Ep #54 – Behind the Brand Golf Podcast | Greenwood Putters

Paul Liberatore Paul Liberatore
August 9, 2021

We made it to Episode 54 of the Behind the Golf Brand Podcast. In this week’s episode, I interview my good friends Mark Wilson and Joel Luyt the Co-Founders of Greenwood Putters. It started with an unexpected discovery in a garage. Joel found an old wooden head putter which he and his business partner, Mark, […]

We made it to Episode 54 of the Behind the Golf Brand Podcast. In this week’s episode, I interview my good friends Mark Wilson and Joel Luyt the Co-Founders of Greenwood Putters.

It started with an unexpected discovery in a garage. Joel found an old wooden head putter which he and his business partner, Mark, felt had the potential to add a new vigor and evolution to the wooden putter. The Greenwood putter was thus created as a modern performance putter to provide perfect resonance, consistency and connection.

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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 got two friends of mine, Mark and Joel from Greenwood putters. They're about to blow up , Their friends of a friend of a friend. And then when they showed me what they got, I was like, oh crap. So essentially what they have is a cool. Wouldn't putter. That's the best way I can describe it, but they'll tell us more of the details and the story behind it, but it I'm getting mine in the mail and I can't wait. So without further ado, guys, welcome to the show and thanks for having us. All right. Let's play a game. Where are you? Just like Joel's in the minivan and mark is in his backyard. Yes. Nailed it. Are you related minivan? I was just messing around.

Joel (01:56): It's the coldest quietest place called us or my house, which you're in Canada. There's always cars, a hundred, 116 degrees here yesterday. So you're in BC. You're like, are you on where NBC are? You were two hours north of Seattle, like, okay, so you're not, or you're on the mainland, right? You're not on Victoria, Victoria. That's really gorgeous. I was in like high school and I remember we went to Seattle because my cousin worked at Microsoft that is free promoted. Like he retired 15 years ago. And so we went to his house. It was a port, something wasn't wasn't in port Angeles and then took a ferry to Victoria. As I remember that I was in eighth grade, but I love that place. It's called the blackball fair. So it is, it's just so beautiful. Like where you guys live or I live at like literally night and day, right? Forest and trees and stuff. Now, rivers, we got it all. And 160 degree weather.

Joel (03:09): That's a lot too much. You guys even have AC you where you live. Probably not really dude. Why don't people who don't have AC and they live in California and they're like, oh, well, we then had to go buy an AC when they get the news said 60% of homes have AC. So that's not a lot. So there's definitely people suffering the last few days. I remember when I was like, I wasn't, as I was in Indiana and there we were, my freshman year, we were in a dorm and dorm was built in the fifties. Right. So it didn't have AC and X like, oh, it's Indiana. Oh my God, dude. It was so hot in there. Like for the first six weeks of school, like you, those big box fans, you know, like blowing full blast, but it's a duty thing. I just restarted my off.

Joel (03:57): I remember I was like, why don't you have an AC out here? So weird. But so tell me how you guys met. Well, we actually met where we added to a, like a men's retreat and, uh, I was riding with four or five guys and we all have this tee time and we just kept, we were so far behind schedule and we ended up being the last group out for the day was kind of a, I guess everyone had different tee times or whatever, but lo and behold, Joe Shaw, Joel showed up with one other guy and we ended up playing a best ball, scramble with five people. And so we played the whole day together and we ended up winning, I mean, best balls, five, totally. And that's how we met. And then we started golfing together. So did you guys like live by each other or what?

Joel (04:49): Yeah, like initially five years ago we lived like maybe a half hour, 25 minutes away. And now we live maybe seven to 10 minutes. It's part of the actual story of how this company started was him helping me move two years ago. So you guys become friends and what were you guys doing? Like what was your full-time jobs? What were you, what were you doing? I run a hardwood flooring, installation and refinishing company, which I still run. And I was running a human detection, video surveillance company. It was a company that had basically the highest end technology for security that was video surveillance, linked to the closest police car. So if there was an incident on a site, they would get the immediate feed. After the monitoring station identified, it was a crime closest cop car would get the feed and they would come and make an arrest.

Joel (05:49): So I was a sales guy there for, for four years. And then I became a business development manager and I was in charge in charge, like setting up new offices, hiring sales guys in let's say Toronto Calgary, um, Saskatchewan. And then we also moved eventually to Texas. And then we have an office in Dallas now. So I did that. Who was, uh, it was good, but I was able to resign in September and uh, pursue this golf thing full time. So that's pretty exciting. So do you feel like mark is the total that gets the work on the golf site all the time. And you've got to lay flooring right now, especially yesterday. Oh my God. I'm like, oh dude, I'm sweating. Like you wouldn't believe today. He's like, oh cool. I'm just driving out. I got to go Tim. Horton's a, and then, uh, uh, I got a lunch meeting later. I'm going to watch, are you free to golf at one?

Joel (07:01): Hey, are you free? Like at 10 to go golfing? No, like, no, I'm not. I can do 6:00 AM. That's exactly mark. He complains a lot about his, his day job and soon enough email soon. And I literally cannot wait for transitions. I look like, I think about all the time. I'm like, you know, it takes a while. Everyone's like, oh, he'll do it overnight. It's like, no. I mean, it takes a long time to be at a point where it like really can pay what you're doing, you know, like life and be able to reinvest the money into the company. Right. Like that's the thing, but yeah. I mean, you know, just keep your head down grind. That's the best. That's all you ever do. Like, don't get frustrated. I'm not telling you. I tell myself this not to like stall work or never seems to work fast either.

Joel (07:56): I mean, I was even thinking less than that. I'm just ready once it's going to happen once it's going to happen. And I just keep thinking, all right, well, I'm glad to hear from you too. That it just, you know, I got some friends, like, I'm not gonna say what brand it is, but they may call gloves and I'm friends with these guys. And like, they were literally on the cost of like quitting their jobs, all of them. Right. Like to go full time and then COVID hit. So like then they cut it. You know, even though golf took off and stuff like that, they're like, no, I can't lose that job. You know? Like, so it's like, even when we don't think it's got like, yeah, everyone's like, oh, when are you gonna make the jump? I'm like, not for awhile. Like I gotta be at a place where I don't have to worry about it. Yeah, no kidding. But I mean, this is an investment, right?

Joel (08:42): So let's tell a story. Cause I liked your guys' story. So one day Joel goes, Hey, I want to move. And he's like, I'm gonna ask my new friend mark to help me move. And I was like, I got nothing to do. So I'm going to help I'm to put a new security system in my new house. I want to mark will help me. And he's like, I was kidding. All right. Tell the story about how you guys got to the security portion. So the house that I was moving into, uh it's right here, actually let me flip the camera. You see those two bay garage door there, those black doors. So those used to be a car port. So I turned it into a garage. So in that car port, uh, when mark was moving me in, we were just hauling stuff into this car port because we hadn't got the keys yet to the house, but the guy was like, yeah, you can move stuff in the car port.

Joel (09:46): So we're hauling stuff in the car. Port in the very back of the car port was like a few things that the guidance throw out yet that he was giving away to Goodwill or throwing out. And one of the things was just an old classic bag of crappy golf clubs. Like, you know, the classic like Arnold Palmer, Tommy [inaudible] from the sixties or seventies that like the blade bladed out errands. And just like, no one can hit these things. Like, and then the wood woods. Um, so I said to the owner was there and I just said, Hey man, um, or where do you want to, what do you want with these clubs? Like, do you want us to just throw them out? And he goes, oh yeah, I'm just giving those Goodwill pass the bag to mark. And we both kind of looked at, looked at the clubs, like for a brief second.

Joel (10:39): And we see this club together that looked like, well, what is that club? Because it was in this like gold vinyl sparkly head cover, like super, it did not mark won, but it was, but it was a head. It wasn't like a name you could tell the head cover was something from the sixties. So it wasn't like, you're like, that's a weird head cover from the sixties and that must be the Potter. So he pulls it out of the bag and tries to take the head cover off. And I looked at him and the zipper is rusted, so it can zipper on the back. So then I'm just like, okay. So I just rip, rip the head, cover along the zipper line and pull the head cover off. And we both look at it and it's a wooden head putter. And we both looked at each other kind of like, what the heck is this?

Joel (11:33): We're looking at it. And it's clear that it's like a novelty piece. Like somebody gave it to somebody for gifts because on the face of the putter, it said gun Alliance on it in behind a big, like half an inch thick of a poxy. So it's a Donna Alliance. So we were like, oh, that's interesting. And then mark goes, Hey, you mind if I take this with me tomorrow, I'm playing in a charity tournament. And uh, he's like, my Putin can't be any worse. And I'm like, sure, dude, take it. I don't care. So the next, next day mark take over. So I'm at this tournament, which was, uh, it was actually a flooring tournament. And so there were tons of guys in the industry that I knew that run different shops, different small businesses. And I'm warming up on the putting green kind of getting ready, kind of also just get a feel for it.

Joel (12:24): And I'm rolling these pots and uh, and I was actually doing really well with it. And I don't know what the exact head weight of this Potter was, but it was super, super light and super upright to almost like a, like a field hockey stick upright. And these guys in the industry are coming up to me. Hey, nice putter. I'm like, thanks man. Bye talking. Oh yeah. One guy comes up to me. Oh mark. I didn't know. You're so hard done by. I could have brought you another putter and I'm like, oh, okay man. I was like, well, you try it. See what you think. I said, I think it feels great. So guys, so while we're warming up to this tournament, there's like eight, 10 guys who are coming over to me asking me to use this thing. So I called Joel and I'm like, dude, there's so many people who want to check this thing out. And he's like, really? I'm like, yeah, I actually like it.

Joel (13:17): So then that's when, uh, my brain just started going into hyper mode and I'm like, holy cow, did we actually maybe find something in the middle of this space, time continuum, like weird. Like, did we find something that doesn't exist yet in the world of golf? So I quickly Google it and I'm like, ah, crap, no, there is other wooden putters already, but then I'm doing a little more research and I'm like, wait a minute. Every other wooden putter I'm finding is more of like a novelty putter. It's more of like, like Bradley putters. She does an amazing job. And it's, it's like, Hey, if you're a huge, you know, Pittsburgh pirates fan, he can make you a Pittsburgh pirates putter and you can use it. Or you can just have it on your wall as a showpiece. Right. And I think they sell for like a thousand bucks us.

Joel (14:12): So we were like, man, our, I said to mark, I think there is a gap in the industry where we could have a niche product if it performs well that we could do really well in the golf industry. So Mark's like, well, okay. So I said, dude, what do you think about trying to recreate that putter that you found that we found together? And he's like, he's like, yeah, I guess like when I'm at work, I can try to cut some wood and try to recreate what that Potter is. So that started the journey of mark making, uh, numerous prototypes of like from scratch to Paul, there was no like, so this is two years ago now. And there was no like YouTube tutorial. Well actually it wasn't even not any YouTube tutorial on how to make a wooden putter. Well, actually there, I think there is now mark showed Don that you make butter. So when mark was first trying this thing, this out, we're like had to figure it out from scratch. So he's literally mark, why don't you tell him what you were doing at work? Cause I was away on that.

Joel (15:28): No, not you mark. [inaudible] the floors at marks. Hold on. I got something all the while trying to keep it hush, hush. So what I was doing is what we noticed with this, this, um, part that I found is it, it looked like a piece of plywood or almost like even on another podcast where they were asked, they said it did, it looked like a skateboard. And essentially it did look like a skateboard where it was kind of the shaft came down and then it sort of, the head kind of was one piece that went up right into the shaft. And so I was trying to recreate that and create that bend with wood. And so the only way I knew that, yeah, the only way I knew how to do that was to first get it wet. Um, and then I built a jig where I could bend and laminate the wood to that shape.

Joel (16:22): So I had this putter on my job site, I'm tracing this Potter on a piece of MDF and then I started bending it and clamping it. And Joel was calling me, how's it going? I was like, dude, this is not easy. This is not going to be a good road here. And then I would take this piece, this chunk that almost is like, almost like a hockey stick now. And then I would actually send it with like a, kinda like a grinder. So I would send it in essentially starts sculpting the head. So that was the first prototype. Yeah, it was. And it, and it's weird too, because like, honestly man, I know nothing about woodworking and if I had that, I would not be able to do that. I would be like, oh, that's a good idea. And then I would probably move on cause I would not.

Joel (17:10): And like literally it's what you know, which is so weird, right? Like, like it's, so of all the things, it's not like you're a steel guy, you know what I mean? Or a metal worker or whatever. It's like, oh I know. And then, uh, then it kind of every prototype I was working on me getting the prototype done quicker, but also having it look better. So the whole time this is happening, I'm at work or wherever I am talking and thinking about how we can make it faster because I'm like, there's no way we can scale a company like this. If I'm bending wood or at work or anywhere, I said, we're going to exactly. Exactly. So every, every kind of prototype I that's what I was working on. Okay. How can I make a jig or make a Jake is like something like you would put the piece in and you can just repeat what the process that you're doing. So, all right. So then that was two years ago. Right.

Joel (18:11): So what happened after that? So you got, how did you finally get the first prototype done by doing that? It looked like crap or was it cool? I would say it was probably like four or five prototypes in and Joel's laughing because what we used to do is we used to go to value village or buy golf clubs for $2 and then we'd pack the head off. And that's what we'd use for Potter shafts, except they weren't butter shafts. A lot of them were just hiring shots. So he probably had 40 different prototypes along, along, uh, the first, I would say three to four months and then September hits. So this is September of 2019, right? Mark. Yup. Yup. September, 2019 hit. And we had a prototype finally that was like, uh, I thought I was like, okay mark. I think this is good enough to actually show people because everything else was kind of pretty hideous and the weight wasn't right on.

Joel (19:15): Like, nothing like that. We were still figuring things out. And we finally had one that we weren't sorry that I should say I wasn't embarrassed by, but Mark's the one that made these things. So, so then I called my buddy up. He owns a marketing company. He used to be involved in the golf industry with a company that used to make a golf clothing. I forget what they were called, but it was like a certain type of material. And it would make your body temperature, like 10 degrees cooler. So he ran that company, like all the marketing for that company for years. So I was like, okay, Eric must know the golf industry and how we can approach the industry, what we should do or who we should talk to. So I called Eric over to my house one night. I said, dude, you got to come to my house and meet, meet mark.

Joel (20:08): My buddy mark, you haven't even met yet. Uh, because we think we have created something that's going to revolutionize the golf industry. And he's like, what, what did you make? And I go, I can't tell you man, like this, because we were keeping this thing. So secret that we wanted to, like, we almost wanted him to sign an NBA before he came to my house. Even though he's a friend of mine, like, it was just weird like that. So anyways, he comes over and we're like, okay, Eric, this is what we've created. And he looks at it and he goes, okay, what's for dinner. Yeah. There's he doesn't there's but he's not a guy that like any, you can even read any of these, not emotional about things. So, so I'm just sitting there and mark, I know mark is Mark's first time meeting him. So mark sitting there, like who the hell is this guy? Seriously?

Joel (21:07): Yes. So then Eric sits there for probably, it was probably two minutes, silence, like of silence and mark. And he's just sitting there on the couch and he's just kind of looking at the club, turning it and looking down the shaft and like kind of like Joel said, like, this is the kind of guy you say, Hey man, how's it going? And he goes, even though he might be jacked. So he says, so two minute pause. And then he says, well, you know what? He goes, I don't know anything about this, like about this product or what can happen in the golf industry. But he goes, I do know somebody that does. It's a good buddy of mine. His name's Sam golden and he's in California. He's a skier, he's a PGA instructor. And he owns minimal golf. He knows Sam. So he worked with Sam from the clothing stuff, the yeah, like Sam, where they're not here.

Joel (22:12): And he was, he was hired as like a Pro-Am and he was doing some of the shipping and all that stuff. So he, Eric says, I will back you guys, and I'll help you launch this company. If Sam thinks this is a good idea. And we're like, oh, okay. So we were, so I said, okay, can you get Sam's do you have Sam's number? Can we just call him right now? This is like in my house. And he's like, I guess any tech Sam? And Sam's like, oh, I'm actually at a wedding in Washington state right now. And Washington state is like 20 minutes away. Like just over the border from where we are. So I'm like, dude, I'll just drive over there right now. This is pre COVID. Right. I'm like, I'll go show him a Potter right now. And then Eric's like, okay, well let me ask if he's busy.

Joel (23:05): And Sam was like, oh, I could probably meet with you guys on Saturday afternoon or something like that because Sam was at a wedding. Yeah. He was at a wedding and he was going to meet us like after the wedding, like between the reception or something. And I'm like, wait a minute here. This is too, like, I think we're rushing this too fast. And Eric's like, yeah, maybe we are there to like, let's just try and get a meeting. You guys can have like a zoom meeting with them. And I'm like, okay, that sounds like a good idea. So we book a zoom meeting with them and we tell him, so we have a zoom meeting, the two of us, and then Sam and we introduced ourselves. We tell them a bit of the story. And then we say, we think we've created a putter that takes away.

Joel (23:48): It's like, your body knows how hard you should swing. And you get a true feel from the club when you ha when you have go through the impact. And for some reason it's working better than any. And I said, it's not placebo because we've tried it with friends. We've tried it with ourselves. And something about this putter is better than any other Potter we've tried. And Sam's like, oh, interesting. He goes, well, for the last 15 years, he goes, every year companies try to get me to try their putters. And he goes, I just say no, because I was fitted at David Adele's school for putting. And he goes, I've used the same putter the last 15 years. And, but what you guys are saying, if it's true, I want to try your putter. And we were like, awesome. So that was a good sign, right?

Joel (24:43): Like we're like thinking, oh, this guy's willing to try this putter. This is greatness. So he goes, why don't you guys ship it out to me in California? And, uh, I'll tell you what I think. And we're like, we look at each other and we're like, oh, okay, awesome. And then, and then I'm thinking in my head, this is our only prototype that we have. That's decent. I don't want to ship this to California because what if it gets stopped at the border? So I look over at mark and the car and I'm like, dude, we should just go. And we're still on the zoom call. And Mark's like, yeah. And we say to Sam, Hey man, why don't we fly out there and actually show you the butter? And Sam's like, no, you don't need to do that. You don't need to spend all that money. Like come out here. And mark and I both have wife and kids and we're like, no, no, no, no, no.

Joel (25:33): This the two of us. Cause it's like, we also get to show this guy only prototype, but we also get to take a little trip to Kelly and Sam goes, yeah, like, okay, let's book it. That sounds great. Like, we can go out to the local course here and try out the putter. And I'll tell you guys what I think my honesty back. It'd be great to meet you guys. Any friend of Eric, you goes any friends of Eric. I know that you're good guys. If you're friends of Eric and we're like, awesome. So we ended up going. So we book our flights to California and mark, why don't you tell your to Joel's from the morning, it's like four 30 in the morning and I'm kind of getting this feeling of like first date is the first day we met somebody online. Now we're flying it, you know, 2000 miles to go meet SAS.

Joel (26:32): That's the word I may be using. He's not going to look like he's not going to look. He's either going to be there pretty much, man. We're like, MTV's for you for dude's from Canada. And so, I mean, nothing really eventful about the flight. And then we're getting, we get into the, um, getting into our hotel and Joel's on a, he's actually got a sales call and that takes like an hour or whatever. And I'm like, Joel, give me Sam's number. Like, should I text him? What should I say? I'm writing this message. I'm like, oh, that sounds kind of weird. Delete, delete, delete. I like, and like, Hey man, man, Hey, it was so we were so nervous. We were even nervous. Like Sam was going to judge what hotel we stayed in. Like we were thinking like, oh, we better stay in a nicer hotel because if we stay in a crappy hotel, Sam's gonna think it's about motel six.

Joel (27:42): We're somewhere in Manhattan beach. And, and uh, we finally get mark Sam, Texas back. And it's like, yeah, you guys just come to the studio. There's the address? So we're like, oh, awesome. Okay. We'll just take an Uber. So we hop in an Uber, throw our clubs in the back and uh, and while, and while we're going to studio, we're like so nervous talking about now, what's he going to say about the putter? Where like, everything is on this. Like if this guy likes the putter, then we can move forward to the next step. So we show up Sam studio, he's got his gear bedroom and he's on a conference call and we walk in the door thinking like, oh, he's going to give us his full attention. So we walk in the front door and he's like, oh, Hey guys, Paul. And he's like pointing to his ears and we're like, oh, okay, cool.

Joel (28:30): So we haul our bags in the studio and we're just standing there kind of looking around and we're like, oh, it's cool in here. Like, it's like, it's got that California. Like, it's like white with like Polish, concrete floors. Yeah, exactly. So we're like, oh, this is balling studio, like prime location. So he's on his call and he, we have our golf bags there. Right. And he walks over on his call and he looks in our golf bag and he grabs the wooden putter. And he's got like a little like a simulator there. So he had a mat that you hit off of. So he takes the ball over to the mat while he's on this call. And he goes, do you mind if I roll a few pots? We're like, yeah, of course go for it. Get the hell out of here. So he rolls a few putts and he's like, Hmm.

Joel (29:21): Hmm, Hmm. And you can't tell if he's saying it about our putter or if he's saying it in his, his call. Right. So mark and I are sitting there like, what the hell is going on here? We just blew. It's like now 11 in the morning. You're probably getting hungry. So Sam goes, Sam goes, Hey guys, I'm just going to finish up this call. Why don't you come back? I've got another call right after don't you come back in an hour, go grab a bite to eat. And we're like, oh sure. Yeah, no problem. Like soup. We're just like, yeah, man. Awesome. So we walk out the door and mark, and I aren't saying anything till we're about, I don't know, two blocks away. And then we both look at each other, like, what the hell just happened? Like what did, what did he think of our Potter?

Joel (30:05): You didn't even say anything. And Mark's like, yeah, what was that? And we're like, yeah, what was that? Like, we don't even know. And we're like, oh, I remember the, and the optimist in me was like, yeah, well, he didn't say anything bad. He didn't say anything. And they like to come back to this place. And he's like, and he's like already like selling them. So we, we go grab a bite to eat and we walk around, down by the beach. Cause it wasn't quite an hour yet after we ate ice cream, we're just like, okay, we get back to the studio. And he goes, he's like, oh yeah. Okay. Let me show you guys around. And he's like showing us around his studio. We're not even talking about the Potter yet. And he goes, oh yeah. So this is what I'm doing for minimal.

Joel (31:02): And it was like, oh, you guys can have a shirt. And he gives us both a shirt and he goes, why don't we head out to the course? And uh, I can try the putter. And we're like, yeah. Awesome. Yeah. So we're also like, oh crap. In a sense of now we're going to be playing with a PGA instructor. And we're just both like average 10 to 15 handicap guys. Like we're not good, like really good golfers. So we're super nervous. So we go out to this course and it's, he's like, yeah, let's go to this. This is my favorite local course. It's called, is it winds? Drift? I think it's wind drift here. Wind drift. It's like behind the Marriott in Manhattan beach. And it's like a little par three executive course, but it's like gorgeous. Like well-maintained Palm trees, like perfect conditions. And we walk into the pro shop with Sam. He's like, Hey guys. And I'm like, you can tell, he goes there every day. And uh, he's like, yeah, just got some Canadians with me today. And the guy's like, oh, Hey, nice to meet you guys, Canada. Hey, like, and then they just start joking about Canada.

Joel (32:16): So we head out to the first tee box and it's 116 yards or 110 yards. I think I watched the video the other day. We'll tell you why in a second, we didn't record the full thing we just recorded after. But anyways, it's 110 yards to the pin and there's a restaurant on the left. People like 30, 40 people eating this pre COVID and there's a pond on the right. And there's no practice swings. There's no going to the range before. Right. It's just like, let's get out here and try this thing. So Sam's like, all right, let's spend the tea. So he was up. So goes to me, um, first I'm like, oh great. This is awesome. I better hit this green. And then Sam Sam's spins a Teagan, Sam, and then Mark's third. So I get up there and I hit the ball and I'm just thinking, just get it on the green dude.

Joel (33:13): And I ended up hitting like 10 feet above the hole and it stuck. And I was thinking in my head, holy, that was an amazing shot. But I have like a straight face. Right? Like I do this all the time. I turn around and Sam's like, great shot, man. Great shot. And I'm like, thank you. Thank you. And I'm thinking in my head, holy cow, this BGA instructor just said, great shot to me. And uh, he's up. And he hits it low, like bottom side of the hole, 15 feet from the hole. And I'm like, good shot, man. But I'm thinking in my head, I just shot a better shot than him. And Mark's out next and people are eating right there, lunch and kind of watching, not really watching Mark's out next. And I'm nervous for mark because I'm like, oh man, Mark's gonna shank it in the water.

Joel (34:01): He's gonna like, just dump it or like, who knows what's gonna happen, but he's gotta be super nervous that we're both on the ground. Right. So mark gets up there and he hits his ball and Sam goes, oh, that's going in the hole. And um, and I'm thinking that's a really good shot. And Sam's like, that's going in the hole. And it hits six feet above the hole grabs backspin boom. In the cup hole in one. That's the sanity. I freak out like crank first. Hold on one more. Oh yeah. First all in one. Just insane dude. First hole, first hole in one, I throw my bag to the side. Like I think I like threw it 10 feet. I jumped, grabbed mark people in the restaurant are screaming, jumping up and down. I've got mark in the air. I feel like my body is like somewhere else because it was just like this surreal experience.

Joel (34:56): And Sam's just shaped. I looked back at Sam during this like screaming and Sam's like, knew it was going in. It was going in and we grab our bags and we're like running to the hole, running to the green, like, like sort of like half running to the green, so excited. And then I start building and the crazy thing is Sam's bag. So he has a minimal golf bag. And you can put your cell phone in the minimal golf bag and tape your swing. And we were talking about that before the shot. Oh, we should tape our round, but we didn't do it on this first hole. So I started with, so I start recording like halfway as we're walking to the green. And I'm just like saying like, Hey, this is Mark's first hole in one, blah, blah, blah. And we walk up to the green and he grabs his ball.

Joel (35:52): And like, you could see the ball mark, like six feet above just this massive divot. And it was so awesome. And then we remembered, we were talking later mark and I remembered on the plane. Mark said, imagine one of us got a hole in one today. So it was like super weird. Cause he likes, it's almost like he spoke it into existence and we, I never had, I've never had a hole in one even come close. So anyways, getting back to the putter. So Sam used his own Potter, that first hole and I think he made birdie and then we get to the second hole and mark hits it on the green again, not a hole in one, but hit it on the green mark nailed his birdie putt with, with the prototype putter and Sam goes, there is some great advertising. He knows one putt for every two holes.

Joel (36:50): And we're just like, we looked at it and now we're both thinking, does he like the putter? He hasn't even tried it. He hasn't even tried it. So then Sam grabs the putter of that hole and he tries it and he's like, oh, oh yeah, sing us some really good feel. And then every hole he was using the putter. So I think the second time he used it, he drained the Bernie pot and he's like, oh, this feels really good. It's like, I like it. And he's like looking at it and inspecting it. And it's like, oh yeah, I really like what you guys did here. He's like, what is this? What is this lie angle you guys have here? Or like, oh, I think it's 70 degree lion go. And he goes, okay. Yeah. It's like standard lie. Angle is 71 degrees. So he's talking all this technical stuff about putters that we didn't even necessarily, we didn't know.

Joel (37:41): We were, we've been making these marks and making these prototypes, but we didn't know like exact specs of every Potter and what they should be. Right. We were just doing it off of that original prototype or the original account. So then Sam's like, oh, and I really like how it's zero degrees of loft. And we're like, oh, okay. And we both look at each other, like, what does, what does he mean? Zero degrees loft. Of course it's your degrees off. And Sam goes and we kind of look at Sam and we're like, what do you mean Sears? Crees lock. Isn't all, aren't all punters during degree law. And same goes, no, no dude dudes. But he said it like super night, chill not judging you at all. He's like, yeah, no. Most putters in the industry are two to four degrees loft. And we're like buddies.

Joel (38:32): Like I really liked that yours is zero degrees and we're dude, Sam, we didn't even know. We thought all putters are just straight. Like, why wouldn't it be? And he goes, well, he goes, no people want loft on it so that you get the ball up when you're putting. So you're not hitting it into the green. And he goes, but with your guys putter, for some reason, that's not an issue. And it's just, you're getting a true roll right off impact. And we're like, oh awesome. So we're thinking like, man, we there's something else that we didn't even know good about this butter. So anyways, he ends up playing the whole round with it and he still didn't tell us whether he like loved it or not. Or whether this, he could see this being a business, you just, he was liking it. So we go out for dinner at this, his favorite. Do you remember what it was mark? I don't remember what it was called. It was something like, it was like a seafood joint. Yeah.

Joel (39:31): Who knows? They knew him. They're like this walk in the door and it's like, Sam, Sam, Hey man. So we get a table and it turns out our server was from BC, like from Vancouver where we were from. So it was like super, I remembered it. So the server was from Ontario? Not far from BC oysters. That's right. Yeah. That's right. He's like super weird random. And then Sam kept saying like, man, if this isn't destiny that you guys are supposed to be here, I don't know what it is because the hole in one, all this other stuff happening. And we were like, okay, that's good. That's good language. We liked that language. But what about, what does he think about the butter? And then over dinner, he's like, well, you know what guys? And now we're like warmed up to each other so we can like talk normal.

Joel (40:23): Right? There's no like hiding emotions. And Sam's like, you know what, guys? I think you're onto something really special. Here he goes. I'd been in the golf industry for a long time. And he goes, I think you guys have a product that could really disrupt the industry and you have a product that is really unique and cool. And with a bit of tweaking, I think this can be huge. And we were like, oh awesome. Like this is great news. Right. And I remember us even saying to him, what do you mean? You think this could be huge? What does that mean? And he goes, why have a golf bag company that I've just started out? And I think this putter could be a lot bigger than my golf bag company. And we're like, oh wow. He thinks our Potter company already could be bigger than his own company.

Joel (41:08): So anyways, he's like, I think you should tweak this. He's talking about the prototype and what we could do to design it. And we're just like, man, he, I think he went to the bathroom at one point and mark and I just looked at each other and we're like, dude. And we were both, we were on the same page and we're like, we need this guy on board. Like we need this guy in like a part of our company, you know, what should we do? And mark and I were like, well, let's just see what he wants. So he comes back from the bathroom and we're like, okay dude, like, we want you a part of this company. Are you interested in helping us develop this company? And he goes, I would be honored, but he's like, honestly guys, I'm not looking for any kind of ownership because you know, my life he's like, I want to be able to pick up and go to Costa Rica at anytime.

Joel (41:56): I don't want to be tied to anything. He's like, let's say in three years, your putter business blows up. I don't want to have to stay here. I want to be able to just cut and go. And we're like, yeah, we liked that. I liked that. So we offered him, I think we said, yeah, we will. We'll bring you on as a 1% owner of our company, uh, for nothing, no strings attached. You just give us a hand. We'll, we'll listen to you. You know, the industry, you know what we should do? So this is September, 2019. So for the next six to eight months, mark was making prototypes and shipping them to California and getting Sam's feedback. And then Sam would try it out on the course and like, okay, this is what you need to change. He needed to be a little bit heavier.

Joel (42:41): You need this, let's try a different species of wood. So we were having conference calls weekly with Sam and going over all this stuff. And then Sam's like, okay, you need to get this USDA approved. So he's like, this is what you need to do. So then we contacted the U S GA and we're like, this is what we're up to. Can we send you guys, what do we need to do to send you a prototype to get it approved? And they're like, this is what you do. So we ended up sending me a SGA, I think three different putters, like the first prototype they're like, okay, yeah, change this, change this second one. They're like tweak it a little bit more. And then finally the third prototype we sent them, they're like, yeah, this is good. This is good. And we'll pass it. So like, awesome.

Joel (43:25): So all this is happening while we're creating the prototypes. And then in March of 2020. So just before COVID was hitting, we were sending out. So we were sending out prototypes, like I think we had about 30 or 40 prototypes sent out to friends and family that golf. And we were like, Hey guys, we're making these putters. We're still in the prototype phase. We need your honest feedback. And they're like, oh, okay, cool. Would you be willing to buy a Potter from us for like 150 bucks? And they're like, yeah, of course, no problem. So at this time, mark is spending like 10 to 20 hours a putter, like making these things. Right. And, and that's like, that's just making the head. So we're sending these out to friends and family and getting their feedback. And my brother-in-law got one in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, and he got it.

Joel (44:25): And he's like, yeah, the courses, the courses are all closed down now because COVID cause he got at the end of March and he goes, sorry, I'm just practicing like that in my house. And he's like, but I like the feel we're like, okay, cool. So then all of a sudden, like fast forward, like two months later courses open in Edmonton and my brother calls me my brother-in-law and he goes, dude, I was just golfing with my buddy and his dad and his dad's the old announcer for the Edmonton Oilers. And he really loved, he was like the announcer for 30 years [inaudible] was like the best team ever. That's right. So he goes and he really liked the feel and look of the putter and I'm like, oh awesome. And he goes, and he's asking if he could send, if I could give your phone number to his daughter, who's the head of the sports network, global news, sports and Edmonton.

Joel (45:24): So it's like CBS sports in LA, whatever whoever's in charge of that. So that would be the significance except Canadian. So it's like a hundred times smaller demographic. So I'm like, yeah, sure. So she calls like two days later and it's like, Hey, I heard about these wooden potters that you guys are making. Tell me a little bit about it. So we're like telling her that, you know, we think we've made something that we're working with, this PGA instructor in California and you know, we were onto something in the industry and we found, we think we found something that doesn't exist and we want to, we're creating a putter. That's going to be the best feeling putter and we're PGA approved and she's like, this is awesome. She's like, can I do a story on you guys? Or like, yeah, sure. And she's like, can I come bring the news crew next Wednesday?

Joel (46:13): And this is like a Friday. And I'm like, absolutely. And she's like, okay, I'll message you for your address details after. And I get off the phone and I call mark and I'm freaking out and mark starts freaking out. And then we realized, wait a minute, what is a news crew? Where are they going to come? Like mark is building this and these in his garage dude. And his garage is like the classic garage with two young kids. He's got bikes and strollers and kids, kids toys, and like, Hey man, he's got his that's right. And he's got his woodworking stuff on the side. So I'm like, oh man, I don't like, maybe it's not a good idea for a news crew to come into your garage. What if we like go in my, the carports, I had already transformed into a pottery studio for my wife.

Joel (47:05): So I said, mark, I'll ask my wife. If we can go in there and make it look more of like a shop. And, and my wife's like, yeah, of course. So we bring everything over to my, my garage. My wife's where my wife's pottery studio is and make it look like a workshop and it was good. And then the news crew came on the Wednesday and they filmed asked us tons of, we went to a local course and they shot like people putting with the putter on the local cores. And we don't have a website yet at this point. Right. Paul, like there was no business. It was like prototypes for friends and family. So mark, go ahead. Like, so we're kind of freaking out. We're like, okay, the filming went great, but we've only got a couple of days here. We're on the phone with Sam, Sam, what do we do?

Joel (47:53): Like, he's like, oh, just call my buddy Natasha in India. And so I'm on the phone with this, with Natasha in India, he's working like 19 hours a day. There's like a 13 hour time difference. He texts me. He'd be waking up at four o'clock in the morning. And he would text me and be like, Hey, I'm just going for a run first, before I start my day, he'd go for an hour run. And then he'd be working for like 19 hours a day. The guy was free and he is like, Hey, can I log onto your computer wire? Like remotely, give me go into this and open up, like, what am I doing? This has scam written all over it. He's like, oh, you got a million years in your accounts. Yeah, exactly. And, uh, yeah, yeah. Ended up hooking us up, got our site going.

Joel (48:44): Um, and then we just kind of were waiting. We were like, all right, well it's almost five o'clock which the news was going to start or six o'clock. I don't remember. And I just remember turning on the news, turning on the news and thinking, like wanting to watch, but not wanting to watch. And then just like, holy smokes. Like I hope I'm not on TV too much. And then watching the piece and I called Joel right after like, well, that was pretty good, right? Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, no, I'm really good. And then all of a sudden, our Shopify account sort of blowing up check Ching, it was not, I was like walking through a casino, like we didn't ever know. Yeah. We, we thought, like we had said before the news piece it's we're like, man, if we could sell 10 putters from this news piece that success like that's awesome guys sell, we sold 200 putters in the first two weeks after that news piece.

Joel (49:43): Crap. And those are all just Canadians. Yeah. We can watch a show in Canada. That's right. That's right. So we had, no, we were like, holy cow, we didn't have inventory. We didn't have like nothing Johnny putters. And you're like starting to like call your family saying, Hey yeah. So this is two, this is a year ago. This is a year ago today. Dude. Shut up. Yeah. I'm not kidding. This is a year ago today. That is that right mark a year ago. Sounds about right. Yeah. So yeah, June 16th at father's day, last year we were up until like, uh, four 30 in the morning.

Joel (50:25): Yeah. So we, so then all of a sudden we had a company, man, so mark and I were just like, holy, this is not man. We're not, not only are we like fluking out here and like finding in marks, like we're making these things and they feel good, but now we're on to something even better that it's actually helping people's golf game. Like that's nuts stuff. Especially since you guys don't know what you're doing. Right. Like, let's be honest. I mean, that's not a bad thing. I, you know, that's a good thing because you wouldn't have done it. Right. I mean, probably because I think that conventional companies or whatever that have been around forever, we'd be like, we'll never, that's just not part of their model. Right? Like you're just two guys who like stumbled on something that like never really took off because of back in the day.

Joel (51:18): Right. It's a 50 year old club that is really a good club and it's a better than what's out there now, which is crazy. Well, one, I think really what our biggest asset is, is that we had, we had no idea how complicated it was going to be. We had no idea how difficult it would be, how much tech, technical, technical components there are. Like, we were just like, well, let's just figure it out. I guess let's blue color this. And it just, I think we, I think we really did fluke out on a few things, but I mean, we have been kind of just, we just kept pushing and pushing and pushing to get it to where it's finally gotten, which is we're pumped about that. I'm really excited for you guys. I can't wait to get mine. So I think what you're doing is really cool.

Joel (52:03): And I love your guys' story as to how you, how this whole thing has come about in the last two years. Surely, I mean, it's almost like a, let me go movie about us someday. I mean, those were about a putter. Maybe like Sam wins the masters, they're going to be like the golden Potter. And then I don't really know, but I mean, I think you guys are going to, it's a matter of time before everybody knows probably like golf.com and you guys are doing will probably help out a lot to get it more out there. And you know, I mean, look at one little news conference sold that many units, like seriously. I was like, I think I watched money without a spin on Facebook marketing or like who watches the news? Like who watches the news anyway? That's what it is, dude. That's your, that's the demographics.

Joel (52:50): It's like, oh, I gotta make the coolest hottest. Hey don't you guys started the people that play golf all the time. It's not us because we not time. So it's like, my parents watched the news. I'm like, why look at your phone? But so imagine when the next peoples are people like us are seeing it. You know, that's what I think. Well, no, really blow up big time, but, well, I'm excited to get it. Thank you for being on the show today. I really appreciate it. I can't wait to get mine. Hint, hint, hint. I know it's in process. Um, and I'm excited for the way you got what's going on with you guys. Yeah, I'm in number 800 probably. Um, but no, it's cool. I'm really excited for you guys. So thanks for being on the show and I can't wait to do more with you guys. Sounds good. All right. You guys take care.

Paul (53:41): Thanks for listening to another episode of behind the golf bread podcast, you're going to beat me, like get off, 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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