FootJoy Shoes and Apparel ’17

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The Vice-President of Sales for FootJoy Golf, Jim Griffin, joins us for episode #245 of the Golf Better Podcast for a 2017 product catch-up.

In this episode, we discuss the new products on the market like the FootJoy D.N.A. Helix line, what the pro’s are playing on tour and how their feedback inspires shoe design, the FootJoy Pure Touch Limited glove and many other hot products on the shelves in all Worldwide Golf Shops location.

Take a listen to our podcast. You can do so by our Soundcloud link below, on our website or subscribe free on iTunes.

Tom Brassell: Welcome to “Golf Better” at Worldwide Golf Shops, episode 245.

Hello, everyone. Tom Brassell here. Thanks so much for joining us. If you’re a first time listener or long time subscriber, or maybe somewhere in the middle, it doesn’t matter. Either way, we are just glad that you joined us.

Our guest today is a special one. He goes way back with us. One of the true gentlemen in the game, and one who is always welcome on the show. He is the Vice-President of Sales for FootJoy, Mr. Jim Griffin. Griff, thanks so much, man. It’s great to have you with us.

Jim Griffin: Tom, thrilled to be with you this morning. I really appreciate opportunity to catch up not only with you, but all the golf enthusiasts out there.

Tom Brassell: Before we get going, Griff, congratulations to that Acushnet family on your brand ambassador, Justin Thomas, for winning the PGA. That’s just absolutely fantastic.

Jim Griffin: It was a great weekend for the brands, both Titleist and FootJoy, and we were thrilled. It was exciting, what an exciting venue, and man oh man, the city of Charlotte. Talk about an exciting time for that region. To sell out every four days, it was incredible. But certainly thrilled with Justin’s performance and thrilled that he had a great looking pair of FJ Icon Blacks on.

Tom Brassell: Well, Griff, we don’t get you on that much, so we want to take advantage of it when we do. For those listeners that may not know, go back in time a little bit and share with us a little bit about the brand FootJoy, and the history and the heritage of this great company.

Jim Griffin: You know, Tom, it’s an interesting thing. We’re a little bit unique versus those that we compete with on a daily basis. Our heritage goes back to, if you can believe it, 1857. So just think about that for a minute. So the company, FootJoy, was actually founded in 1857.

Interesting little tidbit, we were the very first official shoe of the 1927 Ryder Cup, to give you an example. We’ve been fortunate to dominate on tours since 1945. We’ve been the number one selling shoe in golf for the last 65 years; number one selling glove in golf since ’83. When we got into the outerwear brand about 10 or 15 years ago, we then quickly rose to the number one outerwear brand in golf. So it’s been an unbelievable, obviously, time.

Our heritage is key. Obviously, it all starts with a great product and our relationship with great retailers like yourselves, and certainly the golf professionals as well.

Tom Brassell: Yeah. When I was a kid playing golf back in the ’70s, there was nothing like getting that FootJoy catalog from behind the counter and just browsing, and maybe getting lucky one day after you’ve cut enough grasses and you’ve saved enough money to buy a pair. Like you said, the heritage is fantastic.

Hey, a little bit about the tour, because you have some great representation on tour and a lot of loyalty on tour with your tour players.

Jim Griffin: Oh, we do. And again, Tom, I think that speaks probably volumes about the product. The guys on tour obviously have all kinds of different options of things that they can wear, but they just have such trust in our brand and in our products, and how they’re going to perform for them in every type of condition. So it’s a real great testament to the brand and the people that are making the products for us all over the world.

But we certainly don’t compromise in what we’re doing. And from a craftsmanship and technology standpoint, style standpoint, we always consistently hear about how great the comfort and fit of our products are. We’re totally committed to continue to make the very best products that we can. And we’re so proud, and to be appreciated by the greatest players in the game, and that’s both on the tours, worldwide tours, as well as even in the local golf shops, in the local PGA golf professional.

Like I said, they’ve got all kinds of options in different products that they can wear. The fact that usually 63 to 64 percent of the wins on tour are won by players that are wearing and supporting FootJoy products. It’s something we take great pride in, and we certainly understand that we have to continue to make the very, very best. And that’s what’s made us so great, and we’re going to continue to do just that.

Tom Brassell: Well Jim, let’s transition into what’s new out there from FootJoy. Let’s talk about what’s on the feet of the players first, and D.N.A. Helix is right there, right?

Jim Griffin: Well, D.N.A. Helix was just introduced to the market. It’s an incredible product. If you’ll remember, it’s really kind of the brother of our original D.N.A. shoe, which was introduced in 2014. And D.N.A., when it was introduced in 2014, quickly became the number one selling premium shoe in golf, and we had great tour representation with the product. It was a great looking blend of both athletic but yet traditional inspired upper patterns. The tour players quickly adopted the product. Adam Scott was one of them that put it in play pretty quickly. And basically, this is kind of our third rendition of that D.N.A. product, and it’s being termed Helix.

We took some feedback, specific feedback, and one of the great things with our tour staff is, we literally sit down with them quite often out there; we’ve got a tremendous representation of tour players and a great tour team that follows them around. And literally, these guys are so passionate about our products and wearing our products that they share information with us regularly. And one of the things that they recommended that we take a look at with respect to the D.N.A. Helix was just looking at possibly increasing the platform stability a little bit, because these guys are all about obviously remaining stable over the golf ball.

We took that to heart, we made some changes that bolts to the outsole to make it a little bit more stable. It’s now almost 38 percent more stable than our original shoe. But we did that, we still retained most of the comfort and flexibility features that they were looking for. So they feel like they’ve got a product that, from a playability perspective, has improved tremendously.

It’s a little bit lighter in weight besides being even more stable. They love the looks of the shoe when they’re looking down at it. One of these guys, Jason Kokrak for example, is a member of our tour team. He actually won the long drive competition at the PGA Championship just last week, and he moved right into this shoe.

And that’s what we’re finding. A lot of the guys like to go at it really hard love the fact that it’s really lightweight but the platform stability is pretty incredible. Sean O’Hair’s got it in play; Scott Stalling’s has it place. It’s been on your shelves since the end of June, which is an interesting time obviously to try to launch a product in the U.S. because it’s a little bit pack the peak selling period. But the reaction, Tom, that the consumers have provided to this category for us has been nothing short of amazing.

It’s a great, great product, and we couldn’t be more pleased with the sell through early on here. And again, the feedback we’re getting from our tour ambassadors has been nothing but fantastic. So we really feel like we’ve got a winner here that really kind of, if you don’t mind, goes right up alongside Pro/SL, so we have a great one-two punch now in Helix, D.N.A. Helix.

And then those players that love a spikeless opportunity or spikeless version, our Pro/SL shoe has been nothing short of phenomenal, actually, and just a little feedback on that. If you think about our product line and our tour staff – and again, our tour staff comprises about 60 percent of the tour wins out there on a pretty regular basis – we allow them, Tom, to basically wear any product category that they prefer. We don’t direct our tour players anywhere. They come to us and they say, “I really like this particular shoe,” we send it to them.

And you know how wide our line is and the number of footwear categories that we have. But the number of players that have come to us and have decided that they want to wear Pro/SL, which has quickly become the number one selling spikeless shoe in golf, has been phenomenal. We’ve got, I think, 25 of the top 100 players of the world wearing this product. It’s actually become the most popular shoe we’ve ever had on tour, and it’s pretty incredible.

And it goes back to Adam Scott, again. You know, you hear Adam Scott’s name. But he came to us in 2015 and he wanted to test this product. He really liked it a lot. He put it in play first at Chambers Bay in the 2015 U.S. Open. If you remember, the conditions there, very hard, very dry; those are conditions that you don’t usually like to tee it up in in a spikeless shoe because of the fact that, again, hard and dry is difficult usually with spikeless products.

He absolutely fell in love with the shoe at Chambers Bay. A month later, he goes over and plays in the Open Championship at St. Andrews, and that’s the complete opposite condition if you think about it. St. Andrews, very soft, very wet, and again, he loved it. And so Adam came to our tour, came and said, “Listen, I’ve worn this shoe in every possible condition, and I absolutely feel like it’s the best thing I’ve ever worn.” And he hasn’t taken it off since.

And if you’ve been watching and paying any attention to the tour, we have had an unbelievable number of players kind of follow Adam down that road: Charlie Hoffman, Jason Dufner, Ian Poulter, Steve Johnston, Louis Oosthuizen. I mean, the list just kind of continues to go on and on with players that have absolutely fallen in love with our Pro/SL style.

So we continue to produce great new options there. We’ve got some new colors that just hit the market, again in the month of June. We’ll have some new things hitting the market here, too, early in ’18 in that particular category as well. So this thing is hotter than all get-out right now, Tom. So we couldn’t be more thrilled with the combination of excitement and momentum that we have going not only with our cleated product, but also with our spikeless Pro/SL product.

Tom Brassell: Griff, one thing I’ve noticed watching golf on tour, there’s a lot of the FJ logo out there on the collars. Can you speak to some of the apparel that’s out there?

Jim Griffin: Oh, Tom. You know it’s been nothing short of phenomenal, really. FootJoy got into the apparel business about five years ago, and it has been an incredible rise to the top ever since. An incredible team in Fairhaven that is driving our apparel momentum. And you’re right, it’s … the number of FJs on the collars out there on tour continue to grow. We’ve got a great balance of tour players, both from young to old, such as Steve Stricker that wear and endorse the product. We’ve quickly become in the green grass and channel of distribution the number two apparel brand in golf, so that gives you an indication of just how popular our brand has become from a knit shirt and bottoms perspective, shorts and slacks.

Obviously, we’ve always had very, very good success and we’ve been fortunate to be the number one outerwear brand in golf for quite some time. But to see the reaction that the consumers have with our new apparel lines have been nothing short of phenomenal, and the presence on tour has certainly been a big part of that. It’s helped us for certain, as obviously, as consumers see the trust that PGA tour players have in the brand certainly makes it easy for them to make that FootJoy choice in the retail stores as well as the golf shops across the United States. So it’s been great.

Tom Brassell: Griff, before I let you go, Justin Thomas – we mentioned him earlier – he was wearing the new FootJoy Pure Touch Limited glove, I believe, which is the most incredible feel of anything you’ve ever put on your hand. Can you talk a little bit about the glove?

Jim Griffin: Yeah, we’re … Pure Touch is a great product. It is actually our thinnest and softest Cabretta leather glove that we produce. It’s actually a special Pittards leather that we get, Tom. It’s actually, we’re limited in our production of that particular product because of the scarcity of the leathers that we use. So it’s a super premium product. Once you put it on your hand, it just feels so incredibly soft and its action is phenomenal. So the tour players have quickly gone to that.

Some of them, though, we still have the majority of our guys out there on tour wearing that original StaSof glove that has gone through a multitude of renditions. And they have such trust and confidence in StaSof that that’s also a product that continues to grow for us every year as well.

Tom Brassell: Hey, Jim. Thanks so much for the time. It’s always great catching up with you. Do you have some final words for our listeners here at Worldwide Golf Shops?

Jim Griffin: Well, listen. The great thing about Worldwide Golf Shops obviously is the tenured professionals that you have at all of your stores. Certainly the confidence that they can take away from your team when they enter those locations is phenomenal. It’s one of the things that always has impressed me about your stores from the west coast to the east coast is, you walk in and the service levels are incredible, and the people you’re speaking with are golfers. And they certainly understand the game, they understand the equipment, they understand the features and benefits of the product, and they’re always going to steer you in the right direction. So we at FootJoy certainly appreciate our relationship with your team members, and we look forward to finishing the year strong, as you do as well.

Tom Brassell: Same here, Griff. And it’s great catching up with you. Hopefully we’ll see you again, soon. Take care.

Jim Griffin: You got it, Tom. Take care now.

Tom Brassell: That was outstanding. It is always great to catch up with one of the true gentlemen in the golf business, Mr. Jim Griffin. Everybody knows him as “Griff.” Vice-President of Sales at FootJoy. Check out everything that’s new at FootJoy, including the D.N.A. Helix golf shoe and the Pure Touch Limited glove from FootJoy.

Well, many thanks to Griff for joining us, and to you our listeners. And we’ll do it again next time when we have another episode of “Golf Better” at worldwidegolfshops.com. So long everyone.

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