Born in Montréal, Bob Vokey says his early inspiration in club design came during the summers he spent with his father, a fine tool and die maker who had a penchant for golf and enjoyed tinkering with equipment.
Vokey was a three-sport athlete in hockey, baseball and football growing up and his talents on the football field led to a professional stint with the Québec Rifles of the United Football League as a punter, receiver and safety.
He moved to Southern California in 1965 to work for AT&T laying telephone lines and it was during this time that he developed a passion for golf and the tools required for golfers to play their best.
In 1976, he pursued his passion by opening Bob’s Custom Shop which offered club building and repair services. From there, it didn’t take long for the Bob Vokey name to become well-known in the Southern California golf community.
In 1986, he joined TaylorMade as their primary club builder in the company’s Tour department. It was during this time that he developed relationships with players such as Lee Trevino, Seve Ballesteros and Mark O’Meara.
In 1991 he joined Founders Club and continued to gain the trust of players such as Lanny Wadkins and Peter Jacobsen with performance products that included the TV-1 Irons, Founders Forged and Fresh Metal Plus metal woods.
In 1996, the lead club designer at Titleist, Terry McCabe, asked Vokey to join him in that company’s R&D and Tour Departments.
His first project at Titleist was assisting with the final design of the Titleist 975 driver, which quickly became the No. 1 driver in play on the PGA Tour in 1996.
Shortly thereafter, Titleist CEO Wally Uihlein entrusted Vokey with the task of driving the company’s wedge business.
The 456.14 wedge was the first Vokey Design wedge in play on the PGA Tour when it debuted in the summer of 1997 and introduced to the consumer market in 1998.
Vokey’s innovation with wedge design introduced popular concepts such as bounce and grind.
The 400 series Vokey Design wedges were followed by 200 and 300 series wedges from 2000 to 2004.
In 2005, Vokey’s innovation introduced the Spin Milled groove cutting process, that led to Vokey Design wedges taking a prominent place in the marketplace.
In 2016, Vokey and his design team introduced progressive centre of gravity to the wedge category with the Spin Milled 6 models.
The technology represented another leap in wedge design from custom sole grinds, to spin milled grooves and centre of gravity precisely positioned based on loft.
Earlier this year, he was also nominated to the Quebec Golf Hall of Fame.
Click Play below as Vokey discusses coming back after a recent cancer scare, the importance of mentorship and his memories of getting started in the game. Please allow 10 seconds for the sound to cue up.