Jump to content

Rise & Demise of Spalding Golf - Talkin' Golf History Podcast


Recommended Posts

A little shameless self-promotion here...

Our recent History's Mysteries article on Spalding Golf led to an invite to appear on the Talkin' Golf History podcast with host Conner Lewis. The podcast went live late last night and if you have the time, I hope you'll find it fun and interesting. After listening to it, you can tell I'm a tad nervous since I'm talking so fast!  But it was a hell of a lot of fun and Connor really knows his stuff - he has a wealth of knowledge and a ton of stories that really liven up the discussion.  He's pretty impressive. 

 

Anyway, here a link to the podcast. Grab a beer and enjoy!

https://share.fireside.fm/episode/whZrOd2Z+ZT1H8bGM

  • Like 4
 

What's in the bag:
 
Driver:  Sub 70 639D - 9.5; :cleveland-small: Launcher HB Turbo; :mizuno-small: ST 190 
FW Wood: :tour-edge: Tour Edge EXS 220 - 15*; :mizuno-small: ST 180 14*
Hybrids:  PXG 0311 22
Utility Irons: :wilson_staff_small: Staff Model Utilities 18, 21, 24*;  Lynx VT Stinger - 16*
Irons::wilson_staff_small: D7 Forged; :benhogan-small:PTx Pro, :macgregor-small: VIP 1025 V-Foil MB/CB; :wilson_staff_small: Progressives (circa 1993)

Wedges:  :cleveland-small: CBX -2, :benhogan-small:Riviera 52-56-60; :wilson_staff_small: Staff Model
Putter:   :edel-golf-1:  Willamette,  :bettinardi-small: BB8,  :benhogan-small:Baby Ben

Ball: :bridgestone-small: Tour B X (2020); :srixon-small: Z-STAR XV

Stat Tracker/GPS Watch: :ShotScope:


 
Follow @golfspybarbajo

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Spalding Golf was very close to my heart.

The rock hard, 336 dimple original  Spalding Top Flite from the 1970s was, back in the predomimantly wound ball era,

the ball with which I could most self-asuredly club myself.  They may have been primitive, but they were the most CONSISTENT ball on the market.

You knew how they played, and you never had to think about them.

And with the relatively inexpensive and very forgiving Executive irons, essentially made for the Top Flite ball,  you could actually spin them.  

 

While it didn't apply to me, pure blade afficionadoes considered the 1953 Top Flite grind to be one of the most playable ever.

It re-emerged as a cast stainless club called the Top Flite Legacy in the 1970s, but it wasn't the same.

 

Bobby Jones aligned with Spalding when he turned pro after his competion days.

And Lee Trvino had considerable input into the design of the Top Flite Intimidator 400, one of the most playable fairway woods of the late 1990s.

I paired them with the Titleist Howitzer driver which had no matching fiarway woods of its own.  

 

When they were the Big Three,   Spalding, MacGregor, and Wilson were like Mizuno--general sporing goods manufactures, not golf only companies like Callaway, Ping, and TaylorMade. They even made inexpensive department store model golf clubs.  But their pro shop lines won an awful lot of big tournaments back then with star-studded advisory staff  rosters,

 

 

 

 

  • Like 1

 

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

3 hours ago, GolfSpy Barbajo said:

A little shameless self-promotion here...

Our recent History's Mysteries article on Spalding Golf led to an invite to appear on the Talkin' Golf History podcast with host Conner Lewis. The podcast went live late last night and if you have the time, I hope you'll find it fun and interesting. After listening to it, you can tell I'm a tad nervous since I'm talking so fast!  But it was a hell of a lot of fun and Connor really knows his stuff - he has a wealth of knowledge and a ton of stories that really liven up the discussion.  He's pretty impressive. 

 

Anyway, here a link to the podcast. Grab a beer and enjoy!

https://share.fireside.fm/episode/whZrOd2Z+ZT1H8bGM

You, nervous in front of a microphone? I find that difficult to fathom.  Looing forward to listening to the podcast.

exporting

  • Like 1

"Where'd it go?"  "Right in the Lumberyard..."

126422322_PXGLogo_2.png.74a339363ba3931cc4fc226a253621f8.png Gen 2  0811 XF 10.5*  Nippon N.S. Regio Formula MB+ 65 Stiff
:bridgestone-small:  Tour B JGR 15*   Fairway UST ProForce V2 7F5 76g X-Flex
:bridgestone-small:  Tour B JGR 19* & 22* Hybrid UST ProForce V2 90g X-Flex
:bridgestone-small:  Tour B JGR HF-2 irons (5i - PW)  KBS Tour 130x

:cleveland-small: CBX Wedges (50, 54, 58)  TT Dynamic Gold 115 Wedge Shaft
MATI  Mamo Putter 33"  Super Stroke Football League 3.0 Slim
:bridgestone-small: Tour B-RX

:918457628_PrecisionPro: Precision Pro Nexus Rangefinder

:PuttOut:FAN!

1711524086_TheGrintlogo_text_1.png.c1eb3f656b10191d1fc9a14a0fd77f95.png PRO Member

 

 

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The podcast was very interesting.

Barbajo had excellent info on a topic that really interestd me a lot.

 

One thing was very disturbing.

He said that you could be a golf company looking to constantly innovate or a company trying to sell what you're known to  make.

The former is what's succeeding, and the latter is what I would rather see.

All the innovation-- contriving new tech for the scheduled new product rollout-- has resulted in the average handicap going from 17 to 16 over the past few decades.   

I am very unimpressed with that.

It's an effort to get people to buy what they don't apperently need if their index calculations are going to remain the same anyway.

 

Slow moving evolation of the human species alone may have caused that 1 shot move.

 

At the end of the day, you're hitting a ball with a stick, and we've had sticks made for doing that pretty well for a very long time.

The tech has been pretty damned good for a long time, and we're still just hitting a ball with a stick.

 

I'm in the vast minority, and I'm not honestly looking to argue with the majority who feel differently,

--just airing out my own different view--

 

but I'd rather have a company where you could tell them the loft, loft gapping, lie angles, face angles, bounce, etc. 

that you want and they'd spend their efforts on providing specific fit metrics rather than new and contrived innovation. 

 

A company that could develop manufacturing techniques that made possible on new equipment

that customization which was once possible on antiquated, simpler equipment ,

this at affordable pricing,  would have REALLY made an innovation breakthrough.

 

Again, this is only what I'd love to see, and I'm not trying to impose it on those who see it differently.

 

 

 

Edited by BostonSal
  • Like 2

 

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

2 hours ago, BostonSal said:

The podcast was very interesting.

Barbajo had excellent info on a topic that really interestd me a lot.

 

One thing was very disturbing.

He said that you could be a golf company looking to constantly innovate or a company trying to sell what you're known to  make.

The former is what's succeeding, and the latter is what I would rather see.

All the innovation-- contriving new tech for the scheduled new product rollout-- has resulted in the average handicap going from 17 to 16 over the past few decades.   

I am very unimpressed with that.

It's an effort to get people to buy what they don't apperently need if their index calculations are going to remain the same anyway.

 

Slow moving evolation of the human species alone may have caused that 1 shot move.

 

At the end of the day, you're hitting a ball with a stick, and we've had sticks made for doing that pretty well for a very long time.

The tech has been pretty damned good for a long time, and we're still just hitting a ball with a stick.

 

I'm in the vast minority, and I'm not honestly looking to argue with the majority who feel differently,

--just airing out my own different view--

 

but I'd rather have a company where you could tell them the loft, loft gapping, lie angles, face angles, bounce, etc. 

that you want and they'd spend their efforts on providing specific fit metrics rather than new and contrived innovation. 

 

A company that could develop manufacturing techniques that made possible on new equipment

that customization which was once possible on antiquated, simpler equipment ,

this at affordable pricing,  would have REALLY made an innovation breakthrough.

 

Again, this is only what I'd love to see, and I'm not trying to impose it on those who see it differently.

 

 

 

Not sure you got the quote quite right. What I said  - or at least meant to say - was that for companies to survive they have to constantly remind themselves what business they're really in, and ultimately it comes down to this: you can either be in the business of designing and making gear that people want to buy, or you can be in the business of trying to sell people the gear you're already making.  The former means you're are focused on the customer, their wants and needs and looking to offer true innovation that will benefit the customer. That approach tends to be more market driven. 

The latter is more production driven and you wind up doing things the way you've always done them for no other reason than that's the way you've always done them, and hell, it's worked so far so why change? That type of thinking slowly, but surely, takes over the company while competition looks to fill the void offering something new, exciting, fun, better performing, more innovative or just plain different. 

The former tends to be market-focused so trends and changes in customers needs and expectations don't catch you by surprise. You tend to lead rather than follow, even though you may goof up every once in a while. 

For every Apple, there's a dozen Polaroids.

  • Like 2
 

What's in the bag:
 
Driver:  Sub 70 639D - 9.5; :cleveland-small: Launcher HB Turbo; :mizuno-small: ST 190 
FW Wood: :tour-edge: Tour Edge EXS 220 - 15*; :mizuno-small: ST 180 14*
Hybrids:  PXG 0311 22
Utility Irons: :wilson_staff_small: Staff Model Utilities 18, 21, 24*;  Lynx VT Stinger - 16*
Irons::wilson_staff_small: D7 Forged; :benhogan-small:PTx Pro, :macgregor-small: VIP 1025 V-Foil MB/CB; :wilson_staff_small: Progressives (circa 1993)

Wedges:  :cleveland-small: CBX -2, :benhogan-small:Riviera 52-56-60; :wilson_staff_small: Staff Model
Putter:   :edel-golf-1:  Willamette,  :bettinardi-small: BB8,  :benhogan-small:Baby Ben

Ball: :bridgestone-small: Tour B X (2020); :srixon-small: Z-STAR XV

Stat Tracker/GPS Watch: :ShotScope:


 
Follow @golfspybarbajo

Link to comment
Share on other sites

19 hours ago, GolfSpy Barbajo said:

Not sure you got the quote quite right. What I said  - or at least meant to say - was that for companies to survive they have to constantly remind themselves what business they're really in, and ultimately it comes down to this: you can either be in the business of designing and making gear that people want to buy, or you can be in the business of trying to sell people the gear you're already making.  The former means you're are focused on the customer, their wants and needs and looking to offer true innovation that will benefit the customer. That approach tends to be more market driven. 

The latter is more production driven and you wind up doing things the way you've always done them for no other reason than that's the way you've always done them, and hell, it's worked so far so why change? That type of thinking slowly, but surely, takes over the company while competition looks to fill the void offering something new, exciting, fun, better performing, more innovative or just plain different. 

The former tends to be market-focused so trends and changes in customers needs and expectations don't catch you by surprise. You tend to lead rather than follow, even though you may goof up every once in a while. 

For every Apple, there's a dozen Polaroids.

 

I get it better with the second viewing.  Thank you, Barbajo.

I'm just not the profitable demographic upon whom the OEMs should focus.

 

First, having breakthrough new tech for each scheduled product release is simply not believeable to me.

After all, they don't hold up the product releases for new tech, do they?  They're always right on time.

It's simply not believable, and the handicaps are not steadily tumbling as a result.

 

Second, my personal obsession is with fit metrics.  If they were still lathing a solid, oil-hardened persimmon or laminated maple clubhead,

I could tell them the exact loft, lie angle, and face angle that I want on each wood--not to mention exact swingweight at a given length--and get the clubs in three weeks.  I'm old enough to remember that.  We've gotten an awful lot of multi-piece construction technological breakthrough since them, but we lost the exact fit metrics in the process.  Since I'm the almost the only one talking about that, obviously the targeted demographic doesn't care about these things.  But my desire is that production techniques will be developed that allow old school customization on modern clubheads, knowing all the while that there doesn't seem to be a demand for it..

 

That's all that I'm trying to say.  People often think that I'm railing against the modern paradigm.  I am most certainly not.  I'm merely suggesting that some of us exist for whom it's not working.

 

Thank you for your appreciated insights.

 

  • Like 2

 

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

1 hour ago, BostonSal said:

 

I get it better with the second viewing.  Thank you, Barbajo.

I'm just not the profitable demographic upon whom the OEMs should focus.

 

First, having breakthrough new tech for each scheduled product release is simply not believeable to me.

After all, they don't hold up the product releases for new tech, do they?  They're always right on time.

It's simply not believable, and the handicaps are not steadily tumbling as a result.

 

Second, my personal obsession is with fit metrics.  If they were still lathing a solid, oil-hardened persimmon or laminated maple clubhead,

I could tell them the exact loft, lie angle, and face angle that I want on each wood--not to mention exact swingweight at a given length--and get the clubs in three weeks.  I'm old enough to remember that.  We've gotten an awful lot of multi-piece construction technological breakthrough since them, but we lost the exact fit metrics in the process.  Since I'm the almost the only one talking about that, obviously the targeted demographic doesn't care about these things.  But my desire is that production techniques will be developed that allow old school customization on modern clubheads, knowing all the while that there doesn't seem to be a demand for it..

 

That's all that I'm trying to say.  People often think that I'm railing against the modern paradigm.  I am most certainly not.  I'm merely suggesting that some of us exist for whom it's not working.

 

Thank you for your appreciated insights.

 

I work with OEMs regularly, and they're pretty upfront about what each iteration of their products does. Some shout more loudly than others, but in my dealings with them no one has ever said THIS year's product makes LAST year's product obsolete. They have the demographic information and buying pattern information, so they know most golfers don't buy new irons every year and, believe it or not, a majority of golfers don't buy new drivers every year. So why come out with new stuff every year? 

Easy - you're selling to a parade. The guy who bought new irons last year probably won't be buying new irons again this year (some do, of course, but it's a minority and OEMs don't count on that), but the guy who bought new irons 5 years ago or 10 years ago is getting the itch and most likely will be in the market. Whatever innovation, enhancements or improvements may be incremental compared to the previous year's model, but it may be meaningful to the guy playing five- or ten-year-old irons. 

Interestingly, both Callaway and TaylorMade have morphed into two-year product cycles for the most part. The Callaway APEX is the flagship line, and that's always been on a two-year cycle, while the Epic and Mavrik lines are separate and are on alternating release cycles. 2021 was an Epic year, while 2022 will be a Mavrik year. Shades of difference perhaps, but each line has its own technology. 

TaylorMade goes yearly with the SIM line of woods and irons, but the P-series irons are on two-year cycles. 

PING and Titleist are on alternate year cycles with their various products as well. COBRA's main metal woods and GI iron lines are yearly, but their better player products are on two-year cycles. 

My own opinion here, so please don't take it the wrong way, but it's easy to get cynical about golf equipment, but it often leads to convenient narratives that don't entirely reflect reality. Innovation may be incremental, but that doesn't make it meaningless. And you see it in the blog's comments section all the time, but no, OEMs don't think we're stupid and they most certainly know people don't buy new stuff every year. Some do, and trust me, they're okay with that, but they realize they're selling to a parade, and the parade never really ends. 

 

  • Like 4
 

What's in the bag:
 
Driver:  Sub 70 639D - 9.5; :cleveland-small: Launcher HB Turbo; :mizuno-small: ST 190 
FW Wood: :tour-edge: Tour Edge EXS 220 - 15*; :mizuno-small: ST 180 14*
Hybrids:  PXG 0311 22
Utility Irons: :wilson_staff_small: Staff Model Utilities 18, 21, 24*;  Lynx VT Stinger - 16*
Irons::wilson_staff_small: D7 Forged; :benhogan-small:PTx Pro, :macgregor-small: VIP 1025 V-Foil MB/CB; :wilson_staff_small: Progressives (circa 1993)

Wedges:  :cleveland-small: CBX -2, :benhogan-small:Riviera 52-56-60; :wilson_staff_small: Staff Model
Putter:   :edel-golf-1:  Willamette,  :bettinardi-small: BB8,  :benhogan-small:Baby Ben

Ball: :bridgestone-small: Tour B X (2020); :srixon-small: Z-STAR XV

Stat Tracker/GPS Watch: :ShotScope:


 
Follow @golfspybarbajo

Link to comment
Share on other sites

12 minutes ago, GolfSpy Barbajo said:

I work with OEMs regularly, and they're pretty upfront about what each iteration of their products does. Some shout more loudly than others, but in my dealings with them no one has ever said THIS year's product makes LAST year's product obsolete. They have the demographic information and buying pattern information, so they know most golfers don't buy new irons every year and, believe it or not, a majority of golfers don't buy new drivers every year. So why come out with new stuff every year? 

Easy - you're selling to a parade. The guy who bought new irons last year probably won't be buying new irons again this year (some do, of course, but it's a minority and OEMs don't count on that), but the guy who bought new irons 5 years ago or 10 years ago is getting the itch and most likely will be in the market. Whatever innovation, enhancements or improvements may be incremental compared to the previous year's model, but it may be meaningful to the guy playing five- or ten-year-old irons. 

Interestingly, both Callaway and TaylorMade have morphed into two-year product cycles for the most part. The Callaway APEX is the flagship line, and that's always been on a two-year cycle, while the Epic and Mavrik lines are separate and are on alternating release cycles. 2021 was an Epic year, while 2022 will be a Mavrik year. Shades of difference perhaps, but each line has its own technology. 

TaylorMade goes yearly with the SIM line of woods and irons, but the P-series irons are on two-year cycles. 

PING and Titleist are on alternate year cycles with their various products as well. COBRA's main metal woods and GI iron lines are yearly, but their better player products are on two-year cycles. 

My own opinion here, so please don't take it the wrong way, but it's easy to get cynical about golf equipment, but it often leads to convenient narratives that don't entirely reflect reality. Innovation may be incremental, but that doesn't make it meaningless. And you see it in the blog's comments section all the time, but no, OEMs don't think we're stupid and they most certainly know people don't buy new stuff every year. Some do, and trust me, they're okay with that, but they realize they're selling to a parade, and the parade never really ends. 

 

 

You've expressed it very informatively, and I think that I see the picture a little more clearly now. Thank you.

My personal preference would be fewer models and more spec options within the models instead,

but they have the market research resouces and all that I have is an old man's opinion.

 

Nevertheless, it's not that I can't ever find something in equipment with which I enjoy playing.

I always do.  I just imagine in my mind what "closer-to-perfect" would look like.

 

I've said in the past that playing golf was one enjoyable activity, and pondering golf equipment was a barely-related other one.  

  • Like 1
  • Haha 1

 

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

If I can go back to the podcast briefly, there was one other thing that I'm remembering.

Spalding, at the end, was selling their top models in the way that store-brand models were being sold.

 

We should remember a time just before that, however, when MacGregor, Spalding, and Wilson were essentially the Big Three.

 

First, not one of them was a "golf company"  like Callaway, Ping, or TaylorMade are today.

All three were general sporting goods manufacturers like Mizuno.

And all three had extensive store model line golf clubs.

Stuff like MacGregor's Jack Nicklaus Golden Bear and Wilson's Sam Snead Blue Ridge were huge sellers to working class players.

There were more upscale store models as well like Wilson K28.

Nonetheless, they were on the department store floors right next to Northwestern and Kroyden.

 

And yet, these store models didn't seem to diminish the green grass pro shop only lines

that those same manufacturers were selling at much higher prices

(although those "higher prices" were still only $40 per wood and $25 per iron.)

And the fair trade laws at the time allowed the manufacturers to demand no deviation from MSRP from the club pros selling the gear.

 

The marketing paradigms  were altogether different then, and Spalding went down late in the transition.

But MacGregor went down not that long afterwards, and Wilson is a shadow of its former self in golf.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Edited by BostonSal

 

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

On 11/22/2021 at 3:54 PM, BostonSal said:

the innovation-- contriving new tech for the scheduled new product rollout-- has resulted in the average handicap going from 17 to 16 over the past few decades.....

...evolution of the human species alone may have caused that 1 shot move

Late to the party, feel obliged to comment on the above.  🤔

IMHO, this change in scoring is MOI related.  The massive change in forgiveness in drivers, especially, lends a hand not available when drivers were made of organic materials.  😉

A corollary to that, and this is only *my* opinion, is it helps illustrate how little difference that increased forgiveness actually makes, when it comes to score.  Some pretty enormous changes and it's only a single stroke...

The added irony, I fully realize the dichotomy in my views.  On one hand, I will mention how amazing it is we have an iron clubhead more forgiving than the SLDR driver, while also saying it doesn't matter that much.  

I'll stop now, that's enough on my personal contradictions   LOL

Edited by NRJyzr
  • Like 1

Driver: TM Original One 11.5* set to 10*, Aldila NV75 X, 43.5" -or- SpeedZone, HZRDUS Black 75 6.5, 43.5"
3w:  Cobra King LTD, RIP Beta 90, 42" -or- Stage 2 Tour, NV105 X, 42.5"
2h or 3h:  TaylorMade Stage 2 Tour, Aldila NV105 S -or- RIP Alpha 105 S
Irons:  3-PW Mizuno MP37, Recoil Proto 125 F4 (reshaft in progress, slowly); 1i & 3-PW Golden Ram TW276, NV105 S; 2-PW Golden Ram TW282, RIP Tour 115 R
GW: Dynacraft Dual Milled CNC 52*, Steelfiber 125 S; Scratch 8620 DS 53*, Steelfiber 125 S
SW:  Ram TG-898 56*, DGX ss2x; Ram Tom Watson 55*, DGX ss2x; Wilson Staff PMP 58*, DGS; PM Grind 19 58*, stock shaft
Putter:  Mizuno TPM-2, 34"
Ball:  Wilson Staff Duo Professional, TM TP5

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

 Share

×
×
  • Create New...