Written By: Tony Covey
Last night, James Patrick Harrington of James Patrick (JP) Golf posted the following statement on his website:
“I’m joining Titleist Acushnet to further advance my passion and creativity in the world of wedges. Titleist is providing the resources needed to continue to explore the unending pursuit of creating the world’s finest wedges.
This is the next step in the journey of my life’s work. This opportunity would not have been possible without the support of you… Team JP. Thank you for helping to build the foundation of the JP brand.
I look forward to what the future brings and picking up where we left off… Stay tuned.”
While nobody is saying much of anything right now with respect to how JP fits into the big picture at Titleist, here’s what we’re being told:
- For now, Bob Vokey remains the man at Titleist.
- The Vokey SM5 series is about to hit the tour, and Da Voke is already working on what will someday become the 6th generation of the Spin Milled Wedge.
- There are no immediate plans for a JP line of Titleist wedges (zero reason to deviate from what works right now).
Drafting Your Next Quarterback
The reality is that Mr. Vokey isn’t going to be around forever. He’s 74 years old, and it’s reasonable to assume that at some point in the not to distant future he might want to step away from the daily grind (horrible pun not intended).
If you’re looking for an analogy, this is the Green Bay Packers drafting Aaron Rodgers. Brett Favre still had some game left in him, but The Pack knew they would eventually need a replacement, so when the opportunity presented itself, they took the best guy on the board. Look how that worked out.
That’s exactly what Titleist is doing now. By bringing JP into the fold before they absolutely have to, they’re all but assuring the continued success, if not the dominance of their wedge line.
As of right now, we don’t have the details of JP’s initial role at Titleist, but given his extensive portfolio, his reputation, and the fact that Titleist CEO Wally Uihlein flew to Minnesota to meet with James personally, it’s a pretty safe assumption that Titleist plans on leveraging JP’s undeniable talent to the fullest extent possible.
Some day in the not too distant future, JP will be the man at Titleist’s Wedge Works.
Once again…for those looking for a frame of reference, JP to Titleist looks a whole lot like Scotty Cameron to Titleist.
The Scotty Cameron of Wedges
It’s all but a given that at the most basic level Harrington was brought on to be the next Bob Vokey, but the Harrington hiring creates a unique opportunity for Titleist to further expand their wedge offerings.
The Vokey line already includes a production line, as well as limited release, and custom putters available through Wedge Works. That’s admittedly a fairly robust lineup, but here’s the thing; while Mr. Vokey’s wedges are generally regarded as among the best in the game, the functional performance they offer lacks any real sex appeal.
For some people…they guys who pay $300+ for a single wedge, that matters.
If you look at what distinguish the Cameron brand from the multitude of CNC milled putters on the market today, it’s the polish. Scotty makes putters sexy like few others. JP does that and more with wedges.
If Titleist gives JP enough room to be JP (and they’d be foolish not too), I expect you’ll eventually see a brand and a business model that almost exactly mirrors the Cameron brand. While that could mean premium prices for JP’s finer creations (is a $3000 wedge out of the question?), the newly formed relationship looks like a huge win for both Titleist and JP…and it doesn’t look too bad for the rest of us either.
Like the rest of you, I’m anxious to see what the end game looks like.
While the thought of JP wearing Titleist’s signature white blazer at next year’s PGA show is admittedly strange, we wish him nothing but success in his new role. He’s worked his whole life for this opportunity, and we’re sure he’s going to make the most of it.