Bridgestone Golf has quickly found their new President and CEO after shocking the golf industry by parting ways with former chief executive Angel Ilagan.
Dan Murphy is Ilagan’s replacement, returning to the company after a prior stint from 2004-15 as the company’s Executive Vice President of Sales and Marketing. Murphy was successful in his role at the time, helping fuel Bridgestone to the No. 2 position in the golf ball market share category. He oversaw a 250 percent increase in the company’s domestic revenue.
“I’ve been with Bridgestone Golf since the beginning and the passion runs deep,” says Murphy. “We make the most technologically-advanced golf balls in the world and my role is to help ensure Bridgestone is recognized as the industry’s leading example of how science and data is used to make products that improve the performance of all golfers.”
After leaving Bridgestone in 2015, Murphy held positions as Vice President of American Achievement Corporation and President of textile manufacturer Kentwool. Murphy takes over from Ilagan, who was let go less than two years into his tenure. Ilagan raised eyebrows in the space when he openly advocated for rolling back golf ball technology allowed by the USGA and R&A.
It’s unclear in which direction Murphy will take Bridgestone, which has slipped amid competition from Callaway Golf and TaylorMade Golf. Despite seeing a significant uptick in sales volume last year, the company delivered results on the back of sales and promotions. The signing of Tiger Woods and his strong play this year has so far not translated into a substantial uptick in sales. What did work under Murphy’s watch was a push toward personal ball-fitting, using that data to help recommend balls for each player. With a new Tour B ball as the flagship line for the company, Murphy will have to reposition the company and refine messaging accordingly.
Murphy will also have to decide how Bridgestone handles its golf-club business. Bridgestone isn’t on the tip of the tongue of golfers shopping for new clubs, and the company has tried selling unique, specific clubs online in hopes of striking gold with a viral hit. New clubs and releases are coming in the following months.
In Covington, Ga., the staff at headquarters has to be happy to welcome back someone who was instrumental to their success in the not-too-distant past.