Interview with Elliot Mellow

Golf Ball Marketing Manager, Bridgestone Golf.

Interview with Elliot Mellow


Interview with Elliot Mellow

Interview with Elliot Mellow

Background:

Elliot Mellow, Bridgestone’s Golf Ball Marketing Manager, has been with the company for 12 years. He currently oversees all things related to Bridgestone Golf balls from creation to production to getting product to market including R&D, packaging, and commercial and sales support. Prior to his current position Elliot ran Bridgestone Golf’s Ball Fitting program, which was completely unique to the category at the time. Elliot hails from St. Louis, MO, loves to BBQ, and has his own award-winning sauce.


Interview with Elliot Mellow

The Mellow Story:

I joined the Bridgestone Golf team in 2009 after previously working for one of our major retail partners. I have a background in custom fitting, marketing, and communications. Making the jump from retail to the OEM side of the business was a natural career progression for me, which has allowed my work to touch a much broader audience of golfers.

Interview with Elliot Mellow

Interview with Elliot Mellow

I am inspired by the passion and dedication of the entire Bridgestone Golf team. We take pride in the premium performance, high-quality golf balls that we manufacture in Georgia and I take equal pride in helping consumers determine which one fits their game best.

One of the things I enjoy most about my work is seeing the fruits of it on shelves at golf courses and golfers using our products to play better and better enjoy the game. It’s fun to work somewhere where you can bring so much joy to so many people.


Interview with Elliot Mellow



You wake up in the morning — what’s the driving passion?

Each and every day my driving passion is to find ways for more golfers to try a Bridgestone golf ball and see what it’s like to play a ball properly fit for their game. In my mind, it’s one thing to play a round of golf, it’s another thing to experience the joys of playing a round of golf with equipment that fits you.


What differentiates Bridgestone from your competitors in the golf ball market?

Globally, Bridgestone is the largest producer of consumer rubber goods in the world. Being part of the Bridgestone family of brands allows us to draw on that polymer science background to bring resources to the golf ball that other brands simply don’t have access to – our network of 900 polymer engineers and over 800 golf ball patents, for example. In addition to our R&D staff, having the expertise of top players like Bryson DeChambeau and Tiger Woods to assist in the R&D process helps us continue to push the envelope.

Interview with Elliot Mellow

Interview with Elliot Mellow


How crucial a role was it for the company to sign Tiger Woods to endorse the product?

When one of the best players of all time chooses your golf ball over everything else on the market it speaks volumes about the quality and performance of the product. But even more significant is the fact that Tiger helps us design products. When we work with Tiger, he is able to provide feedback and insights beyond what we are able to capture with a robot or launch monitor. He is truly an R&D asset first and endorser second.


Is having PGA Tour validation an essential ingredient for a golf ball company’s overall credibility?

Yes, it’s certainly part of the mix. But we also concentrate on producing golf balls that fit a wide range of players that allow them to play better. And while ball fitting is a huge consumer facing initiative for us, it has also led to many TOUR players becoming interested in our products. For example, when Tiger, Bryson, and Lexi Thompson were looking for a new golf ball, they each called us, not the other way around.


Interview with Elliot Mellow


Who is your customer and how are you identifying them to use your various golf ball products?

One of the things that I am really proud of is how many types of player profiles our golf ball portfolio accommodates. When I look at the market place there are a lot of products designed for TOUR pros and then marketed to consumers. Our golf ball lineup is the opposite.

We absolutely make balls for the Tour, like the TOUR B X (played by Bryson) and XS (played by Tiger), and there is a place for that in the market, but generally speaking our efforts are directed at getting consumers into balls that better fit them like our RX series or e12 Contact. So generally, our customer is one that understands the importance of fitting and playing equipment that’s made for their game.


Titleist has long been the dominant company in the golf ball market — is it Bridgestone’s goal to surpass them and is such a goal possible in the next few years?

Our goal is to firmly reestablish ourselves as the #2 ball in golf and then continue to improve from there. And I think in general we are in a very good spot to do just that.

Our market share at larger accounts and in eCommerce puts us in a strong position and independent studies also show that consumer sentiment indicates our net brand rating is solidly in the #2 position.

Interview with Elliot Mellow

Interview with Elliot Mellow


Many companies tout the importance of customer service. Define the term and the approach followed at Bridgestone.

Customer service is both proactive and reactive and we focus a lot of efforts on the proactive side with ball fitting being a big part of that. We know that nearly eight out of ten golfers show an improvement after being fit for a Bridgestone golf ball, so right out of the gate if we can fit a golfer for the proper ball, their chances of having a good experience with our product goes up exponentially.

Combine that with the exceptionally high-quality manufacturing standards in our Covington, Georgia factory and from the onset we are out in front of most potential customer service concerns.


The pandemic showed a major uptick in rounds played by golfers. Was there a corresponding uptick in golf ball sales for Bridgestone and do you see such a situation continuing for the second half of ’21 into ’22?

Yes, golf has been hot, and from our side we are certainly seeing an uptick in business. I think rounds played was reported as being up approximately 13% in 2020 and our business was up around 18%, so we are outpacing the industry in that regard. As we approach the remainder of 2021 and beyond our outlook continues to be very positive, and we continue to reach record levels in terms of orders and demand.

Earlier this year we launched the e12 CONTACT which is arguably our best distance ball launch in history – introducing great consumer-oriented products at a time when golf is growing is an outstanding combination.

Interview with Elliot Mellow

Interview with Elliot Mellow


If you could change one thing in golf unilaterally — what would it be and why?

I think as an industry we need to be more inviting to new players, and that’s true at virtually all levels from manufacturers, to golf courses, to the retail experience and even online outlets. As a major manufacturer we specifically tried to address this with our recent e6 and Lady Precept products by designing golf balls that get in the air more easily and carry further for players with moderate clubhead speeds.

We all need to think about how to make golf less intimidating and more fun for new or less experienced players on an ongoing basis.


Best advice you ever received — what was it and who from?

There is a gentleman named Phil Pacsi that worked for Bridgestone for 39 years and served as head of sports marketing, working on events like the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational tournament. Phil has a deep love of Bridgestone and takes great pride in what the organization has accomplished.

The first time I met Phil he said to me “Give the customer what they need and do what’s right for the brand and you can’t go wrong.” That advice has stuck with me to continue to put the consumer first while protecting the integrity of the Bridgestone brand.


For more info go to:

www.bridgestonegolf.com

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