I love golf gear, so much so that I set up a marketing company that helps golf companies sell more of them. But before I did, I was very fortunate to lead the editorial team at GolfWRX.
At GolfWRX, I’ve covered countless product launches and learned more about the physics and chemistry of golf than any science teacher ever thought possible.
Learning from the people who designed the golf clubs has been incredibly fun and revealing. By knowing what they do and why they do it, they have earned my endless respect for what goes on in the working day in the golf industry.
These days, I’m part of my own product launches for the brands we help. And when I’m working on those launches, I always think about going back to my favorites from my media days to take advantage of the things that got me really excited.
Before diving into the list, I want to share the three factors I look for in a successful product launch. The launches I selected answer a resounding “yes” to each of the questions below:
- Does the product strongly represent the brand’s values?
- Does the product add something new that solves a real problem?
- Is the product really effective?
Here is my list.
4. Ping G30 driver
Remember the first time you saw Turbulators? Ping was making some very good drivers around 2013, but they weren’t considered the longest. when they Launch G30All this has changed.
On the science side, Ping’s challenge was that he was committed to making drivers very tolerant. The problem was that making the drivers too tolerant meant using a driver’s head shape that wasn’t very dynamic and wasn’t very fast. So if you are playing Ping driver those days, you are not playing it from a distance. You play it for accuracy.
Other brands were pushing CG drivers forward as a way forward at the time, but the folks at Ping thought there was a better way. So they went in a different direction.
Bing’s research into aerodynamics threw out the “Turbulators,” which were humps they added to the front of the driver’s crown that helped reduce drag so golfers could swing faster.
There has been a lot of talk from other golf equipment companies that Turbulators were “just marketing” and it didn’t actually work. Several people told me they tested the batons after they shaved off the rackets and didn’t see a difference.
But when golfers put the G30 on the launch screen, the results were clear. The G30 was not only the most forgiving driver in its class, but also one of the fastest. That was all that mattered.
3. TaylorMade RocketBallz Fairway Forest
The claim was another 17 yards. And for most golfers, they delivered that and more. The TaylorMade RocketBallz Fairway Woods Ushered in a new era of wood-metal design that made the previous generation of Fairway woods almost extinct overnight – at least for high-rollers.
Looking back, it made perfect sense. Fairway Woods at the time shot very low and spun a lot…at least for today. But what if you could raise the launch level, lower the spin, and add more ball speed? That’s what RocketBallz did.
TaylorMade cited a “Speed Bucket” — a hole in the front of the sole — as the reason for the length of the RocketBallz Fairway woods. The hatch helped, but the RocketBallz performance was just as much about pushing the weight forward and lowering it—much later than the point experienced on fairway wood.
Looking back, RocketBallz may have been very successful for TaylorMade. The company rode the low-CG story forward down to a line of products called SLDR, which had CG too low and advanced to be reliable for most golfers. Hank Haney told me plainly that TaylorMade “never should have fired this driver”.
I have a weakness for firing, because TaylorMade has always been known to push the envelope. After all, TaylorMade was the first to deploy adjustable weights, adjustable buckets, and many other unimaginable technologies at the time.
2. PXG 0311 irons
We thought we’d get another Miura, but the PXG turned out to be something completely different. The company led by Bob Parsons hired some of the best and brightest people in the industry, then gave them a blank check for the best gear possible. The project succeeded.. specifically in 0311 Irons That changed the class of players’ irons forever.
You’ll remember all the screws on the outside, but what matters is the polymer foam on the inside. It allowed the 0311 iron face to be thinner and more weight to be pushed into the circumference. As a result, 0311 offered a combination of distance, feel, and tolerance that no one had experienced before.
Sure, they were roughly $3,000 per set, but golfers who could afford them didn’t care. They were new. They were sexy. And you can prove that they were the best irons on the market at that moment.
It’s hard to imagine a more successful launch of a new golf gear brand than the PXG was able to achieve on the back of the 0311 iron. The company put its money where its mouth was. They hired the team. They recruited tour players. And they made a fuss that we haven’t really seen since.
1. Soft Callaway Chrome Golf Balls
After a full day learning about Callaway Chrome Soft golf balls, marketed as the “ball that changed the ball,” I walked into an executive office for a quick interview. The goal was to get some quotes for a story I was going to write.
The CEO was wrapping up a few things and, being a curious journalist, I looked around the office and noticed two boxes of golf balls. One of the boxes was red and looked like the ball I had been learning about all day. The other box was blue. And both said Chrome Soft.
I must have said something like, “What’s in the blue square?” He could have avoided the question, but he didn’t. “We were in the process of releasing two different Chrome Soft balls, but we found one to be better for everyone,” he said. “So we’ll launch one.”
He told me that the other ball was compressed a little higher. It was better to fire both balls. Had Callaway released both versions, I’m willing to bet Chrome Soft wouldn’t be what it used to be. It was an all-encompassing bet on a concept of low pressure that was fundamentally unproven.
This Callaway was different, too. Callaway didn’t have OGIO, TravisMathew, or Topgolf to rely on. It lived and died with hard goods, and had Chrome Soft crashed that would have been a huge problem for the company.
Insiders will point out that the original Chrome Soft never really took off with tour players, and they’re right. But Calaway knew Chrome Soft offers something for the rest of the golf world.
Chrome Soft was about $10 cheaper per dozen Callaway Tour balls at the time, and nothing else really matched it. It was soft butter, it was really straight, and still checkered around the greens.
In the years since, we’ve all seen the big ball manufacturers talk more about pressure and offer a more refined product lineup. There is no doubt that Chrome Soft was part of that.
What did I miss or miss? Leave a comment below or send me an email at [email protected].
- Such as33
- very funny1