With more than 29 years in golf ball research and development, 40+ U.S. granted patents and a successful background in plastics engineering, Dean Snell is considered one of the foremost golf ball authorities. In March 2015, he founded Snell Golf, a golf ball company committed to developing premium golf balls at affordable, direct pricing.
You wake up in the morning — what’s the driving passion?
Being a ex-hockey player, the first thing I do when I wake up is get out of bed slowly and see what aches today.. I like to get up and get things done. Get to work early, get things in order and make it happen. In this business, every day is a new adventure. Leaving the office with a sense of accomplishment is a great feeling.
What was the genesis for Snell Golf?
After 25 plus years working in the corporate world and developing balls for the best players in the world, I wanted to give back. Design products for everyday players, the consumers. Give them the performance and technology that helps their game, and make it affordable. By going direct on line, we cut costs in many areas, and that savings is all given back to the consumers. Taking the consumer feedback, developing products, and seeing the positive results our target.
How long a time frame from initial prototypes to full bore production?
It usually takes 4 to 5 prototype cycles before the finished product is achieved. This process can take 9 to 12 months to complete, depending on the ball model, and what changes are required.
What specifically distinguishes Snell Golf from your major competitors in the ball arena in the golf industry and is the ultimate aim to be the number one ball in the sport?
We have no desire to be #1 in the world. The big competitors have a business model that is much different than Snell Golf. They focus on big marketing dollars, big tour player contracts, big TV spots, sales reps, pro shops and off course stores. Our business model is Direct to Consumer. No middlemen. We have respectfully declined multiple tour player offers to play the ball. We do not pay these big contracts, so we can continue to pass the savings to consumers. Keep it small, simple and try to reduce mistakes.
You’ve played a major role in the creation of various golf ball types for leading providers such as Titleist and TaylorMade. How did those specific experiences influence the creation of Snell Golf and the product you create now?
Both Titleist and TaylorMade are top notch companies. I have been blessed to be part of both of them. During that time, my real focus was developing golf balls for the best players in the world. Spent many hours with these players, at their homes and out on tour. Satisfaction came from seeing them win major tournaments using the ball that we developed. Today, I spend lots of time reading feedback from our customers. Listening to what they like and don’t like, then using their voice to start the prototyping. A ball for Dustin Johnson may not be the right ball for the average player. So my focus now is the customers we have, and making products with outstanding performance, but affordable for everyone.
How important is golf ball fitting and what’s the biggest misconception golfers have regarding golf balls?
Golf ball fitting is the most important part of golf. The ball counts on every shot. Players do not spend time testing golf balls. My recommendation is test golf balls from 100 yards and in. Find the ball that fits your game. Some like soft, some firm. Some low spin, some high spin. The short game is where most of your scoring happens, so this is where you should test golf balls, and it is also where they have the biggest difference in performance. Find the one that fits your game, then trust that they will be similar off the driver.
How critical an issue is price points for your products and what your thinking has been for your entire golf ball product line?
Our goal from the beginning has been make it affordable for consumers. We have created a tiered pricing model, where more savings can be passed back to consumers based on volumes. Since we also pay shipping in the US, and its free to the consumer, when larger volumes are purchased, the shipping cost per dozen goes down. So, we again pass this savings back to the consumer. We have not had price increases in four years, even when our costs have gone up. With our new tiered pricing now today, the cost is actually lower than 4 years ago for multiple dozens.
If you could change one thing in golf unilaterally — what would it be and why?
The rules of golf. They are way too complicated for everyday players. Heck, the tour players cannot even keep track and they do this for a living. Simplify the game and make it fun. And I can never understand when you hit a shot in your own fairway, and it lands in a divot or sand divot, why you cannot take drop. Makes no sense. Your own fairway is not a penalty area — so why are you penalized for something someone else has done.
How would you describe the relationship between the governing bodies such as the USGA and R&A and those producing golf balls? Is it likely in your mind that a rollback in terms of the distance golf balls go is likely to happen?
I have been in golf for almost 30 years now, and for 25 of those years, there has been talk about bringing back the distance. I play golf every week with friends, and not one person ever says the balls are too long and courses too short. This is issue for several factors, and the ball is not the reason. The speed of the ball has not changed over these 30 years — only the spin has been reduced — but reduced to what two piece balls have always been. The players are much stronger, the drivers are longer with huge sweetspots and faster faces, the fairways are cut so short and firm that balls roll forever, and the players are much stronger and fit. All these factors have caused the increase in distance — If the tour courses let the rough grow a bit, water the fairways and make the softer, the distance problem with be resolved — then cut the grass and let the everyday golfers play for the rest of the year.
Best advice you ever received — what was it and who from?
When growing up playing hockey, my father taught me to be humble. He said if you have to tell someone how good you are, then you are not that good.
For more info go to:WHAT'S YOUR REACTION?