TaylorMade dreaming up new golf-like game: "We're looking at it big time," exec says

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.”

TaylorMade exec Sean Toulon: “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.”

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Robert Thompson

A bestselling author and award-winning columnist, Robert Thompson has been writing about business and sports, and particularly golf, for almost two decades. His reporting and commentary on golf has appeared in Golf Magazine, the Globe and Mail, T&L Golf and many other media outlets. Currently a columnist with and Ontario Golf, and a contributing writer to ScoreGolf, his blog, Going for the Green, was launched in 2004.

7 CommentsLeave a comment

  • This sounds very interesting.. Are we talking something along the lines of Disc Golf, or something still involving golf clubs, just different targets or courses so to speak?

  • I am very confused (hopefully Mr. Toulon received head office approval for his comments prior to making them).
    We have a senior exec at Taylor Made telling golf to, “Get over itself”. “We need a new game and a new set of rules” because, “TM research has determined golf is not fun”. WTF!
    I had to read this article twice, and I still do not understand TM’s strategy on this issue. If they want to launch a new game with new equipment and new rules (to sell more equipment no doubt) do so but, take the high road. Be specific on the new game and use positives to sell it. Don’t try to tell us that golf is not fun! The game has witnessed explosive growth over the last 30 years and like ANY trend, growth will moderate or slow.
    No company has benefited from this growth more than TM and now their senior executives are talking trash. I for one will never purchase a TM product again. If I ran Adidas I would have to DQ Toulon for ‘slow mental play’ and unsportsmanlike behaviour.

  • There is no question the game of golf neeeds to grow. An Industry that used to be fairly lucrative for owners/operators now struggles to break even. People find the game takes too much time out of their busy schedules and takes too much of their leisure money.

    It is a fact the for a very long time the USGA did not consider the growth of the game part of their mandate (more than likely the same could be said for Golf Canada). Even today they are looking at the growth of the game but don’t really know what to do.

    As far as creating a new “game” or a different set of rules, all I can is this: after having worked in 4 different provinces at private, semi private and public courses the majority of players outside of the private clubs have no clue about the rules of golf. The game played for the social aspect and getting some exercise. Creating a new “game of golf” to be played on existing golf courses is not going to solved this problem.

  • “It is based on our research that the game is not fun, certainly for a lot of people.”

    Even with a bag full of TaylorMade clubs and balls? This guy’s quite the salesman.

  • Robert…how about a comprehensive series of articles on the influences good and bad…of the major equipment companies on the game. I suspect that the marketing $ in the industry exert way more influence on equipment rules and other factors way beyond any other sport…as you can tell I don’t think on balance that this influence has been positive

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