David Glod, founder of
, made the company's first clubs in his condo. Now the firm ranks in the top 10 for market share in every club category, according to industry analyst Golf Datatech.
Tour Edge is one of the few small to medium-sized players still competing in a field that's dominated by six brands:
, purchased in 2008 by
Sumitomo Rubber Industries
; and privately held
*Tour Edge Golf introduced the Exotics fairway wood in 2004, a risky move for the value-oriented company.
Glod, an instructor and club repairer, started Tour Edge in 1985. The Batavia, Illinois-based company made its name by offering cheaper gear for weekend golfers. Tour Edge has succeeded by reacting quickly to industry trends and new technology, creating lower-priced versions of the hot products introduced by larger competitors.
In 2004, Tour Edge took a risk when it rolled out the Exotics fairway wood, a multi-material club that costs $349. The price put it in competition with premium club makers.
"I still remember sitting in an executive staff meeting and discussing whether to launch Exotics," says Jay Hubbard, the company's vice president of marketing and public relations. "The majority of us, including myself, were thinking that we'd never be able to sell a $349 fairway wood. David insisted that we needed to trust him."
The club received a rapturous reception, especially from the game's better players. A later version of the club was used by the champion and one of the runners-up at the PGA Tour's recent Verizon Classic. The most recent model was named a gold medal winner in
The expanded Exotics line now represents 40% of Tour Edge's business. The high-end Exotics and the less expensive Tour Edge products enable the company to go after both serious and leisure golfers.
Lately, the company has been using
, the social-networking tool, to connect with customers. Twitter has gained traction among professional golfers -- the PGA Tour's Stewart Cink and the LPGA Tour's Morgan Pressel are regular users.
Cutting-edge technology is all well and good, but Tour Edge hasn't forgotten that it made its name by offering value. Betting that a softening economy would hurt demand, the company introduced rebates and buy-one-get-one-free deals this year. Those efforts have helped it stay in the game.
"These types of promotions are a great way to help retailers move through product and motivate golfers who might not otherwise make purchases this year," Hubbard says.
Evan Rothman is a freelance writer living in Staatsburg, N.Y. His work has appeared in The New York Times, Sports Illustrated, Esquire, Men's Journal and other leading publications.