Who is Tomo Bystedt?

We ask, who is Tomo Bystedt, a man who plays a central role in the creation of many of the clubs you'll find on the shelves of your local pro shop

Who Is Tomo Bystedt?
(Image credit: TaylorMade Golf)

Meet Tomo Bystedt, The Man Behind TaylorMade’s Stealth Driver

Tomo Bystedt is TaylorMade’s Senior Director of Product Creation and the Stealth driver is the latest in a long line of products that he has helped bring to market. To find out more about the man behind the products you use, I caught up with Tomo to learn how he got into designing golf clubs from his start in UK education.

Hi Tomo, you are Director of Product Creation, so what does your role involve? 

It's a little bit of a unique role at TaylorMade and I like to say product creation is from cradle to grave on the product. We have an Advanced Research team in our R&D group that comes up with things that are going to be in our products from a technology standpoint many years from now.

They have ideas they will research and then they will bring them to me and say, “Hey, what do you think of this kind of idea?” And I might say, “Well, this could be cooler if we did it this way or that...” And we kind of brainstorm a little bit until we vet things out. 

In addition, I work quite a bit on the shaping of all the products. Whether it's irons or woods, making sure again it looks good technically as well as giving oversight from a golfer perspective.

I also work with the sales groups and our international team to understand how many we’re going to sell globally, what our business is going to look like on a particular product, and working with the media to launch the product to the world. So, the product creation team talks to and touches a lot of facets of the business and, ultimately, we are responsible for the success of a product. This gives us a very intimate understanding of the product and what it does because we've been there throughout the entire product lifecycle. 

Tomo With McIlroy

Tomo Bystedt (left) receives feedback on TaylorMade golf club designs from Rory McIlroy

(Image credit: TaylorMade Golf)

Let’s go back to the beginning with your interest in golf equipment – what is your background? 

My background, from an education standpoint, is mechanical engineering. I studied at Durham University in the north of England. My mother’s side of the family is from Japan, and that’s where I was schooled, but my dad is from Finland and I have Finnish citizenship. One of the things that happened around the time I was going to college, was Finland joined the EU and it became a lot easier financially to study in Europe at that time.

I looked at some universities in Japan, the US, and the UK and I just liked Durham. It’s a great school. I had an integrated four-year masters in engineering course where you got to do a bit of everything. It also meant I could live in the UK, so that worked out great. 

After Durham, where did working life start?

After university, I moved back to Japan and started working in engineering, but not in golf because I didn't know how to get into the golf industry back then. I didn't know anyone who worked in golf, and then one day I just got lucky. I played in a golf tournament and got paired with a guy who was in the golf industry and we just talked golf equipment the whole round. He could see my passion for it. Turns out he was the President of Acushnet Japan and he invited me to come work in golf. There were no openings at the company, so he invented a role essentially just to get me in the door. In the first six months, I had probably four different jobs. I started off doing sales analysis to improve our sales efficiency and then I got moved into marketing and then eventually into product, which was my natural passion. I was always trying to get there. 

And how did the switch to TaylorMade happen?

The person who recruited me to Acushnet left to work for TaylorMade and hired me again to come work for him. That's where I got my first job as a Senior Business Manager with TaylorMade in Australia.

Then I got a job covering all of Asia as Director of Product and Brand Marketing, which I did from Hong Kong for five years. It's not really product design at this point, but I knew I wanted to be there at some stage, so I was constantly trying to get into roles that would help me get there and connect with the right people at TaylorMade’s headquarters in the US. Through those years in Australia and Hong Kong, I built good relationships with the product team in Carlsbad. 

There was Brian Bazzel (my current boss), who is still at TaylorMade, Tom Olsavsky who is now at Cobra and then Sean Toulon who’s at Callaway. I built good relationships with them, and then eventually those guys brought me over here to Carlsbad in 2013 and I've been here for close to nine years now.

Do you look back and wonder how it all happened?

When I do look back, a lot of it was coincidence and I was fortunate. But that’s the story of how I got my start in golf. Working in a global role making and designing golf equipment, it's good to have had that experience of living and working on products in Japan, Australia and Asia, as well as also living in Europe and the UK.

TaylorMade RSi irons

The TaylorMade's RSi iron family was the first design Tomo worked on from start to finish

(Image credit: TaylorMade Golf)

Which products have you been involved with launching for TaylorMade?
The first two things I worked on when I came here was the Tour Preferred UDI driving iron, which is still used on tour today. And then I also worked with the metalwoods guys on the SLDR Mini driver, which was the first of our mini driver's. 

Those projects were perfect for me because there was a lot of special research required for how people use those clubs and what launch conditions are needed.

Within the first six months of working here, the metalwoods guy left and set in motion a shift in roles. Brian Bazzel moved to take over metalwoods and I took over irons from him. The first iron that I did from start to finish was the RSI family (pictured above). Following that, I did all the irons from there to Aeroburner, M1, M2, M3, and M4, all the way up to the P·700 series (pictured below).

TaylorMade P790 and P730 Irons Launched

(Image credit: TaylorMade Golf)

Which one of these irons stood out for you?

Launching the P·790 was a big milestone for my career. I feel like that was something we took on as a little bit of a gamble, if you will. We wanted to make a players iron that looked like a blade, but was really fast. That was a first of its kind, a little bet on the market and I feel like that was something that really set the tone for the P·700 Series.

When did you move over to metalwoods?

Around 2018, we again had a change in roles as Brian Bazzel started running the entire Product Creation group. When I first moved to metalwoods, there was a little bit of a transition when I was doing both metlawoods and irons. The first metalwoods I worked on were M5 and M6, then all the SIM drivers and now Stealth.

I see you are still learning as you just completed an MBA?

Yes, I think the lockdown helped a little bit. I was looking into doing an MBA before it started, but then as COVID hit it just offered me the opportunity to do that while working from home.

I had a little bit more time on the weekends, so I felt like it was my opportunity to do it. I wanted a bit more knowledge around the rest of the business and how everything works, and I felt the MBA was a good vehicle for me to do that, especially being able to do it online.

I just like learning new things. That's why I watch YouTube videos about random subjects. I just want to learn new skiills, whatever it might be.

TaylorMade Stealth on course view

The TaylorMade Stealth driver is the latest of Tomo's designs to hit the market

(Image credit: TaylorMade Golf)

Have you learnt anything else online?

During lockdown, I started playing the guitar more. I used to play back in high school and university, when we had like a small time very, very amateurish band . But I hadn't played for probably 20 years. I decided to pick that up again and learning music theory through YouTube, which has been a pretty cool journey. I sort of wish at high school, I could have had YouTube because I would have been a much better guitar player. 

Do you use YouTube in your job to find out things about the market and does it factor into a lot of what you do?

That's a good question. I definitely watch golf club reviews and testing videos from different people. But it's a little different because I'm not necessarily going there to learn about the products. I want to learn more about other people’s opinions. I think in our roles, it's easy to get boxed in and say, “I know what's best.”

I'm always curious whether these individuals see in one test the same thing that I've seen over thousands of tests? Sometimes they do and sometimes they don't. Thankfully, this time around with Stealth, it has been very good. It's been very positive, so that's exciting.

How would you like to see golf develop in the next few years?

For me, in general, I believe golf is in a very healthy spot right now. If there was one thing I would like to see continue, it’s how we welcome new players into the game through non-traditional golf venues and practice facilities that have an open, approachable way of inviting new golfers in and making them feel welcome. I like how, for example, when I was at Silvermere near London recently and I went to the driving range with my brother just to hit balls. It was nice to see more technology and gamification being applied to the range. That is going to be big for the future of golf.

Martin Hopley

Martin Hopley is one of the foremost UK equipment reviewers with over 20 years' experience. As the former founder of Golfalot.com he was an early pioneer of online reviews and has also been a regular contributor to other titles. He is renowned for his technical knowledge and in-depth analysis, which he now brings to Golf Monthly.