First TaylorMade CEO Mark King slammed the USGA. Now the company says it is creating an alternative golf game.
Today at the Kingdom in Carlsbad, TaylorMade’s testing facility, I had the chance to sit with TaylorMade exec vice-president Sean Toulon and talk about the fallout from King’s remarks to Rick Young of ScoreGolf, where he claimed the USGA could disappear in a decade. Toulon made some supportive remarks about King’s comments, and then launched into a discussion about a new golf-like game the company apparently has in development. No one I spoke to at TaylorMade knew anything about the game, which Toulon said would be to golf what snow boarding is to skiing, but apparently it has been in development for well over a year and could materialize in six months.
“This is not altogether altruistic on our part,” Toulon said. “We have a business to run. But we want golf to be healthy and if that means in order to grow the game it needs to be bifurcated with a different set of rules – well that’s interesting. Maybe it is time for a company like ours – and we are talking about it – to create a new game that could be played alongside golf that would be played by a totally new set of rules.”
I wasn’t exactly sure where he was going with that last remark, so I asked what he was referring to and whether he was suggesting a new form of golf. We’ve seen a bunch of variations crop up in recent years — two holes, larger holes, etc. — but none have captured any traction. Toulon said TaylorMade was serious about the concept, though he didn’t offer much in the way of detail.
“We are looking at it big time,” he said. “We’re very serious about it and we think we can bring some things to make it more entertaining and more inviting and less intimidating. If it ends up being a feeder system for golf – or a new game like golf – it would be awesome. It is like a skier seeing snowboarding for the first time or hard ball and soft ball. It just needs to be fun. Golf needs to get over itself.”
Toulon said he wasn’t sure how the new game would manifest itself, but said it would be complimentary to golf:
“First of all it may not come from TaylorMade,” he said. “It could come from Adams or Adidas. But the bottom line is that it’ll be a fun alternative to golf. But you can play it alongside golf. But it won’t be goofy golf.”
We’ll see. There aren’t a lot of examples of this sort of thing working out, but then again, TaylorMade is becoming the dominant golf equipment company in the sport — so if anyone could pull this off it would be TaylorMade backed by German owner Adidas.
“It is about looking at the grow the game initiatives that certainly have not had the impact they hoped,” Toulon said. “It is based on our research that the game is not fun, certainly for a lot of people.”