improvements people can expect from the GS Tour compared to the SS 2.5 and SS 3.5 series?  

0:32 – Erik Boysen:  The GS Tour is just getting rave reviews.  It’s exciting for Sonartec because we’re able to – now after seven years of history, what people want we can sort of put into one product.  A customer can go into a store and say, “I’m looking for a Sonartec three wood,” instead of saying, “I’m looking for a 2.5, or 3.5, or the NP-99.”  The retailer can say, “You’re looking for the GS Tour.”  With the GS Tour, like I said, we’ve taken a lot of our past products and combined them into one.  There was a recent review by Golf Tips which I’ll quote as much as possible, they said, “It’s so long you’d wish you hadn’t spend $400 on a new driver.”  We just feel the way we’ve placed the center of gravity, the depth of the Driving Cavity, and the look, this club is just amazing.  It already had two tour wins last year and we’re going into this year even stronger.  We’re trying to get guys out of 2.5’s and 3.5’s into GS Tour and it takes time.  It takes usually about 4-5 weeks of testing.  We just feel the launch characteristics and the little bit more traditional black head that sets up nice and square and by lowering the center of gravity it will also help the mid handicapper get the ball up in the air which Sonartec is known for as a player’s club.  Now if someone goes to a demo day, for example if someone goes up to Hagen Oaks this week and they hit a GS Tour, they can see the GS Tour does get the ball up in the air and with the Graphite Designs Red Ice shaft we’ve got a tighter shot dispersion.  We’re very, very excited about the GS Tour.

2:27 – GolfWRX:  In the past, Sonartec has been famous for allowing multiple club options for players with the shallow face high launching SS 2.5 and the deeper face and deeper Driving Cavity of the SS 3.5.  Do you guys feel the GS Tour can provide all things for all players?

2:46 – Erik Boysen:  Most definitely.  The GS Tour to us is a great looking head, it sets up very well from a mid handicapper to a low handicapper, when they address the GS Tour, I think they feel confidence.  Will it be able to fit all the players, yes because of shaft technology today.  From what Fujikura offers, Aldila, Graphite Designs, UST, Matrix, Mitsubishi Rayon, there are so many shafts out there, and that’s the engine of the club.  I’m a very high ball hitter so I need something to bring the ball flight down.  Yes, the head will perform for everyone; it’s getting them into the right shaft.  Buying the stock shaft is a great shaft right off the shelf, but if you know you’re playing the V2 and you know you want something with a little bit lower launch and spin, tip stiff you go with the V2.  I really feel it can fit everyone’s needs.  It’s also getting fit into the right shaft and head.  It’s an amazing head.  I know the distance on it is unbelievable, this 13 is probably driver length for some guys.  We have some Nationwide guys that are hitting the 13 and saying, “It’s way too far, but I always hit a 13.”  So I say, “Let’s try a 15,” and they’re hitting the 15 saying, “Wow this is pretty good.”  So we know this is a club that can fit anyone and hopefully with the club test I’m doing on GolfWRX, we can see what the regular, stiff, and extra-stiff player comes back to us and see their results and their swing speeds will show you that it should be able to fit all players out there.  

4:26 – GolfWRX:  That’s really neat, we can’t wait to see that.  Can you talk a little bit about the development of the Red Ice with Graphite Designs and why it makes such a great fit for the GS Tour?  

4:36 – Erik Boysen:  With all the club testing or shaft testing we did with GS Tour, we spent almost three months getting shafts from other shaft manufacturers during the testing process.  The way the Red Ice performed, we wanted a shaft with the playability with the YS-7, but with the power and weight of the Purple Ice.  Toru Kamatari really likes the way the Purple Ice performs in his clubs and I like the way the YS-7 performs in drivers and fairway woods and we had opinions all through the shop.  So we said this is what we’re looking for and they came back with this black shaft and said, “Test this one.”  With all the club testers results there was tighter shot dispersion and the launch we wanted.  We wanted to get away from that low ball fight.  We wanted a higher ball flight.  We felt the Red Ice got the ball up in the air, but we weren’t losing distance.  When it got out to about 220 yards, it wasn’t ballooning and you didn’t see the ball coming back to Earth, you saw the ball release and turn over – that Sonartec ball flight that’s a tradition and we didn’t want to lose that tradition of the ball turning over and running a little bit, gaining that extra ten or fifteen yards.  Graphite Design was great, we probably went through fifty or sixty different shaft make-ups until they came up with this one and it’s a perfect fit.  The red is a little bit different, it stands out when it’s on retail shelves the red really pops and it’s been a good marriage so far.  

6:22 – GolfWRX:  One of our more observant members picked up on the metal used in the GS Tour, they said the metal from the GS Tour is actually the same metal from the SS-02 and SS-03 and not the “hot face metal” found in the 2.5 and 3.5 can you tell us why that is?  

6:40 – Erik Boysen:  I really haven’t dug too deep with R&D on why.  I’ll tell you that the ST-385 was a great metal, the SS 2.5 and 3.5 are fantastic fairway woods.  I think some people felt the SS-02 and SS-03 had a different type of feel – more of a persimmon, felt a little tighter or felt a little bit better at impact and they decided to test that metal again.  Obviously it worked and since our foundries were familiar with that we didn’t have to try to re-invent the wheel.  We had the face material we wanted and they did some modifications on the crown and sole plate to come up with the GS Tour.  So that’s where we’re at.

7:39 – GolfWRX:  As someone who plays the GS Tour now and used to play the SS 07, it definitely has a more muted sound and feel than some of the previous fairway woods, so I definitely see the validity in that.  One of the big things you were talking about is custom fitting and custom shaft programs.  A few companies are opening tour shops for their retail customers where customers can order different face angles and lie angles and such.  Is there any chance we could see that from Sonartec in the future?

8:13 – Erik Boysen:  We currently work with about 80-85 of the best club builders in the world, or the United States.  They buy SS 07’s from us and MD’s.  We sell them in component format and they’re able to fit their customers through this program.  We definitely are going to continue to build all of the new product with a bendable or pliable hosel so that club fitters can continue to fit Sonartec product.  When you fit a SS 07 when you get the right lie angle and face angle and the right shaft in it, I think it’s by far one of the best custom fit fairway woods you can get anywhere.  So yes, we want to continue with the club builders and also continue with having a fairway wood and possibly a new hybrid that’s going to be bendable or pliable for custom fitters.

9:19 – GolfWRX:  That’s great news, I know custom fitting is huge on our site.  Getting into the women’s and senior products, the LS-99, how was that reworked to be a better fit for women and seniors?  Is there any chance the GS Tour will receive a similar treatment?

9:39 – Erik Boysen:  Anything that has a 99 on it has back-weighting.  NP-99, LS-99 are all clubs that have back-weighting.  What that does is help someone with a slower swing speed or someone who wants to reduce spin.  NP-99 was really introduced because the SS-02 and SS-03 were so hot that second shot clubs on tour, players were saying that your clubs are coming in so hot and running through the greens.  So with Nick Price’s involvement we designed the NP-99 for higher launch and lower spin to fit todays balls but also land a little bit softer for individuals who it was a second shot club.  The LS-99 has a very light head with a 45g pink Alidla shaft that comes in pink as well as black for seniors.  It has a very low center of gravity and a very large sweet spot and thin face depth, almost like an SS 01 which is one of our older models form a couple of years ago.  With that lower center of gravity or shallower driving cavity, it’s really designed to get the ball up in the air to almost create a knuckleball so that individual gets the distance they’re looking for but also a tighter shot dispersion.  The LS-99 has been great, we’re really seeing a lot of momentum pick up.  Is there any similar treatment we can do for the GS Tour?  I don’t know if you’re going to see similar weighting.  We’ve talked about it in some recent R&D meetings about visible technology.  I don’t know if we’re going to see screws or metal.  I know two of the three R&D designers are going overseas in about a week to work on some new product and we’ve put our feedback in, so it’s about what the foundries can do for us in what we want.  I don’t know if there’s going to be sort of an “arch” or back-weighting visible technology in a new fairway wood, but there might be so we’ll find out in a couple of weeks if the foundries can do that.

11:54 – GolfWRX:  How many shaft options do you guys have available for your fairways, and how do you decide which shafts to offer?

12:04 – Erik Boysen:  We will offer ANYTHING.  If a customer wants it we will get it.  We try to offer shafts that are well marketed.  Obviously the V2 is very well marketed and it’s performing, the UST I-Rod is well marketed and is performing, the YS-6 from Graphite Design – they’re shaft that people know and want.  The Diamana Blue, White, and Red from Mitsubishi Rayon and Bassara.  So as long as there’s an interested from the golfer and someone wants it, we’ll get it.  In our catalogs and on our website we put in shafts that are prominently displayed in the marketplace – Aldila, Graphite Designs, and Mitsubishi Rayon shafts.  But if there’s a demand and the customer calls in and wants it, we’ll get it.  I know we’ve had a couple of golfers in Chicago that want the Accra SE 85, that’s a $400 shaft.  We don’t list it, but we say, “No problem, we’ll make the phone calls and get it for you.”  We want the golfer to call in, especially a Sonartec customer, if they want something we’ll get it.  If we have a relationship or if we don’t we’ll find a way to get it.  Golf is almost 80% mental, so we want someone to stand over the ball knowing that the equipment he ordered is exactly what he wants and he’s getting the performance out of it.

13:36 – GolfWRX:  That’s really great that your company is so willing to go above and beyond the call of duty to get whatever the customer needs.  There aren’t that many companies on the market willing to do that, so that’s impressive.

13:52 – Erik Boysen:  That leads into the customization part of it.  If someone wants an MD bent, we’ll bend it for them because we know it’s about getting the right club into that individual’s hands and that individual feeling good at address, so those little things go a long way to the golfer.

14:09 – GolfWRX:  Now I know Sonartec used a previous driver they released, are there any chances we’ll see Sonartec back in the driver market?  

14:16 – Erik Boysen:  Possibly.  We’ve talked and our theory is around here – if it’s not better than something on the market today, then why bring it to the market.  We want it to be one of the best drivers if not the best driver.  If we bring a fairway wood to the market it has to be equal or greater.  We’re not going to bring something sub par just to be in the driver market.  The MD for example has been in Sonartec’s lineup for four years now.  We’re just about to bring out the HB-001, we feel the HB-001 can compete or is equal to or greater than the MD.  Yes, the MD has won numerous titles – the 2004 British Open, Club Test of the Year Hybrid of the Year.  We feel the HB-001 can compete.  So, will we venture into the driver market?  Possibly, but it has to be equal to today’s products or greater.  We don’t just want to put something in the market that’s okay, because okay’s not good, we want something greater.  

15:30 – GolfWRX:  Since the MD has been on the market for four years and has been selling everywhere, why has it been such a long lasting club and why has the life of the club been so long?

15:46 – Erik Boysen:  The retailers have really grown to like the MD, the MD makes them good money, it continues to sell at $199 which is a higher price for a hybrid.  The performance, the fitting options, the club just continues to perform.  It’s got to be one of my favorite clubs in my bag.  I carry two of them now, still today after four years I hit shots and I scratch my head, “How did I just do that.”  That club performs and it’s such a versatile club.  We’re a young company but our marketing is very limited, not too many people know about it but it continues to sell.  We get people calling in wanting to order the new 2007 MD.  We go inside, hey if it’s new to you, great, let’s get it to you.  The MD performs and the retailers love it because they still buy it at the same wholesale price they bought it at four years ago and it’s still selling at $199.  They don’t have to adjust the price at retail and that’s exciting for them in today’s market that a club that’s been on their shelves for four years still sells at $199 and it’s still today in several tour player’s bags because the club continues to perform we feel we really launched the whole hybrid craze four years ago after the 2004 British Open.  That really brought to everyone’s eye what a hybrid could do.  I was talking about it yesterday with GolfWorld, to watch that final playoff, the winner hit is MD on 18, 321 and then the second place finisher hit is drive 316 yards.  There was a picture, I don’t know if it was in Getty Images or in GolfWorld where the runner up’s eyes were like, “What did he just hit there and how did he hit it so far?”  That’s the amazing thing about the MD is if you hit it pure, the results just light you up.  Are there plans to update?  I’ll lead into this – there are no plans to update, I think the MD has had its day in the sun.  We’re going to transition here July 1 into the HB-001.  The HB-001 will be our new flagship hybrid and we’re really excited to get it out.  I think this week we just got the Tour product out to the PGA Tour down at the Byron, so I know our Tour reps are just introducing the HB-001 to Tour players.  Hopefully this afternoon I can see it on the Darrel if we got it in play.  

18:48 – GolfWRX:  So will the MD still be part of your line-up once the HB-001 comes out?

18:50 – Erik Boysen:  No.  We’ve talked about it, we feel we’ve got another three or four months of life left with the MD and then we’ll have to say good bye to a great club and move into a new great club, the HB-001.

Part III

0:13 – GolfWRX:  Can you talk a little bit about the HB-001, I know you said we can expect it early in the summer, but the big shocker was the first Sonartec wood without a Driving Cavity.  

0:33 – Erik Boysen:  Matt who designed it is a baseball fan, so the HB stands for home base.  There’s a little home base plate on there.  Matt’s a die hard Padre fan.  HB-001 is the first club designed solely by Sonartec, it was our R&D team who designed it.  We’re very excited about it.  We’ve modified the Driving Cavity and it’s a little bit shallower.  We want to get the ball up in the air, I’m tired of hearing we’re a player’s club.  This club is definitely a high launching, low spin hybrid.  Very little bulge and roll so it sets up like an iron.  You hit down on the HB-001, the rail technology will keep the club head square through impact, especially in the rough.  It’s the first hybrid on the market with rails on it and the performance has been great in testing.  We’ve done some independent testing with club fitters and they say it’s been one of the best hybrids they’ve tested in regards to launch and spin.  It’s a high launch low spin, so we’ve been able to get the ball to land on greens like an iron, but also get the distance of a fairway wood.  We’re excited but we’re finalizing the shaft, we’re pretty tough on ourselves.  I think we’ve found the shaft, I’m not going to say what it is, but I think we’ve worked with a manufacturer to find a shaft that’s finally going to go in the HB-001.  There’s been some testing out with a prototype shaft, you may have seen it in Golf Magazine, I don’t know if that’s going to be the final shaft or not.  

2:38 – GolfWRX:  So if you had to compare and contrast, how is the HB-001 compared to the MD and would a similar player fit into both, or is one a better fit for a different type of player?

2:48 – Erik Boysen:  I think the HB-001 is going to help every golfer get the ball up in the air.  MD has a more penetrating ball flight, a little bit hotter.  That’s why for several years now the MD was the number one hybrid for the British Open, because of the wind – they want to keep the ball down and run something up.  HB-001 is going to be able to get the ball up in the air.  Again, it should fit all golfers if you get the right shaft.  The HB-001 does have the bendable hosel on it so you can adjust it like an iron, so if you’re replacing your 2, 3, 4, or 5 iron, with the HB-001 we can adjust the lie angle or the retailer can adjust the lie angle to fit that golfer.  But the HB-001 compared to the MD will get the ball up in the air much easier.  

3:45 – GolfWRX:  Now, the head cover, when you released the pictures of the HB-001, the head cover was a huge hit and it’s a really interesting idea to put a retro head cover on a wood like that.  Who gets the credit for that?

3:58 – Erik Boysen:  That was a group effort.  I threw out the pompom, Matt and Toru really like the Sock and we think it’s a little bit different.  We’re in the golf industry, let’s have a little bit of fun.  I think the retro look is coming back.  Today if an individual is carrying a driver, a fairway wood, and if someone’s carrying two or three hybrids there’s just not a lot of room.  We wanted something thin in there, something that wouldn’t take up a lot of space but also protect the club head.  So we came up with this little knitted sock with the pompom which I’m lucky enough to have a couple in my bag right now and everyone says, “That’s cool, what is that.”  That’s the little attention to detail Sonartec’s known for.  We try to be different, we try to show something new.  I think this new head cover – the knitted sock with the pompom is going to be a selling feature hopefully because it looks pretty good.

5:08 – GolfWRX:  Now getting into the wedges, the T-35’s have been a huge hit.  One of the most striking features is the very impressive sole grind on it with heel, toe, and trailing edge relief.  Why did Sonartec decide to enter the wedge market and what prompted you to put such a radical sole grind on your first introduction?

5:26 – Erik Boysen:  Wedges are sort of like fairway woods, everyone’s looking for the perfet wedge or the perfect fairway wood.  We have some designs, Toru, our president, is sort of a wedge and putter guy.  We were approached by a designer and we thought maybe this is something we could do.  We sort of expanded on it and thought about it we started with some prototypes, the T-15 which is one of the very first prototypes that came in.  We sat around and said we want the leading edge, no matter where it is if you open the club face up to stay close to the ground.  We didn’t want the leading edge to peak up so it’s pointing at the equator of the ball.  I think the low handicapper or the mid handicapper once they start seeing that leading edge creep up, they start getting worried about that skull shot or hitting it thin.  We didn’t want that, we wanted to keep the grind down low, or the leading edge down low.  The big thing for us is in the back of the constant radius.  If you look at a Sonartec wedge, we’ve take a lot of mass and moved it up behind the ball.  If you hit your driver poorly, or your fairway wood and you’re in the first cut of rough, when you hit that ball high up on the clubface, sometimes you get that dead feeling where the ball goes but you don’t know if you hit it hard enough.  By us moving that weight up in the constant radius, you get more of a solid feel even if it’s hit high on the face.  By moving the weight up high in the face you also get a better trajectory.  If you put too much mass down in the sole, the ball goes up in the air and balloons.  With our wedges we feel we’re getting a little more mass, a better feel, and better ball flight.  We’re sort of knocking the ball down, we’re not letting the ball balloon up and create a lot of backspin.  We’re creating backspin by our Yo-Yo grooves, a very aggressive groove that puts a tremendous amount of backspin on the ball, but won’t eat up you’re Pro V1 or anything but they will definitely put a lot of spin on the ball.  So by moving some weight around and by using the right grooves we feel we’ve created a wedge that controls ball flight, gets the leading edge down to the ground, and a very versatile, clean, and classy looking wedge.  

8:13 – GolfWRX:  Do the same custom shaft options apply to the T-35?  I know there’s so many iron shaft options on the market.

8:23 – Erik Boysen:  There are, we feel the Dynamic Gold wedge shaft that we offer is one of the best and we’re going to stay with that.  We do get requests but we feel again that the Dynamic Gold True Temper shaft is perfect and 90% of the golfers, I hate to throw out a percentage, play Dynamic Gold or True Temper.  We’d like to offer them all, but at this time we’re saying we’re going to go with the True Temper Dynamic Gold wedge shaft.

9:00 – GolfWRX:  Now I know a lot of people have seen the T-15 prototypes that came out just before the T-35’s, what are the differences between the two?  

9:08 – Erik Boysen:  Yeah, there’s a big difference, I’ve hit them all.  The T-15’s had very little bounce, I almost called them diggers.  They dug, you can see there’s very little bounce by adding loft you should be able to get some bounce, but those were done – T-15 stands for January ‘05 and the T-35 stands for the third prototype of ’05.  The T-15 was our first step into the wedge market, it is a prototype, there is very little bounce, if you add some loft you should be able to add some bounce and they’re the same metals, forged 8620 carbon steel, but there’s just a lot of bounce difference.  We feel the T-15 has very little bounce and changed the bounce in the T-35.  

10:11 – GolfWRX:  The other big introduction we’re waiting on are the East Coast Design Wedges, when are they coming out and how do they differ from the T-35?

10:17 – Erik Boysen:  The East Coast T-46, we’re calling it will come out in July.  What we’ve done is added more bounce.  Explaining bounce to the customer at retail can be very challenging and we’re trying to simplify that.  Some people put the bounce number on there, but the customer doesn’t always understand it.  East Coast is going to be higher bounce for softer conditions, the West Coast or T-35 is lower bounce.  Someone who plays in softer conditions or someone is steep usually needs more bounce because if they’re trying to get the ball up in the air if they don’t have enough bounce they’ll just dig on steep swings.  The East Coast is designed with more bounce in mind.  We’re actually making it a little bit different by adding a black nickel finish which has had a great response.  Maybe I’ll shoot Easyyy or someone a picture of the T-46 and the black nickel finish, but I’ve showed it to retailers and they just love it.  It’s a really good job, I have to credit Shawn and Matt for coming up with a really good finish.  Same lofts, 52, 54, 56, 58, and 60 but the bounces are increased on the 52 to 10 bounce, 54 to 12 bounce, 56 to 14 bounce, 58 to 12 bounce, and the 60 to 10 bounce.  

12:01 – GolfWRX:  So a pretty significant increase in bounce?  

12:03 – Erik Boysen:  It is but it’s working well.

12:09 – GolfWRX:  Now the only thing that is missing from Sonartec’s lineup is a set of forged irons, so is there any chance we’re going to see those in the U.S. market any time soon?  

12:19 – Erik Boysen:  I don’t think so.  We’re going to dance with what brought us to the dance and that’s fairway woods, hybrids, and wedges.  Maybe ten years from now, five years from now there could be.  But there are no plans to bring irons to the U.S., or have irons in the U.S. Market.  We just want to stay with what brought us to the dance and those are fairway woods, hybrids, and wedges, so sorry guys.

12:50 – GolfWRX:  The lefties on our site are very, very vocal and they were wondering if they will be seeing an extended lineup for the left handed clubs soon?

13:05 – Erik Boysen:  We always talk about it, we have a great relationship with a lefty who handles our Canadian customer base and if there is a demand we will bring left handed to the market.  It’s challenging form a design point to flip a club all the way around with respect to internal weighting.  If there is a demand, we will bring left handed.  Currently the only things we’re offering is the MD in 17, 19, and 21 and the NP-99 in 14, 15, 17, and 21.  Currently new product coming out, no left handed, I’m sorry to say.  

13:53 – GolfWRX:  So what does the future hold for Sonartec, where do you guys go from here?

13:58 – Erik Boysen:  The future is bright.  We’re working on several projects.  We’ve got six things currently in the oven we’re working on.  That’s why the guys are going overseas.  We’ve got some exciting things coming out, which I’m excited about from a marketing point of view because it’s somethings that are a little bit different.  We’re going to surprise some people, it’s safe to say, but we’ve got some cool things happening.  We’ve hired a new designer to work with the two designers we already have.  It’s going to be fun.  We’re still in the early stages so I can’t let the cat out of the bag, but maybe in September or November you’ll see some new stuff from Sonartec.  If I get anything early and I get the okay to post, I’ll post it on GolfWRX right away for you guys.

15:07 – GolfWRX:  Great stuff, we can’t wait to see that.  Last question before we let you go, we’ve got to find out what’s in your bag since we’re all club junkies here.  

15:13 – Erik Boysen:  I’m a golf club junkie.  Toru gives me a hard time, I sell golf clubs and market golf clubs all day and then I go home and watch the golf channel.  I love golf so in my bag today, I hope I get this off the top of my head right.  I won’t mention other manufacturers even though they make great products.  I’ve got a 905R in my bag.  10.5 with a Diamana Blue Board stiff flex 63g.  For my three wood, I play Sonartec MD 17 with a Graphite Designs YS Hybrid shaft, stiff flex there.  Then I jump down to my money club the MD 19 with the same setup, YS Hybrid shaft.  Ping I3 irons, the blades, with 6.0 Flighted Rifles.  I just love them, and I’m lucky enough to have our East Coast T-46 wedges, I play a 52 and 56, they’re awesome, I can’t wait for you guys to start hitting them soon.  The putter, there’s so many good things out there - I’ve been loyal, but now I’m in the lotto game – last week was the Guerin Rife Barbados, but I’m lucky enough to have a T.P. Mills, I think Glenn’s going to kill me, and David’s going to kill me, I forget the model of the T.P. Mills I have, the feel of the T.P. Mills, wow, amazing.  The ball, I don’t know it floats around from a Titleist Pro V1 to a Bridgestone B330, even the Nike One ball is a good ball.  There’s so much good equipment out there, it’s tough, there’s so much stuff to try.  

17:20 – GolfWRX:  Yeah, but that’s half the fun of it.  

17:22 – Erik Boysen:  It is, it’s half the fun, trying to get the ball in the hole.

17:25 – GolfWRX:  Erik, we really appreciate you taking the time out today to have this discussion with us and inform us on your great new products and all the stuff coming up, we can’t wait to see it.  We’d also like to thank you for your sponsorship and time over the past two years, we’ve been growing as you have and it’s been really fun to see both GolfWRX and Sonartec grow and we really appreciate your time, thanks very much.

17:47 – Erik Boysen:  Thank you and I truly appreciate everything GolfWRX has done for us, especially the members.  It’s fun being a golf junkie and being able to talk to other golf junkies.  Keep up the good work GolfWRX and I love the website, thanks guys.

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