Danny Le talks Graphite Golf Shafts

by Dan M | Posted on Saturday, September 30th, 2017

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TOM WARD
TOMPWARD@SBCGLOBAL.NET

Recently I dropped by headquarters of UST Mamiya (United Sports
Technologies) located just south of DFW International airport. UST
Mamiya manufacturers and markets the most innovative high performance
graphite golf shafts in the world since 1991 and is the leader in the
graphite iron shaft market with their game changing Recoil iron
shafts.
The UST Mamiya graphite shafts are the best I’ve ever played. I
use the Recoil 660 shafts in my irons and hybrids and really like the
feel I get when striking the ball. I can tell you from my own personal
experience these shafts are a real game changer.
While there I was given a guided tour by Danny Le who is the
Director of Marketing for the company. Afterwards we visited in his
office where I learned his fascinating story of how he ended up at UST
Mamiya and the incredible journey to get there. Mr. Le is quite the
renaissance man and been in the golf business for 17 years.
DL: I’ve been on all sides of the business like the retail side, off
course side, green grass side and then I spent five years at an
equipment manufacturer OEM Bridgestone Golf where I was the marketing
manager there. Now I’m on the supplier side with UST Mamiya since
2012. From my perspective I’ve seen all the different changes out
there in the golf landscape with the consolidation that’s going on in
the marketplace.”
TW: As Director of Marketing at UST Mamiya what are your specific
duties?

DL: I do everything. Initially I was hired as a marketing
manager. My responsibility was dealing with the product side figuring
out and creating pricing structure, graphics, POP and working with the
different magazines and publications like Golf Digest or Golfweek and
on-line golf forums. Our focus is social media and golf forums and
more word of mouth. I work with my R & D team developing new products
working closely with our engineers on new concepts. Working with my
graphics team to develop the branding and look of the product while at
the same time working on pricing structure where it needs to be in
market place with my VP of sales. Also, I work closely with my social
media girl to develop content for Facebook, Twitter, You Tube and
Instagram. I’m responsible for the Tour department as well. We have
two full time tour reps one covers the PGA Tour named Scott Wilkerson
and the other Patrick Dempsey for the Web.Com Tour.”
TW: How did you first get interested in the game of golf?
DL: It started when I was at University of Texas. It was my brother’s
birthday and we decided to get a golf set. I’m not sure why, but it
was a basic $200 set and we went to the driving range. We thought it
was fun as I would miss 3 times taking a swing with a driver and then
I would hit one good and I thought that was cool. One of my buddies
who was into golf said,” let’s go play a round”. I didn’t have any
clubs so I went to Academy and got a smorgasbord of stuff. We went to
Riverside golf club on the south side of Austin. We showed up to the
first tee me and my buddy with only one bag with like 20 clubs in
there. The pro came out and said you have to have 2 bags to play.
However to the pros credit he was nice about it. So I think golf to me
has always been about growing the game and meeting people while
enjoying the experience of your friends on the golf course.”
TW: From there could you have ever imagined that you would end up
forging a long and successful career in the golf industry?
DL: No! I never thought I would be in the golf business. From that
day on I fell in love with the game. I liked the challenge of the
game. Also, the idea of meeting new people from different walks of
life and having something in common with them. The best part for me is
the experience of the people I get to play with. When I graduated from
U.T. I kind of got into golf by accident. I was looking for a summer
job before I started looking for a real job. I began working at a
retail shop in Austin called ‘Instant Replay Golf’ which was a mom and
pop store. While working there I started thinking I want to do
something in golf. So from that day on I worked my way into getting a
job in the game beyond the retail world. It took me a long time to
make contacts, but I finally did with Bridgestone Golf which was based
in Georgia. At the time it was a great opportunity because it was a
small company. During this period of time I met my girlfriend in
Austin who would later become my wife. She was moving from Austin to
Dallas. So in September of 2006 I packed up my Honda Accord and moved
out there. She helped me move so we drove from Dallas to Atlanta. I
was there for 5 years and it was a great opportunity for me and a
great company to work for that was Japanese owned. When I decided to
marry my wife her family lives here in Arlington and my family was in
Dallas I took the opportunity to join UST Mamiya which was based here.
I knew Robb Schikner who is our C.O.O. now when he used to be VP of
sales and marketing. I called him one day to ask him if we could meet
for dinner and I asked him if he had any openings at UST here in
Dallas? He told me that the timing was good because they were looking
to hire someone full time. I took the job and have never looked back.”
Speaking of looking back Le is a man that came from humble
beginnings and learned along the way how to deal with adversity and
ultimately persevere despite the odds. He was born in Vietnam. In
1979, his family moved to the U.S and settled in Dallas.
DL: My parents have four kids and I’m the third of four. We lived in
the projects for about 4 years before we got out as fast as we could.
It’s one of those things where we came to America and my parents
worked hard and we were able to eventually live in a modest home. My
Mom or Dad never graduated high school back in Vietnam. They got out
of Vietnam to give us a better life. My oldest brother went to
University of Texas Engineering school. My second oldest brother went
to University of Houston and me and my sister went to U.T. I got my
degree in Sports Marketing. So all four kids graduated from college.
It’s a really cool story where you have 6 people coming to a foreign
country and not speaking a lick of English and having to learn the
culture and language.”
TW: So how often do you get to play these days and over the years
working in the golf industry what kind of player have you become?
DL: When I started I was a bad golfer. I did have good hand and eye
coordination. I was able to break 100 the first time I played.
Ultimately, I became a scratch golfer, but it took me a long time to
get there. Once I had my first kid I would try to play with myself and
my wife once every 2 weeks. If I played 12 to 15 times a year that was
great. After we had our second kid that boiled down to once a month
maybe or month and a half. Last year I registered about 12 rounds. I
typically play Timarron because I live like 10 minutes from there.
Honestly, I wish I was closer to some muni courses because I grew up
played those kind of courses in Austin. I loved playing those type of
golf courses. I’ve played 4 or 5 times here in Dallas and the rest of
the time it was business golf in California, Oregon and Florida. I
have picked up Tennis again as I use to be a Tennis player. The kids
keep me busy like my daughter Addison who will turn 4 in November
she’s doing gymnastics, swimming and next thing you know it will be
soccer. Olivia my youngest will turn 2 in October.”
TW: Do you attend any of the PGA or Web.com tournaments outside of
the Byron Nelson or Dean & Deluca which are here locally ?
DL: I try to go to them at least once a quarter to see what’s going
on in the marketplace. I do it for market research and to spend time
with my tour guy and secondly to work with all the OEM’s. This way I
can get a feel for our competitors and what’s going on with the new
equipment.
TW: What’s on the horizon for UST Mamiya that golfers should be on
the lookout for?
DL: Our Recoil iron shafts. It’s a 100% graphite material that we
introduced several years ago. At the time we were trying to figure out
where should we focus our efforts and money towards? The woods side
is definitely where you want to be because most people associate golf
with hitting your driver and not necessarily your irons. Our
competitors were all focused on the drivers and metal woods so we
decided to shift our focus on the iron side since no one really paid
attention because steel shafts were such a dominate force. We focused
our energy on the brand Recoil and the category and fast forward to
2017 and we are the number one graphite shaft in the business. We sold
over 2 million units which is a ton of shafts. They feel great to hit
and we use modern techniques to make the shafts. It performs just as
good if not better than steel shafts, but with all the benefits of
graphite. Because of less vibrations it’s going to be better for
golfers wrists and elbows. When people test our shafts the first thing
they notice is that they hit it straighter and that’s because of the
design technique and the materials that we use. The great side benefit
is it’s going to be better on your body long term. The amount of
beating when you go to the range to hit balls hurts your body and the
amount of operation dampening on graphite versus steel is so much
better.
To learn more about UST Mamiya and how you can purchase your own
set of high tech golf shafts please visit their website at
www.USTmamiya.com
Tom can be contacted at www.teetimewithtom.com

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