Everything about the California-based manufacturer screams “budget brand.” So why are its products gaining credibility?
Be honest. How many times did you watch the Kick X Tour Z golf ball infomercial before you started taking it seriously? Actually, did you ever take the Kick X Tour Z golf ball infomercial seriously?
With all due respect, Bruce Fleischer may be one of the best golfers in Champions Tour history with 18 wins including the 2001 US Senior Open at Salem CC in Massachusetts, but does his playing a certain golf ball make you want to switch?
And just how seriously could you take a small-budget infomercial featuring a ball that promised more distance than the Titleist Pro-V1x? (Titleist sued Kick X and nine other ball manufacturers over patent infringements in April 2015. Kick X flatly denied any wrongdoing.)
Bad infomercials do little to arouse one’s curiosity in the product. Hmm…I suppose if that were true, no one would ever make them. But really, after watching the Tour Z ad, how many serious golfers felt compelled to pick up the phone and buy some? It was tempting to dismiss Kick X as a novelty brand, one whose products weren’t really meant for core golfers.
How wrong can you be?
My eyes began to open—albeit slowly and perhaps a little grudgingly—a couple of years ago when sleeves of the Tour Z ball (originally launched in mid-2013) were handed out at a PGA Show function hosted by Medicus, the makers of the extremely successful hinged training club and owners of the Kick X brand.
It was a (very) soft launch. The company didn't actually go to the expense of exhibiting at the show, but had a presence and put out some feelers.
In the spring of 2014, about the same time as it moved all its operations from Brunswick, Ohio, to Vista, Calif., Kick X launched its first clubs—the Blast Driveway 12.5 degree driver and MA-Nine Forged Irons stars of an admittedly impressive line which also included the MA-Nine Hybrids, Tracker SRT Hybrids, MA-Nine Irons, MA-Nine Synergy Wedges, and Z-Ball Putters. And in 2015, the Blast ToughLie fairway wood was launched and presented in Orlando where Kick X exhibited on the main floor for the first time.
This year, a well-presented, 400-square-foot booth nearer the east end of the hall—where the big boys are—complete with marketing personnel and sales associates, proved beyond doubt Kick X means business.
“Despite being in a competitive market, Kick X was able to build a loyal following through its direct response marketing,” says Mike Hoye, an independent PR and marketing professional who represents Kick X. “The demand has given us the confidence to expand the product line this year, and build a sales force focused on getting the clubs into retail locations. That is happening now.”
New for 2016, with an expected availability by late spring, are the BlackOut Bounce Wedges, Blast Driver, and Ai1 golf balls. The driver is adjustable, and the Ai1 (All-in-One) a premium, three-piece ball with a GelSoft Zirconium cover, Bismuth power core (“which increases COR for maximum elasticity of core and distance,” according to Kick X) and SmartMap putting alignment system.
The BlackOut Wedges, meanwhile, have a ‘Diamonized Black Metal’ finish and are constructed using two metals—1025 carbon steel in the hosel, and 4140 alloy steel in the body “for increased feel and adjustability.”
Pricing has not been announced yet but, says Hoye; “They will be competitive with comparable premium brands on the market.”
Kick X obviously sees itself as a big player, even if you don’t. And no matter how inflexible an equipment snob you are, you owe it to yourself to at least give Kick X gear a try.