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Titleist 917 Drivers and Fairways – Josh Talge – Podcast #213

With over 2 years in the making, the 917 of drivers and fairways are almost here.  In fact, they are available for pre-order on Saturday September 17.

917-metals-overview-bnrYep, it’s the 917 on 9/17.

Titleist 917 drivers deliver increased ball speed for more distance with superior forgiveness, industry-leading adjustability with optimized trajectory control, and tour-inspired sound and feel.

They set the standard for complete performance off the tee, providing maximum distance and forgiveness with precise adjustability to benefit dedicated golfers at every level of the game.

We were fortunate enough to be able to spend a few minutes with Titleist’s Director of Golf Club Marketing, Mr. Josh Talge on our GolfBetter Podcast.

Take a listen to what he has to say about what went on during the development of the line, the broad spectrum of players that it will help, and the importance of getting custom fit to be sure to have the right club for your game.

As always, you can listen below on Soundcloud, on our website, or subscribe free to the GolfBetter podcast on iTunes.

Tom Brassell:  Welcome to GolfBetter at Worldwide Golf Shops, Episode 213. Hello again, everyone. Tom Brassell, here. Thanks so much for joining us, whether you’re a first time listener, or long time subscriber to the show, or maybe somewhere in the middle. It doesn’t matter, either way, we’re just glad that you joined us, we’re glad you joined us today. Our special guest this morning joins us from just north of San Diego, where it never rains. Beautiful out in Southern California. He’s the vice president of marketing for Titleist Golf, Mr. Josh Talge. Josh, thanks for jumping in with us, man. I know you’ve been busy. Thanks for the time.

Josh Talge:  Absolutely. I’m thrilled to spend a little bit of time this morning.

Tom Brassell:  You’ve got a lot going on with the brand new launch, some construction out in Santa Ana, but before we get going, Josh, tell our listeners just a little bit about yourself and your role at Titleist.

Josh Talge: Well, my role at Titleist, I’m very fortunate to be in this role, working for such a great company with a lot of great people. I lead our golf club marketing group, and our focus is on making sure we can get as many players to understand the great benefits of Titleist equipment.

Tom Brassell:  That’s awesome. Well, you’ve been busy lately. The 917 is coming out right around the corner. Tell us a little bit about everything that’s going on with that, because it’s been a long time in the waiting. It seems like just yesterday the previous line was launched, but it hasn’t been, it’s been a while.

Josh Talge:  Yeah, that’s what I think one of the things that you’ll see with Titleist, is we really want to make sure that every time we bring a new product to marketplace, it’s the best product we’ve ever made. It really isn’t about an iterative product. It’s about spending two years to make sure that we can really deliver breakthrough performance, and that’s what 917 represents for us. We refer to it as the standard for complete performance, because it really maximizes all the things that golfers are looking for, distance, forgiveness, adjustability. It allows the player to play, we think, their best golf. When I talk about adjustability, one of the things that we’re really excited about there, is that we can fit you similar to how we fit our tour pros. For anyone that hasn’t had a chance to go in and do a fitting, it’s something that we’re constantly pushing, making sure that we get as many people to go in and get fit, because we can dial you in, make this club be perfect for your swing.

Tom Brassell:   Yeah, and it’s the people that are probably the least likely to get fit, that think, “Oh, I’m not good enough to get fit.” They’re the people that really need it the most, wouldn’t you say?

Josh Talge: I think everybody needs it. We were just spending some time with our PGA Tour staff a couple weeks ago, doing some photo shoots, and I asked all of those guys. I was like, “Hey, what it would be like if you were just playing a club that was right off the rack?” They just laughed, and they were like, “I’d be at a competitive disadvantage.” They were like, “I don’t understand why more of my pro-am partners don’t go and get fit.” They’re like, “It’s so easy to do.” They’re like, “Especially with products like 917, where we can really affect a lot of moving parts, that we can give you an independent loft and lie angle, to help you start the ball right or left, if you need help with that, as well as make sure we get your trajectory set up to where you need it to be, to work on your spin.”

Then we can move the center of gravity around, really help you dial in the sweet spot of the club, and help you with your shot shape a little bit. If you’re somebody who’s struggling with the ball going right, we can help you work on that. If you really feel like you can get the face closed on the club a little bit quicker, you’re going to start gaining some ball speed. Then that leads to more distance, which leads to a lot more fun on the golf course.

Tom Brassell: If you have the ability to do that, why not do it? Why not take a few minutes of your time, and invest, and see exactly what you need? Josh, a little bit about behind the scenes on the 917 line, what we’re going to see there as far as new, and also features and benefits that the consumers will want to hear about.

Josh Talge: Well, we’ve had a lot of good momentum starting with us here. We released the product back at Congressional, which in my world feels like forever ago, but it was just several weeks back. Right away, we noticed a few key things that our tour staff picked up on. The first is, they loved the look of the club. They love the fact that we’ve gone back to a real dark gray finish, which we call Liquid Slate, kind of a return to some of the earlier Titleist fan favorites, 975D, 983K, some products that really evoked what is the standard of excellence for Titleist. The look they love, the shaping, whether it’s a D2, which is a 460C driver that’s really got this beautiful symmetrical pear shape to it, and then a D3, which is a little bit more of tour inspired, so you’re looking at a little deeper face, a little 440CC. Both cases, and we’ve seen about a 50/50 split on tour, of who’s using what, the guys were excited about the look of the club.

They were really excited about the sound and the feel, and that’s one of the things that I’m excited for regular golfers to have a chance to experience as well. When we talk about sound, and how sound relates to feel, I use the example a lot, of BMW. I’m not sure if you or your listeners have watched this, but at CNBC, there’s a lot documentaries where they go and they spend some time interviewing companies. I watched this one on BMW, and they had this huge team of sound engineers, all working on one thing. The one thing they were working on was the sound that the door makes when it shuts, on a BMW. They interviewed these guys, and they’re like “Why did you spend all this time on there?” What they realized was, to many consumers, the sound of that door shutting represents the quality of the overall car. Not just the engine, not just all the electronics, everything, but just the shutting of the door.

That’s kind of how we think sound and feel relates to a driver. That very first swing you have with 917, we want to make sure that when you hear how it sounds, and you feel that club in your hand, that it really is something that feels powerful, that feels strong, that feels quality, and so we’ve really dialed that up. The pros definitely played that back to us. Wow, they were excited about that. Then of course, what they love more than anything is if you could show them meaningful results on Trackman. To a man, they were gaining ball speed, which means distance. They were increasing their carry distance, optimizing their spin, and then believe it or not, even the best players in the world occasionally mishit the golf ball, and they want to make sure that their shot dispersion gets tighter. We were able to give them all of those things with 917.

When you can bring beautiful aesthetics, great sound and feel, and then prove to them, “Hey, look at this. This thing actually out-performs anything you’ve had in your bag before,” it’s kind of a slam dunk. We’ve seen over 80% of our pros switch in the last few weeks to 917, and we really don’t put any pressure on our guys. We don’t say, “Hey, you’re a a Titleist guy, you’re under contract, you’ve got to do this.” We let them pick what’s best for them, because at the end of the day, we believe in true product validation, and we know that if we’ve got something special, like we have in 917, the guys will switch. Really excited with that, and now just thrilled that we’re only a few days away from making sure the rest of the golfing public has a chance to go in, hit the club, and actually experience these distance gains for themselves.

Tom Brassell:  Yeah, tell us about that. It’s 917 on 9/17, right? September 17th.

Josh Talge:  That’s right. It’s real marketing we just did do there. We joke about it a little bit, but it just felt, boy, how fortuitous, that we’ve got to take advantage of a date on the calendar that makes sense, where you’ve got a Saturday in the middle of September. Let’s try to get as many golfers out as possible. We’ve got over 2500 locations in the U.S., including everywhere for the Worldwide Golf Network, where we’re going to be having these great trial and fitting events, where you can go in, experience the club, work with certified fitters, and really get dialed in and see what type of distance you can really expect with Titleist.

Also, I mentioned the pros look at, occasionally they do mishit a ball, and the forgiveness. I think that’s one of the things that for people that haven’t played Titleist clubs in the past, sometimes there’s this group that believe, “Oh man, Titleist clubs are too hard to hit.” Or you’ve got to be a real serious golfer to be able to play Titleist clubs. That’s not really the case. We have incredible forgiveness with not only our irons, but also with our metals, and so I’m excited for people to come out, get a chance to hit the product, and really experience it firsthand. This Saturday, like I said, 2500 locations across the U.S. You can go to titleist.com and look up all the locations, but as I mentioned, I think Worldwide Golf, we’ve got every location taken care of there. We are thrilled with this launch.

Tom Brassell:  It’s going to be a great Saturday. Like you said, about the forgiveness of the clubs, you’re not going to know if you just go grab one off the rack and hit one. You’ve got to get dialed in. You’ve got to find out what works for you, what lie angle works for you, what loft works for you, what shaft works for you. Right, Josh?

Josh Talge: Exactly. I tell everybody, hey, listen, if you want to go grab this thing off the shelf, you’re going to be really happy with it. It’s a great golf club. But if you give us 30 minutes, you give us 30 swings, we’re going to give you a superior club, guaranteed. You’re going to have a product that really performs well for you. We’ve had some really strong guys who, in the past, they know a lot about fitting, and they try to fit themselves. Once you really spend the time with our certified fitting group, you realize that you’re leaving distance on the table.

I think that that’s why we encourage everyone to go in there. It doesn’t take that long. Like I said, just 30 minutes. Go in, warm up, take it seriously, but it’s fun, and you’re going to play better golf because of it. I absolutely agree with you. We’ve got, even just in our stock shafts, we have five different stock shafts. We do all Real Deal shafts. We partner with the best in the business, from Mitsubishi, to Aldila, to Fujikura, really to make sure that we’ve got the best performing products out there, to get the most out of your game.

Tom Brassell:Well, Josh, many, many thanks for your time. I know it’s been a crazy time for you, and it’s only going to get crazier, but that’s a fun kind of crazy. Final words for our listeners as we close up?

Josh Talge:  I think the only thing I would say is please go out there and give it a try. We’ve got 917 events going on all this weekend. If you’re not able to do that, we’ll be in stores later in October. October 21st is our retail availability date, and take advantage of it. It’s fall season, it is a great time to go out and play some golf. I don’t know if there’s a more enjoyable time of the year to play golf. I think that you’re going to love 917, and anything else from Titleist.

Tom Brassell:  Awesome. Josh, thanks so much, we’ll do it again. Hopefully we’ll do it again soon.

Josh Talge: Great, thank you. Thanks for the time.

Tom Brassell:  Yeah, you want to make sure you do yourself a favor, go out, invest the time, and get custom fit for the new 917 line from Titleist. Get dialed in. Make sure you’ve got the right equipment for you, and not only is it the right equipment for you, it’s the best equipment that Titleist has ever made. Well, special thanks to Josh for joining us today, and for you, our listeners, we’ll do it again next time we have another episode of GolfBetter, at worldwidegolfshops.com. So long, everyone.