SCOREGolf.com article By Rick Young Created: September 20, 2019
The Gareth Raflewski portfolio is expanding.
Speculating which high-profile LPGA or PGA tour player the London, Ont.-based swing and short game coach is about to take on is reasonable conjecture at this point, especially since CP Women’s Open champion Jin Young Ko; Ariya and Moriya Jutanugarn; Jane Park and PGA Tour rookie Michael Gligic (to name only a few) are all part of the Northern Irishman’s stable.
There has also been quiet speculation about Brooke Henderson perhaps seeking his short game counsel, a natural fit since the nine-time LPGA Tour winner and Raflewski are both PING brand ambassadors.
That said this newest business activation for the Riverbend G&CC instructor is not player related.
Raflewski, a PGA of Canada member who is originally from Ireland, has joined forces with Barrie, Ont., golf distribution company Catalyst Golf on a new signature line of instructional products. The first two — the Raflewski Tour Putting Ruler and Raflewski Tour Putting Disc — are set to be launched next month with three more — a Raflewski Tour branded chipping board, glasses, and a swing connection device — being added with no set timetable going forward.
While a couple of the products have had previous incarnations in the retail space, the Raflewski-inspired versions have been conceptualized by the instructor’s personal experience and through working with his professional students.
“They’re things that I’m looking around and thinking, ‘OK, what can I use out on tour with the players?’” explained Raflewski during an interview at the RBC Canadian Open. “Basically, I design things that I want, things I know will get results.”
Prior to our conversation on the Hamilton G&CC putting green I watched Gligic and Raflewski using a prototype version of the ruler, a multi-purpose 36-inch product that covers off key putting essentials including alignment, aim, impact control, acceleration, speed, distance control and green reading.
The numbers around the outside of the Raflewski Tour Putting Disc — set up in the form of a clock — assist users with green reading and how to better read and execute a breaking putt.
Ko, arguably the best putter on any worldwide tour, has been using one since turning to Raflewski for short game coaching last November. Currently, she is the No. 1 women’s player in the world with four wins this season including two majors. She is a lock to be the LPGA’s player of the year.
“I’ve been using one (ruler) for a long time,” Raflewski said. “Nothing complicated about it but it’s been quite effective for all my players.”
A natural extension of the ruler is the Raflewski Tour Putting Disc.
Diameter-wise, it is the same as a regulation golf hole and features a raised edge on the outside of a smaller target hole. Raflewski refers to the smaller target as “The Make Zone” or to be more specific, dead centre of the hole.
The purpose of the raised edge is to reject a putt hit too slowly while one hit too firm rolls over the edge and out the back.
Line, pace, and green reading have all been incorporated into the Raflewski Tour Putting Disc.
“Catalyst Golf does all the manufacturing and prototyping,” he explained. “We’ve been back-and-forth on a lot of details the past few months but these (ruler and disc) are getting very close now. When they approached me and asked if I had any ideas I said sure. The five products in the pipeline are fun. Most importantly they can help people play better.”
Putting his signature on any training aid is not something Raflewski takes lightly. That said it didn’t take him long to realize that the fit with Catalyst Golf and founder, Wayne McDonald, a former high ranking Canadian amateur player, was an ideal one and that McDonald’s previous retail and industry experience with another short-game guru, Dave Pelz, as well as Evnroll putter designer Guerin Rife was a good omen.
For McDonald it was a natural fit for the Catalyst Golf brand.
“We’re a Canadian company always looking for Canadian content,” said McDonald, who moved back to Canada from the United States four years ago. “I found out Gareth was here, heard what he was accomplishing on the LPGA Tour and I wound up meeting him at the PGA Show last year. I asked him what he had going on with product and if he was interested in doing some things. He said yes so we got together. We’re proud to be working with him.”
Through early conversations that focused on methodology and performance standards, McDonald and Raflewski were immediately on the same page. Their goal, while ambitious, was simple: produce a quality line of products based on the instructor’s specific training theories.
Each training aid includes a series of Raflewski inspired drills to maximize its use.
“Not everyone can get a lesson from Gareth,” said McDonald, “but if we can take products to market for the consumer which insert his training protocols and lessons that’s a win-win.”
Adding Raflewski to the CatalystGolf.com inventory that already includes the Pelz, Evnroll and PuttOUT brands is exciting for McDonald who says the company is working on a distribution strategy for its Raflewski Tour-branded products that includes green grass clubs, off-course retail and e-commerce sales through the CatalystGolf.com website.
Work remains to put those details in place. McDonald also explained there is another aspect of the new partnership with Raflewski that Catalyst Golf will also administer.
“He’s had the top two women players in the world the past two years so part of our responsibility with this initiative is to make sure Gareth gets more exposure,” he said. “I know he’s not about that. He prefers to let his students’ results stand on their own merit but potentially he’s under-marketed so we have a role to play. This guy should be bigger than he is.”
With a new line of signature tour products a heightened Gareth Raflewski brand is waiting in prospect.
CatalystGolf.com has many golf products available online today including two new Dave Pelz products, the Pelz Player Island Green and Backyard Golf Kits, as well as PuttOut and Evnroll products. Get more product information and sign up for release dates on the new Raflewski Tour products at firstname.lastname@example.org or at CatalystGolf.com.