| Becoming a Wilson Staff
The Kilted Caddie shares his club-fitting experience at Wilson Staff ’s custom fit factory in Irvine, Scotland.
The Kilted Caddie shares his club-fitting experience at Wilson Staff’s custom fit factory in Irvine, Scotland.
Ineeded new golf clubs that was for sure. My Ben Hogan Apex irons were well and truly shot. I had broken the 5-iron against a tree long ago, my pitching wedge had gone missing and, my 3-iron was in very terrible shape. In fact, my irons greatly resembled my post mid-life physical demeanour.
Luckily, I have a friend who works at Wilson Sports in Chicago, and he lined me up for a visit to their custom fit factory in Irvine. There I met the technical golf guru Andy Cliff who dazzled me with the new science of golf swing analysis and showed off the most impressive Wilson Golf range and operation.
Andy is the present Captain of Irvine Golf Club which seems to be a jewel of a course on the west coast of Scotland and at seventy quid a round I’m heading there soon. He has been following the European Tour in the Wilson van for years now, is a good golfer and knows his stuff.
So, in the swing centre, Andy started off by letting me hit a few balls to loosen off and critically watched me. The good news was that he wasn’t giving me the advice that he had to proffer to some people. I didn’t immediately have to go and seek golf instruction to set right issues which a new set of Wilson clubs could not.
Then came the in-depth analysis with the aid of numerous graphs and a minefield of data on an overhead screen. Average swing speeds, smash factors, spin rates, degrees of this and that, added to a somewhat encouraging graphic which showed a good deal of striking accuracy. Andy slightly enthused about my inside attack line, and I was beginning to feel rather buoyant. He changed shafts and heads and grips, hmm’d
and hawwed a bit and then, low and behold, we had a completed order for a beautiful set of extra stiff shafted, V6 Tour Irons. I must say they are stunning, with a great feel and that blade look which reminds me of my Ben Hogan blades. I have since been showing them off around St Andrews to many favourable comments.
I was then shown around the very impressive workshop factory. It is indeed a slick operation and the staff all busy and in tremendous spirit. They serve the whole of Europe from here and customise about a thousand clubs a month. Of course, they attend to their stable of tour pros. Padraig Harrington, Paul Lawrie, Branden Steele and recent first-time winner Paul Waring, who recently captured the Nordea Masters, his first European Tour win.
I am just wondering if they will take the Kilted Caddie into their illustrious stable as a somewhat long shot bet? It could do wonders for their exposure in the Home of Golf, and I would be well up for it (even if my golf isn’t quite). I suppose it could be seen as a token gesture for a hopelessly addicted and struggling 10-handicapper with delusional issues.
Wilson is now owned by Amer, a Finnish company, who started off in tobacco but saw that the future lay more in sports, health and fitness. They now own the Atomic and Salomon ski brands and the gym equipment maker Precor. Now I would say that was a canny strategic move in this day and age. Indeed, right up my street as an ex-ski teacher. Of more interest, however, is the fact that Anta, the leading Chinese brand, and HK based private equity firm FountainVest, have just made an offer for Amer.
The Wilson Staff clubs man still have the highest number of Majors under their belt, and I do think they are the underrated brand in the marketplace. They have a new driver coming out in early October which is top secret at the moment, and which Andy enthuses wildly about. They conducted a competition and invited entries from all driver design kids around the world. The process can be seen in the Wilson promo film and is exciting and enlightening.
So, they seem to be a winning team at the moment and indeed hot property with the huge Anta takeover bid. On a more prosaic level they now nominally have the Kilted Caddie on board. An unlikely and somewhat remarkable winner of the Willie Lamond Trophy at the weekend at the St Andrews Golf Club. No, not quite a European Tour victory and lots of bucks but a truly handsome trophy I must say. Added to this I’ve recorded to net handicap 66’s in my last two medals.
Yes, the Kilted Caddie is now well, and indeed a Wilson Staff clubs man.
Englishman Paul Waring celebrateswinning the Nordea Masters at Hills Golf Club in Molndal, Sweden - Waring joined230915
Wilson Staff’s custom fit factory in Irvine, Scotland
Padraig Harrington, a 3-time Major champion, has signed another multiyear deal with Wilson Golf in 2016 that sees him with the brand for 22 consecutive seasons until now