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  • On The Range with...Chris Voshall of Mizuno NA


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    A new feature we’re rolling out this year is On The Range With ……..  It will be a Q&A session with various people that work in the golf industry.  We’re starting out with those who work for the OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) in other words any company that makes golf products that we commonly use.

    It’s a chance to get to know some of the names you may have heard of a little better and to get to know some in key roles that you most likely have not heard of.  We appreciated them spending time with us to provide some very insightful thoughts on equipment, their companies and the overall golf landscape.

    We hope you enjoy them, and if you have any suggestions on anyone you’d like to hear from, let us know and we’ll see if we can make it happen.\

    We begin the series with Chris Voshall, Product Marketing Manager at Mizuno North America:

     

    Chris Voshall
    Mizuno

    @Vosh68

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    Personal

    • How long have you been with Mizuno and what is your background? 

      • I started with Mizuno in the spring of 2004, making it 16 years already! Started fresh out of engineering school in college and was brought on as a Club Testing Engineer. Have worked my way through the company from there.

    • They say you shouldn’t take a job in golf because you’ll never get to play again.  Is that true for you? If so WITB?

      • I wouldn’t say exactly true, but I would say that I have friends in other fields who get to play a lot more than I do. That being said, I’ve played some nicer courses. Ha!

      • In the bag for me currently:

        • Driver – ST200G with a custom made 70g Fujikura shaft

        • #3 & #5 Woods – ST190 with 80g Diamana S+ Limited

        • #3 & #4 Irons – MP-H5 with AMT Tour White

        • #5 - #9 Irons – JPX919 Tour with AMT Tour White

        • 46, 51, 58 Deg Wedges – T7 Blue Ion with AMT Tour White

        • Putter – M Craft Type II Black 

    • Outside of golf what other activities do you do?

      • I love going to the gym, even though I’m the smallest guy there.

      • Also love anytime I have a snowboard strapped to my feet!

    Shop Talk

    • Which product/products do you think have had the biggest impact on golf in the last 5-7 years?

      • Adjustable drivers have definitely opened a ton of fun doors from the engineering and creativity side. And it’s hard to talk adjustability without mentioning the R7 Driver. 

      • On the iron side of the world, I really feel the technology of engineering a high COR into the set has had a huge impact on the game. The JPX800 iron was one of the first to really take off with this tech and the industry has followed along.

    • How many ideas are left on the cutting room floor?  Do you ever see a failed idea resurface later with a new twist?

      • It’s amazing how often we see things pop up in the market that we worked on in the past. Sometimes we couldn’t execute on an idea properly and someone else figures it out, and sometimes it just feels like we are too far ahead of our time. The world of hollow distance irons is a perfect example of this. Mizuno’s MX1000 and MP-H4 are perfect examples of this. They were ahead of their time. Once the industry and the consumer caught up, we were able to revisit the design goals of these clubs with additional small twists and really get commercial success with the idea in the MP-20 HMB.

    • Please describe your company's relationship with MyGolfSpy? (be honest)

      • MyGolfSpy is one of those groups you love but at the same time, you have to be aware that the next thing they say you might hate. As an engineer who likes to speak in clean, engineering terms, I’ve been fortunate to really get along with those I have met within MyGolfSpy very easily. If I were a marketing guys though, I can’t say that I’d have that same relationship. Overall, they hold the OEMs accountable for what they say and how they act, so in that respect, it’s hard to say anything negative.

    Big Picture

    • What growing trends do you see in the industry? Which segment seems to be growing the fastest?

      • This is an industry that’s constantly evolving. What I am loving to see right now are the discussions of manufacturing processes and tolerances and how they might affect performance and design. This has been my world and it’s cool to see that it’s being brought to the forefront of product stories. No more “17 more yards!” and more attention to the finer details that we can optimize.

    • Given the limitations imposed by the governing bodies are we nearing the end of equipment innovation?

      • It’s funny how this question has been asked over and over again for years, yet engineers find a way to keep advancing. While a governing body may implement a new rule or two, those simply act as guidelines for us to engineer around. We’re going to take what we’re given, and then we’re going to innovate around. So the simple answer from my end would be that we are in no way nearing any end to innovation!

    • What can the golf equipment industry do to help grow the game?

      • This is always one of the toughest things to answer. We want to push innovation to try to make the game more enjoyable. Also, we aim to make it more personal with custom fit and customized clubs dialed in specifically to each player. Will that ultimately grow the game? I doubt it. That being said, the game is an absolute blast to play. As people are so “connected” 24-7 to their work, their phone, the news, everything, a golf course is one of the few places where it’s not only acceptable, but encouraged for you to disconnect and focus on the game. So to that, I think the game will be completely fine, it’s just figuring out how to get individuals their first taste….

     

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    Guest Deacon

    Posted

    The questions and responses were rather generic. Adjustable drivers are nothing new. The most important current trends were never mentioned. These should have included the newer technologies which now permit stronger lofts in irons without compromising playability. Also not discussed was the evolution of higher MOI putters and how this has changed the game. I hope that further interviews will include more insightful questions and answers.

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    Guest Guest Jon

    Posted

    good article, but yeah, little generic on the questions. like to hear a bit more personal info about folks in these positions in the industry. what's his handicap, how many times a month do they get to play, little more in depth as to how they picked what is in their bag. like to hear if he interacts with their staff pro's, gets out to their fittings, etc. 

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    37 minutes ago, Guest Deacon said:

    The questions and responses were rather generic. Adjustable drivers are nothing new. The most important current trends were never mentioned. These should have included the newer technologies which now permit stronger lofts in irons without compromising playability. Also not discussed was the evolution of higher MOI putters and how this has changed the game. I hope that further interviews will include more insightful questions and answers.

    Thanks for the feedback, the question was what technology has had the biggest impact in the past 5 to 7 years, not just new technology.  It's hard to argue that there has been anything with a bigger impact than adjustable drivers. 

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    7 minutes ago, Guest Guest Jon said:

    good article, but yeah, little generic on the questions. like to hear a bit more personal info about folks in these positions in the industry. what's his handicap, how many times a month do they get to play, little more in depth as to how they picked what is in their bag. like to hear if he interacts with their staff pro's, gets out to their fittings, etc. 

    Keep in mind, the reps that completed these for us did so outside their normal job responsibilities, and it is much more time consuming to write out answers than giving a full rundown of your job history and playing experiences in writing versus in a podcast type format.  

    But thanks for taking the time to read it and offer some suggestions, some good thoughts there. 

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    Guest Man-E

    Posted

    Thanks for the insight.. look forward to reading others like this..

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    Being a lover of Mizuno irons, it was great to read Voshall as your first guess in this new medium.  Sure, it would've been great if he shared some trade secrets or dirty laundry about their competitors...but it was interesting enough as a starting point.  Thanks for trying something new!

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    Uh, that's it? This one needs some work folks. It isn't up to the usual MSG standards. I've seen video clips of Chris when he really gets into it, and he is much more engaged and really interesting to listen to. Much more  than he was in this question/answer session. This wasn't close to his best or yours. Maybe you had a different objective than what I was expecting when I read the introduction. Maybe this feature needs to transition to a video interview. Could you start with a Skype connection like you use with Tony for No Putts Given? Anyway, YES I am interested in learning more about the people in the business, but this isn't the ticket. Folks I want to hear more from in the future? Dave Pelz on effective practice. Ben Crenshaw on design. Kim Braly on shaft evolution. And a dozen more I won't bore you with. 

    With regard to the last question to Chris about growing the game. We all know that young people have to get into golf or it will slowly die. Last summer I think I saw the future that will save golf. It will engage youngsters, but it will also change the game. It was in Campbell River, B.C., Canada of all places. A guy who made a bazillion dollars (Canadian dollars, but still a bazillion) came home to Campbell River, bought an old course, and started pouring large buckets of money in. He shut it down for a year and totally rebuilt the course. He has a four or five story hotel underway on an adjacent property. He also built a new "clubhouse", that isn't really a clubhouse so much as an extensive entertainment/recreation center fronting onto the driving range. He included a small pro shop to put people on the course, a very good restaurant in a "bar food" sense that also has stuff kids love, and about eight hitting bays hitting into the driving range that are state of the art equipped with high end launch monitor systems and large displays. They have comfortable seating for about six to eight people, and remind me of old-time bowling alleys where everyone had a beer and was really engaged socially. In fact the atmosphere was much like the bowling alleys I remember as a youngster.

    Everything was first class. The driving range, the restaurant, the fixtures, the simulator set ups, the rental equipment, the staff. When we drove into the parking lot initially a "greeter" was out there to welcome us, help us get our clubs out of the car, and answer questions about the course and facilities. And this person really KNEW golf. It was so out of the norm that it was almost unsettling. We were there on a Thursday and stayed for about six hours to watch the U.S. Open on TV in the restaurant. We ended up stuffing our faces with a LOT of good food and a few beers. The facility was incredible.  Every single hitting bay was busy every single minute we were there - mid week, middle of the day. There were a lot of families, including a LOT of kids. They were so excited about the golf, it was infectious. We were hearing things like "When I get to play on a real golf course, I'm going to..." It was like nothing I've ever seen on at a golf course before. The hitting bays fronting on the driving range are even heated and sheltered so they will be comfortable in the winter. It was sort of a high class, mini Top Golf carried to the extreme in a small town in British Columbia.

    I had a chance to talk to the owner at length. He was very busy with this gigantic project he has going, but he took the time to talk to me - a visitor who was just having lunch and watching his big-screen TVs for free. (We did end up playing two rounds of golf there that week. The course was immaculately conditioned, though not the sternest test even in Campbell River) He was totally enthusiastic and very transparent about his project and business model. I commented about all the families that were there. No accident, he told me - his pricing actually allows a family to come in for a couple hours for less than the cost of taking the kids to the movies (not counting all the food and drinks they consume). His marketing approach was very impressive, with special birthday party sessions available, etc. His idea was that this is an entertainment center, focused on golf. He was busy setting up leagues for the winter months, which in Campbell River B.C. are real winter.

    THAT IS THE SORT OF THING THAT WILL GROW THE GAME - MAYBE EVEN SAVE IT.   

    I know this is way too long a post, but I had to share this with someone who really cares about the game.

    Edited by Hecaviator
    grammar
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    On 3/11/2020 at 3:23 PM, Hecaviator said:

    ...
    With regard to the last question to Chris about growing the game. We all know that young people have to get into golf or it will slowly die. Last summer I think I saw the future that will save golf. It will engage youngsters, but it will also change the game. It was in Campbell River, B.C., Canada of all places.
    ...

    I read about that place somewhere (maybe Golf Advisor?) .. yeah, it does sound very cool and like a LOTTA fun! Agree with you that it very well may represent the near term future of golf. I'd totally go to a place like that if there were one near me.

    Off-topic, re: OEM interviews, but inline with the above - 
    Two winters ago my wife and I traveled to a spot in Texas that had completely rebuilt their practice area .. to include the same type of bays at Campbell River - covered, heated, plus overhead fans and with comfy wrap-around bench seating along with a full TopTracer range setup in each, which lets you play TopGolf-like games and also simulated course play. There was a fully-loaded snack bar adjacent with a selection of adult beverages, too. They'd also expanded the putting green and added mounds and inclines and slopes to allow several people at once to work on all kinds of putts - way better, imho, than the "standard" mostly flat practice greens.

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    Thanks for the article.  It’s good to know what the companies think.

    Edited by NCDuffer

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    I like this as an alternative format for articles.  I love long-form reads, but this is a great little quick hit.  

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    It might be a little generic, but it is a good interview. I can't imagine golf industry folks will go too far off script for a volunteer opportunity.  It would risk their jobs especially in this world of social media overreaction.

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