Rob Lang was a 1995 NAIA National Champion Golf Team Member and an individual winner of 5 NCAA sanctioned tournaments in 1994-1995, and ever since he has worked in the golf and sporting goods industry. As a scratch golfer working for companies such as Callaway, Odyssey, and True Temper, Rob helped to set up fitting plans, designed loft optimization plans, developed market-leading innovations across irons, wedges, and putters, and served on expert test panels.
Lang has been a thought leader in the golf industry for decades and is driven by a passion for improving the experience. He takes pride in providing the best golf clubs possible. As one of the Founders and a Partner at Indi Golf, his goal is to offer individual golfers top-tier, quality products that will help them to not only perform at their best but enjoy the game at their best.
THE LANG STORY —
I am originally from Red Deer, Alberta, Canada. I was a very athletic kid that played just about any sport you can think of. Like most kids growing up in Canada, I wanted to become a professional hockey player. I focused all winter long on becoming the best player I could be. Then the summers came and I played baseball because it was what everyone else was doing. I wasn’t really excited about baseball, so one summer when I was 14, my Dad got me a junior membership at The Red Deer Golf and Country Club. My initial reaction was “golf is not a sport”, but my father proceeded to take me everyday and after about 4 days I was hooked. From that point forward my focus was all golf all the time. I took down all the hockey posters in my room and proceeded to put up posters of all the great golfers at that time.
Like most kids that spent all day at the golf course, I eventually got a job working in the bag room and golf shop. I became very interested in club building, finishing, and club repair. One of our club pros had gone to the San Diego Golf Academy and recommended that I look into it. Soon after I graduated from High School I headed to the San Diego Golf Academy.
I graduated from the San Diego Golf Academy and worked for a year at The Farms Golf Club in Rancho Santa Fe. My timing could not have been better, since all of the key executives of the major golf companies were members. It was there that I met Ely Callaway and Richard Helmstetter. For whatever reason they took a liking to me and had me become part of their product testing team. I went back to school and used this position to make a few extra bucks.
Shortly after graduation I went to work full time for Callaway Golf as part of their R&D team. I shared a cubicle with a young Dr. Alan Hocknell that had started a week before me. Over the next 6 years I developed a passion and skill for designing products that were game changing and that passion has stayed with me ever since. My career has taken me into other sporting goods industries but my passion has always been with golf. It is my goal, by using Indi golf, to bring this joy, passion, and love of the game to more and more people. Let’s remove the barriers and allow more people to get hooked like I did back when I was 14.
You wake up in the morning – what’s the driving passion?
Everyone at Indi Golf loves to play golf. Some of us are very accomplished players, and some of us are just discovering joy for the game for the first time. We endeavor to create equipment that allows any individual to share in our love for golf. Indi’s ideal vision for a golfs future is where all players, regardless of ability, can get outside and have a great time playing golf.
What was the genesis of Indi Golf?
The four founders of Indi come from decades of experience designing, developing, and testing golf equipment, as well as other sporting goods. We became increasingly concerned by the way the game is being marketed and cared for by the current stewards. We saw too many people losing enjoyment in the game, or being discouraged from even trying to learn. Indi is short for “individual” because we want every individual to discover how much fun it is to drop an approach shot 6 inches from the cup and have it stick.
How does Indi Golf separate itself from the clutter of other consumer options in the wedge category?
Very simply by focusing on performance related to spin and launch. Then taking this and combining it with forgiveness to make it easy to hit and feel buttery smooth. We feel wedges have not been researched and put on the same technology path as woods and irons. We want to close this gap and make the wedge game something that everyone can enjoy and use to improve their game and enjoyment.
Given the market share enjoyed by the biggest equipment companies, how do you plan to expand your company profile to golf consumers?
Our marketing strategy is to build our brand through word of mouth among the grassroots. The performance of StingRay brings converts to our brand on the first swing, so we aim to get as many people as possible to try it. That will be driven by a strong social media presence, as well as by exposing custom club builders and teachers to the short-game improving benefits of StingRay and StingRayTT for their customers.
Is the primary thrust of your effort going to be through online purchases?
Direct to consumer is the primary sales channel we focus on, but we also have global distribution partners to help spread awareness of Indi to overseas markets. We also are exploring ways to get our product into the hands of teaching professionals who can see the benefit of our wedges for their students.
Do you have any plans to engage green grass shops and those which are brick and mortar?
Eventually, we will be omnipresent in the golf retail landscape, but our desire to grow organically through focused efforts on the grassroots will allow our brand’s identity to develop in an authentic way. Green grass distribution is already in our sales mix, which is the obvious next step along our brand’s journey.
What’s the biggest mistake golfers make when deciding upon wedges?
We see a lot of casual players playing wedges with too much loft. Tour players use these higher lofts because they can control the angle of attack so well at contact. They get the proper compression on the ball to generate backspin and control their launch. Unless you are that good, there is no need to have a 60 or 64-degree wedge. You are losing a ton of backspin hitting too high on the face. 58 degrees is the most loft anyone should use in order to give them maximum control while still having the ability to hit a flop shot every once in a while.
They also tend to choose wedges based on who is using what on tour, instead of finding one that performs for them the best.
You highlight StingRay wedges have more thickness higher in the face. Outline the benefit.
Our proprietary ScoopBack design succeeds by moving mass higher in the face, and toward the toe. This allows us to optimize the location of the club’s CG, making the head more stable on off-center contact. Most casual players mishit high on the face. ScoopBack technology makes those high face contact shots go farther and straighter. Traditional wedges lose so much performance when a player doesn’t make perfect contact, so we designed StingRay to be forgiving. All your shots go the same distance and fly straight. Incidentally, we saw a bunch, if not all, of the incumbents, releasing new wedges with extra mass higher on the face. We couldn’t agree more with that concept. Imitation is flattery, after all.
Are you looking at other golf equipment areas to get involved with beyond wedges?
We are always evaluating opportunities to bring our philosophy to other products. Currently, we have identified another category that can benefit from our approach to product design and performance. While it would be premature to make any announcement about future plans now, rest assured that you will see the Indi stamp on more equipment in the near future.
Best advice you ever received — what was it and who from?
My parents have been a big influence on my life and how I live it. They have always told me “Treat others as you want to be treated”. I truly believe this has allowed me to excel in all aspects of life and business.
For more info go to: indigolfclubs.com