Along with a couple of other Canadian golf writers — namely Bob Weeks and Jason Logan from SCOREGolf and Scott MacLeod from Flagstick, and Titleist Canadian communications and advertising manager Mitch Dawson — I travelled to the Boston area at the end of last week to check out upcoming product releases by Titleist and Footjoy. The focus of the trip was the soon-to-be-released 913 driver series, which will hit Canada in November, just as the season wraps.
First we toured the Footjoy development facilities, which was fascinating. We began in a room that had prototype shoes, as well as shoes by other manufacturers. Footjoy looks at everything by all of its competitors, with shoe prototypes in development well before they hit the market. The latest discussion was a shoe worn by Hunter Mahan (his tweet about them is here). In this case the shoe was a prototype of a mobility shoe — following the trend seen in the running shoe market. No one has any idea of when — or if — the shoe will hit the market — but there were a lot of prototypes of the sporty shoe kicking about.
Day two was spent looking at Footjoy’s spring clothing line. I’ve been very fond of what Footjoy has done since entering the clothing sector. It has found a clever space where form and function are really aligned. We were walked through the development cycle for clothes — well more than a year ahead of when it’ll be released to the public — and discussed the marketing and promotion of the clothes. I think Footjoy really have this one nailed. The clothes are not pushing the envelope in terms of styling, but are in terms of materials and design. So you have an interesting mix of relatively conservative fashion with cutting-edge fabrics and a strong price point.
But the goal of the trip was to see the new 913 Driver. Chris McGinley, vice-president of marketing, walked us through the driver specs with an eye on the competition. I’ve been asked not to write too much about the details for another couple of weeks, but I’ll say that McGinley’s discussion of the state of the driver market, and what each manufacturer is trying to achieve in the estimation of Titleist, was fascinating. Titleist is also making a push into having fairway woods with traditional flight and others that spin less.
I had a chance to hit the 913 and came away suitably impressed. The story is a good one — basically matching forgiveness with well-rounded distance — and it’ll be interesting to see how the driver is perceived once it hits market.