As we approach the finale of Wilson Golf’s Driver vs. Driver 2, we were given the opportunity to speak with one of the show’s judges, Jeremy Roenick. If you’re unfamiliar, the show, which airs on the Golf Channel, has contestants submit designs and compete for their design to come to market. Designers that advance each episode work with Wilson Lab engineers to refine and improve their designs.
We chatted with Jeremy about his involvement in the show, his favorite parts of Season 2, his takeaways, and more. Take a few minutes to read what he had to say.
(Note: Interview edited for flow)
Global Golf: Thanks for joining us, Jeremy. How did you become involved with the show?
Jeremy Roenick: I got a call from a friend of mine that I’ve done some work with about being a part of the show. They asked if I’d be interested in replacing Brian Urlacher as a judge and I couldn’t say “yes” fast enough. I just had to make sure that, with my NBC Sports Network hockey programming, they were on board and gave me enough time to hit all the events and the shooting locations. I was so excited to do something in the golf world, outside my element but one that I’m very passionate about. Plus, Tim Clarke, President of Wilson Golf, is a Chicagoan so that Chicago connection really helped.
GG: What’s been your favorite part of Driver vs Driver 2 so far?
JR: I think to watch the dynamic of what goes into creating a driver. I never knew that there were so many USGA rules you had to be cognizant about. These guys were so brilliant. The minds of the of the final fourteen contestants are amazing. I think about what goes into creating a driver; from front to back the engineering, the critiquing, the tweaking, and the material the driver is made of was very very interesting.
GG: Was there a part of the design process that stuck out in your mind?
JR: You know, I really loved the different ideas on the weight distributions of the club. Guys were creating fade and draw aspects, the spin rates, and launch angles using different engineering techniques. Some used just aerodynamics, some used track systems, some used just plain, square weighted systems. It was just a really cool array of mentalities, how these guys tried to put their own idea of golf engineering.
GG: What have been some of your goals as a judge on the show this season?
JR: My job wasn’t to get into too much of the real engineering. My job was to be totally honest, give my golf fan mentality, a guy who loves to go into a golf shop and look at clubs. I’m a guy who, when he hits the ball, knows what it feels like but doesn’t know why it feels that way. As a judge, I was not so much the bad guy but the guy that gives a direct opinion of a club; really viewing it and being honest about how it looks and how it looks in the bag. That was my role in the show.
GG: In that case, what do you look for in a driver?
JR: I’m a traditionalist. I don’t like drivers that try to recreate the shape of a driver. I’m a big, big sound guy. I really pay attention to how the ball sounds coming off the club. That’s very very important for me. I found a lot of the drivers that we had throughout the season really didn’t fit my ear. When they don’t fit my ear, they’re not going to fit in my hand. So, not so much how the ball comes off the club, more how it sounds.
GG: Do you like a duller thud versus like a high pitched “ting”?
JR: Yeah, I don’t like the high pitched “ting.” I like it to sound like a marshmallow coming off the club. I want to feel and hear that the ball is compressing on the club. That “ting” sound will drive me crazy. It’ll just sound too hard and “metally” for me.
GG: I’m with you. Do you tinker with your clubs at all?
JR: Once I get a driver, I’ll go hit and test it. I’ll move everything to where I think I need it and then after that, I never touch it again. How I’m hitting the ball on the first day of testing is pretty much what I’m gonna go with so I’m hoping it’s the best.
GG: Getting back to the show a little bit, what was your strategy behind giving away the “W” to Tim Slama?
JR: Tim impressed me so much because of his brilliance and his high IQ. His design implements how our bodies work, how our nervous system works, how the brain sends different triggers to different parts of our body when making of a golf swing. So, his design takes into account the energy that goes through our body, through our hands into the shaft a club.
This guy was so far beyond the normal IQ level of a twenty-year-old. I loved his idea of the infinity track system on the bottom. I thought it was really unique on how the bottom of the club looked. That’s the part that when sitting in a rack at a golf store or at a pro shop, it’s the first thing you see. I really love the fact that you can play with all the different types of variations and weight transfers. Those are all the reasons why I thought he deserved not even to be considered of elimination early.
GG: Yeah, just taking that doubt completely out of there.
GG: I wanted to touch a little bit on the EOS process of making prototypes showcased in Episode 3. Do you think that process is the wave of the future, with Wilson leading the charge? Will other companies start to gravitate towards this type of prototype construction?
JR: One hundred percent! The benefit of being able to hit a demo club as fast as possible is huge. To be able to create as close of a feel with the materials, to feel how the ball comes off the club, how the ball is going to react; the quicker you can do that without having to spend the money to fully manufacture, the better. This system has been able to revolutionize how drivers can be made. Of course, Wilson is the pioneer of that, which they’re very proud of.
GG: That was completely fascinating, to see the process go so quickly, from months to days to be able to put these prototypes together.
JR: Definitely. I think the designs are going to continue to get better. You’re gonna see a couple really cool things that are gonna come out in the show’s last 2 episodes. You’re going to see some pretty unbelievable finale situations that are going to bring the whole season to a conclusion. From what we thought of everybody; what we thought of their minds and what we thought of their designs. I loved how these last episodes really bring the viewer in and make the viewer really appreciate the genius that went into both the contestant’s designs and the engineers of Wilson’s ideas.
GG: Any other things stand out over these last episodes that viewers should tune into?
JR: The absolute, one hundred percent commitment and how involved and totally engaged these contestants were to win this contest. Their beliefs in their drivers, their commitment in their driver designs, and how bad they wanted to win Driver vs Driver. You’ll see their emotions really come through in these last episodes.
GG: Looking forward to that! One last question: just curious if you’ve seen Alex Ovechkin’s swing and whether or not Rick Shiels can help him out at all.
JR: (laughing) It’s terrible. Between Ovechkin and Charles Barkley, I don’t know if there’s anybody that can fix those swings very quickly.
GG: (laughing) Exactly. We appreciate your time Jeremy. We’re excited to see who comes out on top of Driver vs Driver 2.
JR: I appreciate it. Thanks for having me.
Be sure to tune into the finale on November 13th at 9/8 CT on the Golf Channel. For more information, head to the show’s official page HERE.