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Sean Toulon – Toulon Design – Podcast #205

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“The goal is to build the absolute best and most beautiful putters on the planet.”

Such is the mission statement for Toulon Design, lead by founder and long time club making veteran, Sean Toulon.  He, along with his sons, have formed something special and are turning out precision milled putters one putter at a time, and about as good looking as you’ve ever seen.

Sean took a few minutes of his time to spend with us recently.  He talked about his new company, the relationship that they have with the Worldwide Golf Shops family, and the models of Toulon putters that are available for purchase.

No stranger to us, he also sat in the hot seat and answered our “5 Questions in 50 Seconds.”

You can check it out on Soundcloud, on our website, or by subscribing free at iTunes.

Also, make sure to visit his their website at ToulonDesign.com for some great info and videos.

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Tom Brassell: Golf Better continues with episode number 205. Hello everyone, this is Tom Brassell, thanks so much for joining us. We have an extra special treat today, our guest joins us from Southern California. He is a long, long time club designer, his own private design company making some of the best and most beautiful putters you have ever seen at Toulon Design. He is the founder, and he’s joining us as we speak, Mr. Sean Toulon. Sean, thanks so much for joining us man, it’s great to have you.

Sean Toulon:  Yeah, happy to be with you guys Tom, excited about getting started with the whole group of stores and getting this thing off the ground, running fast. Here we go.

Tom Brassell: Yeah back us up to even before this Sean and tell our listeners a little bit about your past. You’ve got a deep, deep history in club design and it goes way back.

Sean Toulon: Yeah, it does. I guess it means I’m old, huh? I won’t go all the way back, I’ll just go back to the early days of TaylorMade. For the last sixteen, seventeen years I ran all of product for TaylorMade, from 2000 on until I retired in July. Gosh, that included, my groups did the 300 series, the 500 series, the R7 Quad, which really changed really the trajectory of TaylorMade. All the metal woods, all the way up to the M1 that launched this past year, which has just done great in the marketplace, it’s a wonderful club. All of the irons since 2000, and a bunch of the putters, including the Spider, and some of the Kiama stuff that we did over the years, and all the Rosa stuff. It’s just been kind of a labor of love, and it’s just been a passion for me. To do it now with my kids, and my own little company with my boys, it’s just really a dream come true.

Tom Brassell:  Yeah I was going to say to retire and do it yourself, but then to be able to team up with your sons, the family piece. That’s got to be just like you’ve died and gone to heaven, huh?

Sean Toulon:   It is, to see the guys are young, but they’re really into it. They’re all great players. Two of my sons, Tony and Joey that worker here, and then a long time family friend BJ Taylor, who does all the finance and operations. They all build putters, they all take customer service calls. The highest handicap other than me here is a plus 2. When somebody calls into order a putter they’re talking to a pretty darn good player. We just want to make sure we do things right. We only talk about three things, one is the importance of mentorship, two is the importance of collaboration, and the third thing is just to do right by the golfer. That’s just what we concentrate all day every day, and put out great product.

Tom Brassell:   To go to your website and watch the videos about ToulonDesign.com, your mission is to build … run me through that, I’m sorry that I lost it. It’s such a great mission statement.

Sean Toulon:  We only want to create the best performing and most beautiful putters on the planet, that’s what we live everyday for. We want to make them look beautiful to a golfer, and there are some other beautiful putters out there. Golfers have a real emotional connection with their putter, and part of that is when you look at it if you love what you’re looking at, it inspires confidence. We just tried to make our putters be really un-fussy, when you look at them they’re just really clean, really simple, really pure, and just magnificently beautiful. That’s what we hear, we hear the word clean all the time. Then we wanted to make them perform at a different level, and putters have launch conditions just like drivers, or wedges, or irons do. The impact may be isn’t as violent, but it creates launch angle, and spin rates, and all the things that you need to.

We concentrated on really matching the sound, and the feel to match the speed of the ball. That when you heard it, it was really easy to relate to it. I guess Tom, we ask golfers, “What do you want?” We came back with golfers want putters to feel a little bit softer and roll the ball better, so that’s what we concentrated on and that’s what we deliver to the marketplace. That’s why we’re off to such a good start.

Tom Brassell: Sound is a big part of that as well too. Not only the feel, but the sound of the putter, right?

Sean Toulon: Yeah it’s massively important. Sound and feel are totally intertwined. We wanted ours to feel … versus a normal beautiful milled putters, and there’s lots of them in the marketplace, we wanted ours to sound and feel a little softer. From my work at TaylorMade, all we need to do for you to feel something, then determine it’s softer, we just need to make sure that you hear less of the impact. If you look at the face of our putter Tom, you can see that it has this mill pattern. We call it Deep Diamond Mill, and that’s the reason why our putters perform so well. It’s very expensive to make, that sits on a mill for forty minutes to have that engraved in there.

What it does is two things. It takes the sound of impact and it channels it away, much like a car tire. Channels water away with the tread pattern, this channels the sound away. For a right handed golfer I just need your left ear and impact to pick up less noise, if we do that it’s going to feel softer to you. That’s what it did. Then inside that little diamond, you’re going to see there’s a little mini groove in there, that’s what actually picks the ball up and creates forward roll. Not out of control forward roll, but just the right amount. That’s why players have loved it, whether it’s club professionals, or touring pro’s on the PGA tour or LPGA tour, we’ve had pretty nice uptake already. We’re excited about what we’ve got going.

Tom Brassell:   Sean Toulon from Toulon Design joining us. Five models, and your newest one, each one named after a city. The newest one is Madison, talk about Madison.

Sean Toulon:  Madison is important to me because it’s where I was born and raised, and fell in love with the game. I was taught the game from my dad like probably most of the listeners grew up learning the game from a parent, or a grand parent, and that’s what happened to me. It’s where I really fell in love with the game, learned about equipment, and decided that was going to be my vocation. I was going to spend my life’s work trying to be the best club designer I could be. Madison is important.

Then the other models, San Diego, Rochester, San Francisco, or Memphis are either cities that were really significant to us as a family, or had some really cool history in golf. Rochester, home of Walter Hagen, and they’ve had U.S. opens, and PGA championships, and writer cups and Oak Hills. That was cool, I designed a putter that Shawn Micheel used to win the PGA championship at Oak Hill. Anyway, significant things like that, that were just kind of part of our past.

Tom Brassell:  Inside each of the models you have different lines. The standard, the counter balanced with moderate releasing and aggressive release. Obviously you need to get fit for these, right?

Sean Toulon:   You do, and that’s why we’re so excited about the World Wide Golf, and Edwin Watts Stores and Vans, because those stores really focus on customer service and spending time with the golfer. If you can do that we presented, created our line so that it was really simple for a fitter, or even the golfer by himself to find something that would help him. We have three main technologies. One is, I talked about, is the deep diamond mill. That really improves the sound, and the roll. The second part of it are these interchangeable sole plates. By removing four screws from the bottom you can change the head weight from 352 grams, to 365, all the way up to 385 just by changing out a sole plate. Then we did a deal with Super Stroke to make … all of the Super Stroke grips that we put on our putters, and we’ve specialized with both the Pistol GT tour which has done fantastic for us, and the Mid Sun 2.0 which has also done well. We can counter balance those.

You can really pick how much help you want to have releasing the putter head, Tom. For golfers that may be leave some putts short, the moderate release really gives you a little bit more speed and impact, and for anybody who has really used anchored putters in the past, you can’t do it now, the aggressive release really mirrors the release point of either a long or a belly putter. All of are putters are really simple for fitters to get the golfer really into the right setup.

Tom Brassell: Availability within Roger Dunn, Vans, and the World Wide Golf Shop family right now, limited but it’s certainly expanding quite rapidly isn’t it?

Sean Toulon:  Yeah it has. I think we’re in, somewhere between 13 and 15 of the stores. The sale through so far has been very good, we’re really encouraged with what’s happened. We’re new and continuing to grow, so it’s important for us to take really good care of our customers, really good care of the golfers. We want to treat you like you’re part of the family because you are, and we just want to do right by you. We’re excited about the fast start here.

Tom Brassell: Well Sean you have a deep history with us, that means we have to put you on the clock. Our five questions in fifty seconds, these are five pretty irrelevant questions we pull out of there, or someone else in the building has pulled out. Are you up for the challenge? Dustin Johnson, some of the others did it, you ready to go?

Sean Toulon:  Yeah, absolutely, I’m going to put the hammer down on Dustin, no problem.

Tom Brassell:  All right question number one. Is fitting necessary in picking a putter, or is it all about looks?

Sean Toulon:  No, fitting is very important. Looks are important because what you like, if you like the look of it you would definitely are going to want to see great results. Fitting is super important, and fitting the putter to your stroke path, and the amount of release you need, really important. That’s why you guys will do well with this.

Tom Brassell:  Question number two, in your opinion who is the best athlete on tour?

Sean Toulon: Oh gosh that’s a wonderful question. I would say right now, it’s either Dustin Johnson or it could very well be Jayson Day. This guy is just an animal, and he is so committed to being the best player, and his work out regime is crazy. I would say either Jayson Day or Dustin Johnson.

Tom Brassell:  Question number three, will Tiger ever win again on PGA tour?

Sean Toulon: I don’t think so. It makes me sad to say that, but I just think his body has just given out. I hope he proves me wrong, believe me, he won’t lose any sleep over what I just said I’m sure. I’d love if he could, but I think he’s broken down. It’s a shame, he was unbelievable for this game.

Tom Brassell:   Question number four, what is in your bag right now Sean? Take us through your bag.

Sean Toulon:  Well, yeah, great. I play an M1 driver from TaylorMade, which was the last club that I worked on there, which I think is fantastic. I’ve got an M1 fairway wood, I’m all M1. I’ve got an M1 hybrid, i’ve got some prototype RSI, 2 irons that we did, which were tuned a little bit differently. Some tour preferred wedges, and I have the most beautiful Toulon garage black satin pearl naked Madison. I mean, it’s sexy. I’m a good putter too, but this has made me even better. This putter is awesome, I’m very, very happy with my setup right now.

Tom Brassell:    Final question, probably the most important question. Who is taller, you or Mark King?

Sean Toulon:  I am, you know what? He’s my next door neighbor and I’m going to tell him that. Literally King lives one door down from me, I see him all the time, talk to him all the time. He’s doing great, he has such a wonderful history with Edwin, and Carey, and all the guys down there, it’s just great, and Al, and Rick Powell, and the whole gang. I talk to Mark all the time and he’s doing wonderfully.

Tom Brassell:  Pass along our best to him. He’s been a two time guest on our podcast, he’s been great. Sean thanks so much for joining us again, the website is ToulonDesign.com. Any final words for our listeners? Final words for me are you’ve got to go check it out.

Sean Toulon:  Well thank you for that. For the listeners, all we want to do is we want to help you put better. We spend all of our time, all of our energy, all our efforts on putters. That’s what we are, we’re putter makers, and that’s what we’re going to concentrate on. We hope you love our product, and we hope you love the customer service that we give you.

Tom Brassell: Sean, thanks so much, been great spending time with you, we’ll do it again soon.

Sean Toulon: Yeah Tom, thank you. Okay, say hi to the guys down there.

Tom Brassell: Yeah without question you’ve got to see these beautiful putters by Toulon Design. Madison is the most recent model, along with San Diego, Rochester, San Francisco, and Memphis. Beautiful, beautiful putters. Check them out, Roger Dunn, super store in Santa Ana, and some other, on the World Wide Golf shops locations. Also you can check out the story behind the company, a lot of videos, a great website, ToulonDesign.com. That’s T-O-U-L-O-N Design.com. Special thanks to Sean Toulon for joining us, it was great catching up with him, and to you our listeners. We’ll do it again next time when we have another episode of Golf Better at WorldWideGolfShops.com. So long everyone.