Growing up with a scratch golfer father and under the tutelage of a PGA Professional, Terry Koehler became focused on golf by the time he was ten.
Over the course of his 40-year golf industry career, he has designed over 100 putters and several sets of irons but has become known as a specialist in the wedge category, as that has received his focus for the past thirty-plus years.
Koehler has long been known as “The Wedge Guy”, writing a weekly blog under than moniker for over 20 years, now published on GolfWRX.com. He received his first wedge patent in 1994 for a unique sole design that incorporates both a high and low bounce into the same sole. He has pioneered milled grooves and the dramatic re-distribution of mass to improve wedge performance. His newest venture is Edison Golf, a company focused on the wedge play needs of recreational golfers.
Terry Koehler, in his own words.
THE KOEHLER STORY
I have been so blessed to be able to make my living around a game I love so much. I really do not remember life before golf, as our world seemed to revolve around that little 9-hole golf course in a South Texas town of less than 7,000. I built a relationship with my father and my brother there and learned from a patient and understanding PGA Professional named Carl Gustafson.
When I entered the ad agency business in 1979, one of my first sales calls was on Ray Cook putters, based in San Antonio. That started it all. From there I added several other niche brands and was always drawn to how the clubs were made — and why. I had some great teachers along the way, who were patient with my endless questions.
I designed my first putter in the mid-1980s, and over a hundred more in the next few years, but became focused on wedges in the early 1990s, driven by my own frustrations. Since then, I’ve focused all my wedge design attention on how to help recreational golfers instead of tour players, as even the best of us have very different skill sets than tour professionals.
Edison Golf is the culmination of a dream of being able to completely focus on how to create wedges that are forgiving, that deliver more consistent distance shot after shot after shot, especially on those we don’t catch quite as solid as we wanted. The design principles that have helped me deliver that forgiveness also produce more penetrating trajectories and improved spin, benchmarks for a solid wedge game.
The other big differentiator of the EDISON 2.0 wedges is the latest iteration of my original patented sole design. The “Koehler Sole” combines a high-bounce leading portion of the sole with a low-bounce trailing portion to make it the most versatile sole design in the category. None of us know what our next wedge lie will look like, or exactly what size divot we’ll be taking. Those unknowns effectively prevent this crazy notion of “fitting bounce”.
You wake up in the morning — what’s the driving passion?
Living life to the fullest, I guess. I have a lot of recreational interests and good friends. But right now, every day begins with figuring out how to better explain how wedges designed for the exquisite skills of tour professionals are just not serving rank-and-file golfers of all recreational skill levels. Our needs are very different.
What was the genesis for Edison Wedges?
I thought I was retiring after leading the team that brought Ben Hogan back into the equipment business. But I learned I could only fish and play golf so much. When I started writing my blog as “The Wedge Guy” for GolfWRX.com, the calling to return to my days of being a wedge specialist came alive in me, stimulated by fans who urged me to “get back in the game”. With all I had done through the days of Reid Lockhart, EIDOLON, SCOR and Ben Hogan, I realized I had not achieved my goal yet. So, I began to design again; Edison Golf emerged from that.
How long is the time frame from prototypes to actual selling product to consumers?
With all their resources, big companies can move rather quickly, but for me the first-generation Edison Forged wedges were a two-year process. We worked through multiple CAD designs, then prototyping them with 3D manufacturing techniques, and finally to our end product. We initiated tooling in late summer 2019 and received our first production heads in April of 2020. Along the way we did continual robotic and live golfer testing to assure us we were getting the performance we sought.
But my curiosity and experimentation never rests, so it wasn’t long before I began working to improve upon that design. Just this Spring (2023) we introduced the EDISON 2.0 line, which again raises the bar for performance.
What differentiates your efforts versus others in the same product category?
It’s about who I serve. All other wedges tout their PGA Tour credentials, but I focus on what I have learned from recreational golfers, from scratch to 25+ handicap. I’ve analyzed over 70,000 wedge fitting profiles and conducted hundreds of personal interviews, and I hear the same frustrations about ball flight being too high, distance consistency being non-existent and they all want more spin.
I will say it is quite flattering and rewarding to see all major brands of wedges begin to push a few more grams of mass into the top portion of the clubhead, as they know it works. But their tour pros don’t want dramatic changes in their wedges, and they certainly don’t want more spin. That restrains all major brands from pushing the envelope as far as I have. In fact, caliper measurements confirm that even the thickest of the new wedges are not yet where my original Reid Lockhart wedges were in the mid-1990s.
The EDISON 2.0 wedges are very different from the “tour design” approach that you see from all other companies. And the performance is markedly superior. They go further on a loft-to-loft comparison, and the shot-to-shot distance consistency is miles better than any other wedges because of the unique mass distribution across the back of the clubhead. And the spin is off the charts because of improved gear effect.
Your EDISON 2.0 wedges don’t look like any other wedges on the market. Why is that?
Throughout modern golf club history, every major performance improvement has required us to get used to a different look, dating all the way back to steel shafts. The Ping®
Anser® certainly didn’t look like the classic BullsEyes and 8802s of the day. The original metal woods were a far cry from persimmon drivers. Cavity-back irons . . . graphite shafts . . . oversized drivers over and over again . . . hybrids . . . it’s always been that way.
In golf clubs, the old adage is reversed – function follows form – to make wedges dramatically better, I had to make them look dramatically different . . . just like all these other advances. But at address, the EDISON 2.0 wedges have a clean and classic look golfers are used to seeing.
Who is your customer?
Any golfer who wants better consistency in their wedge game. Who wants to eke a few more yards out of their wedge shots . . . who would like to “get away with” those shots that are not struck just right . . . basically any golfer who just wants to be more consistent inside prime scoring range. And who would like to have more spin on those crucial scoring shots.
What has always amazed me is that only 2-3% of golfers think they are good enough to play tour blade irons, but 98% are trying to play ‘tour design’ wedges. I have seen robotic testing prove time and again those are the most unforgiving clubs in our bags. Why would anyone settle for that?
In rough percentages where will your marketing efforts be focused upon between online sales, green grass shops and brick and mortar retail outlets?
Up to now, we have relied on online sales as our primary channel, but we do have a few custom-fitters who build with our component heads. As we go into 2024, we will begin creating a network of golf course professionals and custom fitters who can offer in-person demo and fitting. I have always believed the only way to buy wedges is to test them on the golf course(s) you play, hitting the shots you face every round.
It is not optimum to buy wedges off a mat and simulator, or even a driving range. You have to hit real shots and witness real ball flight and landing. That’s why we offer a 100% Risk Free Trial program – we’ll build you any wedge you want and let you do just that for as long as it takes to see what we call ‘the Edison Difference.’
Is validation at the highest levels of professional golf necessary for overall product impact with consumers and what efforts is the company doing in this regard?
For others maybe, but not for Edison Golf. I feel certain that top level players will eventually discover this wedge technology is just better, but our energies will be focused on getting awareness and trial by recreational players who want to be better on Saturday. That drives me. Edison Golf is not likely to ever expend any energy pursuing tour players, but we will certainly work with them if they want to explore what we are doing to make wedge play more consistent.
This technology works for anyone, but the higher the skill level the more time it takes to adjust to this dramatically different performance.
Throughout the golf industry there is constant touting on the importance of customer service. Define the term and the approach you follow.
Exemplary customer service is a foundational principle at Edison Golf. We offer our online WedgeFit® process to help guide golfers to the right lofts, shafts and specs for their wedges. Our knowledgeable wedge-fitting specialists are available to answer your questions about Edison or wedges in general. I personally respond to every email I get from a customer or potential customer.
Maybe most importantly, we offer to build one of our EDISON 2.0 wedges for any golfer and let them try them 100% Risk Free to make sure they are right. You need to put a wedge to the test on the courses you play, hitting the shots you face every round. No other premium brand will do this, but I think it is mandatory, as I said earlier.
As for our customer service policy? One word – “Yes — now what is it you need?”
Proper fitting has been a regular talking point for all equipment companies. Explain the approach Edison Wedges takes and how such an effort will prompt repeat future purchases?
I believe fitting is still being shorted when it comes to wedges. Too many golfers just choose lofts by habit, and almost all wedges are sold with a heavy stiff steel shaft that fits virtually no one. Our WedgeFit process helps us understand your game and what’s in your bag, so we can guide you to choosing wedges that will blend seamlessly to your irons and optimize your scoring range performance.
We believe people will return to us because our wedges are engineered and crafted to deliver forgiveness, spin and more consistent results than any other wedges on the market — ever.
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