Series to Show Aspiring Equipment Designers as They Work to Turn Their Concepts into the Next Wilson Staff Driver
Life-Changing Prize of $500,000 – Largest in Golf Channel History – to be Awarded to the Winner on the Nov. 22 Finale; Winning Driver to Hit Retail Stores Nationwide Three Days Later on Black Friday, Nov. 25
Former Chicago Bears Linebacker and Avid Golfer Brian Urlacher Headlines Panel of Judges Critiquing Finalists’ Designs
ORLANDO, Fla., Oct. 3, 2016 – Driver vs. Driver presented by Wilson, a first-of-its-kind television series following the trials and tribulations of aspiring golf equipment designers as they collaborate with the award-winning Wilson LABS innovation team to develop golf’s next cutting edge driver, makes its network premiere on Golf Channel, Tuesday at 10 p.m. ET.
The seven episode series will air on Tuesdays this fall, concluding Nov. 22, where a life-changing grand prize will be awarded: $500,000 in cash, the largest grand prize in Golf Channel history. Three days later on Black Friday (Nov. 25), the newest Wilson Staff driver inspired by the winning concept will be available for purchase at hundreds of retail and golf course pro shop stores across the country.
The premise of the series: Wilson Golf issued an open call and declared an unprecedented challenge to develop an innovative concept that can be transformed into Wilson Golf’s newest driver. From an initial pool of more than 300 entries, the series will feature 11 finalists, who range from aerospace engineers, former golf professionals, club manufacturers and marketers and college students, presenting their concepts and developing ideas alongside engineers at Wilson LABS – the innovative hub at Wilson.
Driver vs. Driver will give viewers an exclusive inside look at the golf club design process from taking prototypes to reality, taking viewers from Wilson’s Global Headquarters in Chicago and its manufacturing facility in Southeast Asia to on-location at various golf events, where PGA TOUR professionals and stars from the world of sports and entertainment will test out several of the driver concepts. In addition, visits to the hometowns of the finalists will be packaged into special features interspersed throughout the series.
PRESENTATIONS AND JUDGES: The first two episodes (Tuesday, Oct. 4 and Tuesday, Oct. 18) of Driver vs. Driver will feature the 11 finalists pitching their concepts to a panel of expert judges at Wilson’s Global Headquarters: former Chicago Bears linebacker and avid golfer Brian Urlacher, former USGA Technical Director Frank Thomas and President of Wilson Golf Tim Clarke. The judges will evaluate and critique the presentations, narrowing down the field to six after the second episode on Oct. 18. Two-time PGA TOUR winner and Wilson Advisory Staff member Kevin Streelman joins the series as a judge beginning with the third episode on Tuesday, Oct. 25.
DRIVER VS. DRIVER FINALISTS: The series’ finalists are a diverse cast. Some of the finalists are well versed in the sport of golf, while others have never taken up the game but have extensive engineering and design backgrounds.
- Jonathan Dineen, Wilmington, N.C. – An industrial engineer whose driver concept was his thesis at Appalachian State University.
- Richard Gischer, Crowley, Texas; and Kimberly Leonard, Pinckneyville, Ill. – A brother-sister team with golf, sales and communications expertise.
- Kyle Hanquist and Kevin Neitzel, Ann Arbor, Mich. – Colleagues and friends at the University of Michigan who are PhD students in aerospace engineering.
- Jimmy Huynh, Brian Mar, Patrick Soriano, Sheila Pancani and Matt Ulery, Long Beach, Calif. – Seniors in the industrial design program at California State University.
- Branndon Jones and Ryan Nelson, Knoxville, Tenn. – High school friends who are studying at the University of Tennessee.
- Steve Kirouac, Welland, Ontario, Canada – A retired art teacher.
- Weston Maughan, Draper, Utah – A former golf professional now working in the business sector.
- Matt Purtell, Sonoma, Calif. – An avid golfer and building contractor.
- Eric Sillies, Cincinnati, Ohio – A product designer who interned at Dick’s Sporting Goods in college, helping the aesthetic direction for the 2012 Nickent golf club line.
- Gavin Wallin, Eagle Mountain, Utah – A product designer who has extensive experience in golf club design with multiple manufacturers.
- Karl West, Victoria, British Columbia, Canada – A long time golf instructor and a self-professed “tinkerer” who enjoys conceptualizing and designing golf clubs in his basement lab.
MELANIE COLLINS HOSTS: Sports broadcaster Melanie Collins will serve as the host of Driver vs. Driver. Currently a sideline reporter for CBS’ college football and basketball coverage, Collins also was a co-host for Golf Channel’s competition series, Big Break.
ABOUT WILSON SPORTING GOODS:
Chicago-based Wilson Sporting Goods Co., a subsidiary of Amer Sports, is one of the world’s leading manufacturer of sports equipment, apparel and accessories. Wilson Golf is a global leader in high performance golf equipment and uses player insights to design products that push golf innovation into new territories. Through its dedication to creating products that enable athletes at every level to perform at their best, Wilson has earned its place as a leader in sporting goods for over a century.
ABOUT GOLF CHANNEL
Golf Channel is a multimedia, golf entertainment and services company based in Orlando, Fla. Serving the most-affluent audience in all of television, Golf Channel – co-founded by Arnold Palmer in 1995 and now part of NBC Sports Group – is available in more than 200 million homes in 84 countries and 11 languages around the world. Golf Channel features more live golf coverage than all other networks combined, including tournament action from the PGA TOUR, LPGA Tour, The Open Championship, Olympics, and Ryder Cup, as well as high-quality news, instruction and original programming. Golf Channel’s digital platforms, headed by Golf Channel Digital, are leading golf digital destinations, delivering unmatched coverage of the world of golf. Fans are able to enjoy 24/7 live streaming of Golf Channel content through Golf Live Extra and NBC Sports Live Extra and select programming is simulcast via SiriusXM’s PGA TOUR Radio. In addition, Golf Channel connects the world to golf through a wide array of digital and lifestyle services including Golf Channel Mobile, a comprehensive app covering golf’s latest headlines, scores and analysis; GolfNow, the world’s largest online tee time booking platform and golf course technology partner, which includes the GolfNow Mobile App, featuring on-course GPS tracking, in-round scoring and game tracking; GolfAdvisor.com, the world’s largest golf course ratings and review resource for golfers, by golfers; a North American network of Golf Channel Academy instructional facilities; and Golf Channel Am Tour, the world’s largest amateur golf tour.
-NBC Sports Group-