All the marketing in the world can't save a product if it's not very good. Conversely, sometimes a product proves itself so quickly and convincingly that all a company has to do is spread the word.
That's the happy situation Srixon finds itself in as it unveils its new generation of Z-STAR golf balls.
As you might be aware, two players have shot 59 on the Web.com Tour in the last month – Will Wilcox at the Utah Championship on July 14 and Russell Knox at the Albertsons Boise Open on July 26. You might not be aware, however, that both did so using a new Srixon ball. Wilcox used a Z-STAR XV Tour Yellow ball – making him the first player to card a 59 with a colored ball – while Knox used a Z-STAR Pure White model.
And presto – there's your marketing campaign!
OK, so maybe there's a bit more to marketing than that. And, in fact, the new balls already have amassed 40 tournament wins worldwide this year. In any case, Srixon is launching its new spheres on a nice wave of momentum.
These 2013 editions – the regular Z-STAR and a hotter Z-STAR XV – are, Srixon says, the most technically advanced tour-performance balls the company has ever produced. The new balls, the company adds, have been re-designed, re-calculated and re-formulated to produce the best balance of high-level performance across all clubs in the bag.
Both boast enhanced spin control and softness as well as improved flight characteristics. Their covers feature Srixon's new ''Spin Skin,'' a coating the company says is two times softer than any previous Srixon coating, which helps create a 20 percent increase in friction. That enables players to hit approach shots with plenty of backspin, while experiencing a softer feel as the clubface grips the ball.
The Z-STAR model is built around a new, large-diameter Energy Gradient Growth (EGG) core. Its characteristics help provide more contrast between inner softness and outer hardness, resulting in more lift, less spin and longer flight distances. By contrast, the Z-STAR XV features a two-layer Neo EGG core, which delivers more lift and less spin for a quicker launch and greater overall flight distances.
Both balls carry Srixon's new 344 Speed Dimple design, which helps reduce air resistance for a strong, long-carrying trajectory. The new design increases the ratio of dimples to surface area by more than 4 percent, which Srixon says makes it possible to play more aggressive golf under all conditions.
Both the Z-STAR and the Z-STAR XV carry a suggested retail price of $44.99, and are both available in Pure White or Tour Yellow.
For more information, click here.
I said a few days ago that one of my favorite parts of major championship weeks is the special products that some of the big golf equipment companies create.
Callaway, of course, outfits its staff players with limited-edition bags themed for each major, and you can see Phil Mickelson's oak leaf-adorned PGA Championship bag above.
Also above is something truly unique that Callaway creates – they're called ''challenge coins,'' and there's one for each major of 2013.
This year's designs include a magnolia blossom for the Masters, a star for the U.S. Open, the Union Jack for the Open Championship and, of course, an oak leaf for the PGA Championship at Oak Hill. Callaway mostly distributes to the coins to its employees and staff players, though a lucky few civilians have gotten a few as well.
Challenge coins have a long military history, and I've also seen them created for colleges and companies. Few of them, I have to say, look as distinctive as these.
In what has become one of my favorite traditions of each major championship week, some of the big equipment companies are rolling out limited-edition gear to mark the occasion. No one does it better than TaylorMade, which has created a special bag and headcover for the 2013 PGA Championship with an Oak Hill theme. The photo on the left is the headcover on the bag of Roberto Castro, and I included it here because it shows off the logo so well.
The logos on the TaylorMade gear are always intricate, and full of detailed iconography. Here, courtesy of TaylorMade, is the full explanation of every aspect of the 2013 PGA Championship logo:
--Oak Hill Country Club is located in Rochester, N.Y., the home of Frederick Douglass, the American social reformer, orator, writer, statesman and abolitionist who escaped slavery as a young man. Douglass lived in Rochester from 1847 to 1872 and is buried in Rochester's Mount Hope Cemetery, and the logo's shape was inspired by a part of his tombstone. The star at the top of the logo represents The North Star, the famous anti-slavery newspaper Douglass founded in Rochester in 1847.
--The trophy image represents the Wanamaker Trophy, named for Rodman Wanamaker, a department store magnate who in 1916 hosted the exploratory meeting of the Professional Golfers Association, at which the idea for the PGA Championship was conceived. Wanamaker also provided the trophy for the first championship, which is still used today.
--The yellow-colored honeycomb pattern is a nod to the YellowJackets, the name of the University of Rochester's athletic teams. Oak Hill swapped the land it was originally located on with UR, giving the country club a piece of land large enough to eventually build two 18-hole courses, the East Course and West Course, the former of which has hosted U.S. Opens, a Ryder Cup and three PGA Championships (including 2013).
--The six oak leaves refer to the six different prominent tournaments that Oak Hill has hosted during the past 60+ years, including the U.S. Open, PGA Championship, Ryder Cup Matches, U.S. Amateur, U.S. Senior Open and Senior PGA Championship.
--The plaque with 2013 on it is a nod to Oak Hill's ''Hill of Fame,'' a series of bronze plaques located on the hill leading up to the 13th green, which are emblazoned with the names and faces of numerous golf luminaries, including past winners at Oak Hill.
--''Gloria Ultimus'' is Latin for ''Glory's Last,'' a reference to the nickname the PGA of America has given to the PGA Championship, ''Glory's Last Shot,'' which alludes to the tournament's position in the schedule as the last Major Championship of the year.
--R stands for the last name of the East Course's highly respected architect, Donald Ross; W stands for the last name of Dr. John R. Williams, the member who, in 1926, planted tens of thousands of oak trees on the grounds.
If you're interested, you can buy the headcover directly from TaylorMade.
So, you ask, what's the rough looking like at Oak Hill for the PGA Championship?
Well, you're in luck. PGA Professional Rob Labritz is already on site, and took these photos of the long grass.
The rough at Oak Hill is ''brutal,” Labritz tweeted. ''Need to hit them straight.''
Yeah, Rob, no kidding.
Labritz, by the way, will have a unique honor at Oak Hill. He'll hit the first tee shot of the tournament on Thursday morning. Congrats, Rob, and here's hoping you heed your own advice.
And, of course, we encourage you to hang out with us all week on the official site of the PGA Championship, where we'll have live scoring as well as an unprecedented array of coverage.
So, did you see who won the Junior PGA Championship today?
Tony Kornheiser did. At the end of ''Pardon the Interruption,'' the show he hosts on ESPN each afternoon, Mr. Tony gave one of his patented shout-outs to brand-new champions Tyler McDaniel and Amy Lee.
Kornheiser's salute actually put a bookend on a memorable week for many of the nation's top junior players – he was a featured speaker at the Junior PGA Championship's Welcome Reception before the talented teens took on Trump National Golf Club-Washington, D.C. in Potomac Falls, Va.