Rickie Fowler’s recent switch of the type of ball he puts in play is a signal TaylorMade wants to send the golf world.
Fowler recently signed a multi-year ball and glove deal with TaylorMade Golf Company, an announcement made last week prior to the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines. Now playing TaylorMade’s TP5x, it’s the first ball switch in Fowler’s career. He was a loyal Titleist user his entire amateur and professional career.
“It’s been fun to see what the ball can do,” Fowler said. “Extra yardage on irons, more spin around the green. One less club for me into many holes is a pretty big advantage, too. What more do you want?”
The word “switch” is the major takeaway in this move for TaylorMade, said Mark Buntz, TaylorMade senior director of global marketing.
“For Rickie to switch for this golf ball is a validation that we take very seriously,” Buntz said. “He chose the product because the performance it offers and on the belief and promise it gives him the best opportunity to win in his next chapter to cement his legacy as a great golfer.”
With Fowler’s switch, six of the top 13 players in the World Golf Rankings use either the TP5 or TP5x golf balls.
Buntz said there historically is a “zombie effect” toward other balls, but believes this continuation of technological innovation from TaylorMade will help alter the perception of the company as only having a driver-led portfolio. While the TP5x is a new, exciting piece of TaylorMade’s offering, what’s in the bag is still a priority for the company.
This year, TaylorMade is pushing the M5 and M6 drivers with injected twisted-face technology developed by “rocket scientists,” said Buntz. The production process measures, calibrates and injects with tuning resin beyond legal limit speeds and then dials back right to the limit.
The new technologies also stretch to the irons and even into the putter, further extending TaylorMade away from a driver-first perception. The company’s goal is to have the clubs and balls complement each other.
“It’s a feat of manufacturing that we’ve worked on for five years,” Buntz said. “The last couple of years, our story is we have that performance offering across all products — no longer just as the leader in driver tech. We’ve really made a concerted effort with research and development and product creation to excite golfers across our portfolio.”
Golf technology has long been at the heart of TaylorMade’s ethos, and it’s celebrating that ethos as it approaches the 40th anniversary this year.
“It has been our marketing strategy as long as we’ve been here,” Buntz said. “Performance is written on our walls and etched in our minds. Our marketing approach is to inspire golfers that our new products will be measurably better than anything in the market place.”
Along with the consistent product evolution, TaylorMade continues to evolve its messaging to the customers.
Buntz said the company is learning how to use its partner athletes differently, beyond a 30-second commercial. He said the company’s big names — Tiger Woods, Jon Rahm, Rory McIlroy, Jason Day and Dustin Johnson — were brought together for a quick round of golf to find ways to tell that authentic story.
Buntz feels Fowler brings a match in ethos, culture, and pursuit of performance the company has and believes the modern presentation of his own brand will do well for TaylorMade.
“We’re creating a very different content approach featuring the guys talking about these products,” Buntz said. “There’s an authenticity we’re trying to get, a level of connection and relatability and playfulness that comes from them being together.
“The insights we can give to what they love about the products and finding new ways outside a TV commercial is pretty cool.”