Ep #52 – Behind the Brand Golf Podcast | Swing Align, Chris McGinley (CEO)

Paul Liberatore Paul Liberatore
August 9, 2021

We made it to Episode 52 of the Behind the Golf Brand Podcast. In this week’s episode, I interview my good friend Chris McGinley, CEO of Swing Align. Chris McGinley is a true legend in the golf industry. He was the VP of Marketing for Acushnet, VP of Product for Honma, Founder and CEO of […]

We made it to Episode 52 of the Behind the Golf Brand Podcast. In this week’s episode, I interview my good friend Chris McGinley, CEO of Swing Align.

Chris McGinley is a true legend in the golf industry. He was the VP of Marketing for Acushnet, VP of Product for Honma, Founder and CEO of Strand Sports (Swing Align) and the CEO of V1 Sports. Such an amazing career and the nicest guy.

In terms of Swing Align, the initial concept that led to the Swing Align device was developed by a man named Allan Strand. Allan was a concert pianist, a PGA Tour putting instructor, and developer of the 17 time PGA winning Dandy Professional Putters. Allan was able to extensively study the swings of Vijay Singh, Ernie Els, Henrik Stenson, and Dr. Gil Morgan. Golf swing mechanics became his obsession. Eventually, he concluded that the biggest commonality between the world’s top golf swings were arm and body connection, and proper rotation – both in the backswing and follow through.

Allan’s research culminated in the first Swing Align prototype. He pursued the project with the help of his friends on the PGA Tour until his untimely death in 2013. In 2017 the project was picked up by Chris McGinley, a 30-year golf industry veteran, and Allan’s brother Everett Strand.

After a year of engineering and industrial design, Chris and Ev are confident that the Swing Align golf swing training device will contribute a significant, lasting impact on the performance of golfers at every skill level.

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Paul (00:00): What's up guys, Paul from Golfers Authority. Welcome to the Behind the Golf Brand Podcast. This week I have a marketing legend that's are laughing because they'd be like, yeah, right, but don't really hear you hear about stuff he's died. He's gonna blow your mind. And, uh, I'm really super excited to have Chris McGinley on the show. Chris is the, how would you say it? Like he's the CEO of Swing Align , which is a new training aids now for a couple of years, really bad, but he also works in V1 sports. It's just really exciting to have him on here because he's in my mind, he's a legend. I was like, holy crap, this guy's done a lot of stuff. So without further ado, welcome to the show. Thanks Paul. Good to be here. I think we got a lot to talk about. Here's what was happening. We were talking and I was like, I got to start this show because this stuff he's telling me about, I'm like, oh, this is good stuff. So I know you're like an avid listener of the show and I'm okay with insight and you'd already know, I'm just kidding. He's not here right now.

Chris (02:13): But by a first question, I play this game called time machine. And so what is your first memory of golf? That's my first question there. That's great. My first memory is my, uh, with my grandfather. He lived on a golf course and Huron, Ohio, and I couldn't have been more than five or six years old. He'd go out and walk his dog every night on the golf course. So I would come with them and eventually he got me a little cut down club and I would walk along and hit a golf ball. And that's how I got introduced to the game and fell in love with it almost immediately. It's like those special memories too, like no grandpa, but you're like really close to, I got super close with my grandfather. So it was like, oh, why is that like that? Right. Like out of, for me, like, like men are always closer to their grandfather than they are to their dads.

Chris (02:59): I mean, that's what I always find. Yeah, that's true. But my dad was a horrible golfer. I don't think he ever broke a hundred, but he, he loved the game, but my grandfather was an excellent athlete, a really good player. And you know, he, he's the one that got me hooked. So, and you know how it is, like you said, with your dad, you're probably not gonna do it. He says, well, now you should watch. You should watch, uh, by unboxing videos, my dad's training aid. That was it. It's actually more funny because I want to kill him during it. But, um, you know, my dad was one of those golfers that like, if he just stuck with one thing, he'd be really good. Right. But he's always like changing, changing, changing, changing, changing. So like he never got, you know, he never got really good because he kept on changing what he was doing. Curse of golf, man, you can never master it. So for some, you're trying to get better at it.

Chris (03:54): Yeah. I mean, he's a tinkerer, like big time team for like, he had his first, like, it was like two pads for golf training aids. Cause he just like, be like, oh, you know, I read this book by Ben Hogan and he says, I'm going to invent something to do that. And then he would do it. I was like, watch just the golf course. Like, so where'd you grow up at? Because you're in California, right? I'm in California now. But I grew up in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. So lived in Pittsburgh until I went to college, which I did in Chicago. Where did you go to school at Illinois Institute of technology? I know.

Chris (04:29): I can't say ever really. I got all kinds of degrees that I never used. So I spent 30 on the show. We were talking about that. I'm like, yeah, you got to college and you get these degrees and you think, oh, I'm going to do this. And then you get your first job. You're like, this sucks. And then you realize you're in the rat race. Right. That's what happened. And I was like, that experience. Got it. My degree went back to Pittsburgh, got a job with house that lasted about nine months. And I thought, man, I've got to get out of this. So, so like they give you like a cubicle of your dreams and you, I got to wear it like a buttoned up shirt, you know, probably it's like sleeveless and they have a pocket protector. I'm just kidding. But you're like the shirt and tie days.

Chris (05:11): That's for sure. So much better now. Right. I feel like, yeah. So then you worked. All right. So did well before that though, when you're in college or high school, do you feel like high school or college call I did. And that helped really cement for the game. Just competing. I'm very competitive by nature. So golf was a great outlet for that because you can compete against others. You can compete against yourself, you can compete against the golf, you know, pick your poison. And, uh, there's plenty of, uh, plenty of opportunity for that in golf. So, so how, how good were you? Like would you like to play high school golf and like, were you like a good high school golf team, but I played number one on the team and went to a small college that didn't have much of a, a golf team either.

Chris (05:59): But the cool thing about in college was they had, we hired Dennis Hall as our athletic director of the Chicago Blackhawks hockey player. I wouldn't say that I'm like, oh really? Holy crap. And he was kind of our defacto golf coach, but he was also buddy Nikita, another hockey. I know Stan Mikita. Dan was actually like our formal golf coach, but I don't shut up for real. We ever saw him. So after they retired, like in the eighties, I would say, cause he played in the seventies. That's when the Blackhawks were like the team in the seventies. My mom and dad were from Chicago. My family is. And so like they, they talk about the old Blackhawks all the time. Like, oh yeah, no, these guys were legend. It was great. Like I said, Stan was kind of like coach, but Dennis, we get in a band with him and drag to a golf tournament, hockey players like the hearing beer.

Chris (06:52): So there's cases of beer in the van. And uh, I mean it was a blast. We had a great time. We weren't very good. So I mean, it was like a Caddyshack, could we, nobody cares like, yeah, it was a mid to upper seventies and you're the best on the team. Good. But not very, um, so by then it has, is trading a called act. You hit. And so he's had since like the, uh, late nineties and so one time it must've been like 2003, 2004, we got an order come in and it was just Stan Mikita. Right. It's a Stan Mikita. What is that? That's a pretty uncommon name. Right. So I look at it, I'm like Steve Keaton was in Florida. I remember this because my mom and dad were like super excited. And so then I would sent an email, what am I?

Chris (07:39): Cause it was like, you know, came through PayPal or whatever. So I sent an email like you can see I'm a Kita, they're the Blackhawks of the seventies and in my mom. So he says, Benny up, sending off a bunch of stuff like, oh, we're big fans. We love it. This is like, is he still alive? I wonder if he passed away. That was 20 years ago. But that's how so you Dennis whole, because like he was, he was just talking story the whole time. Like his hockey stories were way better than any golf story. And so when we, we just sat there and listened to him, fight some crazy stuff they did in the locker room and parties after the game. And it was, I'm seeing it in the hall of fame. Oh, that's right. Yeah. Because the halls like, so like Dennis brothers, Bobby Hall, right.

Chris (08:27): And then he's hall of Famer. And then Bobby hole is Brett hole's dad. And Brett holds was like my favorite hockey player. I love red hole. Like if it was in this podcast and, you know, put a hole, give him my number because I love that whole, I had a mug and this, like I grew up in the nineties and I play hockey and Arizona in the nineties, we had two rings. Right. So that was like pretty, pretty uncommon here. But I like Bret hole pokes on the wall or they call it the golden Bret just it's the call. I heard he's like he was coaching. I think like somebody or like, yeah. I mean, pretty awesome, amazing, crazy bloodline, right. To be that good. So you played golf in high school, I mean in college and then you graduate with your engineering degree, you're gonna go become an engineer.

Chris (09:12): So you think, and you get to Westinghouse, what was Westinghouse back in Pittsburgh? So you went back home essentially. Right. Which probably want to do, and then you realize this sucks after nine months, dude. That's exactly how I like that. When I went and got my first job, I worked at American west for sick for five months and I was like, I'm out because you're like 22. It's like, you don't have to do this. Like, I dunno. I just, that's what I realized. So then, well, I had a, a, a family friend and I decided to get out of engineering and he worked in Arizona at, um, what's it red, something ranch out of mountain ranch, red mountain ranch. So family, friend golf pro, I was going to go to work for him, literally as I'm packing my car to drive out there, he gets fired from his job.

Chris (09:59): So it's like, well, I'm committed to this. He gave me the names of a couple other pros. And I ended up at a place called desert Highlands, which was the site of the first skins game. So it was, it was actually a pretty good trip to step up from red mountain that really gets, I ended up working for an absolute legend, a guy named Duff Lawrence, who was the first scholarship, ASU golfer played on the tour in the 1960s. And, uh, and then became club pro and, uh, worked at some amazing places, Canterbury back in Ohio, um, desert Highlands, paradise valley. So, I mean, he was, I mean, just, he cemented my love for the game. They mentored you to, I bet. A hundred percent. Yeah, great gentlemen. And uh, I mean, what a great place, you know, where does it islands is? It's awesome.

Chris (10:51): And back then too, in the eighties, it wasn't all built up. Yeah. Looked a lot different happy valley road, man. There was nothing desert in golf course. That was it. Now it's like it's packed houses and lots of state land and the properties out there like million plus easily, which doesn't seem to mean much these days, a million dollar home. That's like definitely in this real estate market conversation the other day with my wife and like our neighbor down the street just sold their house, like four houses down for like $130,000 more than what we refi for last year. We purple and it's like, wait, what? Why? Like doesn't even make any sense you should come to California. It is, it's a, it's its own brand of insane over here. That's for sure. Well, Oceanside too. I could imagine that would be pretty cool. Uh, it's kind of the last frontier in north county, San Diego, and it's going to be a jam.

Chris (11:46): Um, but it was a military town. It's a little more rough, rough and tumble a little bit more like a full socioeconomic picture here and a little bit like Pittsburgh and my wife's actually from Cleveland. So we, we love it here. We absolutely love the community. Right? Like it's normal people. It's not like the typical California in, it's not as boot. It's not as bougie as my son would say. It's like, yeah. Or like go, yeah, I love, I love San Diego county. If I could afford to live in San Diego county or north, north Cal, that would be my dream. It's pretty great. And it's sort of the unofficial headquarters of the golf industry. It really is. Honestly, there's like everyone it's really weirdly. So did you go to like PJ school and all that stuff? Or did you just like make it up, you mentored and got behind the counter and, and, and which was really beneficial to me in my career.

Chris (12:39): I kind of learned golf from that side of the counter as an assistant pro. I mean, literally you're bringing up carts, you're standing behind checking golfers in for their tee times. You know, I eventually got to do some teaching and, and that helped, but it was great to see the, you know, the business from that side of the fence before I got into the, you know, the equipment and manufacturing. So how long were you a pro like teaching pro about three years. And then at that point, you know, I realized that assistant pro salary is, you know, it's fun being an assistant. Non-existent not fun being paid like an assistant. So I don't think it's really changed much because that's what my pro told me. He's like, man, I'm like, for real, just like, no, it sucks. I'm like, for real, I was like, oh my buddy, the GM at a golf course, he's like, he doesn't make any money.

Chris (13:27): I can tell you that. I'm like, really God that'd be like making a hundred thousand dollars a year. No, it doesn't work like that. But yeah, at desert Highlands, it was great. I got, I got to work for a guy named Gary White who was, uh, kind of the head pro and, and, and teaching pro there. And he had a real love for equipment. So I started to get really interested in equipment, you know, he'd get out, he'd get the old, uh, mulpi golf book out. And we'd look through that about fitting and club building. And, you know, I thought, man, this is, that's what I want to do. I'm like, this is cool. Yeah. And so I ended up, one of the members at the club had, uh, who was a scientist, had a patent that he got filed for granted for a putter. And he's like, Hey, I'm going to start a golf company.

Chris (14:10): And I'm like, cool, I'm making $18,000 as an assistant year. Heck yeah. I want to start a golf company. Let's go. So we did. And it was called reflex golf and it started out with a line of putters, uh, that this guy had a patent on. Um, we weren't very successful, but it was a great experience for me. I mean, in my early twenties, I got to get on a plane and go over to Taiwan and China and start sourcing club heads and understanding how the supply side of the business works. That because like, you really have no baggage, right? Like it's not like you're young and you could learn and you can enjoy these opportunities that you probably weren't able to do 20 years later. Right. Like for sure. And it's so cool because like, I mean, what year was this? Like 90, 90?

Chris (14:57): Uh, like right around 90. Yeah. So, I mean, think about there's no internet, there's no, like this is old school, like traveling phone calls. If you're rich, you have a fax machine. I mean, like, that's, that's awesome. It's like you really? I mean, that's like, that's hard. That's a real way. Yeah. I remember getting a Blackberry back then. I was like, whoa, like this big old, like diagnosis, cell phone, like call me. I remember my dad has cell phone in his car and he's like, don't make any phone calls on that. And I was like in high school, I was like, why not? And he's like, who cost like $2 a minute or $3 a minute? Like, well, why do you have it? Oh, no, it's good. So, so God got to do that. And then, you know, just kind of worked my way up the food chain, if you will work for a couple of other small manufacturers and then ended up at Titlest and spent 21 years at Titlest as a VP of marketing for golf clubs.

Chris (15:50): Wait, wait, wait, wait. So you went from okay. If you skip like a couple of things here, so you went from, so you, so you're doing this putter and then how long were you there? A little more than a year, year and a half. And then where'd you go that company morphed into the licensee for field of golf. So feel it back then was an Italian sportswear brand seriously, mostly in tennis. And they were looking to get into different, hard goods. So they were licensing their name for shoes for mountain bikes. They thought, Hey, let's get into golf. So we actually became, we, you know, we submitted a business plan and lo and behold, we became the licensee for field of golf, which was absolutely crazy move the company to California. So that was my first go round in Southern California and worked for a guy named miles Dooty who was executive vice-president from links golf for many years.

Chris (16:46): And Lynx had a crazy meteoric rise there for a, for a little while. You know, you remember Freddie couples and Ernie ELs like the mid nineties, late nineties. It was like, I remember. Yeah. So it was great working for miles. Um, and you know, he knew a lot about the industry. And then from there, I went to work for max flier in Greenville, South Carolina. And so at max fly, which was a golf ball company, I was in charge of clubs, gloves, and accessories. So I spent about three years there and interesting jumped to another golf ball company Titlest as you know, one of the club guys. So that was kind of my journey through the, through the golfing food chain. Okay. When you, when you had the Titlest, was that when it was still in Massachusetts or is that what I was thinking? It was, but the CEO, while you lie, who is a legend in the industry had established a kind of an R and D outposts in Carlsbad because he knew Carlsbad was the center of the equipment universe.

Chris (17:47): So I never worked back in, I always worked out in Carlsbad for typos. So I had Dean on the show dates now. Oh yeah. And so, yeah, because he's telling me the same thing, like when they, when he moved back from Massachusetts to California, which I think is fascinating, I love the history of product. Right. And how has developed over the years and where companies have moved to, especially now, because only so many brands, you know, in hard goods, not in apparel, not like that been hard because there's only so many, um, yeah, not in California. I mean, at that point, because you're an aerospace guy, Southern California was sort of the home of aerospace. There was a lot of really talented engineers, toolmakers foundries and the golf industry just kind of rode herd on that. I mean, we pulled a lot of talent out of the aerospace industry and use the aerospace supply chain in terms of the foundries that all eventually went off shore, obviously.

Chris (18:42): But that was kind of one of the reasons why the girls, the golf industry ended up in Carlsbad. There's just a lot of talent out here. There's a lot of people there. I mean, like generally the Amex was there. Boeing was there. I mean, they've closed lollies factories now Honeywell was there. I mean, it's kind of cool, like how that works out, where the talents at a place and they don't really want to do that thing, whatever it might be. And then they're able to pull that talent across. And I had this conversation with the CEO of a global golf and he said the same thing that like when he built out his next version of the site, which really made a big right, is that I think it was art.com or something. It's got a website, had a bunch of talent and in north where they're at North Carolina and they decide to move to California and like these main people didn't want to move to California.

Chris (19:30): So they had like essentially brilliant designers that they're looking for a job essentially. And he's like, he gobbled up everybody. And then that's what kind of like catapulted them forward with this whole system. I was like, it is really interesting when you, when you have the talent around you, how it can really make or break a brand. Yeah. It was, uh, it was, it was great because we pulled a lot of aerospace town, um, you know, guys in aerospace for like, yeah. Work in golf. Heck yeah. I'd rather do that. So entitles really built a, an incredible foundation and R and D and toolmaking and design and, and, and not just, uh, you know, technically like using CAD, but, um, hand scales and things like that. And that, you know, eventually led to having guys like Scotty Cameron and Bob Vokey. We had a legendary, toolmaker not named Don Anton.

Chris (20:24): I mean, nowadays you just design a golf club on a computer, a CAD engineer just sits down and starts going. I mean, back then you made a model and you looked at it and you tested it. And so that was really fun to see how that kind of process developed. And I think that's one of the things that set Titlest apart was having those skills in-house and getting to work with legends, like was, for me, it was what was great. So what years were you there? Uh, Titlest started in 95. Oh, wow. So when they started picking my rider, they started really gaining speed left in 2016. Wow. So I think I can say this. I think I can say this without getting any in any trouble because their numbers are public now. But when I started at Titlest, it was about a 30, $35 million club business. When I left timeless, it was a $430 million.

Chris (21:21): Yeah. Over 20, 21 years. Think about all the great products that were introduced and, you know, brought hundreds of market, uh, hundreds of products to market over that time in, in all the different categories. And we started slowly. I mean, like in the beginning we were DCI irons and bulls-eye putters for the title this was known for. And then obviously adding Cameron and Vokey. I mean, eventually we built a nice metal of business. I mean, we had driver fairway hybrid, iron wedge, putter, you know, six, there are seven categories. You can talk about, you maybe throw utility irons in there. We eventually filled them all out, you know, and new products, what started out, okay. Back then, like cycles were three or four years that involved the two years. And in some cases now, you know, companies are introducing product every year, but six or seven categories over 21 years, you know, once or twice on those.

Chris (22:18): Awesome. What a, what an amazing time to be in a company that's growing. Right. Like now it's like you have these juggernauts in the industry and it's like, but the, you know, the process to get to that. So, I mean, what was like your high, right? Like, so you're like VP of products, right. You know, like your product and marketing more on the product and product marketing and management side. I mean, I did brand marketing, but you know, title is also had a very powerful brand market, any organization back in Fairhaven where the headquarters were. So we got the draft off that a lot. And yeah. One of the things that, you know, we were always reminded of on the club side was that, Hey, we don't was praying. We just lease it from the ball guys. So don't screw it up. So then did you like retire from title essentially?

Chris (23:12): Cause you had been for 20 plus years, are you ready to like do something different than at that point? I think it was. I mean, honestly I think it was mutual. That was long run, uh, and you know, a long time. Yeah, it was great. And it really made me who I, I wasn't a professional, but I think, you know, I was, we can move on and the company was ready to move on and that's pretty typical, you know, just because you're the guy that helped me take a company from here to here. Doesn't mean you're the right guy to take it for the next chapter story, you know? And then I wasn't. So I moved on and, and that really me to, to do some cool stuff, like start, you know, strand sports, which is the swing line brand and then go home. So let's talk about single lines. So how so, how did you start out? Like how did that, all that, how that all of that take place, like explain to the listeners what swung the line is? Well, I mean, when I left Titlest I had a wealth of experience obviously, and, you know, but it wasn't sure what I wanted to do. So I did what most guys do is like, I'll hang a consulting, shingle out and see what happens.

Chris (24:15): I don't think you can sell them to make a lot of money. I think I'll do that. Um, but now I got a couple of clients and then I was referred to a guy whose brother was named Alan strand. And Alan was the creator of the dandy putter line. So dandy was a putter product that had its 15 minutes of fame. BJ Singh actually won the masters with a dandy putter. So after that happened, they had a real nice run for a couple of years and then, you know, crashed and burned. Like a lot of small groups I've heard that happened. A lot of what else had happened too, where like they get that, oh, I know I talked to about this Seymour potters. I was talking to Seymour and they were telling me almost the same thing. Like, you know, and you know, when I'm in the nineties, they had their run initially.

Chris (25:01): Right. And then went through then when Payne died, it was like, whoa, it just like, it was all in the show was like drops. Right. And now it's like, we just lost our guy, you know? And now it's like, how do you, yeah, it's, it's crazy. I happened because basically when Payne Stewart won the first time with their putter, like their sales went overnight and they're like, uh, we can't even service all these, like we're not even ready for it. Yeah. So, I mean, Alan was an inventor. He was, he was a real Renaissance guy who was a concert pianist. I mean, he was a classical musician. He taught putting out on the PGA tour and you know, he was also a real student of the golf swing and he got to work with some really cool players out there. Um, you know, Ernie ELs, VJ, Gil Morgan, and he developed some ideas about the swing.

Chris (25:51): And since he was an inventor, you know, he couldn't really shut his mind off. He had a couple concepts on training aids that he sort of sketched out. Now. Unfortunately the sad part of the story is Alan got cancer, cancer and died very suddenly. So these ideas were just kind of sitting there and I got hooked up with his brother Everett and looked at some of the stuff and, and, and set up, why don't we just bring this to market? Let's start a company. And, and you know, my background in, in product design and development, I hired a industrial designer. You know, we did proof of concept. We 3d printed prototypes. We really tested everything out, got a patent filed and granted for the device and then launched it, brought it to market as swung on. And what year was that? That was 20. I started in 2017. We really got the product on the market in 2019. So I've used the goalposts. You guys sent me the posts. And I actually did. I think it's awesome. Right?

Chris (26:57): I mean, think about a goalpost. Looks like you guys, like that's what it is when you put on your putter and it, it helps you hit the ball in the sweet spot. It helps you like go straight. But if you, and if you mess up your shot, guess what hits the top of the goalpost and it goes all the wrong direction. So it almost makes it, so you have to train yourself to hit the dead center of the Potter. So you don't knock the ball out. And there's a theme there. So I mean the original device, which is basically a wearable alignment rod, you know, held together by some puffs and a stretchy cord. So there's a whole bunch of things, but it's visual and it helps you develop feel. So one of the things about golf and, you know, as being a golfer is, you know, your fields all over the place, your field may differ one day to the next.

Chris (27:40): And you know, you listen to a lot of, you know, tour pros talk. They're always trying to connect what they feel with what's real, right. Cause what they feel may not be actually what's happening. You can't see yourself as a golfer. You have to rely on an instructor or your buddy to say, Hey, knucklehead, you're eight, 10 yards. Right. You know, bro, he doesn't have the time. It was like, dude, you ain't him five feet to the left. I'm like, no, I'm not. And then he's like, so you can't see that you can't, you know, separate yourself as a golfer and watch yourself swing. But so we thought, Hey, let's have a device that has some really strong visual clues that helps you see what you're doing. And at the same time feel so the original Swingline devices like that. And then the goalposts is obviously very visual alignment oriented, oriented, but it also makes you hit the center of the sweet spot.

Chris (28:32): So you begin to groove your stroke to really feel at that slight, you know, you develop a field in your stroke that delivers the putter. So you make center face contact. So you really kind of grown the product line then essentially, right? Like you're just refining it and making new stuff that, you know, it's kind of cool because you start with one, one concept, one idea and then branch out. So you have multiple products. So when did the goalposts come out this past year? Oh really? I didn't realize. Yeah. So it's, so it's brand new. It's our newest product. And uh, you know, like I said, we've been at it for a few years. We've had the product, uh, the original product on the market starting in 2019 and we've kind of divided that up and made a couple of other configurations. We have a bundled product, we have a pro product.

Chris (29:20): Um, so we really have a nice offering in terms of both the product and pricing. Like the goalpost is 39 95. I mean almost brainer, really inexpensive, great as a gift, our base swing lines, 99, we have a 1 39 bundle and a 1 99 pros. So, you know, however deep you want to go, we feel like we've got a good product for you. So the original swinger line was the first prime, right. One for the feel right. The feeling which essentially is like to describe it, you know, it's like there's things for your arms. Right. And then there's like a rod, I guess that connects the arm pieces. So you kind of feel what it supposed to feel like when you're holding a putter, right? Like the right, the right positioning, I guess. Yeah. I mean the great thing about swing line is you can use it for a driver.

Chris (30:05): You can use it for an iron shot. You can use it for wedges. You can use it for a bit. Exactly. And it, I mean, how, how nice is that to be able to give a golfer, the experience of feeling, what a good golf shot feels like feeling what a well connected swing feels like. I mean, how do you, how do you give that to a Belfer? It's hard. Maybe go get a lesson from a pro and they kind of get you in the right position. But this is another device, this isn't device, it kind of gives you that gift. It's like, oh, that's what it's supposed to feel like, okay. Now I kind of get it. I mean, once you learn like that, that's the thing too. It's about learning the rivalry of doing it and then the repetition of doing it. And then you learn it right then it's just how you do it.

Chris (30:46): And most golfers don't know that they just, they try to figure out the game themselves. They think what fields is, what it is and it's bad. And then they're like, why can't I get the ball straight? Or why do I slice? Because you don't hit the ball. Right. Well, I mean, Hey, being around Titlest for 21 years and being involved with all those great people and being around great tour players taught me one thing, God, golf is hard. He, even for those guys and you know, I mean, imagine how much those guys struggle week to week. I mean the average golfer that was really the motivation for starting the company. It's like, Hey, this is a great device. We have sitting here. It means a little work to be brought to market, but you know, it's, it's definitely a worthwhile endeavor. I mean, for me and my partner have, I mean, it's kind of our, our passion play.

Chris (31:34): If you will, something we really enjoy, we both have full-time jobs as well. Yeah. So we'll get to that in a second. So this is like, this is not like you are retired and now I'm going to do a new golf company. He's like full, busy, busy, busy, busy man. And he does. I'll tell you what, since leaving since leaving Titlest, I'm less retired than I was when I was well, it's cool because you get to pick and choose what you want to do though. Right. So it's almost like it's easy to get excited about something and then focus on it. But I was really fine. I still have a day job, which is like cool too. Right? Like, so tell everybody real quick, like what's your day job on top of it? Well, my day job is I work for B one sports and you just talked to our CEO, Ryan infinity.

Chris (32:16): So you know, what a, uh, what a dynamic individual, Brian. Yeah. And so, um, this is my second stint at the one. So back when Brian became the main shareholder, the founder, who it was in place was a real technologist, but he wasn't doing anything good for the business. So he kind of got stuck and they needed to move on from him. So I came back and sat in the CEO chair for about 18 months and help Brian transitioned the company. And then I came back to California because I had, you know, swinging line starting up. And I also got a job as a product guy and GM of north America from Hahnemann golf. So I kind of felt like I had one more thing to do on the equipment side. So I left the one and now I've come back to them because the company's in a great spot and I'm killing a lot of exciting things happening, but yeah, no, I'm CRO it'd be one.

Chris (33:10): So anything, you know, involved in revenue, sales, marketing, and product, um, I'm helping Brian manage right now. I mean, it's cool because you have so much experience and then call up an industry. I didn't realize, I mean, the things you've done and developed and were part of it's like, it just builds and builds and builds and builds. And really like, it was like, you went to school for this, like, oh, I went to Harvard and then I became the X, Y, Z, or whatever, you know, it's like, this is the old school way of doing it. You just work your way up through and learn. And you have so much value because you you've experienced it. Right. And then it's like, when you see something really cool, like I want to be part of that. Right. And so, and then you may make it even more interesting, whatever that product is.

Chris (34:01): And I mean, cause he's worked for a lot of companies in the last five years, let's say, well, your whole career essentially. But like they're all cool companies and they've all built on it. And then I love hearing about the older school, like the old version or the old brands that don't exist, but had like short runs. Right. But they're almost like one hit wonders of pillar five or that company, whatever happened to them, you know, because they didn't know how to run. They could get past that point. Right. Yeah. No, I mean that, yeah, I've, I've had so many great experiences and interacted with cool people, both. I mean, Titlest was amazing. There were so many great people there, but even at titles, when we were trying to find our footing and figure out, you know, how are we going to get into the club business?

Chris (34:41): Where are we going to kind of build it ourselves or go out and buy it from someone outdoors. So, I mean, we, we did a project decision project with Tom Stites who ended up being the R and D guy at Nike. I did a project with Mira over in Japan who has his own brand now. So even exposure to the guys like that, you know, really talented designers and engineers, um, and, and being an engineer, I always had such a great respect for engineers and you know, what they were able to accomplish. And I always felt like engineers needed some help kind of drawing the good ideas out of them and making it in a packageable and presentable form for the market. So I've always kind of lived in that space between, you know, R and D and development and the market, and, you know, in the market side sales and marketing.

Chris (35:34): And I think, you know, call it what you want, product manager, product owner, product creator. I mean, that's a bridge that has to exist or you just, you won't have success. So, and I, you know, I take a lot of pride in the 21 years of product that I helped bring to market it tight list. And it's been, it's been so much fun and I applied some of that to swing the line and the trainee product, and I'm applying some of that, the Piedmont as well. So, uh, it's been a great, uh, it's been a great ride. So what's new coming out. I mean, you just came out with the goalposts for single line. Is, was there any other new products coming out soon or is that like the latest one? Are you in development or that's the latest one? We've got some ideas on the table for a device that would help you get your hands and wrists into the right position at impact.

Chris (36:27): And, um, it'll be, you know, along the lines of what we're doing now, there'll be a visual component to it. There'll be a field component to it. Um, we've got a really cool grip that we've developed that I'm not sure what we're going to do with that yet, but, uh, but we'll see. So, and then, you know, one of the next steps potentially for swinging a line is since we have a named product is to offer some, we have a lot of great instruction content, but even to take that further, you know, not just to sell people a device, but actually help them with some advice or content or even lessons to, to help them get better. So that's, that's on horizon. So, I mean, it was kind of cool too, is because you have the experience and you have the relationships and you could be one it's like, you have the product too, that you get to actually bring in the cool content.

Chris (37:15): What are you doing to swing a line? And the other technologies that you work with V1 to show like, Hey, this is how you use it or this, this is what you need to do, or it's really, it's a good spot to be. And I think definitely. So are you gonna retire anytime soon? I hope so. Oh, you're not whatever you'll never retire. Yeah. Just, uh, had a big life event here in the last few months just had our first grandchild. So my eldest son, Connor, who runs swing the line on a day-to-day basis, just had his first child. So it's, it's pretty awful. Where girl, girl, are you like in love with the baby? Oh my gosh. It's crazy. Yeah. It's crazy. Right. You know, I have two sons. I, you know, we had two sons, so my wife and I are like, oh my gosh, a girl.

Chris (38:07): It's just that it's the best over the moon. Oh, she's I have two boys. So we have a family of four. So we're just like you and my wife's like fully out number on everything. And, but here's the thing with boys. Do you guys have kids yet? Boys are like super attached to their moms. Like, like it's crazy. Dad's like the friend, right? Like, and then, but the mom has the control of that household. I don't kid yourself, but it's funny, man. Isn't it funny how life works? Like when you're young and full yourself, you don't really, you see yourself as a parent. Like, I don't know if I'm parent material, then you have kids and like some Jean clicks in and then, you know, you don't ever see yourself as a grandparent. Like our grandparents there, it makes you all sad. You're like, what the hell?

Chris (38:52): I'm old now. And you're like, oh man, this is awesome. Like, my son is about to go into junior high. Well, middle school, like seventh grade. I'm depressed about that because I'm like, what happened? You know, like how the last five years I have a room starting kindergarten. Like, it feels like it was like last year, you know? And he's getting at that age now where he gets all like mouthy, you know, like wrong. And I'm like, wait, wait, wait, wait, did you just say, oh, trust me, it gets worse. Believe me, my son was called the principal's office yesterday. And I was like, I'm not getting that story. He didn't, it's a long story, but still I was not expecting that. And it was like, it was some silly stuff, but like even still, when he came home, my wife took care of it.

Chris (39:32): It was not that big of a deal. So I was like, so I got this weird call. I told him, I'm like, I got this weird call from your principal today. You know what that's about? And he's just like, we sit down, have a talk dad. And I was like, no, I'm like, I'm just messing with you, man. I already know this is the basket. Don't worry about it. I was like, oh crap. So it's so it makes time goes by so fast. That's why you got to enjoy it. Right. And do what you love and choose having my son involved in swing line. Like that's the best thing in the world, right? Yes. Line. He runs it. Now. He may not ever, I have the same passion for playing golf as I do, but it's just been really good for him to, you know, he does all the marketing and he does all the operations stuff.

Chris (40:08): I mean, it's, it's been fantastic for him and it's been great for us as a family. It's really cool. So my, when my dad started act, you hit, I just graduated college. Right. It got patented. It got to him and all that stuff. Right. And so it was like 99, 2000 around that time, same thing. Like I was in flight school, but I was like, well, if you want to run this accurate thing, I don't have time for it. So I'm busy with my full-time job. So he's like, and that was, and I that's what car I gained my chops and the golf world. And that this is not my background, but you know, this is early internet days. And so what do you do when you have a training aid in the year, 2000? Like, how did the hell did you get it out there?

Chris (40:45): Right. Like, and you don't have any connections. You're nobody you're just going to invent, invented something. And all I did is like we would get, I would just whatever Lycos or whatever search engine I use, I would look up golf, magazines, different golf magazines. I'd find out who the, who their editors were. And I would just send letters like real old fashioned letter and say, Hey, would you be willing to check this out? Or, you know, and we got in a lot. That's how we initially got all of our traction was because a lot of these guys tested it out and they're like, cool. We'll write about it. I mean, it's something. So yeah. I had a lot of respect for that. I know that that's like, I did everything I did easy journey. Is it? And then like back then make it a website.

Chris (41:21): You have to hire some guy. And he's like, was it easy? Or, you know, so pretty much, yeah, it's easier now, but I mean, you know, differentiating yourself in that space and training is space is crazy. So you have a lot of garage shop and vendors kind of like we started and there's a ton of product. Yeah. Out there. Some of it good, some of it not so good. So it's, it's a, it's a difficult space to compete in. We got on like golf training, aids.com when it first came out. And my dad like ironically, like became friends with Carrie wiring and they started that for Gary. Yeah. So it was like in Dane was his son. I remember that can be sort of a thing. And like, oh no, that was, that was 21 years ago, which is hard for me to even fathom.

Chris (42:07): Right. But a different time. I still think though, it's hard as hell this startup brand and this thing called, unless you just cause I do a lot of products. So like I kind of, I feel like I have the pulse on what's happening at product right now. Cause I always see it, it comes across, my literally gets sent to me. So there's a lot of brands out there starting. Right. But whether they're going to finish is the other question. There's a lot of copycats out there and we, we, uh, debate that all the time. Like we're, you know, we're we want to sell product. So we want to market product to sell. But at the same time you have to build a brand. You have to build trust, you have to build the trust. Um, and how do you do that? Right. Well, answers that, you know, give people the confidence to buy your product.

Chris (42:48): So it doesn't really work. I'm sorry. I get, we get Ella show, but the whole influencer thing. Yeah. That, that, I mean, that's why, what I do. So I don't charge. It's like, Hey, I don't, you don't know me. I don't know. You let's see if this even works. Right. I'm not going to, yeah. That's the hard part, right? Because it's not so much having a good product at the end these days. It's more about how in the hell do I get out there. There's so much noise. Right? Like, and it's done influencers come from all over, you know, they kind of self create themselves on the internet. But I mean, for me back in the day, influence was the pyramid of influence, you know, PGA tour pros at the top and then club professionals and competitive amateurs. And then, you know, average golfers who would look to those people at the top of the pyramid to see what they were using or what they were doing or what kind of training needed those they use or how do they, you know, work with their industry.

Chris (43:42): And then, you know, that influences what, you know, people at the bottom of the pyramid by. So that was the, that was influenced. And what's appeared pyramid. Now I have no idea like you man, you're an influencer now, right? The pyramid. No sir. Nobody. No, I think it's, I think it's all. Like all that seriously, because they will be like number one, you know, easiest to buy followers on any kind of device. Like it's not that hard. And so it's like, you know, you look at the different brands or you look at not brands, but like, uh, influencers and you think like, oh man, guys, 40,000 followers. And then you look at it and it's like, it's all bot you can tell. And it's just like, well, I mean, I think authenticity, the city is important. And to me, I think golfers can smell something that's not authentic from a mile away.

Chris (44:31): You know, there's people because they're educated, buyers are not, they're not some guy or gal buying something. I don't know. It's like when you buy something it's never cheap. Right. So it's like, you have to have some kind of education level to like, be like, oh, this is either you can't afford it. Or you're like, oh yeah, I got I almost $500 to spend on the driver right now. I agree. That's why I started the blog, honestly, because I'd walk into, you know, a big box retailer and be like, Hey, what's this, before I got into this. Right. I was like, Hey, what's the newest driver kind of time to figure that out. And they'd be like, oh, this is the best. And I'd hit it. And I'll be like, is it really? Cause I'm not hitting it that well, you know? And then I'm like, it's all bull crap, dude.

Chris (45:10): It's like, I want to know what's good. Or what other people think that the guy trying to sell it to me. But I mean, yeah, that's just really cool that your son helps you out though. Honestly, that's what you don't hear that often. That's been fun and rewarding for both of us. So, and you know, helping him develop the skills that he's going to use when he moves on from splinter line. For me, it's been good. Well, I really appreciate you being on the show today. You are a legend in my mind. Now that picture, that picture behind you is awesome. Marnie's a Pittsburgh guy. So he just epitomise is what I love about the game. You know, like he runs my grandfather a lot too. So it's just like a bad-ass golfer. Who's a good dude. You know what I mean? That's what I, that's what I think Arnie is.

Chris (46:05): And so I think I'm just a good dude, like old school, right? Like I dunno, I have a lot of respect for the old, the olden days, I guess the fifties and sixties. Well, cool. Well, thanks for being on the show and you will be seeing an unboxing of the spindle line, uh, in the coming months. And so thanks for sending that over to us and where can people find swing a line, easy website to remember swing trader.com. Oh my God, how'd you get that domain? That was the universe telling me that we had to launch this product when I saw that and you are holy crap. I was like, I'm grabbing that. And we're launching this company. Your heart is a fire. That kind of like, honestly, that is hardest. Now. I can't believe you found that. Is that like, oh, swung a line 1, 2, 3, four.org, you know, or something like that. Like, yeah. So what does it get? Swing swing trainer. What'd you say it was Wayne trainer.com. Oh my God, dude. You got jealous. Well, cool. We'll check them out. You guys, they have all kinds of cool products. Uh, thanks for being on the show today, Chris, and I'll see you guys in the next episode. Thanks Paul.

Paul (47:16): Thanks for listening to another episode of behind the golf bread podcast. You're going to beat me like stay connected on and off the show by visiting golfers authority.com. Don't forget to like subscribe and leave a comment. Golf is always more fun when you're winning, stay out of the beach and see you on the green.

Paul Liberatore

Paul Liberatore

Founder of Golfers Authority

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