First Look at a young man, Corey Paul, bringing forged, customizable wedges to the market starting at $75.
I usually spend some time brainstorming ways to open up articles, but if that sentence doesn’t grab your attention- I’m not sure I could do any better. We will be diving into a brand showcase of Corey Paul functional art and how he plans to deliver quality customizable wedges to one of the sport’s most competitive industries.
The market demand continues to increase from consumers ready to spend their hard-earned coin on golf products that won’t be the same as everyone else at the local muni. It is my opinion that this demand is not a trend and it’s here to stay. People have been expressing themselves via hobbies for multiple decades. The desire to be different and showcase your style is no new revelation. But the avenues available to showcase that to the masses is. The moment someone gets a customized golf item, or really anything that they are proud of and sought after, it is immediately thrown up on social media. With the ability to get feedback from people all over the world.
How Corey Paul Functional Art came to be.
Feeding the general public’s fix for ways they can express themselves through customization was something that was on Corey Paul’s radar back in 2015. After graduating from Syracuse in May of 2013, he took a job lifeguarding and working grounds crew as needed at a local country club. Friends and family thought he had lost his mind. He refused to accept/look for a “real” job that wasn’t in the golf industry. That December, he finally landed a “real” job at a prominent online golf retailer. It took about 3-4 months for his elation to turn into misery, and he was fired in January 2015, exactly a year after he started.
Just before getting fired, a co-worker and Corey had begun seriously pondering starting a custom shop after seeing some custom wedges Rickie Fowler had, and realizing there were practically no public options to get the same kind of work done. With his new found free time, he spent a lot of it obtaining the skills/equipment necessary to run a custom shop. Eventually, a business partner and Corey started to make things that we were proud of, and often found ourselves gloating to each other “that’s sick!!!” When it came time to put his work “out there” he decided to use Instagram, under the username @sicksticksgolf, which today has over 27,000 followers from all around the world.
Corey Paul says Goodbye to Sick Sticks
Sick Sticks would end up consuming the next three years of his life until he resigned as CEO and sold his stake in February 2018. That was a tough decision, but it had become evident to Corey that he was once again at a point in life where a significant change was needed.
For the next two months after leaving left Sick Sticks, he did absolutely nothing except play golf, go to Cross-Fit, and ponder his future. Typical damn Millennial! On May 3rd, 2018, he incorporated and thereby fully committed to living and dying by the merits of his original ideas. Nontypical millennial!
Corey Paul offers a high-quality wedge made from 1020 grade forged carbon steel with the ability to be utterly customizable via laser engraving technology.
A fiber laser or “fibre laser” is a laser in which the active gain medium is an optical fiber doped with rare-earth elements such as erbium, ytterbium, neodymium, dysprosium, praseodymium, thulium, and holmium. They are related to doped fiber amplifiers, which provide light amplification without lasing. Fiber nonlinearities, such as stimulated Raman scattering or four-wave mixing can also offer gain and thus serve as gain media for a fiber laser.
I’m not entirely sure what most of that means above, but I can certainly relay why it should be relevant to you as a customer. Unlimited ability to create and re-create designs of any kind, in an extraordinarily vivid and high-quality fashion. So much of customization in golf is done by hand by an individual. Which I love, but it is fair to understand that will allow for some variance from one piece to another. This technology will enable Corey Paul to create a library of art for a potential customer to choose from over time. And if that wedge is used/lost/stolen-he can recreate you one with ease.
Talk to me
What are the current wedges made from?
1020 grade forged carbon steel. In my experience, this type of steel has provided a far more satisfying playing experience than the cast metal most of the big brands are using. The sound and feel of a flush impact on premium grade steel is something that is inexplicable yet undeniable. It is the type of feel and sound that keeps you sitting on the range thirsting to feel and hear it just one more time.
How are you different?
In a sentence: Timeless head shapes, premium materials, premium craftsmanship, unbelievably fair price.
To elaborate: We are marketing the above set of principals and concepts far more than we are marketing a product. We communicate these not through words, but through the clubs that we make. Just looking at our products should be able to communicate more about what we stand for than a sermon. When someone says “damn, I’ve never seen anything like this before” I know we have achieved that goal. We don’t feed industry standard lines of bull shit like “more spin,” “more control,” “piercing ball flight.” I can’t help but laugh at how some OEM’s market their products in a way intended to make one believe they will shoot even par so long as the latest model is in the bag.
What is the durability of laser engraving?
I often tell people that laser engravings are tattoos for golf clubs. Permanent. Once it’s on there, it is really up to you how durable it is by how you care for it.
What is your typical ETA?
Entirely depends on the needs of the individual products.
At the moment, we are focusing on a limited run, pre-designed releases that are personalized with the client’s name etched on the hosel. Custom orders can create a huge bottleneck that will ruin any ability we have to scale. I only accept custom orders for large customers, who sometimes order dozens of heads at a time. What we have found is that although it is true, most golfers desire a club that is unique to them, there is also a subconscious desire to be shown what they want.
What is your range of price point for a wedge? Wedge set?
Anywhere from $75-$150 per head. I only sell in 2 or 3 wedge sets. It is very rare that I offer or accept single club orders.
Why do you think wedge customization has become the latest craze?
Golf is inherently individualistic, which makes me wonder how “off the rack” came to be so prominent in the first place. To me, standardization is another word for commoditization, and that is a horrible strategy for any business, not just one rooted in Golf. If no two golf swings are the same, then, in my opinion, OEM’s should strive never to make two golf clubs that are exactly the same.
What can we expect in the future from Corey Paul? Anything new?
Although for now, we are focused on predesigned, limited run releases, the company’s macro focus for the immediate future (within the next two years) is building a vast gallery of pre-designed laser imagery, that can eventually be paired with an inventory of dozens of head types (different grinds, steel types, finish types, etc. etc).
Talk to us about Corey Paul as a company? One person band or a team?
One thing that is important to me is that people understand I am not a lone wolf and that I have three other people who work alongside me, two of whom are official minority owners in the company. One of them in particular, Derek, is to this company what Jony Ive is to Apple. He is an absolute genius and oversees our use of fiber laser technology. More important. However, he has also been a good friend virtually my entire life. His parents and mine were part of a local sailing club, and they lived right next to the beach we sailed out of. Nearly every summer weekend of my childhood was spent with Derek, all the way through senior year of High School. He has been a genuinely enduring friend and one that I would trust with absolutely anything.
When Corey reached out, and we were discussing some designs to showcase both his artistic ability and the quality of his fiber lasers. We landed on gearing designs to represent amateur golfers grinding on the golf course. After a few design proofs, we agreed on a final gearing design that looked pretty badass. Corey wasn’t finished there though. The very last proof he sent over, he landed the #BBGB crest right on the back. It looked nothing short of amazing. I have a Rolodex of really talented industry friends that are a true craftsman at what they can create via hand. His work was entirely different and unique to that, It was something not handmade because it was so vivid, but it was not something you have ever seen from a big OE company.
We also decided to add a laser etching “milled” look on the sole of the club to add to the overall effect of this design. By doing that it left the entire back side of the club touched with some aspect of art by Corey and team. Wanting to showcase not only his work but his overall ability was the primary goal with this wedge set. After you click through the gallery of images, you will have a hard time disagreeing with the functional art title.
See video below for when the three wedges came fresh off the laser with no additional working or touch-ups.
So at this point, we have identified Corey Paul and team seem to have the desire to give the golfing community a product they want and are probably cool enough to hang out with and grab a beer. But let’s get down to brass tacks here, how do these wedges perform? Corey sent over a complete set which included 52°, 56°, and 60°.
For reference, this set would start as the MODEL A(SB) on the website store. The Model A SB (Smooth Back) is a genuinely handcrafted wedge. Each wedge is ground and polished by hand at our shop in Rochester, NY. The back edge is ground until it is difficult to ascertain where the back flange ends, and where the sole begins. A grind like this provides versatility when you need to play a shot that requires opening the club face.
Corey Paul Design Inspiration
#RAWSB: This design, inspired by the raw wedges seen in bags across the PGA and LPGA tours.
In addition to providing more spin, a “raw” finish is by far the softest feeling at impact. It is one of the most popular finishes on tour!
Please note that the raw finish will rust and patina with time and that it is intended to do so. Those who choose this finish should value the above qualities over aesthetic durability.
- 52/08, 56*/12* and 60/08* heads.
- Premium 1020 grade forged carbon steel construction.
- 100% USGA compliant.
- CNC milling on club face & heel, with the highlighted scoring area.
- Industry standard weight and lie.
- Timeless “butterfly” head shape.
• The club head weight has a nice heavy feel to it. I found it to be noticeable almost immediately when taking my first swings with it on the range.
• The leading edge/face has a nice aggressive line on the bottom. Which I found to be very inviting at the address
• The forged goodness. You just cannot beat a forged club. No better way to enjoy a forged club than in the scoring irons. And these are no exception. Great feel!
• Bite! Paired beautifully with UST Mamiya Wedge Proto Shafts – ball flight and control were excellent.
• Trusty Rusty; (pictures for reference) I purposely took similar images at arrival and after a month of play. I purposely let the wedges age naturally. No oiling or added cleaning post round. I love the look and grit feeling on the club face.
• A classic head shape, made with the high-quality material, unlimited custom design ability- at a fraction of the price.
It’s no secret I tend to gravitate to small, niche brands that offer limited products that are usually customizable. One of the most enjoyable parts of the #BBGB is meeting small companies at their infancy. To be able to pick their brains on golf and where they want to impact the industry. Corey Paul has the vision to add something unique to the market. It’s something that can perform with the best of them. It can be as custom as you can think it, and still leave you lunch money after. I do not doubt in years to come, his designs will start to become collectible, and the name will grow.
Type in a comment below the gallery and let us know what you think. What design would you want? How many would you put in play? We love getting involved in the discussion.
If you’re looking for more information about Corey, check out our Podcast and hear what he and Logan from Olson Manufacturing have to say!