It’s got a proud, 99-year tradition, a historic brand, and 61 Major titles to its name, but make no mistake: Wilson Golf is far from a staid, stuffy sporting goods company reliving the “good ‘ol days.”
With a hot new product lineup and a great crop of veteran and up-and-coming touring pros in its stable, Wilson is feeling as fresh and out front as ever.
“We’re getting close to our centennial anniversary at Wilson Sporting Goods,” said Tim Clarke, Wilson Golf ’s General Manager. “Twenty-fourteen is 100 years in the Chicagoland area, and we’re very proud of that tradition.”
Clarke said the secret to Wilson’s staying power is simple.
“I had dinner with Kevin Streelman on Monday before the Players (Champion- ship) and we were talking about success, and how success is built,” he said.“You’ve got to be disciplined in what you’re doing, you’re committed to what you’re doing, and you have to have faith that you’re on the path that will lead you to success. That’s ultimately the model we’ve implemented here at Wilson Golf, to be very consistent and stay with what we believe in, keep with the players we believe in, and it’s working quite well.”
It’s certainly the case with Streelman, a Wheaton, IL-native who has taken the PGA Tour by storm this season. Streelman is among the FedEx Cup points leaders with five top 10s (as of press time), including a tie for second at the Players Championship, a third at the RBC Heritage, and his first career victory at the Tampa Bay Championship. He’s done it all with his Wilson FG V2 Tour irons.
“Kevin is a world-class player and person, and there’s nothing more excit- ing than him going out and having a breakout season,” Clarke said. “When you look at his iron play and greens and regulation has been outstanding, and he’s always been a great putter, what you have is a world-class player climbing the world rankings very, very quickly.
“It’s exciting for us, having 61 major championships, and obviously having Pa- draig Harrington win three for us, it’s always exciting to have a player break out, and he reminds me a lot of Padraig with his progress over time, where he just kept getting better and better and better. “We’re proud to be associated with him and have him representing our brand.” Streelman is far from alone, however. Wilson’s stable is full of fine players on and off the course. “Obviously we want everybody to be world-class in their abilities, and at the tour level, they’re all world-class players,” Clarke said.“But yeah, Ricky Barnes, Padraig Harrington, Kevin Streelman, Mike Small, the head coach of University of Illinois who plays tour events — they’re all people that carry themselves in a way that associates well with what our brand’s all about, and that is we’re a sporting goods company in the golf segment, we’re not a golf brand only. ”
They could’ve fooled us. The club- maker’s 2013 lineup has given it plenty of renewed brand awareness, and growing brand loyalty. “The big thing this year is the irons — and again, after 61 major champion- ships with irons, there’s nobody better in the business at making them — and clearly this round of introductions on the D-100 series is another Golf Digest ‘Hot List’winner,”Clarke said.“But I give a lot of credit to our R&D team — it’s all in the details and the disciplines of making sure we’re launching products that are improved over what we did two or three years ago.”
Light Makes Might
When it comes to the new D-100 irons being an improvement, Clarke & Co. can certainly say, “Mission Accomplished.”
The R&D team knew that speed = distance, and less weight = more speed. So they created the irons with “Super Light Technology,” resulting in the longest irons Wilson Staff has ever produced. The D-100 Irons are engineered with more weight removed from the shaft, grip and club head, creating more speed and distance.
“What’s great about this product is it’s got a lightweight shaft, and actually the thinnest face we’ve ever produced,” Clarke explained. “We put the weight around the perimeter, and it’s been the fuel for the iron.”
A Leaner & Meaner Big Dog
The same holds true for the D-100 driver, which is slim yet strong.The Wilson team trimmed over 50 grams of weight compared to traditional drivers, then spread it evenly across the grip, shaft and newly- engineered head.
“The D-100 driver has been the hot- test-selling driver we’ve had since the launch of the Deep Red,” Clarke said.“It’s 269 grams of weight — most drivers are around 330 grams of weight. The thing about the D-100 driver, it’s not about being the lightest — we talk about the ‘right light,’ you can get too light in golf, there is a point where it doesn’t work.What we’re trying to do is optimize giving you the lightest weight possible, but also giving you world-class performance.
“And sometimes when things get too light, it doesn’t feel right. When you hit the D-100, it feels and sounds right. It’s a world-class product that’s built to give golfers a better experience.”
Get Out & Play
Add in the success of Wilson’s new Staff Duo golf ball — the No. 2-selling ball at PGA Superstores — and you can see why Clarke is so excited about the season. And the Chicago-area resident has a renewed personal goal, too: to play more golf.
“You would think I should play a lot, which is what I keep telling myself,” laughed Clarke, who’s a Naperville Country Club member. “Every year I say, ‘This spring is my year.’ Obviously I’m around it a lot, and during the summer in Chicago I do try to get out and play. My commitment this year — I believe it’s the greatest game in the world, and you’ve got to make time for it.”
Together with the talented team at Wilson, they’ve certainly made us want to, as well.
For more information visit www.wilson.com.