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The service provided by Mizuno’s workshop technicians played a major part in its domination of the PGA European Tour. More Mizuno iron sets have competed on tour in the last ten seasons (1995-2004) than any other brand. As a result rival manufacturers have introduced their own workshops to protect their sponsored players from exposure to Mizuno’s products.
The workshop trailer is split to two areas, the workshop itself and an office. While the workshop accommodates heavy tools for shaft cutting, head grinding, grip attachment and loft and lie measurement, much of the space is given to storage. At any one time the workshop will hold 1500 shafts, 6000 grips, and 100 sets of iron heads.
The majority of work undertaken by Mizuno’s team is maintenance based with time spent checking the players loft and lies and replacing worn grips. The workshop also provides a platform to promote Mizuno products to Europe’s leading professionals, whilst being a key link in the R&D process. Equipment tastes and trends are fed back to Mizuno’s R&D centre through its Japanese technicians, whilst new prototypes have a platform to be tested by near perfect swings.
The change from persimmon to metal woods and proliferation of rival workshops created a big impact on the way the workshop operates. While persimmon headed woods allowed a variety of options through shaping and binding, today’s metal woods are less labour intensive. With head shapes fixed, the emphasis is now on testing and correct shaft selection.
While new workshops introduced by Mizuno’s competitors have not managed to stop their sponsored players from using the Mizuno facility (Mizuno are the last workshop remaining on a Sunday afternoon), they have reduced Mizuno’s workload, allowing the technicians to spend more time with its own iron users - to perfect their specification and set make up.
The Mizuno workshop attends any event on the PGA European Tour it can physically reach. With tournaments out of reasonable driving distance in South Africa, Australia and Malaysia the workshop is limited to 25 events a year, with its first showing of the season at the Portuguese Open in April.
In contrast to expectation the workshop’s busiest moments are at the Portuguese Open and annual Tour School. The Portuguese Open is often the players first chance to receive a full Mizuno equipment service while they tune their game for the season’s bigger events. At the Tour School the staff are bombarded with Challenge Tour players with their one yearly opportunity to us its facilities.
Andy Kikidas, a protégé of the now retired Barry Willett from St Georges Hill is the current manager of the workshop, “Although many things have changed in the last 18 years, the workshop is one constant that the players can rely on. The technicians sent each year from Japan are second to none and often players prefer their work to that of their sponsors. Plus they know that the Mizuno workshop will be first to arrive and last to leave. That level of trust can only be built over many years.”
(March 16, 2012)