The Challengers Bob Vokey
Bob Vokey, an older man with white hair, walks along a golf course, carrying golf clubs.
Bob Vokey [off-screen]: To me, an engineer was somebody who drove a train and wore a funny hat. I'm not an engineer. I'm a golf guy.
Onscreen text: Charles Schwab Presents
Bob Vokey [onscreen]: I'm Bob Vokey. I work on wedges because I want to help improve your game.
Onscreen text: The Challengers
A series about people who question. Engage. Succeed.
Bob walks along a golf course.
Bob: I had visions of playing the game. I thought at one time when I came to the United States, I tried to play the mini-tours, but I realized my three, four, five handicap's not gonna catch it. I was hittin' a 3-wood in the par fives and these guys are hittin' irons in. I realized, uh-uh, I don't have that game. But I always dabbled in clubs; it was like a hobby with me. So I decided, you know what? I can't play this game. I'm gonna work on golf clubs. So I went and worked in a little golf shop in Anaheim, California, called Syd's Custom Golf, learning about persimmon woods and refinishing and reshafting, regripping. And that's basically how it started.
Bob walks through an office hallway.
Bob [off-screen]: I wrote an article years ago that said, "Golf courses are too long. It's too expensive. And the game is too hard." It was all negatives. And I honestly think it's become a bombers' game.
Bob talks on the factory floor, wearing safety glasses.
Bob [onscreen]: My mission is always to help people play better golf. How can I make this game more enjoyable? How can I give players more confidence?
Onscreen text: How can I make this game more enjoyable? How can I give players more confidence?
Bob [off-screen]: The average player hits four, five, six greens a round. But you'll see them—they're out there trying to hit that 300-yard drive. And they're never gonna do that 'cause they don't have the physical ability to do it. But what they do have, inside 100 yards, where 60% of their score comes from. So they're gonna save themselves a heck of a lot of shots 'cause they don't need that club head speed to hit that 300-yard drive.
A golf ball on a tee is struck by a club.
Bob [off-screen]: There is no perfect wedge for every player. I don't think it exists.
Bob talks in the factory.
Bob [onscreen]: That's why it's so important to be fit. You have to be fit. Go and get fit for wedges.
Bob holds the head of a golf club, turns it over, and draws on the edge of the club head with a black marker.
Bob [off-screen]: There's a perfect combination of wedges for every player. Different bounces and different grinds for different techniques of the players to be able to hit every shot that you possibly could hit.
Kevin Tassistro, a younger man with a goatee, talks.
Kevin Tassistro [onscreen]: Before Voke, it was pitching wedge and sand wedge. One grind for all.
Bob pulls the head of a wedge out of a rack of heads and draws on the edge of it with a black marker.
Kevin [off-screen]: Since Bob Vokey started to make wedges, we now have 23 different skews, 6 grinds, 9 different lofts, leading the way to the next generation of wedges. My name is Kevin Tassistro, and I am the Director of Development for Vokey® Wedges.
Bob and Kevin walk along a golf course, carrying equipment.
Kevin [off-screen]: Bob, he's the one that said we need to add more lofts. We need to add more grinds.
Bob [off-screen]: Not every player is the same. Everybody has different techniques, different shot requirements, different courses they play, too. Different greens.
Bob and Kevin stand on a golf course. Bob hands Kevin a golf club.
Bob [onscreen]: I learn from not just tour players. I learn from the weekend golfer, the avid golfer.
Kevin hits a golf ball out of a sand trap as Bob watches.
Bob [off-screen]: Look at their swing type. Are they upright? Which I call digger swing. Or a slider?—shallow-cut swing.
On a golf course, Bob holds six golf clubs; hands one to Kevin.
Bob [off-screen]: I ask them what's working. But you know what gives me more? What's not working. That's important too.
On a golf course, Bob hands Kevin a club and points down the course. Kevin hits a ball.
Bob [off-screen]: 'Cause this is a game of misses. It's a very tough game. So I try to solve what's not working. A lot of these players, good players, I can give them any kinda grind, they can hit it Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, when they practice. But can they hit that shot on the backside, Sunday afternoon? Can they hit it under the gun? That's so important.
Bob talks on the factory floor.
Bob [onscreen]: They give me all that input. Then I take that input, go in, and grind a wedge to their specifications.
Bob, wearing heavy leather gloves, grinds a golf club head on a bench grinder.
Kevin [off-screen]: When I first came on board, I asked Bob, "What do all these grinds mean? Where do the letters come from?"
A man in blue rubber gloves uses punches to incise letters into a golf club head, and then polishes the club head.
Kevin [off-screen]: He said, "Oh, it's what I made for specific players." He's got S-grinds for Stricker. He's got T-grinds for Tom Pernice. K-grind was Tom Kite. V-grind is Vijay Singh. Lefty is L, which was Phil Mickelson.
Bob: Before, it took me a week, two weeks to come up with a prototype, or if I could grind one. Doing it by computer, it's so exact. You're able to develop—from all the SM1, 2, 3, 4, 5s—knowledge that we gain there, put it into SM6, SM7, and now further on to SM8.
Bob polishes a club head at a workbench.
Bob [off-screen]: I was maybe a doubting Thomas, but it took me a couple years to get used to being able to accept that a computer can do what I can do with my hands.
Bob walks along the floor of a factory.
Onscreen text: I come here every day
Bob [off-screen]: I come here every day. This is where I live. This is what keeps me young, seeing these unbelievable people that I work with. I absolutely, totally love what I do, and I get asked many times, "How long you gonna keep going, Voke?" I said, "Well, I'm gonna keep going as long as I possibly can."
Onscreen text: Almost 50% of wedges on tour are 'Vokeys'
Bob walks through the factory.
Bob [off-screen]: It's neat to be able to say that you worked with some of the best players in the world, and you helped them play their best golf. But you know what? Where I get my thrill is somebody'll say, "Mr. Vokey, since I've had Titleist® Vokey® wedges, my game has improved so much. I thank you very much." That's my gratification, right there.
Onscreen text: Voke has worked with 22 of the 23 players ever to be world #1
A man works a lathe in the factory.
Onscreen text: Ask questions. Be engaged.
Onscreen text: [Charles Schwab logo] Own your tomorrow
Bob: If you wanted to know the honest truth, some of my happiest moments of my career were behind a wheel.
In the factory, Bob uses a grinding wheel to shape a club head.
Onscreen: [Charles Schwab logo] [PGA Tour logo] The Official Investment Firm
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Onscreen text: Thanks to Acushnet Company
How can I give players more confidence?