Monday, August 2, 2010

An Interview with Sweet Woods Golf Club Maker

1)  What is your business model (in very general terms)? How do you see your business growing in the future? How do you see your business in alignment with the future of Golf you foresee?

Sweet Wood Golf Company was founded in 2006 by several golf enthusiasts, historians and collectors. In response to the oversaturation of the golf market with high-tech clubs, gadgets and paraphernalia which essentially takes the “golfer” out of the equation. The partners at Sweet Wood Golf Company decided to develop a luxury line of handmade clubs, leather goods and apparel which emphasized craftsmanship and high quality traditional components and materials.

By restoring elements of traditional golf products in a very modern way we feel as though we are regenerating an interest in “FEEL BASED or SENSORY GOLF”. The sensory experience and club/shaft responsiveness a golfer could expect by using hickory clubs with leather grips and forged steel heads is unparalleled with today’s high tech equipment. So the idea came about to try to take the best of both the traditional & the high tech and fuse them together to create modern/traditional equipment.

2)  These clubs are undeniably beautiful . . . and you say they are high-tech – suitable for modern courses . . . could you talk about that briefly, how you achieve that?

Probably our greatest compliment/insult we get is that our products are “too beautiful to play with” or use. However, folks are always SHOCKED at how well our clubs hit. We spent almost 2 years of R&D to make sure they were weighted/balanced correctly and were fully playable. Most folks state that they hit just as good (if not better) than the stiff steel shafted clubs they currently own. As far as responsiveness these clubs “talk to you”. This is because we use 8620 Soft Carbon Steel Heads, 100% Hickory Wood Shafts and Leather Performance Grips where we suggest to NOT use a golf glove. In this way, the clubs becoming a tuning fork for good and badly stuck shots. You hit is well, you know. You it it badly, the club really lets you know as well. In this way, our clubs serve as good training aids to many golfers.

3)  Do you ever conceive these clubs being used by professionals, er, professionally?

Most definitely…These clubs play like any other clubs and from a sensory standpoint many golfers feel ours are even better than their current clubs. Our putters, irons, leather goods and apparel are all made to play a modern game and this includes for amateurs & professionals alike.  

4)  If you can talk about it, how are your wooden shafts lathed? Are you using modern custom precision tools or antique tools?

All of our shafts for our clubs are 100% Hickory Wood which originates from Tennessee or Maine. The shafts are cut with the grain to add strength and not from the Heart of the tree. The shafts are MACHINE lathed with modern equipment for consistency and are stained & treated with a 3 weeks water tested lacquer which is scratch resistant. As far as our exotic wood heads we use a variety of hardwood from all over the world. These include Bolivian Pau Ferro, West African Zebra-Wood, Rhodesian Teak, Brazilian Cherry and Birdseye Maple to name only a few… 

5)  If you can disclose it, how are the wooden shafts connected to your custom club heads (for strength and durability)?

We utilize 100% Hickory wood shafts which are hand fashioned to our Putters & Hickory Irons through precise dimension hosels. We utilize time honored techniques in our craftsmanship blended with the highest levels of modern technology. The produces beautiful and durable products for golfers to fully enjoy for a lifetime.

6)  Will you eventually produce spoons and baffys?

We may produce a line of WOODS in the future but they will not be in the style of the old spoons & baffys. Rather we may look to emulate some of the master persimmon club makers designs such as Kenneth Smith & Stan Thompson of the 1940-1970 period.

7)  Can you maintain product consistency with wood as well as graphite / steel?

Flex of Hickory of our Hickory shafts used on our Irons falls neatly in FLEX between that of Steel and Graphite, and is a perfect compromise as far as vibration dampening is concerned due to the naturally complex cellular matrix of Hickory Wood. That is why Hickory is used in Hammers & Axe Handles as it is resilient and dampens vibration.

Even steel & graphite shafted clubs break today. We have demonstrated durability on our side in that there are millions of Hickory Shafted clubs & Leather bags/products from the early 1900’s that are still very useable today almost 100+ years later. This is because good craftsmanship and high quality materials create durable products. That is our philosophy and we are very passionate about it. 

8)  Are your clubs custom fitted for different heights and body types? Can the lie of the club be adjusted? Can the grips be oversized? Do standard grips fit and can they be changed as on standard clubs?

The beauty of our products, their uniqueness, the overall high quality & materials and without a doubt our abilities to FULLY customize of products from the ground up. In this way we take a philosophy similar to the Kenneth Smith company who had the slogan “Handmade for You”.

9)  Are your putters better in some ways than the long-handled, shovel-sized modern putters now in use?

We believe so…but honestly it is not a matter of style. It is really a matter of the traditional components that we use. By using Hickory shafts, Exotic Wood heads and Leather grips golfers get a sensory experience or “feel” they just can’t get with modern counterparts.

10)            Will you expand to bricks-and-mortar store-fronts, or stay as an internet vendor?

Developing our own storefronts has always been an idea for the future. Currently we are penetrating the golf course/country club market and are enjoying having the freedom the Internet Economy. Even if we do open storefronts in the future, they will be very small and represent a luxury boutique atmosphere.

11)            And anything else you want to express?

           Currently we are working on a Nationwide Initiative which includes an Exclusive “Preferred Vendor Program” for select Country Clubs/Resorts/Courses to carry our line. This will only be available to 3-5% of the market and will be very exclusive. As well, we are planning on producing a “Luxury Golf Tour” which will be a multi-day luxury experience for high net worth & celebrity clientele. It will be an all inclusive event with 5 Star Hotels & Restaurants, Luxury Seminars/Showcases and culminating in  a unique Modern Clubs/Hickory Club golf scramble. In short, Sweet Wood Golf Company’s goal is to push “Luxury Golf” out to the golf industry in our own creative way.

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