Chris Carnahan, the creative designer behind his boutique Carnahan Golf brand of putters and wedges, has left Pinemeadow Golf Products Inc. after an unsuccessful bid to purchase his product line from Carnahan’s parent company.
“It was a mutual and professional departure,” Carnahan, who designed, marketed, and sold the Carnahan line for Pinemeadow until three weeks ago, told us Wednesday by phone from his new position with Jones Sports Co., a golf-bag manufacturer in Portland, Ore. “I couldn’t continue to put all my time and passion into the brand if I didn’t have any equity in it.”
Pinemeadow, which owns the Carnahan brand name, never tried to compete for retail sales with the giants of the industry, choosing instead to focus on green grass shops, each of which may purchase as limited a number as one club from the company. President Guy Mount said the firm’s marketing strategy would remain the same as it has for the four years it has sold Carnahan wedges and putters, and he predicted an uptick in sales for 2012.
“It is not a profitable line but it is at the point where it is turning,” he said on Wednesday. “We are growing and investing back into the brand.”
The Carnahan line includes mostly milled-face putters and forged wedges. While most average golfers would be unable to tell the difference between hitting a forged or cast wedge, Mount claimed that tour pros believe the forged products provide a softer feel. Forged clubs typically eschew perimeter and heel-toe weighting, as well, which, Mount pointed out, provides a smaller sweet spot.
Carnahan, an ex-touring pro, joined Pinemeadow, a privately owned golf maker in Portland, in 2007. He designed the Insignia line of milled-face, weighted putters and Vintage forged wedges, which Pinemeadow will continue to sell exclusively through pro shops.
The Vintage forged wedges carry extra head weight, sport a vintage look, and have a modern sole grind, which Carnahan believes affords superior feel, spin, and control. Each wedge comes with three custom sole grinds to allow for optimal bounce, according to the company.
The 52- and 56-degree wedges are +2g heavier than the industry standard to allow for a greater sense of feel through the downswing, the company claims. The 60-degree wedge is 3 grams heavier than industry standard, which affords a higher launch out of bunkers. The Carnahan Vintag
Forged Wedge and V-Grooved Wedge are available in white chrome finishes, while the Gun Metal Wedge offers a gun-metal finish to reduce glare.
The company builds stock to 35.5 inches in all lofts, but customers may tailor each wedge for length, loft, and lie. Each is equipped with a True Temper Dynamic Golf shaft and Golf Pride custom Tour Velvet grip.
Insignia putters come in four traditional designs and one modern mallet in custom-built 33-, 34-, and 35-inch lengths and a variety of hosel shapes. Each is made from 304 stainless steel and comes with a custom Winn AVS putter grip and CC putter cover.
While Pinemeadow prides itself on the customized look and feel to its Carnahan line, the clubs do not carry “boutique” prices, Mount said. The original Vintage Forged and V-Grooved wedges retail for $99.95, while the Gun Metal Wedge goes for $119.95. Putters run from $99.95 to $119.95
Carnahan was proud of the work he did with Pinemeadow and his designs have developed a loyal following among golf’s cognoscente.
“The hardest part with Carnahan Golf was that no one knew who you were,” he said. “We let the product speak for itself and now people know who we are.”
While his name may not be attached to the golf products he’s selling now, Carnahan sounded equally as excited about relaunching what he called an “iconic” golf bag to the market. Jones will re-introduce on July 4 its original single-strap satchel in a variety of colors and a black Players Series bag –each with two pockets and made from lightweight but heavy-duty, “ballistic” nylon — with a stand bag and cart bag due next year.