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In this week's â€˜5 Questions' we chat to Bridgestone Golf's Director of Golf Ball Marketing, Corey Consuegra. Thanks for taking the time to share a little more about yourself and Bridgestone Golf with MGSers, Corey! Tell us a bit about yourself Corey - how long have you been with Bridgestone Golf? How's your golf game? What's in your bag at the moment? I have had the privilege of working for Bridgestone Golf for the past 10 years. Our brand has gone from â€œmiddle of the packâ€ in the golf ball category to the #2 position as a result of hard work and our efforts to better understand the needs of consumers/amateurs. Ball Fitting has allowed us to speak directly with the golfers that are the game's lifeblood and as such we have developed product for a wide range of players from the beginner to the weekend warrior, to the avid golfer and the Pro. Sadly, my bag is in the midst of a major overhaul. As someone who needs more forgiveness (10hdcp), I will be making the switch from the J40 CB's to our new J15 Dual Pocket. They look amazing at address, but the minimal twisting at impact will keep the ball online longer. As for the driver, I will put the new J815 in the bag, again for maximum forgiveness. From a personal standpoint, I live in Covington, GA and have an amazing wife and 2 children (7yrs old and 5yrs old). I am a die-hard baseball fan and love to be outside fishing, running, hiking and just walking! In the US Bridgestone has been better known as a tire manufacturer than a golf equipment manufacturer - how difficult has it been over the last 10 years to establish Bridgestone Golf as distinct from Bridgestone? As a division of the largest rubber company in the world, we have had great success being associated with our tire division. We collaborate closely on golf related efforts including the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, Performance Center events at 10-12 PGA Tour stops annually and for TV commercials with Matt Kuchar, Fred Couples and even David Feherty. At Bridgestone Golf, we leverage the parent company's expertise in rubber manufacturing and polymer science. In fact, we have 900+ engineers on staff who help with all facets of rubber development and that has helped Bridgestone Golf to create balls that fly farther, spin less off the tee, more around the green and be as aerodynamic as possible. At the end of the day, we are fortunate to be a part of such a unique and diverse brand. We use this to our advantage in all facets of our business and it is a privilege to be a part of an organization that puts its customers' needs first and never stops innovating. What can you share about the plans going forward for the North American market? In the US Market, we are studying consumers' needs and preferences closely, especially through our Ball Fitting program. Consumers are looking for even better feel off of all clubs without sacrificing distance and performance. There is usually a give and take relationship with soft golf balls for feel as they tend to sacrifice distance, but we are working hard to further engineer our core to deliver faster speeds while maintaining the best feeling compression level possible. As for our Ball Fitting program, we now have 25 teams around the US actively reaching 40,000-50,000 golfers annually. We recognize that there are millions of golfers around the US who need a custom fitting and may not be able to reach a live fitting. For this reason, we are expanding our online ball fitting program to be more accessible at retail and online. What makes our online program unique and different from others is the database constantly references live fitting data and compares your needs and information to people just like you to provide the most optimal fit. If you have not completed an online fitting, click here and see for yourself. What is the process like for developing new tech at Bridgestone Golf? Is there a lot of trial and error? Is there much transferability between what the tire manufacturing teams and the golf teams work on? Great timing for this question. Our new Tour Prototypes have just arrived here in Covington and we are actively testing. We immediately take the first versions (3-4 models of each) and test with our PGA Tour, LPGA Tour and Champions Tour professionals. During the same time frame, we gather consumers from our Ball Fitting Database and conduct â€œamateurâ€ testing for maximum data. Once complete, we share this information with our R&D Team along with recommendations for changes and improvements. We will go through this process at least 2-3 times before finalizing the model. At the end of the day, we want the product that hits the shelves to be the best it can possibly be for the end user. This process is expensive and tedious, but critical to creating the best performing golf balls possible. Can you tell us a bit more about the Hydro Core in the B330 series? How is it supposed to improve performance? In 2014, we introduced HydroCore technology to our B330 series. This technology was created by an engineer who substituted water (H20) for another substance used in â€œbakingâ€ the core. Water was intended to be a substitute or additive but actually provided great benefit. It delivered a softer core center than prior generation and a firmer outer region. The direct benefit was a lower spinning tee shot from the softer center while the firmer outer region would produce more speed. The combination resulted in longer distance. Making the core softer or the core firmer is not innovative. Anyone can do that, but what made the HydroCore center unique is that we were able to do both with a new formulation and baking process.
1925 was a heck of a long time ago. Fitzgerald published â€œThe Great Gatsby,â€ Lou Gehrig started his legendary consecutive game streak, the Mt. Rushmore museum was dedicated and Elver Lamkin wrapped his first leather grip. Lamkin, of course, belongs on the Mt. Rushmore of grip manufacturers - either as George Washington or Teddy Roosevelt. And if you're talking legendary streaks, you could say Lamkin is the Iron Horse (or even the Cal Ripkin) of grip makers. 90 years later Lamkin is still getting it done, and it's still All In The Family. There's perhaps not a more iconic grip in golf than the Lamkin Crossline. If you're reading this you've probably swung a club or two in your time and it's more than likely one of them had a Lamkin grip. 2015 marks the 90th anniversary of Lamkin Golf a company that has truly stood the test of time and continues to look towards the future. Today's five question's is with a man truly proud of his family name, Lamkin's President and CEO, Bob Lamkin. 5 Questions 90 years in business is a pretty epic accomplishment, especially for a family business. How has keeping it â€œall in the familyâ€ kept Lamkin going? What are the keys to your longevity? Well, that's really simpleâ€¦ our family name is on every grip we make so we are exceptionally critical of how our product is developed and manufactured. That has always been a very strong motivator for Lamkin to make the best performing, longest lasting and highest quality grips in the business. It's a real source of pride for our family. As for our longevity, and this is also very much a part of keeping it in the family, the company has transformed itself with each new generation. My grandfather started by making leather wrap grips in his garage. He was a true pioneer at the time because no one else was making grips for golf clubs. Then, my father led another crucial transformation for the company when we started using rubber materials in our grips. For a leather grip company, this was a very risky and bold change, but he kept the company moving forward. Again, with each generation, the company has experienced a sort of â€˜rebirth'. Another key to our success is that we pride ourselves on being good listeners. We very much want to know what our customers need and want, and will go to great lengths to ensure that Lamkin is their grip of choice. Seriously though, is playing the wrong size grip really killing us and what's worse, too big or too small? I think that might be an overstatement, but I do believe that playing the wrong size grip absolutely impacts a player's performance. And, more importantly, it may be affecting their overall enjoyment of the gameâ€¦ and they don't even know it! There are so many women, for instance, using the stock undersize grips installed on most women's clubs, but a big percentage of those players don't necessarily have â€˜undersize' hands and they should be using a standard size grip. Very often, playing with the wrong size grip will force a golfer to use too much grip pressure to compensate for their poorly fit grip. One is not worse than the other (too big or too small). Typically, I tell golfers that are slicing to use a smaller grip so they can increase their hand action. And, for golfers that are hooking, I recommend using a larger grip to slow their hands down. I also believe that grip sizing isn't a perfect science. We recommend using hand measurements as a starting point. After that, it's important that every golfer finds the grip that feels most comfortable and allows the ideal light-pressure grip. What challenges do you face today that you didn't have to deal with 25 or even 50 years ago? The rate of product innovation has accelerated to a mind-blowing pace over the last 15 or so years. There seems to be this unspoken rule that a revolutionary, â€˜game-changing' product needs to be launched every few months, every year at the latest. At Lamkin, we rely on a continuous improvement model to ensure we're producing the most functional, innovative and durable grips available, and that certainly has helped the brand maintain its leadership position. How have the recent financial issues within the Golf Industry affected the grip business? What does it take to keep a golf business â€˜in the black' in the current environment? Historically, even during the most â€˜challenging' dips in the golf industry, Lamkin has been fairly well insulated from market volatility. When golfers aren't buying as many clubs, for whatever reason, they tend to invest more in regripping. And, when they are buying more clubs, we benefit from supplying premium manufacturers with the grips to put on those clubs. As for staying â€˜in the black', we are a bottom-line driven company and keep a very sharp eye on spending to ensure we stay profitable. More importantly, though, we work very closely with our customers. Whether they are purchasing a million grips or a single grip, we never lose sight of the fact that they are the most important contributor to our success and longevity. Exceeding their expectations has been and will always be our top priority. What makes a good grip? What is the biggest innovation in golf grips over the past 90 years? Any secrets you can let us in on as to the future of the golf grip? A good grip: There's really no magic formula because different golfers like different types of grips. One golfer may love the feeling of a cord grip, another golfer might hate the feeling of cord. It's incredibly subjective and individualized. In the end, if a golfer plays more comfortably, confidently and consistently with their grip, then it's a good grip. Biggest Innovation: Moving from leather to rubber and then to synthetic rubbers. This was a big game changer and allowed us to improve durability, bring costs down, add new cosmetics and colors and provide a much greater level of â€˜feel' consistency from grip to grip. Future of the Golf Grip: I believe the next big development in grip technology will come in the form of another material advancement. At Lamkin, we are always researching and testing new, non-endemic materials that will provide golfers with functional performance benefits. ------------------------------------ Thank you so much again to Bob Lamkin for taking the time to answer these for us. Written by:Dan Mann