TaylorMade will build a new golf ball manufacturing plant, company officials announced Wednesday. The 120,000-square-foot facility will occupy 25 acres in Liberty, S.C., about 28 miles east of TaylorMade's current facility in Westminster, S.C.
The company expects to break ground on the new plant in May and open up next January. The transition from Westminster to Liberty will be complete by July 2014, they said.
''The innovation by our R&D team, the passion of our work force in South Carolina and the rapid adoption by the best players in the world have dramatically improved our position in the golf ball category,'' said TaylorMade Executive Vice President John Kawaja. ''The byproduct of this success was the need for a new ball plant that will improve our unit production, quality and margin position.''
The new Liberty plant is expected to be more energy efficient and require less maintenance than the current Westminster plant, TaylorMade said, while also allowing the production process to be revamped to be more efficient.
The current plant turns out about 72,000 balls per day (6,000 dozen) and 24 million balls per year (2 million dozen).
TaylorMade currently markets close to a dozen models of golf ball across the price spectrum, including the RocketBallz, SuperDeep (white and yellow), Burner (white and yellow) and Noodle (white and yellow). Its newest ball, which debuted earllier this year, is the Lethal, a premium five-piece sphere that TaylorMade says is the second-most popular ball on the PGA Tour as well as its best-selling high-end ball ever.
If you're a major golf equipment company, the Shell Houston Open surely left you with mixed feelings.
D.A. Points waited out a long rain delay Sunday afternoon, then grinded out a one-shot victory that also earned him a spot in the Masters. In his bag was a mix of clubs from TaylorMade and Ping – but most of those clubs were several years old.
Anyone who watched the tournament on TV heard the story of how Points borrowed an old Ping Anser putter from his mother. That putter, Points said, has been in his garage since about 2005. And that's just the beginning of the story of his equipment mix.
--His driver is a TaylorMade R11S. TaylorMade still lists it as a current model, though the R1 and RBZ models are newer. And if you go to the TaylorMade site, you can buy the R11S for $100 off and the R11S TP model for $200 off.
--His 3-wood is a TaylorMade Burner, which was popular four or five years ago but is now out of production. The current model is the Burner SuperFast 2.0.
--One hybrid is a TaylorMade Rescue 11, which is a 2011 model.
--Another hybrid is a Ping G10, which has been discontinued.
--His iron set consists of Ping i5 clubs, which are also out of production.
--His wedges are Ping Tour models with Gorge grooves, which are brand new.
A couple of observations:
--First, good for Points for sticking with clubs he likes and trusts.
--Second, TaylorMade and Ping might not get a lot of marketing mileage out of Points' victory with all those older clubs. On the flip side, Points proved that these clubs, though most are several years old, are still darn good.
We all get bombarded each year with marketing claims that the newest clubs are the greatest ever made – and they probably are. But that doesn't mean their predecessors are obsolete. In fact, all the big club companies have been making excellent product for years – unlike, for instance, all the major car companies.
So while there's no denying the appeal of golf's new products, everyday golfers like you and me should feel good that our couple-of-years-old sticks are still plenty good and that we shouldn't feel pressured to upgrade until we're good and ready. So if you're truly in the market for the latest and greatest, go right ahead and buy whatever your heart desires (and make sure you get a proper clubfitting from a PGA Professional to get the most out of your new gear).
But if what you have is working for you, then why mess with success?
Besides, playing his tried-and-true equipment was just one of Points' keys to success. He also worked diligently with PGA instructor Gary Gilchrist on restoring his balance and power last week, and got a special putting lesson from Lamar University golf coach Brian White.
So remember, the key to improving your game is part equipment and part instruction – and part timing.
To see a photo gallery of Points' winning clubs, click here. And to see this week’s edition of What’s in the Winners’ Bags, click here.
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