Two Days With Titleist/FootJoy

There are a few things in Massachusetts that you can depend on: Delays at Logan Airport, cabbies who have no idea where they are going, and on the more positive side, the delivery of quality golf products from a couple state staples – FootJoy and Titleist.

I spent a couple days at the end of last week with the folks from both companies on their home turf getting familiar with their lines for 2013. The full range left a pretty positive impression.

It’s one thing to have a look at new products from these companies who are both industry standards. Doing it in their own backyard adds a valuable layer of insight into where they are going with their offerings.

Unfortunately I will a little short on details at this point, with plenty more to be published at a later date, but the visit entailed a look at the FootJoy shoe design philosophy, an overview of the 2013 FJ Clothing, and an information and test session with the Titleist 913 Metals family.

It was a lot to digest in about 30 hours and but it’s safe to say that both brands have a lot in store for golfers in the months ahead.

If you are a real golf equipment aficionado you may already be aware of the 913 driver. Seeded on the PGA Tour just a couple weeks ago, it has already gained wide-spread acceptance among the companies staff professionals. More than 30 players on the PGA Tour already have it in the bag.  Most impressive has been the immediate acceptance and use by a player like Steve Stricker. Stricker has long been known as a player who normally is a generation or more behind when it comes to equipment transitions. After testing the 913 driver, he immediately swapped out his well-aged 909 model – a pretty positive statement on the effectiveness of the new club.

Canadian Brad Fritsch made a similar shift. The big-hitting WEB.COM Tour player from Manotick, Ontario made the immediate jump to the 913 from the two generations old 909 after a single test session.

The reason for the move by both players? A driver they each felt delivered more distance, especially on off-centre hits. This comes courtesy of a new face insert and other design features that I can speak to in days ahead.

You can look for more news on the 913 product line in a few weeks when the PGA Tour players finally get full access to the line at The Barclays.

On the FootJoy side of the ledger, things look equally promising.

The home for FootJoy shoes is Brockton, the small town that was once home to more than 100 footwear companies who at one point provided more than 50% of the world’s shoes.

The original FootJoy Classics plant I visited here in 1993 has been re-purposed, with most product now being crafted overseas, but the old bones of the factory still provide a fruitful ground from which inspiration and design ideas flow.

In the Design and Development room more than 1500 product ideas a year come to fruition.  While many do not leave it’s four walls, the ones we were witness to and will soon come to market left our little media group (Bob Weeks, Jason Logan, and Robert Thompson) quite intrigued.

A new touch to the development process for FootJoy can be found upstairs in the building, in the year-old “ShoeBox”.  This hi-tech testing centre allows technicians to 3-D map golfers as they try out new shoe designs while hitting balls.  Using a litany of technology you can quickly determine how the traction system of a shoe can help or hinder your golf game.  It’s a new approach and even in our short visit we were able to see how a shoe with limited traction and stability can alter the distance and direction you are able to hit a golf ball consistently.

Lastly, we were immersed in the latest FootJoy clothing lines – those created for the Spring and Fall of 2013.  FJ has always been strong in outerwear and their recent foray into a full clothing line has produced remarkable results.  With a strong green grass program they have jumped quickly into the top rung of clothing brands and the upcoming lines should only strengthen that.  Bright, bold colours are the norm for the new line with an expanded focus on bottoms that grabbed the attention of all within our group.

Based on what we saw in our short stay, their are bright days ahead for Titleist and FootJoy.

I’ll be sure to share more details when the time is right.