What does the future hold for TaylorMade?

Golfmagic speaks to TaylorMade's Executive Vice President Sean Toulon at the PGA Show in Orlando

Andy Roberts's picture
Wed, 22 Jan 2014
What does the future hold for TaylorMade?
TaylorMade's booth at the PGA Show

Where do you see TaylorMade in five years time?

More engaged with the golfer than we are today. We can definitely make clubs that go further. When you see 1700 RPM, that launch condition I just talked about, nobody is really close to that, even today with our SLDR. And when you and I can get there, it's another 25 yards of distance. So there's big, big opportunities in that.

But we'd like to move the company from just being transactional with the golfer - 'hey Andy thanks you just bought a driver from us, that's awesome, thanks for your business' - to really being kind of a partner in the game and helping you become a way better player. So we've got some pretty interesting things that we're going to be talking about.

I've read up on several of your interviews with the US media in the past where you talk about the importance of the 'pyramid of influence', could you just elaborate on what you mean by that?

Sure, it's been a priority since 1979. Basically the 'pyramid of influence' is the people that hold the most influence have always been the best players. Look at the likes of your great European players like Justin Rose, Sergio Garcia, Darren Clarke and Ian Poulter, golf is aspirational. Golfers want to act and be like people that are above them in talent. If we can build clubs and products that these players are using, others will want to emulate them.

What's the biggest invention you've seen at TaylorMade?

I'm not sure there's just one, but low, forward CG and lofting up is such a radical thought for people right now, yet it's totally changing the performance of the driver. Totally. So I think it would have to be that.

Obviously being the game's biggest company brings with it a few detractors. What would you say is the one misconception about TaylorMade?

I think a lot of people think that we launch products fast just so we can sell more and make more money. Obviously we are a business, right, and we try to drive revenue and maximise profits and do all of things. But we bring out products that we think are dramatically better than the ones that they're replacing. If we're able to do that faster, we think golfers want that. We are committed golfers, just like the people that buy our clubs.

You must be very proud of the new Tour Preferred irons that have recently been launched?

They're unbelievable. We always say that TaylorMade lives at the intersection of art and science. The MB, the muscleback iron, is a really pretty club, there's not much science in that, but that was more of an art project for us. We just made sure that it looked beautiful. The other two, the MC and CB, there's real, real breakthrough technology in those where we bring performance to a player's club that good players haven't really had before. Those will be the No.1 and No.2 irons played on Tour and we're excited about them a lot.

We heard Mark King's [TaylorMade CEO] thoughts about the game of golf last night with his Hack Golf speech during the PGA Show, but what's your general analysis of the golf industry right now?

It's in a state of disrepair, which is kind of a shame. Many, many people are leaving the game and they're leaving the game, and people used to think because it took too much time or because it was too expensive or too difficult, and what it really is all about and our research will tell you, that it's really because it's not much fun especially for younger people in that 18 to 34-year-old age group - that participation rate is really, really low. Way lower than it's been, and it's because it's not fun and it's boring to those people.

Golf, in our opinion, has got to kind of get over itself and not be so elitist. Let's go out and have some fun with the game. We're going to do some things that we're launching here at the PGA Show under this thing called Hack Golf, as you mention, which is open source innovation about what will make the game more fun for people, for example for an 8-year-old kid or a 75-year-old man and woman, and we need to get out there and we need to fix this.

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