Grouchy Golf Blog

Monday, January 21, 2008 at 8:42 PM

Has Titleist Jumped the Shark?

My friends over at the Sand Trap got the latest scoop on Titleist's upcoming 2008 iron lines. It includes four new models, the AP1, AP2, ZB and ZM. My first reaction was, "Oh crap, has Titleist just jumped the shark?"

"What the hell does that mean?" you ask? Well it's an entertainment industry term that refers to the point when a successful show has passed its peak. The phrase refers to a scene in "Happy Days" where Fonzie (Henry Winkler), wearing swim trunks and his trademark leather jacket, jumps over a shark while water skiing. The sheer ridiculousness of that scene sent the popular TV show into a ratings tailspin. Now it has been used as a metaphor for anything that has passed it's peak. I use it often to describe some of my favorite companies when they start to make crappy products.

For example, one of my favorite car companies was BMW. Ever since I could remember, BMW had consistently improved the aesthetic designs of their cars. Amazingly, each generation of their models had improved upon the previous generation in both form and function. That is, until one Christopher Edward Bangle became BMW's Chief of Design in 1992. Soon thereafter, BMW produced cars that were more Rosie O'Donnell rather than Angelina Jolie. My friends over at The Truth About Cars wrote, "Chris Bangle’s designs are still a shock to the system. I still cringe whenever one of the BMW's 'flame surfaced' 7 Series hoves into view. I still shake my head when I catch a glimpse of a 5 Series’ mascara headlights. I still avert my eyes when any of his models drive past, for fear of glimpsing the rightfully reviled 'Bangle butt.'" I couldn't describe my feelings about the "Bangle Mangle" any better. I swear that the people who buy these new bimmers are suffering from a kind of "beer goggle" phenomenon produced by the BMW badge. Take that bavarian logo away, and they'd quickly realize that their beauty was really a beast. Yes, BMW jumped the shark!

Similarly, I believe that the same fate may be in store for my beloved Titleist. IMHO, Titleist is the premier all-around golf company. If I had to equip myself with golf gear from only one company, there's no doubt that I'd choose Titleist. Most serious golfers would do likewise. But that may all change based on the early teaser shots of their new iron lines. Of course it's premature to base anything from a couple of photos, but aesthetics are an important feature of an iron's design. Unfortunately these new Titleist irons just don't do it for me. They are a dramatic design departure that reminds me of BMW's recent history. Well, I guess it doesn't look like my garage will feature a new bimmer or a new set of Titleists anytime soon!