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:
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!
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.
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….