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It was a big day at TaylorMade Golf when we dropped in to see David Abeles, President and CEO. David discusses the events of the day, the release of the new M-Family of products and answers our “5 Questions in 50 Seconds.”
Tom Brassell: 2017 PGA Merchandise Show with TaylorMade. David Abeles, the Bee Gee’s sing, You Can’t Get Too Much Heaven. If you look around that’s not right is it?
David Abeles: It’s been an incredible start hasn’t it? It’s a wild time here at the show. Always good and I’m glad to be doing this with you and Worldwide Golf.
Tom: Let’s start with big news. Big news just happening. Tell us what happened.
David Abeles: Yes, first thing this morning, 8:30 the bell rang at the PGA Show, and we made arguably one of the biggest announcements we’ve ever made as a company. We’re very, very proud that Tiger Woods has joined the TaylorMade team and the TaylorMade family. In fact, he’s kicking it off at the San Diego event. The Farmer’s Insurance Open this weekend. Playing with a pretty good threesome as well. I don’t know if you guys saw the pairings, but it’s pretty special. It will be Tiger, Jason Day, and Dustin Johnson. Fortunately all three of them are TaylorMade guys, so we’re very, very humbled and excited that Tiger’s a part of our team now. He’s going to do some incredible things with and for our company.
Then I think about having the number one player in the world in Jason Day and the very reigning PGA Tour player of the year in Dustin Johnson. It’s been, an incredible stable. Not to mention a gold medalist in Justin Rose and Sergio playing great golf. We’re in a really good place.
Tom: Just personal opinion with, looking at the history of TaylorMade golf, even with product launches, this has to be the biggest news ever, isn’t it?
David Abeles: Yes. You know, 2016 was a terrific year for us. We’ve always believed philosophically that if we lead the industry in innovation and advanced technology, really driving optimum performance in golf equipment, and now, that extend beyond metal, woods and irons and into wedges, and putters and a lightening rod of a technology in this new TP5 and TP5X golf ball, which we can talk about. We’ve always believed that if we made the best products in the world, that ultimately the best players would choose to play our brand. What’s been incredible for us as one of our competitors left the equipment business, is almost every one of those athletes has chosen to come to TaylorMade. They’ve chosen to come to TaylorMade because they believe that our products will help them play better on the golf course and Tiger’s no exception.
Tom: Let’s segue into products. We sat here a year ago and talked about the M family and here it is again and even bigger and better than ever.
David Abeles: It was 12 months ago already. I felt like we were sitting next to each other. Maybe a different location. Yes, last year we made some pretty bold predictions that the M1 and the M2 drivers would become the number one and number two selling drivers in the world and fortunately they did. Worldwide Golf was a big part of that here in the United States helping get behind the product and educate consumers and golfers why the products work so well. M1 and M2‘s been fantastic for us. We had the number one selling iron in golf last year, an M2. We anticipate that that will be the same thing and now we compliment it in 2017 with an M1 iron.
Everything for 2017 is new from TaylorMade. The new M1 and M2 metal woods and irons. The new P-series forged iron which is the best player’s performance forged product that we have ever made and that’s on tour. The excitement around that product on tour is at an all time high right now. You’ll see that in market here shortly. New milled grind wedges, where we actually millennial, Tom, we mill the sole of the wedges. First time that’s been done in golf, so that we can replicate with a high degree of specificity, zero tolerance, every loft, every line angle and every bounce. Which hasn’t been done until now, which is very special.
We’ve got a hot putter range. Between Jason and Dustin playing the Spider products in the new TP collection, we anticipate 2017 to be another blockbuster year for our company.
Tom: You teased us a minute ago with a ball. Talk about the ball.
David Abeles: Some of you may know this but the TP5 and TP5X is the first five piece construction tour ball. When we designed this golf ball we said it’s one thing to make products for the best players in the world, that Jason and Dustin will play with, and that Sergio and Justin and Jon Rahm and all of our staff will play with and they’re all playing with it. It’s another thing to make sure that that ball works for everybody. For eight handicaps, and 15 handicaps, and 20 handicaps. For the first time, we’re very, very proud of this. We’ve cracked the code. How to optimize distance off the tee, how to minimize spin on what’s called your downward trajectory, which means your ball velocity stays faster, longer. Then maintain a descent angle so that you can hold the green and not lose any touch or feel around a cast Urethane golf ball around the green.
As soon as we started to bring this technology to tour, the players couldn’t believe what they’re seeing because it’s very difficult to differentiate performance in a golf ball. What they’re seeing is two to three degrees higher launch angle. Three to four miles an hour more ball speed and spin rates that are up around the greens and spin rates that are down off the tee and in their irons. It’s noticeably different Tom when you hit it. It goes higher and it goes further. It is absolutely fantastic and our ball business, under the TP5, TP5X franchise, is going to be better than we’ve ever had.
Tom: With all the technology now David, in the clubs, talk about the importance of being custom-fit for clubs.
David Abeles: Yes, I think it’s critically important and I’m not so sure anyone does it better than your team at Worldwide Golf. While we believe that our advanced technology in static form, meaning if you weren’t fit, is certainly going to help somebody perform better. When you optimize performance in a product, you’re going to get that much more distance. When you think about really the population of golfers and how many golfers have not gone through an appropriate fitting, that creates challenges in terms of advancing their performance. We believe in it implicitly. In fact, we believe in it so much that we bring it into our golf equipment. M1 is a perfect example. Where there’s more personalization in that product than ever before. More so now in 2017.
You can adjust the face angle, which adjusts the loft of the product. You can adjust the right/left trajectories of the product by moving the sliding track, and now with an extended track in the back, better than the original M1, you can adjust spin by another 300 RPM. When you get optimized, personally or custom-fit into that driver, we will find you 15 to 20 yards.
Tom: That’s awesome. Well, it’s that time. We put you on the clock last year. You ready? Five questions, 50 seconds. You nailed it last year. Here we go, question number one for David Abeles. Who is this year’s breakout player from TaylorMade?
David Abeles: Easy. Jon Rahm.
Tom: Question number two. Who was your golf mentor growing up?
David Abeles: Well, my mentor growing up was my father. Ironically he didn’t play golf, but he has a PhD in physics, so I learned a lot about golf equipment and design through his PhD. My father’s my mentor. I admire tour players. Tom Watson growing up was one of my favorite players without question. My mentor in golf was my high school golf coach, a guy named George Butcher, who was terrific for me, helped me understand the game, learn the game, play the game more effectively. I was recreational before I got to high school and then played in university after that. Coach Butcher was very impactful for me.
Tom: Number three for David Abeles. Number one item on your bucket list. Doesn’t have to be golf related.
David Abeles: Actually it is golf related, interestingly enough. I have three young boys at home. Andrew, Ethan and Joshua and they’re nine, 11, and six. So they happen to be my greatest foursome right now, and so I promised them that when they’re of the age, and when ultimately they’re playing at a skill level that’s good enough, we’re going to head up to Monterey and we’re going to play.
Tom: Question number four. Newest addition to your bag. What’s in your bag? The newest addition?
Tom: Head to toe. Question number five. Should the Yukon women scrimmage the Yukon men, who would come out … Who would win?
David Abeles: Who put you up to that one? Who put you up to that one? I will tell you this much. Because I wouldn’t put the men versus the women, because I think I know what the outcome would be, and it wouldn’t be favorable for the men. What I will tell you this, is Geno Auriemma who is an incredible leader and perhaps one of the greatest basketball coaches of all time. In fact, he may be the greatest basketball coach of all time. 12 national championships in 15 years. Geno is now in TaylorMade, so I go with the women.
Tom: David, thanks so much for having us. Thanks for getting together your time. Thanks for all you do here. It’s amazing. It really is and what you do for the game of golf.
David Abeles: Thanks for having me and we’re only as good as our customers. To everybody in the Worldwide Golf Group, thanks so much Tom, really appreciate it.
Tom: Awesome, thank you.
David Abeles: You’re the best, man.