Interview with Terry Koehler of SCOR Golf
Recently we had the chance to review the SCOR Golf 4161 Scoring Clubs, and we were blown away by what we found. SCOR has completely re-imagined the high lofted clubs and created clubs that are more versatile an more accurate. Today, we share our conversation with Terry Koehler, the man behind SCOR Golf.
PluggedInGolf: Hi, Terry. Let’s start with a little background: how did you get involved in golf, what did you do before SCOR, how did you get into golf club design?
Terry Koehler: First off, I don’t remember life before golf. It was part of our childhood in that little south Texas town. And I was the kid that was always taking things apart to see how they worked. When I got into the golf industry as a marketing consultant , I gravitated to how things worked in the back end of my clients’ business. How clubs went together and why. I took my first shot at my own design with a putter called ‘Destiny’ back in the mid-1980s. I learned a lot, but still had over 30 tour pros use it in competition, including the Masters and both Open championships. It just snowballed from there.
PIG: Where did the idea for SCOR Golf come from?
TK: I have always been intrigued by the performance – or lack there of — of high-loft clubs. Why do we settle for inconsistent distances and ballooning trajectories? When the USGA changed the rules on grooves, we began testing new groove geometry on our line of EIDOLON wedges. It was really uninspiring to see how much spin we were losing. And the entire project snowballed from there.
PIG: When did you know that you were on to something significant?
TK: When we saw that lower launch angles delivered more spin. So that’s what triggered idea of a complete re-distribution of mass in the back of the clubhead. Besides increased spin from the new grooves, we lowered launch angles on full swing shots and dramatically improved shot dispersion as impact was moved around the center of the face. That’s the real genesis of this product. It is a complete re-engineering of the short end of the set, NOT just a tweak of “wedges’ and short irons.
These are as far from “wedges” as hybrids are from a blade 2-iron.
PIG: What is the biggest problem with “normal” wedge design?
TK: The “wedge” was designed in the 1930s to get you out of bunkers. Period. In the 40s and 50s, tour pros found out how to use this club for more pitch shots at close range. Ben Hogan said that the maximum distance for a sand wedge was 40 yards! Somewhere along the way golfers began to hit these clubs with full swings – and they simply were not designed for that. The very low mass and thin upper face section delivers dramatic differences in “smash factor” as you move impact up and down, as you do with varying lies. And that causes the majority of misses to come up short, very short. Regardless of your skill level. No one hits it on the same groove all the time.
PIG: In your opinion, why haven’t wedge designs evolved?
TK: I can only speculate, but I would suggest it has something to do with the myopic focus on distance, and the fact that “wedges” are the lowest priced club in the bag. Add to that the fact that unit sales of “wedges” trail far behind those of putters and drivers. But those are only guesses.
PIG: What are the key technologies that make SCOR clubs different than traditional wedges or irons?
TK: The patent pending SC3 weighting is the most relevant, as it is the key behind our very small dispersion patterns off the high loft clubs. It’s a big idea – as big as oversized drivers, graphite shafts and hybrids. It is destined to change the entire nature of our high loft clubs. Because it just works better than what golfers have in their bags now. Again, we have hard proof that SCOR4161 reduces shot dispersion patterns by up to 73% over “just wedges” and 94% over these thin-face iron designs that are proliferated now.
Add to that the innovative and versatile V-SOLE®, our GENIUS® shaft matrix and our custom-fit, custom-build methodology and we can help any golfer get better inside prime scoring range. We even guarantee it.
PIG: Tell me more about the GENIUS shaft matrix. How many different shaft options are there? What makes these shafts unique?
TK: We ask our scoring clubs to do a lot. They have to perform at full swing speeds, but also on the most delicate little chips and pitch shots. Just using a stiff heavy steel shaft isn’t the answer. So we engineered four shafts with a firmer tip section and a little more flex movement high in the shaft to give you feel. Two weights of steel and two more in graphite, with 2-3 flexes in each, allows us to perfectly fit any golfer profile.
PIG: What is the biggest problem with using a 6-iron design as a short iron?
TK: Again, look at evolution. We found that a club 4-8 degrees stronger than the 6-iron works better as a hybrid. So why would a club 14-18 degrees weaker work with the same weighting? It doesn’t, and we have proof of that. These thin faces might be better in the mid-20 loft range, but they don’t deliver distance consistency at the higher lofts. But the companies are chasing each other to see who can make the longest-hitting “6-iron” and they have been moving away from high loft performance ideals for decades. It is only getting worse. Think of it this way. Your 9-iron is as far from your 6-iron in loft as is your driver. How could the same design work in one direction if it doesn’t in the other?
PIG: Why take on the challenge of trying to get golfers to reconfigure their whole bag and their idea of set make up?
TK: Because it will help them play better golf. Period. What drives me is the desire to help golfers, not to sell golf clubs. I believe, and am finding, that the latter will happen if you focus on the former. And our industry doesn’t much do it that way. We will. This game is just more fun if you are hitting shots closer to the pin, and SCOR4161 delivers a measurable improvement to any golfer in that area.
Golfers are hitting drives and irons longer than ever . . . but they are not getting better. As a result of these distance gains, we are playing the courses from closer to the greens than ever before. Our research shows that golfers of all skill levels are hitting half or more of their approaches with 8/9-iron or less. The tour pros even more. The key in that range is hitting it closer, and the “wedges” and cavity back short irons in their bags are not getting it done. There has been no innovation in this end of the set. Modern wedges look just like a 1950 model, and short irons look like the 6-iron. This just doesn’t work. And golfers’ scores are suffering because of it.
PIG: How does the SCOR Golf system work for players with super-strong lofted irons and distance irons? We had a reader tell us that his 9I is 39*.
TK: Iron lofts have gotten goofy. They are making them stronger and stronger and golfers are losing scoring clubs. Up until the 1970s, a set of irons had 3-4 clubs with over 40 degrees of loft. Now they have only one or two. You need high loft clubs to score, period. But you can no longer get your proper loft matrix, or the performance you need, in the set of irons. It’s time to fix that, and our SCORFit fitting experience will ‘prescribe’ the right lofts based on the irons you play and your strength profile. There is nothing like it in the marketplace.
PIG: What has been the biggest challenge in developing SCOR?
TK: Getting golfers to “re-think” their set make-up. The evolution of lofts – compressing gaps at the long end of the set and widening them at the short end — and the lack of design innovation in wedges, combined with the notion that a 40-50 degree club can look like a 25-30 degree club has stifled innovation and performance. We break all the rules with this concept of a set within your set – 4-6 clubs in the high-loft end that blow away anything you are playing now. We have Iron Byron proof of that.
PIG: What is the most common argument you get from golfers, and how do you answer it?
TK: We don’t get arguments, per se. This is more logical than anything in the equipment sector. And if you hit these clubs, you are sold. The golf club itself is the star, just like it was with every other important development in our golf club history – metal woods, cavity back irons, over-sized drivers, shallow fairway woods, hybrids, solid core balls . . . Performance always wins . . . and lasts.
PIG: You’ve done a lot of research about the effectiveness of SCOR clubs. Tell me a little about it.
TK: It started with golfer testing. All kinds of golfers. And we have hundreds of overwhelming review stories. Then we put the clubs on Iron Byron to quantify what we were seeing and hearing. The results blew us away.
Hitting shots around a 1” circle in the center of the face proved conventional “wedges” deliver distance dispersions of up to 50 feet. A miss of the sweet spot by as little as 3/8 of an inch can cost you 34-38 feet, or more. Short, of course. It plagues golfers of all skill levels. It cost Phil Mickelson a U.S. Open. That is just unacceptable in this end of the set.
When we tested the ‘P-club’ from the top two brands of high tech, thin face irons, it was even worse. We saw dispersion patterns of up to 95 feet. Why would anyone play a club that can cost them up to 75 feet short when they catch the ball only 5/8” above the sweet spot? This is a huge issue in our industry and golfers are totally oblivious to it.
Oh, our SCOR4161 clubs reduced those dispersion patterns by 73-94% — delivering a “worst miss” of 6-13 feet, in contrast to 50-90 feet in conventional wedges and set-match short irons.
Very simply, we’ve engineered the most accurate high-loft scoring clubs ever. We have proof, and 95% of our owners tell us they would buy them again. All it takes is a side-by-side comparison of what we make versus whatever you are playing now. We’ll win every time.
PIG: What’s next from SCOR Golf? Will you be designing an entire iron set? A full set of clubs?
TK: I can’t discuss that right now, because we are focused on the scoring end of the set, but we do get that inquiry daily from our satisfied customers. I would ask you to just watch. We have a lot more plans to help golfers hit it closer to the hole than ever before.