It is an interesting time in the golf industry, with Callaway, TaylorMade, Titleist, Nike and Ping all making significant new product announcements. I’ve spent some time lately talking to a variety of equipment companies about their new clubs, balls and shoes, and you’ll soon see much of this appear in the relaunched Ontgolf.ca with a section just for equipment news and reviews. Yesterday I had lunch with Ted Manning, formerly of TaylorMade, who is now running Acushnet Canada (in other words, Titleist, Cobra and Footjoy.)
Of course, for Titleist, the biggest news is of course the new ProV, which will start appearing in Canada at the end of February, but will hit the American market slightly earlier.
Several interesting points of note on this — don’t expect to see Titleist blow out its existing ProV1 stock. Apparently the company’s inventory system is so good that the old stock will simply disappear into consumers’ bags as the new ball comes on market. There was also talk of rebranding the ProV, but that was rejected. According to Manning, the new ball is “an evolution.”
I’ll quote from ScoreGolf equipment guru Rick Young here, as he notes the ProV1 will have:
…some formulation improvements in the products multi-layer construction and to also be seamless, something which could improve the balls performance even more than the current model which has now been around since 2000.
You’ll hear more about the ball in a couple of weeks. I’ve also been a huge fan of Footjoy’s Reelfit, which has really started to hit the market now. I reviewed the shoes here. Since reviewing the shoes, which have a cutting-edge Boa lacing technology in place of laces, I’ve come to the conclusion they are the best golf shoes I’ve ever worn. I’m blown away that such a seemingly small innovation could make such a big deal. They aren’t cheap at $265, but then again either were the Eccos I’ve worn for a while, and that didn’t stop me from pulling out my credit card at GolfTown.
Titleist also has two new drivers hitting the market. And though neither will be square, one is nearly a triangle and they are both 460CC. The first will be the 907D1, which will be triangle shaped, while the D2 will come later and offer a more conventional Titleist shape.
Interestingly, Manning and I had quite a conversation about MOI — moment of inertia — and whether consumers get this concept. After all, this is the big buzz of 2007. GolfDigest has an article on it here.
The question is whether consumers want to hit the ball straighter or longer. I’m not sure — and I’m not sure anyone in the industry knows for sure either. All I know is this MOI sell will be tough for driver manufacturers. Everyone understood TaylorMade’s moveable weight technology, but MOI is much more esoteric concept. I wonder if this is a marketing concept that will work, or whether it will just fly over most people’s heads.