Two Innovative and very successful Southern Golf
By: Dr. Barry Lotz
Golf, for most, is a leisurely weekend sport. A few become avid golfers. Those that can afford the higher end of the market need to read no further.
This is a story of two small, but highly successful companies that cater to the masses. Their theorem, simply stated: sell to the masses and sleep with the classes as opposed to sell to the classes and sleep with the masses.
While the big boys, Ping, Callaway, TaylorMade, Mizuno and Tiltleist have their markets staked out and are well capitalized, the majority of golfers cannot afford full sets of these clubs.
When the notion of manufacturing clubs exclusively for the majority of today’s recreational golfers two golf companies, Giant Golf Company and Merlin Golf have come to the market with affordable, well made, excellent performing and well priced products.
Without the capital base, both companies have gone the Infomercial route and employed guerilla-marketing tactics that are proving highly successful and moving product a la Adams Golf.
Through the years, Colin Nathanson, the founder of Giant Golf, frequently noticed that most players specifically amateurs, including himself at one point, were using popular brands of equipment primarily designed for the pros. They offered name recognition and status at a high price, but little in performance for the average golfer.
With the weekend golfer in mind, Colin believed that there had to be a better way to help with straighter shots without compromising quality and value. Knowing the bulk of strokes during a round of golf are taken with irons, this became the focus of his design efforts and USP (Unique Selling Proposition). The goal: to create a set of equipment that would compensate for hand position at impact.
The journey began and started with the distinction of Corrective Clubhead Positioning (CCP) unique only to the Gentle Giant Clubs. With Gentle Giant now in the hands of countless golfers, awareness and demand continue to grow. Giant Golf Company today, with headquarters located in Southern California, is enjoying solid success. Users send in unsolicited testimonials by the bag full.
More than just another business set in an exciting golf environment, Giant Golf Company is a company that is adding new customers at a remarkable rate. The various divisions and their experts are considered the heart and soul of the company: administration; customer service; sales; reservations; telemarketing; shipping; repair; manufacturing; warehouse technicians; plus the Giant Golf Academy pros.
The philosophy and mission shared throughout Giant Golf, is customer loyalty through quality, and is reflected in each of the company’s entities – The Gentle Giant Golf Clubs, their National Clinic Tours, and their Las Vegas School of Golf. Guerilla Marketing personified.
The popular Gentle Giant irons consist of a unique 10-iron set that includes a 3-iron through pitching wedge, an approach wedge and a sand wedge (a bonus of two extra clubs not typically found in other club sets). Gentle Giant irons feature extraordinary design elements:
Giant Golf has earned the trust of many amateur golfers seeking to enhance their shot making ability and take strokes off their games Giant Golf’s early success is credited to its thoroughly researched and carefully-designed features, quality of materials, overall good value, and a solid reputation that is backed by a Limited Lifetime Warranty and a Money Back Guarantee: A limited lifetime warranty against defects in parts or workmanship. The clubs may be returned after 90 days, and believe it or not, they allow the returnee to keep the Approach and Sand Wedges, even if clubs are returned.
This is a company that seeks complete satisfaction from their customers and they put their money where their mouth is. At about $500 per set, these clubs are worth every penny.
Our testing staff was simply amazed at the performance of these clubs and bowled over by their pricing. So, if you are looking for a new set of clubs for whatever reason, it is definitely worth contacting Giant Golf.
Giant Golf is currently in the final stages of refining the name and look of the “Gentle Giant”. Soon to be announced under the new name of “GX2”, these clubs will have the same great technology, but with a new classic look to the shaft and grip. Additionally, a line of new GX2 woods, incorporating their CCP technology, is scheduled for an April, 2000 launch date.
Later this year, the company will also be introducing another line of clubs, the “DCS Series”. Available in two versions, DCS 5.0’s with CCP, and DCS Tour, the new clubs will broaden Giant Golf’s appeal to the golfing public. The new designs incorporate a specially designed brass insert along with an advanced club sole configuration. Together, these features encourage higher, softer shot making without sacrificing distance. Finally, two new putter designs are in production and will be introduced simultaneously with the DCS Series. Product news and availability updates can be obtained through their website.
They can be reached by phone at 1-800-CLUBS-4-U or on the Internet at www.giantgolf.com or at firstname.lastname@example.org The company also offers, free of charge, a personal copy the very successful infomercial. This can be obtained by contacting email@example.com. VHS or CD is available.
The other golf manufacturer is Merlin Industries also located in Southern California. Merlin offers their product line in a similar fashion to Giant golf. Our testers were equally impressed by the playability of Merlin’s clubs.
Our testing staff used only the woods for testing purposes, though the company offers three versions of irons.
Merlin’s Muscle Magic Fairway Woods are one of the few forged fairway woods available today. Their # 1 # 3 #5 #7 #9 & #11 Forged Titanium mid-size fairway woods are designed for low club head swing speed golfers who have trouble hitting irons. Muscle Magic’s low center of gravity lifts the ball off the fairway or out of the rough. Ideal for distances are from 225 yards down to 80 yards. The woods are all matched and balanced with Merlin’s Ultra-Light low-torque 3.9 Muscle Magic seamless graphite shafts. The clubs sell for approximately $279 per club but a set of three is available for $798. The woods are somewhat pricey compared to steel versions, but Titanium, though less expensive lately, is definitely worth the difference.
Our testers were impressed with the ease of use of the woods and compared favorably with the new Mizuno forged fairway woods.
According to the company, their seamless MX2000 shafts are as strong as steel, weigh only 63 grams (50 grams lighter than steel) and have 1.5 degree of torque. All their models are designed to square the club head at impact and are available in four different shafts flex and torque ratings to maximize club head speed during impact.
Merlin maintains strict quality control through careful matching and balancing to assure each set of clubs is flawless. Through their automated computer-controlled shaft operation the guesswork of shaft making is eliminated. Merlin prides itself in using only the highest quality titanium and graphite filaments. During the woods testing, our testers found that each wood consistently felt the same throughout the set.
Merlin does offer their MX 2000 Custom Flow-Swing Weighted Irons. These high-end line of irons ($1100 for 10 clubs) have the benefits of a forged titanium insert, plus a flow and swing weighting system. According to the company, this allows the center of gravity to be low, moving the perimeter weight to maximize each club’s performance.
By locating additional weight toward the toe on the longer 2 thru 4 irons helps square at impact to reduce slicing. In the mid-irons 5 thru 8, the weight is transferred toward the center of the club. In the shorter irons: 9 to Pitching Wedge, Approach Wedge and Sand Wedge, the weight is moved toward the heel to enhance lift and spin.
The MX 2000 custom series irons are fitted with matched and balanced MX 2000 shafts but the main emphasis is Merlin’s’ exclusive, patent pending flow and swing weighting system that truly maximizes performance.
Merlin also offers their less expensive Custom Titanium Irons / Custom Steel Irons sets. These are custom fitted golf clubs at an excellent price ($800). These are specifically designed for low and mid handicap golfers who have trouble hitting irons out of the rough or tight fairways. They are equipped with Merlin’s exclusive flow weighting system that moves the center of gravity from the toe on the long 2,3,4 irons, to help close the face thereby reducing slicing; to the center on the mid 5,6,7,8 irons for increased lift; to the heel for low 9,P,A,S wedges for added accuracy and spin.
This set can be equipped with your choice of MX 2000 or Turbo Shafts. Specifically designed for Low- Medium Handicap, Tour and Professional players having club head swing speeds up to 145 MPH. Custom Fitted /Registered labels are affixed only after each set of clubs is matched and balanced.
If you are seriously considering custom fitted clubs, Merlin is an opportunity that should not be passed upon if you are serious about your game.
Merlin also offers the unbelievably well priced ($649) Merlin Tour Blade Mid-Size Irons, which are designed for Tour and Professional low-handicap golfers demanding consistency between the long and short irons. Tour Blades’ low center of gravity and sleek top line makes lining up easier. Merlin’s Tour Blade non-drag sole is designed to cut turf and rough like a razor. The Merlin Tour Blades are equipped with Merlin’s Turbo Filament Wound Seamless Graphite 2.0 or 2.9 Torque Shafts that are stronger, yet 40 grams lighter than steel shafts.
Lastly, there are the Merlin Muscle Wedges (Set of 3) that are specifically designed for 90 yards or less to stop and hold approach shots from off the fairway, out of the rough or out of the sand. Merlin’s Muscle Wedges’ heavy swing weight (E-3) and wide flange, low bounce sole is designed to cut through turf and rough like butter in the words of the company. Muscle Magic Wedges are available 56°, 60° and 64°. The prices are $99 separately but a set of three is available for just $199.00
Barry Lotz, J.D., Ph.D. is the director of the Professional Golf Teachers Association of America. He is a member of the Golf Writers Association of America, the California Golf Writers Association, and serves both as a Consultant and Mediator to the golf industry. He is also the author of numerous books, including “333 Best Web Sites for Golfers” and his current book, “How to Build Business Relationships Through Golf” is in the Top Ten Golf Business Book’s best seller list.