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A trip to the Titleist booth at the PGA Show is like a visit to golf’s version of “Alice in Wonderland.”
Life size images of the greatest players in the world playing the Number 1 ball in golf, Scotty Cameron signing autographs, the new Vokey wedges and of course, Mr. Titleist himself, Steve Pelisek.
And like the pro that he is, Steve did it all in 7 minutes. And did it very well.
Tom Brassell: 2016 PGA Merchandise Show here in the home of Titleist. Steve Pelisek, general manager of the club division. Is that good enough?
Steve Pelisek: Yes, Tom.
Tom Brassell: Am I right on? Tell us what’s new, because I know there’s a lot going on.
Steve Pelisek: Yeah, there is a lot going on. Let’s go tee the green. Of course, 915 drivers and fairways have been a great success. This fall we just recently introduced an all new line of hybrids, the A16 line up, and all new line of irons, the 716 line up. We’re over the moon with the reception that they’ve had. It’s been terrific. We did a little switch up there. We introduced hybrids this time with irons.
Tom Brassell: Together.
Steve Pelisek: Together. We thought about it. Tom, we used to deliver or introduce hybrids with drivers and fairway woods, as kind of part of the metals family. Then we started listening to our fitters and listening to the way folks were buying golf clubs and trying golf clubs and getting fit for them, and realized, really the time, the best time to get fit for and try a new hybrids is when you’re trying a new irons.
Tom Brassell: Put it with your set?
Steve Pelisek: For the most part, yeah. They’re basically long iron replacements. All new 816s. We’re going to link hybrids with irons now. Again, the reception has been great. H1 and H2, they’re terrific. The tour loves them. It’s really going very well. We’re really excited about the new AP1 and the AP2. I think AP1 in particular because, we do hear from folks sometimes. They say, “Hey man, I don’t know if I’m good enough to play a Titleist golf club.” Of course you are. We just try to make sure that we take our time to make them look and sound and feel the way we know players want them to be. We pack as much technology and forgiveness in there as we can. Everybody wants forgiveness. It has to look and sound and feel like you expect it to when you put it down behind the ball.
Steve Pelisek: Really have. They’re really well positioned. The one thing I would say, I wish more folks would try AP1. The folks who are kind of looking for a true game improvement iron. Maybe it looks a little bit more like a players iron, but it is a very forgiving … We call it the longest most forgiving iron we’ve ever made, and it is. It’s really cool. I encourage folks to try it. AP2 has been a slam dunk again. That’s a really cool kind of players iron. It’s very popular on tour. It’s very popular with more skilled players. The new generation, you know, the designers figure out a way every time. We work on 2 year life cycles. We don’t think you can really make it better in any less time than that. It’s been 2 years, we introduced it, and the new AP2, it is.
The differences here, we’re starting to use a lot more tungsten. Tungsten is a cool metal for golf clubs. It’s not cheap, but it’s very powerful in a designer’s hands. It’s so heavy, it’s so dense, which means you can kind of put a lot of weight in a very small package and put it exactly where you want it. They’ve learned to use that in the case of AP2 to keep that really good player’s chassis in tact, but drive up feel and drive up forgiveness. Again, everyone wants forgiveness as long as it’s in the package that they want. AP1 and AP2, really great. That’s really what we focused on in our fall launches. They’re going to have their first big spring coming up here. We’ve gone to great lengths to make sure that the whole, our fitting network and that there’s lots of trial product around for folks to try. You’ve got to try before you buy.
The other big news here is, folks down at the other end of the booth, new SM6 wedges. We think they’re game changers, we really do. I think it’s one of the finest products we’ve ever developed and introduced. They are … Bob’s got the ear, and he listens to the tour. We’ve never had a product catch on among the top of the pyramid faster than that one. SM6 is 4 years worth of work. The big feature, we call it progressive CG, which is kind of interesting. He’s been saying for years that the way irons are designed, you always hear folks talking about, “This iron has a low center of gravity for high trajectory and forgiveness.” That’s true. You think about the way pitching wedges are being designed, they’re really … Bob calls them a 10 iron. It’s really more an extension of the set. They too have this low center of gravity. Traditionally wedges, when you make the switch from that pitching wedge in your set to say a specialty wedge, be it a gap wedge or a sand wedge or a lob wedge, they don’t have that same low CG that the rest of the irons do.
Tom Brassell: There’s a transition.
Steve Pelisek: There’s a difference in feel, there’s a difference in gapping. Bob’s been working on this for years and has done a masterful job of building CG locations into the new SM6 wedges that flow naturally off of the set. It really fixes gapping. Your 50 or 52, by the way, I encourage people to look at 50’s instead of just using 52 as their default. You’ve got to look at how strong pitching wedges also have gotten recently. Look at a 50, it may fit your gap better. He’s done a masterful job at lining up the CGs. They’re really low in the stronger lofted gap wedges, 46 through 52. Then they gradually raise, and they’re actually quite high in the lob wedges. It’s exactly where they should be. Any rate, it’s very cool. SM6 is a terrific product.
Then, if I can keep going, Scotty’s got all new Selects here this week. We’ll introduce those in April. Selects are his most popular. He lays the line out with those 3 families. He’s got Selects and GoLos, which is sort of the traditional beautiful, classic mallets. Then the Futuras, which he calls them wings and things. That’s his high MLI stuff. Generally those are there for a guy who wants a little more square to square and long alignment lines. He’s got 3 very clear families. The most popular one is the Selects. The classic heel toes, they look classic but I wish folks could really sense how much intricacy, how much complexity, how much detail goes into those.
Scotty gets this … He’s known as kind of a craftsman. He’s also a very technical guy. The precision that goes into those is magnificent. It’s kind of the Newport family. The new Newport, Newport 2, Newport Notchback. They’re magnificent. It’s going to be a busy spring for us. I’m really proud of the line, tee the green. Really excited to see when we start to hear back from folks who are trying them and hopefully enjoying them.