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What better way to start the day, in this case the Thursday of the 2016 PGA Merchandise Show in Orlando, than sitting down and spending a few minutes with the President and CEO of TaylorMade adidas Golf, Mr. David Abeles.
The timing was great as it was the week of the launch of the new M2 line from TaylorMade, making the M family of products complete.
David discusses not only the M family, but also, the current state of the game. He also tackles our “5 Questions in 50 Seconds” with host Tom Brassell.
Check it out on our podcast below.
Tom Brassell: Welcome to Golf Better at Worldwide Golf Shops. Live from the PGA show. This is Tom Brassell. Great day, Day 2 here, and joining me is a very, very special guest, the President and CEO of Taylormade Adidas Golf, Mr. David Abeles. Davis, great to be with you.
David Abeles: Tom, great to be with you. Thanks for having me. Love being part of your podcast.
Tom Brassell: For those who don’t know, tell us a little bit about yourself. How you fell in love with the game and how everything got started for you.
David Abeles: I have absolutely no idea. No idea. Golf has been in my life since I was a very young boy. I grew up on the east coast up in New York City and worked my way into the industry in 1994, early 1995, with Taylormade and had a wonderful 20-year career in this industry. Like many of us that have found some rhythm in golf, it really starts at the youth level. We’re excited to be able to talk about that today.
Tom Brassell: A long history with not only Roger Dunn Golf, but Edwin Watts Golf, and the whole family of golf shops.
David Abeles: I’ve had an incredible relationship with world-wide golf. Roger Dunn, Edwin Watts, Golfer’s Warehouse, the whole crew. It’s been absolutely fantastic. The people at your retail stores are simply terrific. Their authenticity of the game, their understanding of equipment, their understanding of the category, how to work and fit golfers when they come through the doors, and their personal interaction and care for golfers to help them get into equipment that plays better, to me, is really what’s so special about your team.
Tom Brassell: We got to talk a little bit before we’d come on the camera and on the recorder, it’s an exciting time now isn’t it.
David Abeles: It’s an incredibly exciting time. I think it’s exciting for golf, and Tom, you’ve probably seen this as you walk around the show, but many of the growth initiatives in golf, the junior initiatives whether it’s PGA Junior League, our association now with the American Junior Golf Association is a big deal, a big storyline in the show. Certainly Get Golf Ready. All the initiatives that have been launched over the past four or five, six years, I believe are starting to find traction, and we’re starting to see participation not only stabilize, but grow. I think there’s a lot of energy in the initiatives to drive the game.
The tour is red hot. We’ve got these young super stars. We’re proud of ours: Jason Day and Dustin Johnson, Justin Rose, Sergio. We’ve got four of the top ten players in the world right now which is fantastic, even competitive players like Jordan Spieth and certainly Rickie Fowler. The youth in golf right now is very exciting, and we’re seeing that in the TV ratings which is also very helpful in terms of awareness around our sport, which is just going to bode well for the industry as we move forward.
Lastly, for us, the product innovations that we’re bring to market this year and what that’s going to mean for golfers around the world, I think we will have our best year in terms of advanced innovation and technology that really optimizes performance for golfers everywhere. We’re very, very excited about what’s happening on tour, what’s happening in participation, and in the innovation and technology that we’re bringing to market to help golfers play the game better.
Tom Brassell: Let’s talk a little bit about what you’re bringing to market right now because it’s red hot. We talked a little bit about what’s going on on tour. Talk about the end line. It’s fantastic.
David Abeles: Yeah, well thanks for asking. Let’s back up to October last year. We made a decision in the summer of 2015 that we really wanted to reinvent the way metal woods were constructed. We had some incredible advanced engineering concepts around the use of multi-material technology. Some multi-material technology had been used in golf before, but not the way we were thinking about it. In October we launched a product called M1, which I’m sure many of your listeners and your viewers have experienced, and hopefully many of you have purchased. If you haven’t purchased it, you need to go get it. You simply need to go get it.
We launched the M1 driver which is a 5-part multi-material story starting with a thermally-compressed carbon crown and a dies aluminum soles and tongue tie density tungsten, a ultra-thin cast titanium body, and obviously the carbon fiber weave that works. Overnight, Tom, M1 became a resounding success. It’s not only a product that Jason Day switched to half way through the FedEx Cup and that the tour adopted as the #1 driver on tour the first week out, but it became the #1 driver in the worldwide markets here in the United States, in Europe, in Asia, and everywhere around the world in the first 30 days. That momentum had continued.
The beauty of the product is it’s not just great product for Jason Day or Dustin Johnson. It’s great product for everybody. It’s tour-proven product that can perform at every skill level. We broke the mold in terms of the use in multi-material technology in optimizing performance for all player types. M1 was the start of it. Then we arrived here in Orlando just yesterday, the first day of the show, and we launched the M2 product. The M family is complete. The M1 driver is optimizing distance through personalization and adjustability, and the M2 driver is optimizing distance through forgiveness.
The two products work very, very well together. Slightly different launch conditions, so when they come into your stores you’ll be able to get fit into the products and be able to see the launch spin and speed characteristics that are perfect your game. It’s not just drivers. Our fairway wood technology is second to none. I spoke with our team on the tour yesterday. We’re launching M2 on tour at Torrey Pines this week. The M2 fairway wood will without question be the top-selling fairway wood in golf by a long shot this year. It’s the fastest, longest, fairway wood. In fact, of the conversations we’ve been having with many of our customers, and they’ve this, is all of the Rocketballz fairway woods that really took over golf in 2012, M2 will take over what Rocket Balls did.
We’re very, very excited about the metal wood technology, and then we launched the M2 iron yesterday which isn’t only about distance. You’re going to hear a lot of companies talk about distance irons. That’s very important. Every player wants to hit it further, but distance is only one variable to optimize iron performance. Distance and height is better than just distance. We were able to optimize the trajectory so the launch conditions are fast, but also launch high. Those two things together, really optimize performance in an iron and enable the ball to stop smoothly and softly on the green. We are so excited about where we are with TaylorMade right now, and we’re seeing it throughout the course of the show here. Right behind us, you can see it. It’s IM, the M being, so IMM right now and 2016 will be the year of M.
Tom Brassell: Yeah. It’s like the perfect triangle. You’ve got great for TaylorMade, great for the tour, and golf is in a great place just walking around here. Right?
David Abeles: The energy is great, Tom. I hadn’t seen this in golf in many years. I’ve got 20 years all in golf to come back to your original question which we had some fun with. I’ve had 20 wonderful years in this industry. I love this industry and have a passion for this industry like many of us do. Last couple of years we haven’t felt the energy that we do today. I think there’s momentum in golf. There’s excitement in golf. There’s great tour players, and there’s great products. When there’s great tour players and great products, and those two things come together, it gives golfers the opportunity to step-up into things that will really get them excited as they play the game in 2016.
Tom Brassell: I can’t let you go without going on our five questions, 50 seconds, five quick questions. You answer any way you like. Ready to go?
David Abeles: Yeah.
Tom Brassell: All right. Question #1: What putter is in your bag right now?
David Abeles: What putter is in my bag right now is Spider S.
Tom Brassell: Who will win the first major event?
David Abeles: Jason Day.
Tom Brassell: Number 3. Dream foursome. You’ve got one round of golf left to play. Who do you play with?
David Abeles: I’d play five. I’d play Sergio Garcia, Justin Rose, Jason Day, and Dustin Johnson. Ironically, they’re all Taylormade Adidas athletes.
Tom Brassell: You’ve got one course left to play in your life. Which one is it?
David Abeles: That’s a tough one. I’ve had the great fortune of being in this business, to have access to some wonderful golf courses. I think the beauty about golf is you can’t just pick one. You can’t pick one. I’ve had the great fortune to play St. Andrews, which is fantastic. The home of golf, whether its Cyprus Point or Augusta National or Pebble Beach. I grew up in a beautiful in the middle of Connecticut called Glasbury Hills, so I’m not going to answer that question directly because I’ve loved to play them all. I’d fit as many of them as I can into a 24-hour period.
Tom Brassell: Final question. Give us a name of a Taylormade staff member who’s going have a breakout year this year.
David Abeles: Well, I think Jason had a breakthrough year last year. Jason’s been an incredible player really for the past decade with us. Last year he became the #1 player in the world which was exciting. He and Jordan go back and forth to hold that position. I think Jason’s going to continue with his momentum. Justin Rose has been a consistent player for us for many, many years. U.S. Open champion. A wonderful player. Sergio has been great, so I’m thinking about our big four. I think the breakthrough year is Dustin Johnson this year. Dustin is one of the most consistent players on tour. He’s one nine consecutive years in a row, which is the only guy on tour that’s one for nine consecutive years.
In my opinion, if he’s not the best athlete on tour, he’s certainly one of the best athletes on tour without question. I think Dustin’s going to have a breakthrough year. Win a major, maybe two. He’s poised. I had dinner with him in Hawaii just a couple of weeks ago, and he’s ready for a great start to ’16. I’m excited about all of tour players, our big four, and everybody else. The good news for TaylorMade is between M1 and M2, we’ve got the #1 metal wood on tour, the PSI iron, which you probably see behind us, quickly became the #1 selling iron on course in the country since we launched it which then utimately gets into retail. We’re very, very excited about what’s going to happen on tour and how that translates into store.
Tom Brassell: You passed five questions, 50 seconds, just like Dustin Johnson did last year.
David Abeles: A long-winded answer to give great questions.
Tom Brassell: David Abeles, thanks so much for joining us. Great to have you with us.
David Abeles: Thanks for having me.
Tom Brassell: You’re just great. Have a great show.
David Abeles: Go out and shop.
Tom Brassell: Awesome.
David Abeles: Okay. Bye-bye.