Vanity Fare: Personalized Wedges Gaining In Popularity
ANTHONY TARANTO is busy these days. Callaway’s master wedge artist spends hours in the company’s Carlsbad headquarters stamping and painting wedges by hand for Tour pros and VIPs, creating roughly 100 masterpieces each week. Simultaneously, other company artists in Mexico also hand-paint Callaway’s customs wedges, like Michelle Wie’s elaborate “Lord of the Rings” themed wedge set.
It’s become a huge business, and it’s helping spur interest in wedges.
Demand for vanity clubs — particularly wedges — is on a sharp rise among pros and amateurs alike. Experts believe the popularity is soaring because golfers can get a piece of unique equipment that no one else has, a reflection of that person’s style and character.
Hand-stamping has been a tradition since 2005 at Titleist, where Aaron Dill creates the wedge artwork. Early on, “We were just stamping initials for our Tour staffers to reflect what grind it was,” recalls the director of wedge promotions. “But Tour pros wanted to showcase who they were outside of golf.”
Rickie Fowler was one of the first, putting Oklahoma State colors and song lyrics on them. It gained traction from there. Dill says that pros want to tell a story of who they are, something unique to what they’re doing in life, with initials, important dates and children’s names. One player even had the latitude and longitude of important events in his life—such as where his kids were born or where he got married—etched in.
WE WERE JUST STAMPING INITIALS FOR OUR TOUR STAFFERS TO REFLECT WHAT GRIND IT WAS, BUT TOUR PROS WANTED TO SHOWCASE WHO THEY WERE OUTSIDE OF GOLF.” —Aaron Dill, wedge artist at Titleist
At TaylorMade, wedge personalization has been “picking up as we’ve offered more of it the past two or three years,” says John Gonsalves, vice president of direct to consumer. “There’s been more online adoption and people playing around with the interactive personalized options feature on our website.”
Interestingly, while TaylorMade’s wedges are personalized by laser, they deliberately don’t look that way. “Consumers want a handmade look, so we make the laser etchings imperfect, as as though they’d been done by hand,” says Gonsalves. Marquee tour pros, such as Dustin Johnson, do get the handmade treatment, however.
It’s easy to add a personalized wedge to your own bag. Callaway, Titleist, TaylorMade and Cleveland Golf all offer personalization of select wedge models on their respective websites. As you click to select the finish, accent colors, text, text style and logos on the wedge head, you’ll see the virtual wedge’s aesthetics updating in real-time. The Lord of the Rings may not be your style, but … Yoda anyone?