Go Behind the Scenes of Golf Channel’s Driver vs. Driver Competition Series

Driver vs. Driver Tasos Katopodis/Golf Channel

From the outside, the Wilson LABS building in Chicago looks like a simple brick-walled warehouse, but inside are things that would make sports fans salivate. This is where Wilson Sporting Goods Co. designs, tests and innovates its products for golf, tennis, basketball, baseball, football and more. Amid the vast array of machinery are experts crafting custom equipment for some of the world’s top athletes. There’s a room in which tennis rackets built for the likes of Serena Williams and Roger Federer hang on the walls, awaiting delivery. There are small basketball and tennis courts for testing equipment. And for over a year, there’s been a studio for a TV show.

Enter for a Shot to Win the Winning Driver from Golf Channel’s Driver vs. Driver! See Official Rules.

Described as Shark Tank for golf, Golf Channel’s seven-part reality competition series Driver vs. Driver  (Tuesdays at 10pm ET beginning Oct. 4) features 11 finalists trying to win $500,000 and have their concept turned into the new Wilson Staff driver. The winning team is revealed in the season finale Nov. 22, and the driver will be in retail stores Black Friday, Nov. 25.

Judges are former Chicago Bears linebacker and avid golfer Brian Urlacher, former USGA technical director Frank Thomas and president of Wilson Golf Tim Clarke. Two-time PGA Tour winner and Wilson Advisory Staff member Kevin Streelman joins the panel in Episode 3.

Looking to boost their presence in the driver business, Wilson teamed with Golf Channel to develop the series and put out an open call for submissions, receiving over 300 entries. “They had to submit their idea in a napkin sketch and then they had to send a video,” Clarke says. “And the videos were priceless. There was some funny stuff.” Much of the funny stuff even makes it to air.

There are also serious entries from people passionate about golf. “There are guys that had prototyping machines in their basement,” Clarke says. “And he’s down there with a 3-D printer with modules and drawings. And I’m sitting there thinking, ‘This is his hobby.’ It really opened my mind.”

“One that really impressed me was a guy who had a completely eco-friendly, green one,” says Driver vs. Driver host Melanie Collins. “All the materials were natural. It was just so amazing to me that you could actually create a working golf club from that.”

The series is also a fascinating peek behind the curtain at what goes on inside Wilson LABS and just how much goes into taking a golf club from concept to store. “When you go in and see that driver sitting in that pretty display, that’s great,” Clarke says. “But the work that takes place till it gets there is probably way larger than any consumer understands.”

About Ryan Berenz 2128 Articles
Member of the Television Critics Association. Charter member of the Ancient and Mystic Society of No Homers. Squire of the Ancient & Benevolent Order of the Lynx, Lodge 49, Long Beach, Calif. Costco Wholesale Gold Star Member since 2011.