Business is booming for Avoda Golf, the fledging club maker of Bryson DeChambeau’s bulge and roll irons

PINEHURST, N.C. – A TV showing the third round of the 124th U.S. Open positioned just outside his friend’s garage workshop kept Tom Bailey abreast of how Bryson DeChambeau was doing with the irons he made him.

“We’ve been running out watching them hit a shot running back in building golf clubs, running back out, watch them hit another shot,” Bailey said from his home in Northern California. “I’ve been involved in building every single set that we’ve had go out the door. It’s definitely been a different few months. It turns out building a set of golf clubs to play golf with actually means you don’t play any golf at all.”

What started as a hobby has quickly become a career for Bailey. All he wanted to do was build a better set of clubs for himself. Once he did that he figured he could sell 50 sets a year to fund his golf habit and Avoda Golf, a besoke golf club company, was born. But the business model changed when Bryson DeChambeau hired him to build a prototype set of single-length irons made through 3-D printing to his exacting specifications with bulge and roll and inserted them in the bag for the Masters. He proceeded to shoot 65 in the opening round at Augusta National and the irons became one of the biggest stories of the week at the most-watched golf tournament of the year.

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“Definitely accelerated timelines a lot faster than we were expecting but what an opportunity for a new business,” he said. “We’re having to learn a lot and learn quick but we’re good learners.”

It’s a remarkable story given that the equipment business is dominated by behemoths such as Titleist, TaylorMade, Callaway and Ping, which began making clubs more than 50 years ago in garage, too. Cobra unceremoniously parted ways with DeChambeau, who found a Krank driver he swears by. He was steered to Bailey by his longtime coach Mike Schy, and the first batches of Avoda clubs were built at Schy’s Academy at Dragon Fly Golf Club, not far from where DeChambeau grew up in Madera, California. Bailey said he didn’t know until the Tuesday of the Masters that the clubs he made would be put in play.

“The prototypes only came in the week before the Masters,” he recalled. “At that point, we believed we were still in the prototyping phase. So we had no reason to even think that they will be in play for the Masters.”

Bailey’s phone began ringing off the hook from individuals and clubs that wanted to get their hands on his single-length irons.

“We sold all our stock very quickly and were lucky we had more inventory on the way. Sold all that very quickly again. So right now we’re on about eight to 12 week lead time on fulfillment,” he explained.

He figured he’s been assembling about 15 sets per day since the Masters.

“Everything’s been so nonstop that we haven’t really had that chance yet to sit, pause and go right, ‘What’s the next step?’” Bailey said. “All I wanted to do was build myself a set of golf clubs, and it got very carried away.”

The PGA Championship in May was a repeat of the Masters as DeChambeau finished second, one shot shy of a playoff. The Avoda name was getting some traction and the PGA pushed it up another level.

“I think a lot of people had been kind of sitting on the fence and not sure they wanted to commit yet. That definitely changed when Bryson was in contention. It reinforced that the irons were working again that week, and he almost got it.”

Bailey said he’s been surprised at the talk about the irons beings 3-D printed rather than the fact the clubs have curved faces.

“The 3-D printing was not our first option. It was just a method of rapid prototyping sets for Bryson,” Bailey said. “The plan all along was to create an actual mold for the head and create almost a better quality club. We realize that 3-D printing has its limitations on the materials you can use.”

Bailey said he has more stock arriving soon from Asia and he’s hired some additional staff to accommodate the demand. As part of the expansion of the business, he hopes to create a custom-fitting approach, which he said remains the best way to get someone set up with the best clubs.

“Everyone is asking when they can get their hands on the Bryson clubs,” Bailey said.

With DeChambeau holding a three-stroke lead going into the final round, Bailey is anticipating there will be no rest for the weary. That’s a great problem and one he never could’ve imagined when he set out to make a better set of clubs for himself. He predicted that he will be better prepared for the surge in demand if DeChambeau takes the title than he was at the Masters when DeChambeau opted to put the clubs in play on short notice. But is he really ready for the phone to be ringing and the website to blow up?

Ask me that question again in a few days,” he said, “and I’ll give you another answer.”

Story originally appeared on GolfWeek