Acushnet’s Union Green – Not About BirdiesBy ED TRAVISAcushnet…

Acushnet’s Union Green – Not About Birdies

By ED TRAVIS

Acushnet Holdings Corp. (GOLF: NYSE) has two franchise brands, Titleist and FootJoy, that dominate in their respective market segments, golf balls and golf shoes. In the ball business Acushnet’s Pro V1 and Pro V1x are the industry standard played by roughly two-thirds of professionals on the PGA Tour and probably an even higher portion of elite amateurs.

But (you know there’s always a “but”) evidently among the prime demographic target millennial golfers, described as young, occasional players, the brand is perceived as not “cool.” Never one to back away from a challenge, Acushnet is aiming at these millennials with a new ball brand called Union Green and building an image around it nothing like the traditional somewhat staid aura of Pro V1 nor the “It’s All About Distance” of their lower cost Pinnacle.

For the first time Acushnet has opted to create a “lifestyle” brand, whatever you take that to mean, and to sell Union Green balls at prices substantially less than the flagship Pro V1s. And in perhaps an even larger departure from business-as-usual Union Green is sold over the Internet directly to consumers, the business model used successfully by competitors Snell Golf and Vice Golf, albeit less so by a few others.

Acushnet is targeting a different player demographic, specifically as stated on the Union Green website, ” We’re not the golfers you see on tour. We’re different. The ones playing local, taking mulligans, over celebrating and always going for it. Club Championships, rule books, 18 holes every time – that’s not our game. We’re here for golf that fits our life. For fellowship. For the love of the fairway. We’re united by the game.”

OK, so at least some of the appeal to younger people not spending time on the range nor grinding over a three-footer is Union Green’s inclusiveness while at the same time certainly chiding and perhaps even mocking the traditional culture with which golf is most often associated.

Referring again to the website, “Union Green is for people who head to the first tee just as they are and love to play the game on their own terms. They play for fun, to escape the routine, and find the golf course as the perfect place to connect with the people who share their passion.”

Sounds like a good idea especially if to someone marketing a 3-layer ball with “green-gabbling control” and “pin-dropping accuracy” selling for $27.99 per dozen such as Union Green’s Pindrop. Then there’s also the 2-layer Teebird, billed as providing “Astonishing Long Distance” which retails for $19.99 per dozen. Free shipping is available with orders of $100 or more.

It will be interesting to watch as Union Green grows since great brands have a lot to live up to and Acushnet/Titleist is probably the most respected brand in golf equipment. Not that they are the best in every category nor that they have always done everything right. For example, only two years ago the Titleist driver then being promoted was known as “short and spinney” which isn’t a great recommendation for any driver but since overcome with development of the TS2 and TS3 models.

A couple of points come to mind.

Is Union Green a me-too tactic due to pressure from direct-to-consumer marketers even though Acushnet has such large a slice of a market–around 50% of the U.S. ball business)?

Another consideration is Acushnet has been vocal over the years in its support of the guys and gals in golf’s trenches, the 28,000 PGA Professionals who run the courses we play. Will Union Green undercut the relationship Acushnet has worked to build with golf shops for sales of their balls, clubs and shoes?

Could the same question be asked about the big box stores such as Dick’s Sporting Goods and PGA Tour Superstore that sell Acushnet’s products?

Is Union Green the indication of a downturn or a reaffirmation of Acushnet business acumen?

All are reasonable questions and it would seem if anyone can make Union Green into a viable ball brand Acushnet can even though they are targeting a small somewhat ill-defined market slice of players looking for a social experience not birdies.

TR20 – Honma’s New Woods & IronsBy ED TRAVISHonma Golf is…

TR20 – Honma’s New Woods & Irons

By ED TRAVIS

Honma Golf is making a significant effort to capture a bigger portion of the golf equipment business in the United States and the newest string to their bow is the TR20 family of clubs. TR20 stands for Tour Release 2020 and the line is slotted in the better-player category.

There are two driver models (440cc and 460cc) both having a titanium frame with extensive areas of the body in strong but lightweight carbon fiber. The adjustable hosel is interesting since rather than the conventional design where the entire head or shaft turns as loft or face angle are changed, Honma uses an inner hosel ring that moves so head and shaft orientation remain constant.

The TR20V irons are forged from soft carbon steel in a cavity back design and the TR20P are forged from S35C steel with an L-cup face. Honma tells me they are similar enough in design to make a combination set helpful to players wanting a more forgiving long iron in the bag.

“TR20 drivers are a feat of engineering craftsmanship from our incredibly talented teams in Sakata and Carlsbad. Combining innovative carbon construction with the legendary shaping of our takumis in Japan is something we’re very excited for golfers to experience,” said Honma President John Kawaja.

Honma’s Vice President of Global Product Chris McGinley said about the two iron models, ““The combination of Honma hand-crafted looks with tour level performance, modern constructions and expert designs provide a blend of looks, sound and feel that golfers will love.”

On the PGA Tour the number nine player in the Official World Golf Rankings, Justin Rose, is playing a prototype TR20B that is expected to be available this summer.

WYNTK TR 20 drivers

Better-players category

440cc or 460cc heads

Three adjustable sole weights (choice of 3,6,9,12, & 15grams)

Adjustable hosel – face angle +/- 1.5°, loft +/- 1°, lie <2°

Titanium frame with carbon fiber crown/sole

Thin cast titanium face with vertical grooves in back

Stock shafts VIZARD 50, 60, 70, plus Tour upgrade options

At retail in March for $649.99

WYNTK TR20V irons

TR20V players category

Forged one-piece modern cavity back

Smaller head than TR20P

March retail $174.99 steel shafts /$199.99 graphite

WYNTK TR20P irons

Players-distance category

Forged body with L-cup face

Stronger lofts

Internal pocket with tungsten weight

March retail $174.99 steel shafts /$199.99 graphite

Callaway’s New Chrome Soft & Chrome Soft XBy ED TRAVISFour…

Callaway’s New Chrome Soft & Chrome Soft X

By ED TRAVIS

Four years can be a long time and in golf equipment it can be a very long time. Looking at the ball segment of the equipment business four years ago Bridgestone Golf was riding high with a market share in the high teens making it a strong competitor to Titleist and Callaway Golf introduced the Chrome Soft ball. What followed was the Chrome Soft and its successors took over the number two spot with a combination of technological innovation and Bridgestone seeming to lose its way.

The original Chrome Soft while not the first “soft” ball was different than competitors since it was targeted for use by better, read higher swing speed, players. It was a 3-piece construction soon to be 4-piece the following year and was joined by in 2017 by the X version which was a firmer for those with the highest driver speeds. Chrome Soft X had a lower trajectory than its older brother, a more piercing flight and was more workable because of higher spin.

For the 2020 season and after a $50 million investment for manufacturing improvements in their Chicopee, Mass. ball manufacturing plant Callaway is introducing a new Chrome Soft and Chrome Soft X still with performance differences. Both feature reengineered cores and thinner urethane covers with the Chrome Soft having a higher trajectory and the Chrome Soft X a flatter ball flight.

Both will be available in white or yellow, the Truvis “soccer ball” cover and with or without Callaway’s Triple Track alignment lines. They will be in shops on Mar.12 for $47.99 per dozen

WYNTK Chrome Soft

Larger Dual SoftFast Core with graphene infused

Higher launch lower spin

Proprietary ionomer mantle system

Thinner urethane cover

Dimple design for reduced drag

WYNTK Chrome Soft X

Large SoftFast core

Soft inner mantle firmer outer mantle

Thinner urethane cover

Dimple design reduces drag penetrating flight

Charles Lightfoot’s number one innovative pick at Demo Day…

Charles Lightfoot’s number one innovative pick at Demo Day 2020!

Finally, a golf shoe that helps you play better golf!  SQAIRZ is a golf shoe not a sneaker with nubs. It’s equipment for your feet!

BALANCE, STABILITY, ACCURACY, DISTANCE, COMFORT
IT ALL STARTED WITH THE PATENTED SQAIRZ TOE THAT ALLOWS THE GOLFER TO SETUP PROPERLY ON EVERY SHOT WITH MORE ROOM IN THE FOREFOOT AREA THAT PROVIDES FULL RANGE OF MOTION IN YOUR FEET. THAT DEVELOPMENT LEAD TO A MORE STABLE PLATFORM WITH CUSTOM PLACEMENT OF CLEATS AND NUBS UNDER SPECIFIC PRESSURE POINTS CREATED DURING YOUR GOLF SWING. WE INTEGRATED A HEEL STABILIZER SYSTEM THAT ASSISTS WITH ROTATIONAL TORQUE, BUT WE DIDN’T STOP THERE.

A CUSTOM REMOVABLE INSOLE INTEGRATES COMPRESSION ZONES THAT MATCH THE PRESSURE POINT AREAS LINKING THE INNER SOLE ALL THE WAY TO THE CLEATS. ONE OF THE MOST VOCAL CONCERNS FROM GOLFERS HAS BEEN TYING THEIR SHOES MULTIPLE TIMES THROUGHOUT A ROUND. “STA-PUT” LACES WITH SILICON SQUARES PRINTED DOWN THE LACE THAT ALLOWS YOU TO COMFORTABLY FORM THE SHOE TO YOUR FOOT AND LOCK IT IN PLACE WITHOUT HAVING TO ADJUST OR RE-TIE DURING THE ROUND.

STITCH® Golf Introduces Bonesman PolosDARE TO BE DANGEROUSSTITCH…

STITCH® Golf Introduces Bonesman Polos

DARE TO BE DANGEROUS

STITCH Golf announces the re-launch of the Bonesman Polo, originally released as a limited edition item in November, 2019, and brought back and expanded by popular demand.  

“We created the Bonesman polo for those looking to add some edge to their style,” stated Brad King, CEO of STITCH. “These are the polos I want to wear when driving an old sports car, they dare you to feel dangerous.”  

Whether you are at the course or in the boardroom, the Bonesman polos will make you feel the same way you feel when you are pushing down the throttle of an old Porsche racing car. Constructed with 95% Egyptian Giza cotton and 5% spandex, the Bonesman polo is as comfortable as it is functional. Self-stay collar with under buttons and signature STITCH Bonesman appliqué, the Bonesman solid polo, available in six colors, has a two- button placket while the striped polo, available in four colors, comes with a four -button placket and chest pocket.

STITCH Golf continues its innovation by incorporating cutting- edge technically advanced fabrics to create a rich hand feel with a sophisticated style all created and inspired for today’s modern golfer.  By creating cohesive looks with details that perform, STITCH Golf has made it easy to dress your game to match your style and personality.

The Bonesman polo is available for purchase at www.stitchgolf.com and leading golf, country clubs and select retailers.  Stay connected with STITCH Golf on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook at @StitchGolf

About STITCH Golf

Founded in 2012 as a headcover company, STITCH is known for designing and creating products with precise attention to detail, all the way down to the last stitch. Based in Apex, North Carolina, STITCH gives a unique experience, whether it’s the high quality leather used in our headcovers, the durable waterproof fabrics in our bags and gear or the fashionable color schemes seen in our apparel. STITCH products are designed to be effortlessly fashionable, allowing you to create a stylish, comfortable and color-coordinated look-on and off the course. Designed with details that perform, our line of golf bags and gear, travel bags and apparel combine function and fashion with three themes in mind: DRESS YOUR GAME™, ARRIVE IN STYLE™ and FROM WORK TO PLAY™.  STITCH products are available at leading golf, country clubs and select retailers around the world and at: www.stitchgolf.com