TaylorMade celebrates boom in white metalwoods

CARLSBAD, Calif. – Sean Toulon was jubilant about sending one of TaylorMade’s best Tour players on a secret mission.

Dustin Johnson, ranked ninth in the world, wore a disguise (a FedEx uniform) and pretended to be an ordinary working stiff.

Good luck.

“I think any golfer would be thrilled to have Dustin Johnson show up on his doorstep,” said Toulon, TaylorMade’s executive vice president, with the air of a big-time promoter before the event.

On Tuesday, August 23, Johnson got a small taste of another profession when he slipped into a FedEx uniform, rode in a FedEx truck and hand-delivered a special package to Patrick Spina at Upper Montclair Country Club in Clifton, N.J. The package included two drivers, one a TaylorMade R11 ordered by Spina and the other a gold-plated R11 replica that he also gets to keep.

photo

From left: Burner SuperFast 2.0 driver, Burner SuperFast 2.0 fairway wood, Burner SuperFast 2.0 rescue, Rescue 11, R11 fairway

Why all the fuss? TaylorMade is celebrating what it says is the one millionth white-headed metalwood sold in the United States in 2011. That would be one million drivers, fairway woods and hybrids in less than seven months – beginning in February after the 2011 PGA Merchandise Show.

“Looking at sales everywhere in the world, we will go over two million (white heads) by the end of the year,” Toulon said.

Toulon traced the development of the R11: “We did the R7. It was the first one with a wrench and stuff that moved, and it worked. Of all the metalwoods sold, it got a 10 percent market share.

“And then we did the second one, the R9, and it had more technology, more breakthrough, more everything. And the same thing happened -- the market share it got was exactly the same as the R7.

“If we didn’t do something dramatically different (with the R11), we knew what would happen. It would get a 10 share.

“I believe the R7 and R9 underperformed in the marketplace. We didn’t want that to happen again. So we went with white. It scared many (TaylorMade) people. It was a gut check for a lot of people here. . . .

“It was like, ‘Guys, get over the fear.’ It was time to remember what Gary (TaylorMade founder Gary Adams) taught us: The top of the pyramid drives everything else.”

TaylorMade’s market share in metalwoods has increased dramatically in 2011. Combining sales of the new white-headed metalwoods (which includes the Burner SuperFast 2.0) and the older TaylorMade metalwoods with dark heads, the company’s most recent market share in units was 35.7 percent, while its dollar share was 41 percent as measured by Golf Datatech, the golf industry’s authoritative source of sales and inventory figures.

The R11 was the No. 1 driver model in each of the four majors in 2011. At the British Open, Darren Clarke became the first player to win a major with the driver. At the PGA Championship, 49 of 56 TaylorMade drivers in play were white.

Looking ahead to 2012, how does TaylorMade follow its blockbuster 2011 act?

Toulon didn’t hesitate.: “I remember the dropped jaws when we took the headcover off the R11 and it was white. All I’m going to say is this – 2011 was great, but 2012 is going to be mind-blowing.”

Although he confirmed TaylorMade has something new and unconventional, Toulon would say no more.

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