A midnight golf club release? Genius or crazy?

Originally posted on jeffshelman.com

The envelope with a return address at from Dustin Johnson and TaylorMade. Inside was a letter from the guy who claims he isn’t really dating Natalie Gulbis. “Dustin” talked about how much he likes the new R11 driver and how great it is. Along with the letter — which featured a nice use of variable data — was an invitation to attend a launch event for the new R11 driver at Golf Galaxy.

That in itself isn’t that surprising. In recent equipment cycles, there has been more and more hype around the release of new clubs. Sometimes it is the new hot set of irons — there was a lot of hype around the initial launch of Titleist’s AP1 and AP2 irons — but usually it is around the driver.

The difference in this mailing was in the details. In honor of the R11 — the new driver with the white head that you’ve certainly seen ads for if you’ve watched anything on The Golf Channel — Golf Galaxy will be open from midnight until 2 a.m. on Feb. 4, the release date.

Yes, you read that right. As soon as the clock strikes midnight and Feb. 3 becomes Feb. 4, Golf Galaxy will open its doors and you can stop in to buy TaylorMade’s new driver.

Now I have purchased things at midnight before in my life. There were several times in college when I went to a record store to get a new CD release. I will even admit to having gone to Gamestop less than a year ago to be among the first to get a new video game release. I’m not ruling that out for the upcoming release of Tiger Woods 12.

But going to Golf Galaxy at midnight to check out a new driver? I’m not sure. And that’s even with the lure of $50 gift cards for the first 10 customers to demo the new R11.

I am intrigued with R11 and the adjustability of loft, face angle and flight path. But I’m also interested in trying out some of the other new driver options (did Titleist, for example, finally make a driver that is at all decent and has a hot face?). And let’s face it, early February isn’t exactly a prime golfing month here in Minneapolis.

I guarantee I’ll go look at new drivers several times between now and spring, but I’m going to do my best to refrain from buying anything until I can shake the rust off of my swing and hit new drivers outside in the spring. At that point, I will gladly consider anything that is straighter and/or longer than my current Ping i15.

So why the midnight release? Let’s face it, it is an event to generate buzz and attention in the new offerings (and as a PR professional I realize me blogging about this is exactly what they want). My guess is that there will be stories written about this event in pubs like Golfweek and Golf World. It wouldn’t be surprising if the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the paper that covers Dick’s Sporting Goods (parent company of Golf Galaxy) will write about this. It’s a novel concept in the golf business.

It isn’t going to take a whole lot of buzz generation to make the cost of this event ($500 of gift cards at every story and a few hours of wages) worth it even if they don’t sell a single driver. And I would have to guess that TaylorMade is picking up some of the tab as well.

Because of that, I’m going to go with genius. It is a little crazy, but it is largely genius.

This won’t work with very many golf manufacturers, but there is probably enough buzz in this case to make it worth it. There are probably a couple of other brands that can pull this off — any bets on when will we see the copy cat Callaway/Golfsmith event? — but not many.

Will I be there at midnight? I’m not going to say no at this point.

 

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