Club manufacturer continues to grow with ‘better fit, better price’ philosophy - East Valley Tribune: Sports

Club manufacturer continues to grow with ‘better fit, better price’ philosophy

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Posted: Thursday, May 4, 2006 12:19 pm | Updated: 3:44 pm, Fri Oct 7, 2011.

In a dog-eat-dog industry where only those with the latest-greatest technology and multimillion-dollar marketing budgets survive, Tempe-based Magique Golf is the little kid on the block.

OK, so Magique is more like a mom-and-pop operation compared to golf’s major manufacturers. No big deal, said Sean Sheppard, who along with his younger brother, Heath, owns and runs Magique.

“We don’t want to be another PING or Titlelist, because we’ll never build clubs for touring professionals or get their endorsements,’’ Sheppard said of the golf industry’s longtime strategy.

“But we will build clubs for the other 85 to 90 percent of the market. And we’ll get there by adhering to our motto: ‘Better fit. Better price.’ ’’

The Sheppards devised their straightforward business plan after purchasing Magique from DP Golf in April of 2004. They knew the company, which was founded in 1986 by Bill and Kathy Cornelius of Chandler, had potential.

“When Bill and Kathy, who was a former U.S. Women’s Open champ, owned the company, it was financially sound,’’ Sheppard explained. “Back then, it really was a mom-andpop operation, but they built high-quality, customfit golf clubs, and had a small market share.

“That’s what we’re trying to do. And all I can say is, every month we’ve been in business has been our best month so far.’’

There is a reason: In a world where high-tech drivers range in price from $350 to $500, Magique sells its M-Series driver for $199. Its M-Series irons go for $58 (steel shaft) to $65 (graphite shaft). And each club is fit to a “T.’’

“What you get is a similar quality of materials and technology at about 40 to 50 percent of the price charged by 80 percent of the other brands,’’ said Sheppard, whose company uses its own heads and assembles the clubs with shafts from True Temper, UST and Aldila, as well as Lampkin grips.

“What separates us even further is our fitting process. Every day, we get better at it.’’

According to Sheppard, with limitations imposed by the U.S. Golf Association on MOI (moment of inertia), COR (coefficient of restitution) and CCs (cubic centimeters that limit the size or volume of the clubhead), “the final frontier is to refine the fitting process.’’

In that regard, Magique offers a four-point plan:

• Its shafts are more flexible because the Sheppards feel most shafts are too stiff.

• Its shafts feature a lower kick point, which promotes higher ball flight.

• Its lofts are true, or “pre-Callaway,’’ which also lifts the ball.

• And its lie angles more upright to help straighten out the ball flight.

That every club is made specific to the golfer after purchase and delivered within five days also makes for a satisfied customer. But the driving force remains the brothers who grew up in northern California, loved the game, and dared to reach for the American dream.

“Heath handles the manufacturing and production end of it, and he’s good at it after working in the semiconductor industry, as well as being an industrial engineer,’’ said Sean, who is 33 to Heath’s 32 years of age. “I’m the president and handle the marketing — I do most of the talking — after being an instructor for John Jacobs, as well as working with software and technology.’’

Yes, mom-and-pop has given way to brother-andbrother, and it’s a bright future for a young company that, ironically, will celebrate its 20th anniversary in November.

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