Have you ever thought you could come up with the next great golf club design? Wilson Golf asks this question on the show, Driver vs Driver, airing on the Golf Channel. Eager designers with a wide range of backgrounds submit their entries. After sifting through hundreds of entries, 11 finalists receive invitations to Wilson’s headquarters. Finalists are competing for $500,000 and for their design to be the latest driver in the Wilson Golf family.
Each episode features finalists presenting their ideas to the judges who consider design quality, functionality, and marketability. At the conclusion of each episode, judges announce who “makes the cut” and who goes home. Those continuing in the competition use the judge’s feedback to refine their design.
As you can imagine, early designs are pretty radical. One design mimicked a fly swatter, with holes throughout the head. Another had a fin, similar to an airplane, designed to reduce drag and create clubhead speed. Themes in successful drivers were similar to what is currently on the market, adjustability and aerodynamic. What sets them apart, though, is their adjustability, aesthetics, and aerodynamics.
Contestants develop their concepts as they advance in the show using the Wilson Lab, pinpointing areas of a club where aerodynamics can improve. Wilson Lab is a state-of-the-art facility that tests designs for Computational Fluid Dynamics, CFD. Clubs that are not optimized for CFD suffer in performance. The designers also use feedback from various golfers to shape what will become the final, judged product. Testing and tweaking prototypes are the final development steps in the contestant’s journey. Upon choosing a winner, Wilson will ramp up production for release to the public.
The show succeeds at giving a behind the scenes look at the production of a new club and all the work it takes. Seeing these great minds at work is also a rewarding experience. Will we get to witness this level of “Factory to Tee Box” movement in the future from other manufacturers? The answer to this question is unclear. Clearly, though, Wilson Golf’s innovative way to market a new product cannot be overlooked.