The Sales Manager for Nippon Shaft in Europe talks about the issues around slow play, his dream dinner party guests and why the golf industry is a great place to work.
What’s your favourite golf course?
I only ever played it once, but I would have to say Kilspindie in East Lothian. A little jewel, sensible length. I played there with visitors from Japan and USA, and probably had my happiest time on a golf course. Not because of any sparkling golf from me, just good company, location and the weather was perfect. I’d love to go back there.
What’s the best shot you’ve ever played?
I hadn’t been playing that long when I played in a works knockout Matchplay game some years ago and I was playing a guy who was a little better than me. It was an approach shot on the 18th and throughout the whole game the only time I was ahead in the match was when I hit a mid iron to the middle of the green. It wasn’t a hugely difficult approach, but I knew I needed to get it on the green to win the match. It was very satisfying.
Who’s your favourite ever golfer and why?
Lee Trevino. What an entertainer on and off course. The fun way he played the game was one of the reasons I first picked up a second hand 7 iron and had a go.
What’s the biggest issue facing golf today?
I feel the same as most others I guess; slow pace of play is a real problem – the professionals were taking five and a half hours recently in Sweden. Access and inclusivity for young people wanting to try golf is another big one, as is lack of exposure on terrestrial TV. What turned me onto golf was watching pro-celebrity golf and thinking that it looked like a good game that you could play with very little age barriers.
What one thing would you change about the golf industry?
There can be an incredibly short shelf life of hardware, which makes forecasting for club build very difficult. For the consumer who has purchased the latest and greatest clubs in April, only to find out six months later that that the next big thing is being launched must be frustrating. I think that pushing too much product into retail channels is not healthy. When I first started products could have a four or five year shelf life. That’s not feasible now, but then I don’t think overbuying, manufacturing too much and then dumping is a great way to continue either.
What do you enjoy most about your job?
I have worked in golf from the age of 16, manufacturing steel golf shafts at Oldbury in the West Midlands. I enjoyed my time on the manufacturing side of things and appreciate how difficult it is to make steel golf shafts. Working with Nippon Shaft in this capacity really is a joy. The levels of quality and service from the factory and offices in Japan are extraordinary and I truly believe that nobody does it better. It’s also a big kick to see a tour player win using our products, because you have a small hand in that, the shafts had to get here from Japan, be shipped and built for the player. We don’t pay players to use our shafts on the European and PGA Tours, so it makes us very proud when touring pros play Nippon Shaft.
What’s the hardest part?
I don’t want to make this too rose-tinted, but I had to work in a steel stockholders for a while and, with all due respect to any steel stockholders out there, that was grim! Even when I have a bad day or two, it’s never as bad as my time steel stockholding. I feel very fortunate to have this job and work in the golf industry. I know people who have left of their own accord and maybe regretted it.
Who would be your five dream dinner party guests?
Lee Trevino, Danny Baker, Victoria Coren-Mitchell, Michael Palin and Noddy Holder. All seem good company and have a wealth of tales to tell. Good food and drink, I think it would be a fun evening after a Tio Pepe or three.
What’s your favourite ever film?
It can change but, today it’s Goodfellas. Some days it’s American Graffiti, some days it’s The Godfather Part II. I could put any of those on the TV and happily watch them.
What are the most played songs on your iPod?
iPod…! I am still playing vinyl. I kept most of my singles and albums and my record player. My most played songs are probably: All the Young Dudes, Drive-In Saturday by Bowie, There is a light that never goes out and Gimme Shelter by the Stones.