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David Abeles Podcast #325 – TaylorMade SIM 2

Worldwide Golf Shops INSIDER PODCAST #325! In this installment, we chat with the President of TaylorMade Golf, David Abeles! David talks TaylorMade Golf’s NEW SIM 2 Series of Driver, Fairways, Hybrids, and Irons! Please Enjoy this INSIDER Podcast

PODCAST TRANSCRIPT

Tom Brassell

Welcome to the worldwide golf Shops insider podcast. Episode 325. Greetings everyone. Tom Brassell here. Happy New year again. 2021 is here and it’s here on full throttle here on the worldwide golf Shops Insider podcast. The guest list this year will be second to none, once again, and it starts with our special guest today. Always great to catch up with our good friend TaylorMade Golf‘s David, Abeles. David, how are you my friend?

David Abeles

What a what? A crazy ride. This has been a rollercoaster Tom hasn’t it? and yeah, it feels like we’re still Dealing with it a bit here early in 2021, but I’m doing well. I appreciate having some time on The podcast is always and spending some time with all the fans of worldwide golf. So this this time of year is always an exciting one for me to have the opportunity to reengage with you and the team and share a few thoughts about golf and certainly TaylorMade.

Tom Brassell

Yeah, this is kind of our state of the Union. Let’s turn the Clock back David. I mean, it was about what 10 months ago and Everything kind of hit. I think the Big East tournament got stopped at halftime and The Players Championship was going to take us back to what You were doing when all this happened and how it kind of started.

David Abeles

Yeah, you know, I’ll even backtrack beyond ten months ago because it was March 13th or 14th on Friday when Jay Monahan and the PGA Tour suspended play and then ultimately canceled The Players Championship withstand really started to. Create what I call the lever pulls in golf all the different decisions that were being made around our great game sport at the professional level. At the amateur level, and certainly the businesses that’s when things started to migrate, but we had had some level of awareness to a virus in China back at the end of last year. Had no idea Was coronavirus had no idea that it was epidemic of sorts at the time that could ultimately manifest itself or develop into a pandemic, but like many like many of us in this industry, we do some work with Asia based entities, some in China and we started to see A little bit of absenteeism and some of the facilities, and so we weren’t sure what that was, so we paid very close attention to that.ˇSoˇweˇweˇgot a sense that something unusual was happening at the end of last year. Really. The beginning of this year and then once the media started to get engaged in the Public Health Committee, started to engage both nationally and internationally. We found out like everybody else That there was this epidemic happening in Asia, that ultimately has become coronavirus on a worldwide basis.ˇSoˇwe had a little bit of a notion that there may have been something unusual, although we really didn’t know what that was. In our companies. One that I alwaysˇprioritizesˇhealth and safety and everything we do absolutely everything comes its people, customer health and safety. First that tailor made Soˇwe’re very cognizant of it then then really to the Genesis of your question, Iˇactually duckedˇout with my family For a couple of days on a holiday inˇmid Marchˇand that’s when the news started to break that this isˇseriousˇand we were obviously like every other company going to take this very seriously. And then The Players Championship was suspended. the NBA was suspended. I’m silvers and the NBA suspended the NBA season and then things you know started to ramp so Over the past ten months, there have been a series of actions and decisions that have had to be made on behalf of our sport On behalf of the business and certainly all the people involved, that has been a bit surreal to be honest with you, Tom and you know the starting point again is you know our hearts go out to all of those that have been directly affected by this andˇandˇhave either been infected by the virus or sadly you know have had some real Sadness in their life because of it. We’re fighting like everybody else to do our part in help Our communities andˇall ofˇour people and certainly their families and everybody associated with golf. True, this is the best that we can.ˇ

Tom Brassell

Yeah, it made us really start thinking and reassessing and wondering where we were going to go. But what did they? What did? What did you learn about Your team or yourself that you may not have known during this time because it was certainly a time forˇself reflectionˇandˇandˇteam reflection.ˇ

David Abeles

Yeah Tom, you know, and I think a lot of a lot of executives will tell you that you know we had some levels of preparation For an unusual circumstance like this, ready to go, kind of a crisis management model that would help your people and your team through a situation like this, but IˇIˇcan honestly tell you is as strong as our management team is. I think we’re the best in the business and I also believe that we prioritize the right values within our business Nobody is prepared for something like this, so youˇactually haveˇto, in many regards, react to new data points and new learnings on aˇday to dayˇbasis to enable you to, you know, make progress orˇplan for the futureˇand then the bigger question is Tom, what are you planning for? Because the data is responsive data Not proactive data, and you can’t model precedence From a prior year or prior sequence of time that says OK, this is what’s going to happen.ˇSoˇwhat we learned very quickly about our team and it’s something that we knew is we have a very fast and nimble leadership team at Taylor made in a very fast and nimble culture, a culture that really can make changes in our business and with our customers, and with golfers and with Athletes very quickly To ensure that we get our company in our people best position for whether it’s health and Wellness in this case or success. When things started to improve. And so it was a tremendous learning invalidation that and you know, you’ve heard me talk about this before. Our company at TaylorMade here in many regards, gets D and S1 of if not the most innovative company in golf and typically When the constituencies talk about innovation, they talk about our product innovation, Tom But I have always said this and I believe this more so today than ever before. Innovation, a truly innovative company, innovates across everything you do and it starts with the way you think and it starts with your corporate culture and innovative companies have the capability to create when they need to. They have the capability of think differently when it’s required. They have the opportunity and capability Of acting quickly when necessary, and Fortunately we’re able to do that. No better example, when we really one of the first things we wanted to do was do our part in helping those affected or helping those that are fighting this pandemic on the frontline. So you recall back in May we brought together four of our superstars, Dustin Johnson, Matt Wolf, Rory Mclroy, Rickie Fowler and we with our partners at PGA Tour and at NBC put on the 1st live televised sporting event, TaylorMade driving Relief at Seminole Golf Club of all places We put on the 1st live sporting event since the onset of COVID-19 to raise money for the Nurses Foundation CDC Foundation. We raised almost $7,000,000 Tom to help and that was something that I personally am incredibly proud of. Incredibly proud of what TaylorMade was willing to do to help here and we continue to do that through PPE and other provisions throughout the course of the year.

Tom Brassel

Yeah, that that event was huge because for for the longest time not only golf but everything was shut down and then all of a sudden golf it seemed like it started starting to come back a little bit like hey, you know what we can. We can play this game safely as the sport itself in the recreation of it. You know, with distancing with walking, then all of a sudden. Push carts started to be scarce. They were all selling out and the next thing you know are great sports, making a little bit of a comeback.ˇ

David Abeles

Yeah, no doubt and and I’m sure you feel the same way you know you never want a pandemic to be the catalyst to drive the success in a given category. But make no mistake What is real here is because of our sport, how you can physical distance and how you can play the game and the safety being outdoors in the practices and protocols put in place at the golf course and think about Tom, the work that golf professionals across the country and around the world have done to create an environment that is safe For people to come play golf, I mean they’re heroes in my mind, golf professionals at every level, at every facility that is opened up the game in their club and access to their golf courses to play in the modifications they’ve made. Their work has been paramount to golf’s, you know, shrink throughout the course of the pandemic, but you know, one of the things that was interesting. I was looking at some data points pre pandemic during pandemic in what we hope to be post pandemic is As quickly as we can as these vaccines get rolled out, golf was on the upswing prior to covid We were seeing single digit constant participation. We had stability in the marketplaces. We had stability in the in the participation based not just the number of rounds of played and then coded really activated. What we call the latent demand in golf. So to put that in a numerical context some there are 25 million golfers here in the United States there are 15 million golfers Outside of those 25 that have indicated that they would like to consider or are considering playing golf, and I think in many regards what’s happened Because people have had more time, they’ve had more time with their families. Juniors have more time to get to the golf course. They’re not playing other sports right now. In some regards wives and husbands can play together. Families can come together. We have seen a percentage of that 15 million latent demand be activated and come into the sport. And what’s happened is They’re buying golf products. They’re buying pushcarts to your point, but they’re buying equipment or buying golf balls Very engaging in the game and even at a small microcosm of this is at my club. We have a waiting list to get into our club. We have tee times at our club we didn’t use to. It’s fantastic to see you know the world embracing golf and an all of us is golfers embracing the game and playing more and bringing more people into the game. And that’s going to bode well long term because We’re going to get the world vaccinated here in the first half of this year And then after that we’re going to see more golf than we’ve seen, probably in 20 years. So I’m very excited about the future, both in terms of, you know, getting this pandemic behind us, and importantly, how golfers will retain their interest in the game and continue to play. So it’s a. It’s an exciting time.

Tom Brassell

Yeah, we got to interview several tour players, several TaylorMade tour players last year and and the consensus was it’s great to be back out here, but Good gosh, we missed the fans. We miss having our fans out here and and that was that was everyone we talked to.

David Abeles:

No doubt, I mean, whether I I think about our team. I was with many of them at the end of last year within the appropriate safety structure. Whether it was Tiger or whether it was Dustin or Rory or mapper Colin. And as you’re probably aware, we welcome Tommy Fleetwood to the team who’s dealing with situations in in the UK as well Each and everyone of them said unprompted. We’re really looking forward to the fans coming back and is is competitive as they are even without fans. We are really excited and I know I am is a golf and not just someone that works in the industry. People get back to the golf course and watch the world’s best play and they love the competition and they play in many regards. You know to build their own legacies but also Tom to really inspire fans and golfers to play as well. So no doubt about it. As soon as we A place where we can safely get some people back on the golf courses and spectators in place. I, I think golf is gonna be just prolific at when we get to that point and very exciting thereafter. So going to be a lot of fun when we get there. And hopefully that’s not too far in the distant future here.ˇ

Tom Brassell

David Abeles from TaylorMade joining us David before I let you go. I gotta ask you to do something that you do. You’re the best at just high level of what we can expect this your product-wise from TaylorMade because there’s always some great new stuff and No one’s better at it than you than telling us about it. Well, thanks, I don’t know if I’m the best at it, but I can tell you this. We have the best. We have the best product creators in research development engineers in golf. Here we are launching a breakthrough product called SIM 2 building off the shape and Motion platform from 2020 which was the hottest selling driver, fairly wooden iron around the world. We have built an extension, a new platform called SIM Two That will enable our product to get a bit faster and even more forgiving than what we saw in SIM. Those products are already in play. You may have seen just this last week at Kapalua, where Dustin Johnson World number one puts into and play, as in Collin Morikawa, the reigning PGA Champion products will be in market mid February and they will complement the success of P 790 and 770. You may have seen the sibling rivalry between these two. Beautiful irons going on. We’ve got a new Golf ball in T5 and TP5X building upon The momentum we’ve established. I don’t know if you know this time, but tell me it’s not only the fastest growing major golf equipment brand in the world, but we’re also the fastest growing major golf ball brand in the world. We’re we’re growing share every year on the backs of a movement of players coming into five piece construction and again, that new ball was played at Kapalua as well, and Ricky will be in it soon When he Tees it up for the first time, Rory will play with the golf ball in the Middle East. When he gets going next week, so very excited. We have the most comprehensive product line at TaylorMade From metal with irons, wedges and putters in golf ball. Then we have had the 41 years of our history. They are more technically advanced. They work better and everyone of those products can help every player, every skill level, play the game a bit better so you can tell by the energy. In my voice, I am really excited to come to market with with SIM two and TP5 and TP5X and TP5 pics. We’re going to have a terrific year and help golfers around the world get better at the great game that we all love.ˇ

Tom Brassell

Wow, good stuff Dave. Hey we appreciate your time so much. We know you’re busy. We always appreciate you carving out some time. How about some final words for our worldwide golf listeners out there?

David Abeles

Yeah, just well, first of all, thank you. It’s a it’s a pleasure to work in this industry and to serve golfers in every corner around the world. I have tried to personally through the pandemic, get into the worldwide golf stores from time to time, certainly here in Southern California and within the limited travel when I’ve had a chance to be out in the market doing it safely. I’m so inspired by Your teams at your store level and the safety protocols they have in place and how they’re serving golfers to help golfers improve and do it in a very unique environment that we’re in. So I just want to say thank you. Thanks all the golfers that are playing our great game. Thanks for all the associates that worldwide golf. That are keeping the doors open to help golfers have access to brands like Taylormade and products that we make. It truly is firing and like everybody I am very excited about the next several months as we work into the spring and then ultimately the summer months and hopefully put as much of this pandemic behind us as we possibly can.ˇ

Tom Brassell

Its greatest game there is, David. Thanks so much in. Be safe out there and as we say to stay positive and test negative, how about that?ˇ

David Abeles

Sounds great, I love it. Tom. Thanks so much for the time.

Tom Brassell

Well, there you have it. A look at 2020 and 2021 and beyond from the eyes of TaylorMade President David Abeles, who joins us this time every year. It’s great to catch up with him in person, but haven’t been able to do that the last couple of years, so we’ll do it this way, but they check out that all new SIM two line. Certainly, more on that as we get closer to launch date, special thanks again to David Abeles for joining us and to you our listeners, and we’ll do it again next time. We have another episode of the worldwide golf Shops Insider podcast here worldwidegolfshops.com so long everyone.