Interview Q&A with Steve Divnick
Steve Divnick, President of DivnickGolf™ and inventor of the new drivers and fairway woods, has fielded a lot of questions since the PGA Show where the new drivers were introduced. The following are the most commonly asked questions and answers.
Links have been added for additional reference.
Q: Your website has quotes from many PGA pros saying this is the longest, most forgiving driver they’ve ever hit—that it is much better than all the other clubs on the market. (Reports) That sounds too good to be true. Is it that much better?
A: Let me first clarify that the BIG STIK does not improve everyone’s game so dramatically. Top players who have great swing speed and tempo see smaller improvements. The most dramatic improvements are with our higher lofts, which are designed for average players. Of course, they make up the majority of golfers, which is why these clubs are creating so much buzz.
Q: Are you saying that average golfers are experiencing even greater results than the PGA pro testimonies on your website?
A: Yes. The average player has an inconsistent swing. I personally fit into that category. Many of us try to lift the ball off the tee, which causes all kinds of problems. We bend our left arm, sway our bodies, cut across the ball, and hit a lot of bad shots. The higher loft of the BIG STIK makes it easy to get the ball in the air, which helps the golfer relax and swing more freely. All of that results in longer shots, and perhaps more importantly, straighter. Many average players are dropping 3 or 4 lower strokes per round just by reducing their bad shots off the tee.
Q: What is different about your drivers?
A: There are three primary differences between our drivers and traditional name-brand clubs:
1) We offer more loft. A LOT MORE LOFT. Traditional drivers go as high as 10.5 or 11 degrees. We offer 9 and 11-degrees for advanced players, and 13 and 15-degree lofts for average players, seniors, and ladies. This makes it very easy to launch the ball on a high trajectory. It also makes our drivers significantly more forgiving. That’s a great combination.
2) We raise the center of gravity (CG). Traditional club-makers have always needed a low CG to help get the ball in the air. But that creates back-spin which causes the ball to climb like an inverted banana, spin out, then drop with little forward roll. But our high lofts don’t need a low CG to help get the ball up. Our trajectory is achieved by the club face, not from back-spin. It produces a high arcing carry, a long roll-out, and significantly more control.
3) Our clubs are extremely light weight. The head is only 189 grams while the industry norm is around 200. Our shafts are also lighter, so the total weight is 15 to 20 grams lighter than most drivers. This makes it much easier for people with average swings to control the club-head while achieving faster head-speed.
The combination of these three factors results in clubs that easily outperform the name-brand clubs, especially for the average player.
Q: Fifteen degrees sounds awfully high. That’s a typical 3-wood. Isn’t that going to make the ball fly too high off the tee?
A: No. Three-woods have a low CG, which makes them spin the ball high. That’s desirable for a 3-wood and every club in your bag except the driver so you can control the distance and get the ball to stop at a precise location. But you want to minimize spin with a driver. Our 15-degree driver has a high CG, so it doesn’t spin the ball as much, or hit as high as a 3-wood. But, it is as forgiving. You get the distance of a driver with the forgiveness of a 3-wood. And it is even easier to hit than a 3-wood because the head is a full 400 cc’s with a deep face, large sweet spot, and maximum spring-effect.
"...try a driver with more loft. It could change your life."
Golf Digest, November 2003
Q: Do your lower loft drivers spin the ball less too?
A; Yes. The key is to get a high arcing trajectory off the face, not from the spin. The number on the bottom of a club is only one element that determines trajectory. With a high CG, our 11-degree driver hits about as high as other 11-degree drivers, but with significantly less back-spin which is great for control, arc, and roll-out.
Q: Why haven’t traditional club-makers done this before?
A: All industry is restricted by the traditions that define it. Drivers have always been low loft and low center of gravity. That’s because clubs are designed for touring pros. Engineering budgets are dedicated to the needs of the tour players. Endorsements sell. Unfortunately, that has left millions of golfers with low-lofted equipment they can't use very well.
We approach the market differently. We ask the question, “What will help the amateur player get better drives?”
See "Tradition" for more about why this hasn't been done before...
Q: There are many more amateurs than pros. Is that why you are focusing on their needs?
A: Absolutely. All my business ventures begin with the same question. What does the customer need or want? If there is an industry that hasn’t asked that question, they are leaving a door open large enough for us to drive a company through. I believe that’s what the golf industry has done. Just watch the commercials during any golf event. They design clubs with the goal of getting pros to endorse them. The implied message to consumers is, “This pro uses our club, you should too.” We don’t think that is logical, and it has resulted in a lot of frustrated customers who have purchased equipment they can't use.
Q: How far will you take that argument?
A: There are limits that are defined by the Rules of Golf. It would be easier to advance the ball accurately if we could aim it like a gun and shoot the ball out of a barrel. But that would not be golf. So we are governed by, and support, the rules of the game. Our goal is to design clubs for "Average Joe," not for Joe’s hero. Amateurs need their own tools to match their skill level.
Q: Who will benefit the most from your high loft drivers?
A: As demonstrated in the Golf Digest study and report, the slower your club-head speed, the greater the benefit from high loft. That includes most amateurs, and especially seniors and ladies. A lot of strong athletic men don’t have fast club-head speed. A fast swing is not the same thing as fast club head speed. It is all about timing at the point of impact. Having a good shaft that matches the swing and head is very important too.
"...slower swingers can get more distance with a higher launch angle."
Golf Digest, November 2003
Q: Is the shaft a significant design element of your drivers?
A: Yes. Our Flexcelerator™ graphite shafts are just 60 grams with a mid-kick point, except for the Ladies flex which is a low kick point. That is 10 to 20 grams lighter than many other drivers. Combined with our ultra-light head, we have a significantly lower total weight than traditional drivers. This is very important for the average player. It helps increase the head speed, and provides substantially more control of the business-end of the club.
See "Shaft" for more on this topic.
Q: Where is the CG on your drivers?
A: It is above the center-line, about ¾ of the way up on the face. Fortunately, it is legal to place the ball on a little stick for the first shot of each hole. So tee it up high and make contact on the upper portion of the face to get maximum spring-effect is located.
Q: You are also getting a lot of praise from lefties. It is rare for a new club to include left-handed options. Isn’t that very expensive? Why did you do that?
A: Yes, it is more expensive. It doubles the tooling and inventory costs. But lefties, although in the minority, are a very loyal customer base. We had many lefties tell us at the PGA Show that thebig companies didn't even offer left-handed clubs when they introduced new technology. But when we start a business venture, we are not in the habit of passing up market share, so it only makes sense to serve the loyal left-handed segment of this industry.
Click here to review some testimonies from players at the National Association of Left-Handed Golfers Annual Event. It will open in a separate browser so you don't lose your place in the FAQ's.
Q: How long have you been making golf clubs? Do you have experience that led you to this new design?
A: I patented the adjustable “Whole-In-One” golf club in 1992. It lets you play the whole game with just one club. It is also telescopic, so it collapses and fits into a brief case. It is great for travel, and many of our sales are to corporations with their logo on the back. They give them out as sales incentives and as gifts. We followed that club with a telescopic putter and driver for players that wanted a more traditional feel and length of the two extremes in club shape and weight. So they carry three clubs, all collapsible.
The telescopic driver has a 15-degree head that can be used off the tee and fairway. Many of our customers have reported over the years that they hit the ball farther with our telescopic driver than their $400 titanium and graphite version. This, of course, is due to the higher loft.
So it became just a matter of time before we began experimenting with a club dedicated to driving with a high CG to reduce the back-spin. We have been experimenting and developing it for over 10 years. So we’ve got an engineering jump on the competition.
See "Development History" for more on this topic.
Q: What is your primary marketing strategy?
A: We market directly to the consumer via the website and various print and other media. But we also let our customers become Reps and conduct local "Demo Days." Reps can do something we can't do from here...put the driver in people's hands. We have great testimonies and lab reports. But those are just words. Words help people to look, but the proof is in the test drive. So we are focusing on a unique approach to local Reps, letting our customers demonstrate the clubs. When people hit our clubs, the results do the talking.
Many people who respond to our advertising ask if we have a local delaer. We refer them to our customer Reps for a personal demo. The Rep earns usually earn $75 to $150 per club. Some Reps have sold 10 to 15 drivers in a few hours at a Demo Day, so it is very profitable. As a bonus, they get to deduct their golf expenses. It can be full or part time.
Click here for more about the Rep opportunity.
Q: Can your 15-degree driver be used off the fairway?
A: We do not recommend it for that. The CG is too high, even though the loft is the same as a normal 3-wood. When the ball is on the grass, it will ALWAYS contact the face on the lower portion of the head. That imparts far too much top-spin, and all-too-often results in a "worm burner".
Q: Do you make a high loft 3-wood?
It is the size and weight of a 3-wood, but the loft of a 5-wood at a full 20-degrees. It is logically named, "Little Stik".
The loft theory is similar: Average players should not be limited to the same tools the pros use. We need more loft. This is even more important off the fairway because the ball is not on a tee, and sometimes deep within the grass. Of course, our fairway woods have a low CG, which makes it even easier to sweep the ball off the grass or out of the rough.
Q: Do you have plans to expand to a whole line of irons, balls, and apparel?
A: Perhaps, in the future. We believe the BIG STIK™ brand will have long-term staying power in the golf industry.
Q: How are you marketing internationally?
A: We license the exclusive import and distribution rights to our clubs to qualified importers and distributors. They must have experience in distribution and the ability to assemble clubs in-country. This will allow shipping of components, which is much less expensive because of the dimensional-weight of fully assembled clubs. Additionally, assembling components is much more flexible in terms of inventory and distribution of the various lofts and flex combinations that reps and dealers will need.
Q: A final question. How do you see your drivers and fairway woods affecting the industry?
A: I think our strategy will force the rest of the industry to change the way they approach their customers. We are taking business from them. If they don’t change, that’s OK with us. But we expect to have a lot of competition very soon. However, I think we will enjoy a marketing advantage for quite a while because we have a 10-year head start on R&D with High-Loft/Low-Spin™ designs.
Also, traditional club-makers have an entrenched sales Rep program that will not be able to serve the local market as well as ours.
Click here to read more articles and information by Steve Divnick
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