We have a Wilson Staff launch story for you today, but I doubt it's the one you're waiting for.
It's been a while since the golfing world has been even a wee bit anxious over an upcoming Wilson Staff product release (last year's Triton notwithstanding), but the Twittersphere has been all aflutter over the upcoming launch of Wilson's C300 series of irons and metal woods. Despite Wilson's best efforts to keep the new sticks under wraps, plenty of unsanctioned bootleg pictures can be found all over Social Media.
We will have that story for you on the official launch day (December 4th), but today's story isn't that. Today's product launch isn't even all that sexy, nor does it feature particularly innovative - or even new - technology. But the new Wilson D350 hybrid/iron set does fit a useful niche for the company - that of a modestly (and we do mean modestly) priced set of super-forgiving Super-Duper Game Improvement clubs.
Out With The Old (Sort Of)...
Good for Wilson for sticking with two-year product cycles, but the fact of the matter is two-year cycles are a virtual necessity for golf's smaller players. Smaller R&D staffs and budgets make one-year cycles a virtual impossibility, so manpower and money limitations can be a marketing benefit.
Two years ago Wilson had a pair of major product launches, the C200 irons and the FG Tour F5 irons and metal woods. There was a stealth launch, as well: the DeFy hybrid/iron set - a low-cost combo set designed for high handicap or aging golfers who just want to get the ball in the air in the general direction of the green. The new D350 set is replacing the DeFy and, like its predecessor, is also joining the golf world with relatively little fanfare. The D350 will occupy the same end of the golfing spectrum as the Cleveland Launcher HB hybrid irons.
The D350 is somewhat unique in that you can build your own set - combining hybrids and irons in whatever combination that suits you. The standard D350 packages are either a 7-piece iron set (5-GW) or an 8-piece combo set (4-5 hybrids, 6-GW irons), however, you can mix and match. Wilson is offering hybrids in 3 through 6, and irons in 4 through SW.
What is most interesting is the technology - it's kind of old. Wilson's C200 Game Improvement irons, which debuted in January 2016, featured what it called FLX Face Technology with Power Holes; tech that is also part of the current D300 Super Game-Improvement irons. We'll be hearing an awful lot more about FLX Face and Power Holes in two weeks, but the short story is FLX Face Technology is Wilson's take on thinning out the club face for greater ball speed and overall hotness. The D350's, however, feature the tech that FLX Face replaced - Speed Sole.
Speed Sole is Wilson's take on Cup Face technology - basically wrapping the face around the sole and thinning the transition for added CT and ball speed. Wilson used this technology in 2015 with the D200 irons and again in 2016 with the FG Tour F5 irons. It's good technology and does what Wilson says it does - expand the effective hitting area at the sole and make the face springier - it's just older technology.
Why would Wilson do that?
Consider the target audience.
We Do Mean Modest
The standard D350 7-piece iron set retails for very 2008-ish $499.99 with stock FST SL 80 steel shafts. The stock 8-piece combo set (2 hybrids, 6 irons) retails for $599.00. Considering the target golfer - the recreational golfer looking to graduate from a boxed set to his or her first real clubs, or the retiree on a budget looking for some lost yards - the pricing is kind of a deal: $200 less than the new Cleveland Launcher HB's straight up. The combo set at $599 is the still priced under the HB Launcher, and is an 8-piece set - less money and one more stick. If you're just getting into the game or if you're on a budget, dollars matter.
When designing for a specific entry-level price, you can't use your latest and greatest technology - that's reserved for your high-value, premium offerings and you'll no doubt see Wilson's updated FLX Face tech in the new C300 line. What Wilson is doing with the D350 is using older - but still solid - technology in a product line that won't see a lot of press and won't be the focal point of marketing campaigns, but does fill out the SGI end of its offerings. And for golfers in that market, it's priced right, too.
When it comes to classifying its irons, Wilson does the best job of OEM's in keeping it clean with its F-C-D categories. F is for Feel Player, which is Wilson-speak for Better Player irons. The F category includes Wilson's 4-year-old-and-still-sexy-as-hell FG Tour 100 blades, and MyGolfSpy's reigning Most Wanted Player's Iron, the FG Tour V6. C stands for Crossover, which is your basic Game_Improvement category. Crossover includes the soon to be replaced FG Tour F5 irons and metal woods and the C200 irons (2 weeks, I promise!). D is for Distance and is the Super to Super-Duper Game Improvement category, featuring the D300 irons and metal woods, which debuted last January, and now the new D350's.
Specs, Price, and Availability
The D350 hybrids come in 3 through 6, in 3-degree increments starting at 19. The irons come in 4 through GW, with lofts typical of the category. An optional 55-degree Sand Wedge is also available. The 7-piece stock iron set is 5-GW in stiff or regular (remember the target audience) and is priced at $499.99. The stock steel shaft is the SL 80 by FST, and the stock grip is the Wilson Staff Tour Soft.
The 8-piece combo set features the 4 and 5 hybrid with the stock UST Elements Chrome Shaft, and steel shafted irons in 6 through GW priced at $599.99. The combo set is also available with all graphite shafts throughout, for $699.99.
The women's D350 set features lightweight graphite shafts, smaller grips, and white hybrids -also for $699.99.
The D350 is available now online.