Category Archives: TaylorMade Golf

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FORE Magazine: Meet TaylorMade’s Vice President of Product Creation Brian Bazzel

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Editor’s note: Here’s my profile of TaylorMade’s Brian Bazzel for the winter issue of FORE Magazine. I’ll post a digital link when one comes available.

How much further can you go? It’s the question on everyone’s mind at TaylorMade Golf. Whether it’s referring to such things as golf ball distance limits or other technology thresholds, Brian Bazzel has been hearing some version of the question ever since the first day he started in the research department of TaylorMade nearly 18 years ago.

And for that entire time, TaylorMade has had answers, sometimes coming from Bazzel himself as he’s worked his way through nearly every department of product creation. Now, with his recent promotion to vice president of product creation, he’ll expected to have more answers than ever.

“We hear that question every year. And it’s a great question,” says the man known as “Baz” to his co-workers. “But believe it or not there are always places you can go. There are always opportunities and doors that are open to improve upon our products despite the restrictions and regulations that are put upon us.

“Sometimes when you plow throw one door of innovation, it’s like one or two more open that you couldn’t see before. Something you thought that before was impossible now is possible and you set a new goal. I’ve seen a lot of that, especially the last two or three years.”

Recent breakthroughs have produced such category leaders as the multi-material M2 Driver and the Spider Putter made popular by Jason Day. As 2018 and a new equipment season dawns, Bazzel promises more game-changing breakthroughs to come – but he isn’t tipping his hand just yet.

“We have some incredible technologies coming out that I can’t wait to tell the world about,” he said. “It’s going to be a significant year.”

In a way, it has already begun. The new equipment has already been tried and tested by TaylorMade’s armada of Tour pros. Their feedback and input is a major source of inspiration for future TaylorMade product, so their buy-in and belief is critical, Bazzel said.

Thus presenting product to Tour pros being Bazzel’s most nervous moment of the year.

“It’s like your baby being born,” Bazzel said. “It’s the moment of truth.”

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That moment can be three to five or even more years in the making. That’s how far out TaylorMade’s product planning and R & D extends. In actually, though, a product’s life truly begins 2 years out when it’s put into a planning and production cycle.

Now more than ever, Bazzel, like an NFL general manager planning a draft, will be the one making those selections.

“We have several ideas that are 3-5 years out, but you only have so many people and so much time so you have to choose correctly,” he explained. “Some of those ideas will never see the light of day but you hope that most of them will.

“Two years to 18 months is when we get really serious about a product.”

Bazzel is uniquely positioned to make those decisions in that at one time or another, he’s worked in every equipment category at TaylorMade, but upon announcing Bazzel’s promotion, TaylorMade CEO David Abeles especially lauded Baz’s work in metalwoods.

“For five years, Brian has been the driving force behind our metalwoods product creation team, creating groundbreaking products that have invigorated the industry,” Abeles said. “His vision has helped position TaylorMade as the industry leader in metalwoods innovation and performance.

“There’s no doubt in my mind that under his guidance the TaylorMade brand will continue to see exceptional growth and forge a lasting position as an industry leader across all product categories.”

Bazzel developed his knack for product design after a stint of playing competitively and then caddying. Bazzel played high school golf in Rancho Bernardo before going on to play at Division III UC-San DiegoSD, where the team captured third in the NCAAs once during his playing days. Bazzel competed in SCGA amateurs and on the mini tours before taking a caddy gig at The Farms Golf Club in Rancho Santa Fe.

A caddy client noted Bazzel’s knowledge and knack for the game and suggested a career in the industry. Armed with his playing experience and an electrical engineering degree, Bazzel embarked on a career with TaylorMade.

Bazzel’s love for the game was fostered by his step father, a scratch golfer. His influence has carried over to Bazzel’s design career in that he’s the audience Bazzel says he has in mind when he’s creating a product.

“When I think of an authentic golfer, I think of him,” he said.

Bazzel said his love for the equipment side of the game came later in his playing days, but he recalls clearly his first real set of clubs, which were TaylorMade irons he purchased at age 13 with money earned washing dishes.

“They were long irons, foam-filled, Tour-preferred,” he says with a smile. “I paid $300 and sold them for what I paid them. I wish I still had them.

“I was proud to have them and eager to hit them.”

That’s the emotion Bazzel seeks to conjure now each year from golfers.

Thanks to advances in technology, the process of product creation has changed drastically during Bazzel’s time at TaylorMade, but the process of gathering ideas remains largely the same, he said. He keeps his eyes and ears open at all times, he said, especially when talking to Tour players.

“You find inspiration everywhere,” he said. “The ideas we have implement can come from anywhere. You’re always listening for insights, especially when we’re talking to our PGA professionals from around the world.

“But we have to be within the game and close to the game at all times so we hear those things.”

The objective for the staff of 15 that Bazzel now oversees is clear, he said.

“We ultimately want to have the deepest understanding of what golfers want and then also have the deepest understanding of what our brightest minds have come up with it,” he said. “Then you want to align those two things and hopefully surprise them at times.

But for all the planning and research, Bazzel says it’s sometimes the staff who ends up getting surprised, as was the case with the Spider Red mallet putter that Jason Day rode to world No. 1 and has become popular on Tour.

Day requested a few design tweaks to the original model, Bazzel said, adding that the red color choice was Day’s entirely, a decision that he says initially drew skeptical glances from the staff.

“It looked a little different and a little funny,” Bazzel said. “But then he starts make every putt on the planet and suddenly we can’t make them fast enough.

“So for all the planning we do, there are still some things you can’t plan for.”

But Bazzel said the product was ultimately a triumph for the culture of TaylorMade, where each product category has a group leader, but Bazzel said that doesn’t limit the staff’s ability to contribute across other product lines.

“Everybody fits the culture of TaylorMade, but yet is each uniquely skilled. The talent in this building is incredible and there are no egos,” he said. “We want people to feel like they can contribute anywhere at any time.

“We’re always willing to help each other because we’re all ultimately going after the same thing, which is to create the best-performing, hottest golf products on the planet.”

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SD Tourism: Touring TaylorMade and the Other Golf Equipment Companies in Carlsbad

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Editor’s note: This post is part of an occasional series for the San Diego Tourism Authority. I’ll post the link after it goes live at www.sandiego.org.

As the home of the headquarters of TaylorMade Golf, Callaway and Cobra, Carlsbad is akin to the Silicon Valley of the golf equipment industry.

The game-changing birth of the metal wood occurred in Carlsbad and those companies been leading the technology boom that has revolutionized the game ever since.

Carlsbad presents a rare opportunity to visit all three of these influential brands at once. They are all headquartered within a few miles of each other.

TaylorMade, however, is the only one still offering regularly scheduled public tours. They take place every Thurs. at 10 a.m. Cobra books private tours by appointment, while Callaway only books club fittings.

The following is a look at highlights and tips for taking the TaylorMade Tour, followed by information for booking appointments at Callaway and Cobra.

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Touring TaylorMade

As most any golfer knows, TaylorMade is the world’s leading equipment manufacturer. Their campus encompasses two buildings – only one of which you see on the tour – and the driving range, the hallowed Kingdom, a domain for the pros and other elite players.

The TaylorMade tour offers some insight into the company’s latest club technology – the new R15 driver is under glass in the lobby with the club head dissected– as well a peek at the manufacturing process and an overview of golf’s technology revolution.

A rotating team of TaylorMade volunteers hosts the roughly 45-minute tour so your experience may differ depending on their experience. For instance, our host was an engineer named Matt, so we got a more technology-based tour.

Regardless of the host, be prepared to provide your ID and sign an electronic confidentiality agreement while you’re waiting. Note: No photos or phones on the tour.

While you’re waiting for the tour to begin, you can peruse the latest TaylorMade equipment, which is on display in the lobby along with the staff bags as such TaylorMade Tour players as Justin Rose, Jason Day and Sergio Garcia.

The tour begins with a bit of history about not only TaylorMade but its parent company, Adidas, a high-performance sports apparel manufacturer. For golf, the most pertinent history is the story of Gary Adams bringing TaylorMade to Carlsbad to pursue his dream of launching a medal wood to supplant the wooden clubs of the past.

That history is displayed under glass in the next story of the tour – the Wall of History. There, 12 clubs are exhibited that capture the evolution of the metal era. There’s everything from TaylorMade’s first driver, the head of which is about the size of a modern-day rescue club, to the latest, the state-of-the-art R15.

In between, you witness club head sizes growing, metal materials changing and then club adjustability coming into the picture. Even for those who know their club history, there’s likely something to learn and appreciate here.

The next stop is the manufacturing floor, where 10,000 clubs are assembled each day. You see everything in production from putters to drivers and learn what a golf assembly line looks like. The manufacturing floor shares space with the massive warehouse where thousands of equipment orders are being processed and shipped daily.

The tour concludes with a look at one of the most exclusive parts of TaylorMade – The Kingdom. Golfers are usually only granted access here with permission of a club pro and to be professionally fitted.

Otherwise, this is where TaylorMade’s professionals come to get their equipment updated in a state-of-the-art environment and to practice on the driving range.

The Kingdom has a country-club feel all its own, complete with a posh lounge just inside the entrance. Worth perusing: the guestbook at the front desk. Inside, you’ll find photographs and signatures from touring pros and celebrities who’ve visited The Kingdom. It’s a veritable Who’s Who.

Who was Adidas’ first sponsored athlete (hint: think track)? Where does TaylorMade gets its name from? Why did Gary Adams chose to relocate his company to San Diego? What does the R stand for on TaylorMade’s drivers?

If some of those questions pique your interest, the TaylorMade tour has answers for you.
If your visit coincides with one of the professional tour events in San Diego, you might end up keeping company with a tour pro. To register for a tour at TaylorMade, call 760.918.6000. Tours are given on Thursdays.

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Touring Cobra

Cobra Puma, the company represented by the stylish Rickie Fowler, has designated times of the month when tours are available, but they are by appointment only.

Cobra has more modest facilities than TaylorMade, but there are still things to be seen, including the hitting bay and swing simulator the pros use at Cobra. There’s also a warehouse and merchandise area where the colorful array of the Cobra Puma product line is displayed.

The tour can take 30 minutes to an hour depending on what guests want to see. Working in a club fitting can add another hour or two.

To schedule a tour, a fitting, or both, call 760.710.3502.

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Getting Fitted At Callaway

Callaway Golf no longer offers public tours, but the headquarters does accommodate club fittings.

To learn more scheduling a fitting, go to www.callawaygolf.com/golf-clubs/custom-fitting/ and look under the custom fitting tab.

Shop the Blog: 2014 TaylorMade Golf Holiday Gift Guide

Looking for gift ideas for that golfer on your list? This helpful TaylorMade gift guide offers something for everyone and segments golfers by level of interest so you can easily shop for the casual golfer as well as the avid.

Happy holidays. Happy shopping.


Shop the TaylorMade 2014 Holiday Gift Guide and get free shipping on all orders! Offer ends 12/25/14.

Current equipment specials

Buy 1 SLDR S Driver & Get a Fairway or Rescue Free at TaylorMadeGolf.com! Offer ends 12/31/14.

Save up to $100 on the SLDR Driver, the #1 driver on tour, at TaylorMadeGolf.com! Offer ends 12/31/14.

Save up to $200 on an 8-piece set of SpeedBlade irons, plus free shipping at TaylorMadeGolf.com! Offer ends 12/31/14.

Save up to $200 on an 8-piece set of RocketBladez irons, plus free shipping at TaylorMadeGolf.com! Offer ends 12/31/14.