GOLF EQUIPMENT

Company Profile:
Paax Golf Shoots
from Down Under

By Shane Sharp,
Contributing Writer


MATTEWS, N.C. – In the little town of Matthews, just outside of Charlotte, sits a little store with a big mission. Paax Golf, Inc. is an Australian based golf club manufacturer that believes that buying a new set of clubs shouldn’t be rocket science, and it shouldn’t set you back a college tuition payment.

Paax is the largest manufacturer of golf clubs down under, and CEO Tom Rapone hopes to tap the lucrative U.S. market with a straightforward strategy – offer clubs of high quality at a low price.

“Golf is a very competitive market. The only way to break through is to offer a quality club at a very competitive price,” says Rapone. “We have all that in the Paax line.”

Paax clubs are handcrafted from components to exact specifications in the Paax facility in South Australia. Rapone says this creates a top-notch product, and he points to research by the engineering department at the University of Adelaide in Australia that suggests there isn’t much difference between Paax clubs and name brands dominating the market at higher costs.

“They tested them against the higher ends and they actually rated above two of the major manufacturers and even with a third, as far as quality of clubs and consistency,” Rapone says.

Paax’s contention is that most golfers won’t be able to tell a measurable difference between its moderately priced clubs, and those that sell for three and four times as much. Rapone also believes that the Paax clubs that you can buy off the shelf should be an ideal fit for 95 percent of golfers out there.

“We will hand make and custom fit the clubs if the need be, for free,” says Rapone. “The average golfer can play good with the standard club we sell in the store.”

For now, those clubs are coming in two models.

Paax is initially selling its two most popular models – the Olympus 2000 and the Black Opal – in addition to bags, balls, gloves, umbrellas and other accessories. The clubs come in complete sets of 3-iron through pitching wedge, plus three woods, and are available only at the Paax Golf Center and at golf pro shops.

John Gamble, a long-time clubmaker and owner of Carolina Golf Manufacturing in Charlotte, recently evaluated a set of the Paax Olympus clubs and gave them a positive grade.

“They have good components, they set up well and have a good feel,” says Gamble, who also compliments the craftsmanship. “I’d say these are first class clubs.”

As for prices, suggested retail for a set of men’s or women’s Olympus 2000 is $399 for steel shafts and $550 for graphite. The Black Opals come with True Temper steel shafts and retail for $450. Those prices include three woods and a full set of irons. All clubs carry a five-year guarantee on components and workmanship.

It will be a challenge for Paax to sway the American public to swing its clubs. But Rapone has a conservative business model with realistic goals for distribution and sales. The company won’t pay millions for star endorsements and advertising campaigns, electing instead to start slowly and build a customer base in the Carolinas before moving to other states.

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Rapone has also worked a deal with the popular Carolina Blonde Amateur Golf Tour to create brand awareness. Paax is now an associate tour sponsor and will use the tour’s stronghold in several Carolinas markets to demo the clubs. Blonde Tour directors also serve as sales reps.

“We want people to know Paax is golf. We only do golf, we don’t do football, tennis or soccer,” says Rapone. “Everything that Paax does is golf, and the Carolina Blonde Tour is all golf – pure and simple.”

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