AMS Spring 2023

Golf Pro Rickie Fowler Swings a Custom 3D Printed Golf Club

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In a round up article, we looked at all of the developments in 3D printed golf clubs. On the whole, there have been a lot of initiatives and press releases, but little in progress for the average golfer. Now, we’re seeing some signs of true movement, though through a very non-average golfer: Rickie Fowler. The PGA Tour athlete showed off some of his gear in a recent article and one item in particular caught our attention.

Fowler’s club is reminiscent of the Cobra’s King Stingray 20, a 3D printed putter. In fact Cobra now offers at least five different 3D printed club models, selling for $349 each. They are reportedly made using HP’s metal binder jet technology by Parmatech.

According to GolfWRX, Rickie didn’t like the wings on the standard Stingray club.  He felt like the balance of the club was not right for him, with too much weight at the back. Cobra then customized the club for him, creating a lower weight, wingless version with the balance he likes most.

“A lot of mallets, you get weight in the back, where I feel like I’m kind of dragging a lot of times. If it’s not a face balanced putter, the face will swing open and I feel like it kind of stays there. So that was the reasoning for taking those off. There is a touch of toe hang on it, just to where there is a little bit of swing. The guys at Cobra were able to make that up. … They’re 3D printed, so that’s what’s nice. … We’re able to make little tweaks instead of having to make a completely new head. They can put that data in and print it up,” Fowler said.

I must confess that I have no idea what this man is saying. He’s using a lot of very specific jargon that surely make sense to golf lovers. However, I do know that I love that this club was easily customized to fit his wishes perfectly. To me, that is the dream of so much sporting equipment. We can create equipment that is more comfortable, better, and more accurate with 3D printing.

So far, my own thoughts on customization of golf clubs with 3D printing have been centered around taking a scan, designing grips perfect for a single individual, or looking at the biomechanics of your swing and crafting the perfect club for a player. I’ve also looked at incorporating dampening structures on the handle so you can hit more balls accurately. There’s also the possibility of putting a dampener at the head, so that the vibration can be directed to where it needs to be. I really think that these kinds of improvements will play a role in sports going forward. However, there is an application that I had not sufficiently considered.

Imagine having a tailor with whom you can talk about your golf clubs—maybe like a caddy but with a 3D printer. You could explain what you like and need in ¨golf-speak¨ and that person would completely and totally understand you. They get you, your vocabulary, and what it is that you need. And, through their golf knowledge and 3D printing ability, they’re able to design the perfect club just for you. This kind of a bespoke club experience could very well play a role in the future of couture golf.

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