Life-Changing Prize of $500,000 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
(ORLANDO, Fla.) – Wilson Golf issued an open call and declared an unprecedented challenge – develop a concept that can be transformed into golf’s next cutting-edge driver – in a first-of-its-kind television series airing on Golf Channel. The reward: a life-changing grand prize of $500,000 and a Wilson Staff driver inspired by their concept hitting retail stores nationwide on Black Friday, Nov. 25, three days after the season finale. Driver vs. Driver presented by Wilson premieres Tuesday, Oct. 4 at 10 p.m. ET.
WINNING DRIVER AVAILABLE NATIONWIDE ON BLACK FRIDAY: The Wilson Staff driver inspired by the winner’s concept will be revealed at the conclusion of the season finale, airing Tuesday, Nov. 22 at 10 p.m. ET, and the winner will receive a grand prize of $500,000, the biggest prize in Golf Channel history. Three days later on Black Friday, the driver will be available for purchase at hundreds of retail and golf course pro shops stores across the country. The winning driver also will be available for purchase online at www.Wilson.com and Golf Channel Digital.
DRIVER VS. DRIVER JUDGES: Driver vs. Driver will follow the trials and tribulations of aspiring golf equipment designers as they compete for the opportunity to win a life-changing $500,000 and have their driver concept sold at retail under the Wilson Staff name. The 11 finalists, selected through an open call application process, will present to a panel of celebrity judges – 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 series as a judge beginning with the third episode.
DRIVER VS. DRIVER FINALISTS: The series’ finalists are a diverse cast that includes golf professionals and former club manufacturers, college students, engineers and product designers. Some of the finalists are well versed in the sport of golf, where 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.
The seven-episode series will then take viewers behind the scenes as the advancing teams work with Wilson LABS – the innovation hub at Wilson – engineers to evaluate, critique, refine and test their concepts, all while the judges evaluate the best concept that will help golfers perform better off the tee.
Viewers also will get a look behind the curtain at one of the most iconic global sports brands, Wilson Sporting Goods Co. Golf Channel cameras will give viewers a glimpse inside the company’s Wilson LABS facility, an expansive innovation center that serves as a primary design and testing hub for its sporting goods concepts and products, including golf, tennis, basketball, baseball and football, among others.
MELANIE COLLINS TO HOST: 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.