What’s Behind Our Club Design Ability?
For the past 25 years, Tom Wishon has been recognized as one of the leading designers of golf clubs in the world. Tom has been hailed by equipment writer Jim Achenbach in a past issue of GolfWeek magazine as “perhaps the smartest person in the field of golf clubs today.” Golf Digest’s equipment editor Mike Stachura stated, “Tom Wishon’s knowledge of golf equipment isn’t theoretical. It’s practical. He understands not just the theory of why and how golf equipment works, but how all golfers can make technology work for them.”
Wishon’s clubhead designs have represented over 50 different golf equipment industry clubhead design firsts, including the first heel weighted/draw biased metal wood, the first metal wood to exceed 350cc volume, the first graphite and metal woodhead, the first forged metal wood with variable thickness face construction, and the first metal woods made with an adjustable hosel technology. His designs are particularly well known for the use of cutting edge materials formed by innovative production means and manufactured to the tightest tolerances in the world. In total Tom has designed more than 300 original clubhead models which have accounted for more than 10 million golf clubs sold in his career.
The Design Concept
The design of a new clubhead model at TWGT envelops a combination of old world craftsmanship with modern high technology methods. Each clubhead design concept begins with a thorough analysis of the physics of clubhead and impact performance learned through years of research, analysis and experience. The initial concepts are then combined with an in-depth knowledge of materials, and perfected through an ‘eye’ for the proper clubhead “look and shape” achieved from more than 35 years of experience.
Each new clubhead design is initially hand shaped from epoxy resin. Using painstaking hand grinding and machining procedures checked with customized gauges, most of which TWGT has personally designed, the shape of the clubhead model has to have the “look” before it is ready for mastering. Tom has used CAD for model shaping but no longer relies on the computer to create the shape of the clubhead model. As Tom says, “I have designed clubheads for which the original model shape was created by CAD and Rapid Prototyping, but in every case the model required final hand shaping to achieve the right ‘look’ in the playing position. As any CAD designer will tell you, whenever you make hand changes to a CAD/RP model, you might as well have never used the computer to create the shape in the first place, because from that point on the CAD file is useless for creating the same shape in production.”
While the task of model making is all done by hand, TWGT does embrace the high tech world of computer engineering when it comes to clubhead performance. “Some companies like to show they design using CAD as a way to impress people of their design quality. But no CAD program will ever tell you how the clubhead will perform. That’s where I recognize that computer engineering has its real place in clubhead design and why we use our high tech budget dollars to do FEA (Finite Element Analysis) to optimize the performance elements of the design.”
Clubheads designed by TWGT utilize finite element analysis software to help determine the best way to construct the face or establish weight distribution to maximize the performance of the head for particular segments of golfers. As Tom says, “We can input the properties of any potential face material, face dimensions and construction into the computer and not only tell what the face thickness has to be to perform optimally for that head shape, but we can predict what the COR (coefficient of restitution) of the head will be before it is made. Of course, whether the golfer receives that performance depends not on the computer analysis of the design, but on the quality of the foundry manufacturing the design.”
Manufacturing quality is a foremost commitment for all clubheads designed by TWGT. There are well over 50 factories that make all of the clubheads sold by the many golf companies in the world today. TWGT only uses the top clubhead production foundries and factories – only the companies who can produce to tolerances such as +/-2 grams for weight and less than +/-1 degree for the loft, lie and face angle of each clubhead and factories that take great care in the welding and heat treatment of the metals from which each clubhead is formed. Forged ironheads from TWGT undergo one additional forging step to ensure higher density and less internal porosity of the carbon steel. For its titanium driver heads, TWGT uses only a unique precision tooling die process which costs twice as much but ensures the highest possible level of precision and quality. Care is taken in the selection of the correct titanium alloy for each part of the clubhead, and a different specialty company is contracted to perform the critical welding of the parts into the full clubhead.
The factories that are picked to turn the TWGT designs into finished clubheads are the same companies which manufacture heads for companies like Nike, Taylor Made, Titleist, Callaway and Mizuno to name a few. In fact, Tom Wishon has served as a quality control and manufacturing consultant for two of these foundries, helping them maintain their production quality to keep their reputations as the top clubhead manufacturing factories in the world.
There is no compromise in the clubheads designed and offered for custom assembly by TWGT. The recent trend of so many companies in the golf equipment business to retreat to low price foundries for their head making, or to sell heads that come from ‘open model’ designs created for mass use is what motivated Tom Wishon to start his own company after 15 years of designing for some of the most recognized golf club brand names. Tom says, “Since 1972 golf clubs have been my career passion. I always have done my best with every model I have designed, but now that my name is on each design, I put the utmost care and attention into each of my models to make them better than any clubhead you can buy in the golf industry today. “