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Home Phrankenwood to make debut at the Masters

Once upon a time players arrived at major championships and wouldn’t consider making an equipment change. Considering the heat Rory McIlroy has taken for his slow start to the year, it leaves a player open to criticism whether it’s valid or not. However, some players are more geared towards being risk takers than others and aren’t afraid of the prospects of going into the heat of battle with something that hasn’t already passed the test!

Phil Mickelson, its fair to say, is an equipment junkie along with being a thrill seeker. The 2004, 2006 and 2010 Masters champ is excited to tackle Augusta National phrankenwoodwith his very own secret weapon dubbed X Hot Phrankenwood. It recently appeared on the USGA’s conforming list for equipment and Lefty is the only one in the field with one. Naturally, it prompted plenty of questions from his friends in the media.

“I drove it really well to win in Phoenix. The following week I put in the X Hot 3-wood. I hit it as far as my driver, I couldn’t believe it,” Mickelson explained. “As I played Doral and Houston these last few weeks, I hit it off almost ever tee because it’s so easy to hit. It just bores through the air and I don’t have to manipulate it and it just goes so far. I asked the engineers to take this technology in that club (X Hot 3-wood) and just put it on steroids, which is probably not the best way to say it. I wanted it to be more like a driver. It looks like a 3-wood, but it’s bigger than our (Callaway) 3-woods. It’s almost like a small driver. What it’s done it taken a lot of spin off of it,” he said. Mickelson added the specs on the X Hot Phrankenwood are 8.5 degrees of loft and he’ll go with a 45” shaft.

The media reports have already begun to flood in about the new 3-wood/driver Mickelson will employ and once play begins, television will most likely get in on the act. It will be up to Mickelson to validate his decision through performance, as most golf fans will already be up to speed with his one of kind, secret weapon. This is where it gets interesting on a few levels.

Mickelson sports a stroke average of 70.97 over the 78 rounds he’s played in the Masters, so it doesn’t require a stretch of the imagination to suggest he’ll be around on the weekend. Due to his impressive track record at the venue, he’s pegged as one of the favorites to win. Under one scenario, suppose he plays well and through television time helps to create demand for the X Hot Phrankenwood. It isn’t an unrealistic scenario. Callaway Golf could have a nice problem on its hands that being finding product to satisfy potential interest. What if Mickelson wins? Callaway Golf could have a tiger (pun intended) by the tail. However, can it get enough product to the market in a timely manner to strike while the iron is hot (another pun this one with apologies)? The two newest Callaway models at retail are the X Hot and RAZR Fit Xtreme. Its conceivable that demand could shift to the Phrankenwood thanks to Mickelson’s words and performance yet the company may not be in a position to enjoy the rewards, at least not immediately. Meanwhile, Callaway has incurred the costs of making the equivalent of a one off for its star player. It isn’t out of the question to suggest the expense of the driver runs in the thousands when including the man-hours involved, the foundry mold and the number of prototypes generated along with the USGA/R&A submission to get it cleared in advance of Augusta.

In fairness, its unknown whether the Phrankenwood will ever appear at retail, even though the company hasn’t been shy about sharing images of it through social media. It could easily be a situation where the company’s research and development team satisfied Mickelson’s requests and that is the end of it. However, if Mickelson has a special week at Augusta National and there appears to be a demonstrably superior and pleasingly difference off the tee, the entire golfing world will be making note of it. Callaway Golf has struggled in recent years financially speaking in part since it has lost market share in the metal woods segment with consumers. Once upon a time it owned the category but in recent years it has gone from the hunted to hunter as TaylorMade now resides at the top of category. Phrankenwood and Mickelson could give the equipment company an opening to recapture consumer dollars but it puts the Callaway’s management in an interesting position. It would have to pull the trigger quickly in order to ramp up production to meet unknown demand. There is always a lead time involved, so any wannabe CEOs out there can ask themselves what would they do if Lefty wins? In fantasyland you don’t have to be financially responsible so it loosens the reins to make a decision, yet in the end Chip Brewer and company could be damned if they do and damned if they don’t!