Meet the President of SCOR GOLF
Terry Koehler aka "The Wedge Guy"
If you want to understand why I am so passionate about your scoring, let me share some of my thoughts about golf, life and the short game with you. After all, you should know a little about the man behind the company before you spend your hard-earned money right?
- My Roots in Golf
- My Early Days in the Golf Industry
- On Specializing in the Short Game
- On the Game and Industry Today
- On the Short Game and Scoring
- The Last Word
Terry Koehler President, EIDOLON Brands, LLC
I don’t remember life before golf. Our small South Texas town had a 9-hole golf course that was a focus of our family’s life. My earliest memory is riding on the ball pocket of my Dad’s big old Burton golf bag, on a Bag Boy pull cart. I later ‘graduated’ to pulling that cart for what I remember was $2.00 per round, $3 if I cleaned and polished the clubs and his Allen Edmond shoes afterward.
My Dad was a good amateur player. And the Thursday, Saturday and Sunday games were important to us, watching good players tee it up and go at it. In the summer, each little town had their annual “Barbecue Circuit” tournament; 2-man better ball. To us kids, that was the ‘real’ Tour, the one we could relate to. There’d be a hundred or more people around the final green watching the Championship flight finish.
The golf shop at our little course was a magical place. The best thing was hanging around the pro shop on Saturday mornings listening to the men talk golf. And of course, getting to admire all those beautiful forged irons and persimmon woods.
Beating my Dad was an early goal for my older brother and me. I think Dad was prouder of those two days than any other. But he always played hard to keep it from happening. He wanted us to earn it.
I started out in marketing 30 years ago -- Wow, it seems like only yesterday I was new in the advertising agency business and called on Ray Cook putters in San Antonio. That led to meeting many of the top small brands in golf at that time – Otey Crisman putters, Neumann Leather, Joe Powell Golf . . . I dove in deep and learned from all those craftsmen.
I was always fascinated with the way things work. I first applied that curiosity to putters. My first design was called the ‘Destiny’; it incorporated rather radical weighting into a reasonably conventional size and shape, and a long hosel that made it face balanced. A couple of dozen PGA players used it in 1988-89, but my financial partner didn’t come through with the money he promised, so it fizzled. I learned a lot from that experience.
What I thought would be my dream job. In mid-1994, I was asked to take on the Director of Marketing post at Hogan. I returned the company’s message to its real roots – the inspiration of Mr. Hogan – and directed the creation of a complete campaign built around some incredible photography of Mr. Hogan that was taken by Jules Alexander at the 1959 U.S. Open at Winged Foot. It hurt me to see that great old company and brand just go away.
The scoring clubs have been left behind. It’s funny that technology has totally changed nearly everything in the game – metal woods and irons . . shafts, for sure . . the ball is extraordinary. Putters, the spikes on our shoes, even tees . . . but the bulk of wedges on the market are not really different from what we played 20 or 30 years ago. And short irons that look like 6-irons are not going to deliver tight, boring trajectories in scoring range. At SCOR Golf, we stripped it down to the basics and started over to optimize the design, and therefore the performance, of clubs with over 40 degrees of loft. This new SCOR4161 product is the most logical and perfect set of scoring tools on the market today. We’ll be taking handicaps down quickly as golfers embrace this. I believe that from the bottom of my heart.
Victoria, Texas may be an odd place to have a golf company. But in today’s business environment, you can base a global company nearly anywhere. For me, that’s NOT Southern California! I’ve loved this part of Texas since childhood, so I figured, ‘why not?’ I can assure you that every one of our craftsmen is an accomplished player that knows golf clubs – form and function. The assembly line workers in California and China cannot come close to matching our skills in golf club building.
Our goal is to help golfers score better. We’re committed to making the short game our only game. Our focus is on building precision scoring clubs that will help any golfer get better from the first day he or she plays them. You can’t expect to hit even half the fairways and greens, but any golfer can have a short game that allows them to score once they get inside 120-140 yards.
I’m concerned about the game. I mean, where does technology go from here? We can’t keep making golf courses longer and tougher. It costs too much to build them that way. Do we need to roll back the ball, the equipment? I don’t know, but all this technology isn’t really making the average golfers better; handicaps are not going down. What will make the average golfer better is improving their short game, which directly improves scoring. The bulk of your shots take place within 100 yards from the pin, so that’s where golfers need to focus their energy and skills.
What companies are doing to irons is absurd. So many of the new irons on the market are boasting more distance, but all they are doing is cranking down the lofts more and more. The new ‘super game improvement’ irons have ‘P-clubs’ of as little as 43 and 44 degrees of loft. I refuse to call those pitching wedges, because they are not. I have an old set of Hogan blades – 1966 models – in my collection; the pitching wedge is 51 degrees. You can really ‘pitch’ the ball with that – you can’t with a club of only 43-45 degrees of loft.
And the obsession with perimeter weighting is unrealistic. I’m a huge believer that golfers with even reasonable skills can and should be playing a modern blade golf club design. A little perimeter weighting is a good thing, but too much sacrifices performance on dead-center hits. Golfers need feedback to get better and they need to get the most out of their best shots, too. Only blades can do that. You have to have some mass directly behind the impact spot.
The short game is fascinating to me. I’ll spend 2/3 of my practice time and range balls hitting shots of 100 yards or less. Other golfers look at you like you’re crazy, hitting your range balls barely to the front of the tee line, like you’re “wasting” your money or something. But I like the challenge of hitting short shots a given distance, on a given trajectory, from all kinds of lies. And it pays off on the course. Hitting a creative pitch shot from a tough lie is more gratifying to me than a great drive or approach. And in competition, a great short game totally demoralizes an opponent.
Most golfers have bad wedge technique. Watch the tour players around the greens. They all squat a little lower, and keep their hands low – right across their thighs – through impact, and very quiet. Their hands are low to maintain the angle formed by the arms and shaft so that the sole of the wedge returns to the ball like it was at address, and quiet to keep them passive. People don’t realize that most Tour players even have their wedges bent a degree or two flatter than their irons to help them accommodate this proper club position at impact.
The body core is key. A good short game relies on quiet hands, and a swing driven by the rotation of the upper body – back to the desired swing length, and then through impact to the follow-through position. If you work on keeping the club in front of your chest, with the hands quiet and low, and create swing speed with the your body core rotation, you will make dramatic improvements in your wedge play.
“Don’t decelerate” is misunderstood advice. Golfers are so afraid of violating this too-oft-repeated advice, that their wedge technique is too quick and jerky. I like to think of a chip or pitch like a long putt – rhythmic back and through, with the core of the body driving the swing. And think S-L-O-W. You should almost feel like gravity is dropping the club into the ball from the end of the backswing.
Innovation has always come from small companies with big ideas, who were not afraid to challenge the status quo. Hogan challenged the giants – Wilson and Spalding when he started his company. Look at what Ping did, then TaylorMade . . . Callaway was tiny when they developed the Big Bertha. Adams and the Tight Lies. How about SoftSpikes? Sun Mountain? The list goes on and on. Great ideas rarely come from trying to keep up with the competition. And corporate America has never been really gung ho on stimulating creativity. We know that if golfers really want to improve their short games, we are building the clubs to help them do it. We guarantee that.
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