April 3, 2020
A well-struck golf ball is both visually and viscerally appealing.
Launch monitors now make it easy to appreciate a nice drive, as the devices’ real time videos show the arcing lines of each shot.
Monitor replays of great shots are one of the reasons why a Toronto-based club fitter’s YouTube videos are gaining 95-100 subscribers a day – and that growth rate was there long before all of us were ordered to shelter in place because of the pandemic.
TXG, the acronym for Tour Experience Golf, is the brainchild of Ian Fraser, 36. The Scottish émigré to Canada and former club pro switched to the equipment side with stints at OEM companies such as TaylorMade. He created TXG several years ago.
His company’s club fitting skills are being noticed. The March 2020 issue of Golf Magazine ranked TXG second among the top 50 club fitters in North America. “It was great to see how proud our team was about that,” Fraser said in our recent interview. “They have a lot of talent. I trust them to do their best.”
Fraser’s proficiency at club fitting and in hiring talented staff is undeniable. However, he would not have attracted multinational attention if he hadn’t also decided to make YouTube a primary marketing tool, and then lucked out in discovering Matt Blois.
A former club pro, Blois, 30, now runs Identified Creative Agency, which does branding, web and graphic design, and video production. Fraser was looking to improve his YouTube presence and met the young Canadian, who was handling similar work for another client. Fraser was “impressed by what Matt could do,” especially his ability to go live with well-edited video shortly after shooting it.
As it turned out, Blois is as talented in front of the lens on TXG’s virtual driving range as he is behind the camera. His golfing skills are on display in dozens of TXG videos, making incredible shots with a variety of club and shaft combinations.
Blois’ ability to hit 300-350 yard drives attracts thousands of TXG viewers, with similar skills on display with his wedges and irons. The viewing experience is enhanced by the clean spare design of the TXG studios, the skilled use of graphics for explanations, and the easygoing relationship Blois and Fraser present.
They clearly enjoy each other’s company, perhaps in part because they normally only meet on Mondays to create that week’s video content. The fact that both bring something to the table in every show also shows up in the viewing data. Blois said they are pleased with the average 9-minute viewing time each video receives from viewers, which is an eternity in the YouTube world.
“The best videos are the ones that we enjoy making. That shows up in the content. Sometimes there are ones that get a bit frustrating to make for one reason or another, but most of them turn out fine,” Blois said.
Beginning in 2017, TXG has published over 500 videos on club fitting, demos, course vlogs, studio visits by touring pros and golf instructors, company tours, and virtual 9-hole competitions between Fraser and Blois. They now reach over 66,300 subscribers.
“We’ve built up a community of viewers, which is great,” Fraser said.
Several videos feature golfers Ron Pukowsky or Lindsay Knowlton. Pukowsky, a mid-handicap retiree, is trying to see how good he can become. “Ron’s videos appeal to a different audience. He tends to hit low on the face with the driver face shut down, so people who have similar swings can identify with him,” Fraser said.
Knowlton is also “hugely popular” according to Fraser. “She’s a 94-mph thoroughbred. Lindsay’s such a nice person with a nice demeanor,” he said. The owner of Iron Lady Golf in Toronto is also a former Ohio State University golfer.
We might dream about making driver swings at 120-mph like Blois, but Knowlton’s skills are more relatable.
TXG’s fitting studios are a 20-minute ride from Toronto’s Pearson International. Until the pandemic Fraser’s clientele came from all over the world. I expect them to quickly return once the danger passes.
I asked Fraser and Blois if customers arrive with pre-conceived notions of the club and shaft combinations they want. “About 80 percent of our clients are open-minded,” Fraser said. “Some of that is because they sort of ‘pre-qualify’ through our YouTube channel. We have a video about the fitting process from early on that’s really popular [https://youtu.be/t6gF7wsAcc8].”
Fraser also said, “We will find what works for them. Our approach is one reason why they come here in the first place. They trust the numbers that we show them. If they tell us they really want to try something, we will, but we also ask them to let us show them another brand that could help.”
For most customers, Fraser and his fitters can usually tell within about five swings what shaft and head combinations to start with in developing a solution.
The one-hour driver fittings are the most popular, with a full-bag fitting taking four hours. Fairway/hybrid fittings are usually done as part of a long-game fitting session, or as an add-on to iron fits. Wedge or putter fits also take an hour.
If you haven’t seen the TXG videos, go to YouTube and start browsing through their collection. You’ll be glad you did.
Update on Cape Region golf and the pandemic
On March 29 Governor Carney issued another revision to the current State of Emergency Order that created new restrictions on recreational activities in Delaware.
Effective March 30, there is a self-quarantine on non-residents for 14 days from time of entry or the duration of their stay, if shorter. Those affected must remain in their houses, hotel rooms, or other lodgings, with significant limitations on movement elsewhere.
In a press release issued by the State, DNCREC Secretary Shawn Garvin said, “For anyone coming from out of state with the intent to surf fish … or golf…, please understand the 14-day quarantine applies, which means coming into Delaware to immediately engage in one of those activities and go back home is not allowed.”
Rookery Golf posted a related notice at its website and at the North and South pro shops: “The governor has made it a criminal offense to enter Delaware from another state to play golf. Until he lifts this order, please do not book a tee time if you do not reside in Delaware.”
Mulligan’s Pointe took matters a bit further, closing the golf course and pro shop operations entirely on March 30. Thereafter, members and their guests may play from 8:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. with no access to carts, club facilities, and with no outside play otherwise permitted.
After 3 p.m., community members in groups of up to 3 may walk on the cart paths for fresh air and exercise, in those areas where golfers are no longer present. Dogs on a leash can also be walked on the paths from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m., while also observing clean up laws. Any such activity is at the walkers’ risk, of course.