OK, I’ll admit I am still lingering from a little jet lag from my world wind tour as I and a couple of my fellow coworkers just got back from the heart of manufacturing – Southern China. For golfers, they need to understand this is the Mecca as the vast majority of all golf clubs components, especially clubheads, golf bags and golf accessories are produced in this region of the world. With a population of 1.3 billion there is no lack of workers who are willing to work for a scant wage compared to the rest of the world demanding cheap, but technologically advanced equipment. However, the part about the low wages is soon changing quickly which may effect how much you will pay for clubs and so forth in the future.
There were a number of reasons for the visit. I got a firsthand look and some of the investments made by the foundry in the last year to help increase efficiencies from the robotic CNC plasma welding machines to the vacuum drying units to provide better and more consistent club heads. According to the old adage, pictures are worth a thousand words, but in this case there are certain proprietary methods and machinery to fabricate club heads I promised I would not show. Sorry to be a tease, but a promise is a promise I intend to keep.
Another reason to go was to look at the new 2011 models either in development or in the manufacturing process. The foundry happened to be shooting waxes of our upcoming Acer XDS React iron slated to come out
later this summer. Plus I got to inspect an aluminum master of a new Acer iron that we just recently signed off on the CAD modeling and the rapid prototype.
One night I was there until 10 PM with the owner of the foundry along with the head engineer of the forging facility examining some of the products we were working on plus discussing some ideas I had for a new way to produce a golf club. Technology occurs when you can challenge the engineers to do things that have never been done before become a reality. These are the building block of clubs that you might see in 2012, even
though you have not even seen the 2011 models yet. This shows you the planning it takes to create new models. Plus the expression is priceless no matter what language one speaks. You hear the voice changes and the eyes get bigger once they understand what I am explaining and you don’t need an interpreter for that.
One thing I wanted to mention was the small little things like all the quality control steps along the way. It didn’t matter if the head was ours, a notable name brand manufacturer or a club head you might see in a boxed set; this foundry inspected each and every head for weight, loft, lie, face angle, face flatness, bulge and roll, dimensional tolerances amongst other parameters. The same QC checks went for the steel and graphite shafts that were produced at the foundry too. Not just spot checking a few shafts along the way, but 100% inspection, including destruct testing in a series of bending in four different points along the length of the shaft. In another building, the mechanical robot plus the air cannon were continuously being utilized to test for durability. All these things go unnoticed by most people as they assume low cost products (relatively speaking) simply don’t go through these rigors. That is simply not the case with our products.
We also got an opportunity to visit and tour some new suppliers for bags, accessories and grips. With so many suppliers in close proximity it is good to explore the possibilities of what they may offer that current suppliers don’t.
After it was all said and done, I spent 30+ hours straight in airplanes, a ferry, train, bus and eventually a car before arriving home. Plus I experienced the “mystery meat” on the airplane that did not necessarily agree with my tummy. Pork my phatoey! But those things will not be a deterrent for returning next year to see what the fruits of our labor spawned from this trip.