Cleveland Golf grinds it out with new RTX 2.0 wedges

Next month Cleveland Golf launches its new line of RTX 2.0 wedges, building on the success of the existing RTX range. In this exclusive pre-launch interview with GOLF RETAILING, Ben Davis, brand marketing manager for UK and Ireland, tells Glyn Pritchard about the USPs of the new series and the marketing strategy behind the launch.

Ben DavisCleveland Golf claims phenomenal success for its RTX range of wedges since launch in March 2013, as Davis confirms. “When we launched we had a market share of nearly nine percent for wedges according to Golf Datatech figures. Today that has risen by over 20 points to 29.68 percent in July 2014 (Source: Golf Datatech). Our wedges trade-in promotion has been a tremendous success for our retailers. There were 20,000 wedges traded-in last year and we will probably see upward of 15,000 traded-in this year.” Under the terms of the trade-in deal customers got a £25 credit on any wedge traded-in for a new RTX wedge, with up to a £75 for three old wedges traded-in for a set of three Cleveland Golf wedges.

The new RTX 2.0 series out next month greatly increases the range with a choice of three different sole grinds and blade or cavity back styles giving six men’s right-hand model variants, plus a cavity back, standard bounce grind model for women. Along with the choice of bounce grind and head styles there is a wide choice of lofts for each model with the men’s standard bounce grind blade available in ten lofts from 46 to 64 degrees. There will also be a choice of tour satin or black satin finishes.

Cleveland Golf’s decision to widen choice with the RTX 2.0 series is based on its research showing that increased distance off the tee for golfers at every level of the game, means that 65 percent of all golf shots now take place from 125 yards and in. As a result golfers need to carry a greater number of wedges to hit accurate shots from close to the green.

Davis says “The new choice of bounce grinds means we can offer wedges to suit every player type and all course conditions.”  The low bounce grind is said to be ideal for firm conditions and for players with a shallow attack angle. Standard bounce grind is designed for a wide variety of conditions while the full sole grind is Cleveland Golf’s answer for softer conditions and players with a steep attack angle. “We’ve classified the wedges with a simple dot system so it’s easy for the customer to understand and appreciate the benefits of each sole type and decide which best suits them.”

Graeme McDowellAs well as the new choice of three sole types, Davis says the Rotex face of the RTX 2.0 series has 15 percent sharper grooves than its predecessor and a new micro-milled face pattern between the grooves to give the most surface roughness allowed under USGA regulations. “You can see the Rotex pattern now has more of a roughness to it, increasing the friction on the face to the ball, especially out of a rough lie.”

Cleveland Golf is keen to emphasise the ‘tour proven’ credentials of the RTX 2.0 series with input from Srixon-Cleveland Golf tour stars such as Keegan Bradley and Graeme McDowell. “The tour players have been heavily involved in the designing and look of the new wedges. And going forward all our tour players will carry Cleveland Golf RTX 2.0 wedges”, Davis explains.

In addition to increasing sales and market share over the past 18 months, Davis states that the company has significantly increased its retail outlets since the original RTX launch. “We’ve doubled the number of Cleveland Golf wedge resellers, largely through word of mouth based on the success of the trade-in promotion. We will continue to build our retail channel and we believe the RTX 2.0 series will drive that.”

The company has also reorganised its sales force with seven dedicated sales reps focused on Srixon-Cleveland Golf products. “We had some agents before but using our own sales staff gives us more control over sales activity. It’s a strong and experienced team that will support our retailers and help them with sales promotion activity. With the RTX 2.0 we have a premium series of tour validated wedges and we will help drive sell-through for our retailers. The RTX trade-in campaign shows the kind of imaginative marketing approach we will take and we’re coming up with proactive ideas to get customers into the stores for 2015.”

Next month: In an exclusive GOLF RETAILING interview, Leslie Hepsworth, president of Srixon Sports for UK and Ireland reveals the company’s plans for a new Srixon equipment range and the launch of a super-premium brand of clubs.