Editor Dan Owen caught up with Ben Welch, Titleist Golf Club Category Manager – UK Region, to find out why the TSi range of metal woods are their best ever, and why you should stock them in your store.
Why are the TSi Metals the best Titleist has ever produced?
Our approach to driver design is to look at the whole package, and not just certain elements of performance. This is where our research has helped us make TSi faster in the air and faster at impact. We’ve improved the aerodynamics, found new materials such as ATI 425 aerospace titanium which we’ve used in the face of TSi, more rigorously tested every head to get them each to their fastest allowable limit, and improved our already impressive adjustability with the new Surefit weight track in TSi3. All in, these things have helped make TSi the longest, straightest, best looking and best sounding driver we’ve ever made.
What has been the uptake on Tour with the new TSi range?
Not sure what else to say here other than staggering. From the first day the product was available to our Professional Tour Players, the conversion has been like nothing else we’ve seen. TSi was the number one used driver on the European and PGA Tours first week out. This was followed the week after at Winged Foot by becoming the #1 played driver at the US Open. Not bad for its second week being available. From there we have grown in acceptance and conversion and seeing a whole host of non-contracted players at the top of the professional game convert over to TSi. In fact, one week we had 13 non-contracted Tour Players teeing up a TSi on the European Tour. That is product validation at its best.
What is Titleist doing to help its retailers sell more TSi Metals than ever before?
This is a good question and one I am very proud to answer in the current climate of uncertainty and new ways of working. First off, for the retailer we want to allow them an easy transition into the new product, so we have just completed a transition programme to help partner venues move through their TS models quicker. We have conducted a lot of in-person and virtual training sessions on TSi and driver fitting, as well as updated our online learning portal – Titleist University. We’ve seeded more retail partners than ever before ahead of launch and will be sending out fitting tools well in advance of the product hitting shelves to ensure there is plenty of time for retailers to garner pre-sale opportunities.
Further down the line and looking more to 2021, we have overhauled our partner programmes to better suit the individual needs of each venue, rather than what is designed to suit the majority. We’ve given our partners improved visibility of line extensions, enhanced fitting tools and fitting events, and will continue to find innovative ways to work with partners to make sure themselves and their assistants have the best possible training on our products. Overall, we are working with our partners to give them what they need to succeed, not what we think they need to succeed.
Custom fitting is a core part of the Titleist philosophy. What have you done to improve that aspect with TSi?
As you say, custom fitting is a fundamental approach for us to find the correct driver for any golfer, no matter their skill level. That is why with TSi, we are offering greatly enhanced fitting tools, opportunities for fitting events, and product training, all designed to make sure the consumer has the best possible chance to find the best performing TSi for their game. Taking that one step further, the addition of the Surefit weight track on TSi3 coupled with the adjustable hosel on all models, and TSi is the most adjustable driver we have ever made.
As well as a comprehensive range of stock shafts, you’ve introduced a new premium tier of stock shaft offerings. What is the rationale behind that?
First off, we’d like to get rid of the word “stock” and call them “featured” shafts as, over the years, the phrase ‘stock shafts’ has come to make the consumer feel like they are cheapened or not quite as good as aftermarket shafts. For a long time now, we have only offered aftermarket or “real deal” shafts unlike some of our competitors, and we want to make sure the consumer knows this. The four models we have offered in our range provide a great range of options to best suit the needs of the golfer, from stiffness, launch, spin, weight, etc.
The launch of TSi introduces an additional selection of Tour-proven shafts for us as well. We are calling these our Premium offerings and partnered with Graphite design to be able to bring these tour-proven models to retail as well as our regular featured shafts. These are some of the most popular shafts on tour, and we are excited about this new partnership with Graphite Design to make these options more accessible to all golfers.
You are the last major company that has stuck with a two-year product cycle. What are the benefits for the retailer in doing this?
We are very passionate about our two-year life cycle as one of our core beliefs is to not bring out a new version of any product until there is a clear performance benefit. As our R&D teams continue to tell us, this is the minimum amount of time they need to design, produce, and validate the product ahead of it getting to the market. Seeing the performance gains of TSi help to prove this notion.
What have you done to freshen up your POS and sales proposition in-store?
Having seen such early success on Tour and buzz about this product, we need to make sure we are capitalising on the ability to allow the golfer to find the best TSi Driver or Fairway for their game. Not only will we have new high impact and visible in store POS items for the launch, we will also be incorporating the use of QR codes to send the consumer to our online Driver Selector Tool to help them in choosing the right driver for their game ahead of getting their fitting to finalise the spec.
We are also very keen to see the gains and benefits all golfers will see when hitting the new TSi and so we will be bringing back our popular social campaign asking golfers to post their ‘Speed Report’ gains. This is a fun and engaging way for us to help the consumer and retailer show the success they are having in getting fitted into or fitting TSi.
If a retailer hasn’t stocked Titleist woods in recent years, why should they add them for 2021?
It is an exciting time to get back involved with the Titleist brand. We are seeing unprecedented demand for the product right now as we feel it is the best line-up we have ever had with an ability to suit golfers of all skill levels. Our Partnership terms have become far more inclusive and help the retailers in the ways they want to do business. Our fitting tools are more comprehensive than ever, and we are offering more levels of fitting event support than ever before. We truly feel it is a perfect time to come on board and be a part of the buzz surrounding Titleist hardware right now. GR