Mike Ferris, Vice President of Product Maketing for TaylorMade, was in Hartford, Ct. recently for the Connecticut Golf show and Golfing Magazine took the opportunity to talk with the former area resident.
Ferris started his career in golf 24 years ago at the Top-Flite Golf Company, a division of Spalding Sports Worldwide, which was based in Chicopee, Ma. At Spalding he held a variety of domestic and international roles including managing director of international golf operations and vice president of golf ball marketing, and was an integral member of the teams that developed radical improvements in two-piece balls and three-piece multilayer urethane balls, the latter of which included Strata (the first such ball to win on tour) and Tour Edition.
Following Spalding Worldwide’s acquisition of the Ben Hogan Golf Company in 1997, Ferris was named Hogan’s vice president of marketing in 2002, and in that role guided the launches several successful products including the Ben Hogan Apex Tour ball and Ben Hogan CRX hybrid. When Callaway Golf acquired the Top-Flite and Hogan brands from Spalding in 2003, Ferris became Callaway’s vice president, category management of woods, and later took responsibility for golf balls. When he joined TMaG in 2005 he was put in charge of golf club marketing, then in 2010 was given responsibility for the product marketing division.
A lifelong golfer and five handicap, he served three years as a board member of the National Golf Foundation and shares in one patent for golf bag technology and two for golf ball packaging. GM: How often do you get back to the New England area?
MF: Well, not a lot but my wife and I have a family in the area, which is one of the reasons we took the opportunity to come here to Hartford. My mom lives in Southwick, Ma., my mother-in-law in South Hadley, Ma., and I have siblings in the area. GM: Where did you grow up?
MF: I actually grew up in Pleasantville, N.Y. and played baseball for a long time. But a bunch of us kids would caddy at several courses in Westchester County, including Sleepy Hollow, which is a great course. I started playing golf more when I went to work at Spalding. I played a lot at Shaker Farms and we had access to some great courses, like The Orchards. I would play a six-hole loop at Shaker Farms in the morning before work and that was my golf for a long time. I have had the chance to play some of the great new courses in the area, like The Ranch, which is about a half mile from my mother’s home in Southwick.GM: One of the things TaylorMade has attempted to do is offer the average golfer customization options on your drivers. How has that worked?
MF: It has taken a while for people to understand the benefits but more and more people are getting it. When they get on a launch monitor and see what is going on with their swings and how our clubs can help their games with our adjustability factors they have a clearer picture. It’s a cultural mindset that we have to change and I think we’ve made great inroads into changing concepts about clubs.GM: The equipment industry has taken a bit of hit in recent years. How is TaylorMade doing?
MF: We have been doing very well, in fact. Our president and CEO, Mark King, fosters a culture of change and technological advancement, where we just don’t stand still and rest on our laurels but rather continually look to bring new products to market to help golfers enjoy the game more. Whether it is the R11 driver that we have now, the Penta golf ball or our hybrids that have become very popular, we always keep trying to push the envelope and not stand pat on our success. You have to keep taking chances and stay fresh.