At 50 I discovered my true passion, industrial design. I have no formal training, no experience, don’t know CAD or any of the design software required to be a professional but I am absolutely smitten with the hard goods design process, and outcomes of it.
I’ve been a digital product manager my entire career, writing functional specifications (old school), PRDs, etc. for software developers to do their magic by writing beautiful code to make my specs come to life on the web. During Covid, having nothing to do safely indoors I took to the golf course for respite and was bitten by the golf bug. Being a rather fastidious fella, I immediately took offense to much of the gear, processes, and activities that take place in the sport so, with my “that can be better, faster, more efficient” lens on (my perpetual lens) I began looking for ways to fix some of the inane and distracting things about the sport.
Golfers have more gear than any other athlete. It’s insane. And the sport requires immense amounts of concentration as you have to get 452 perfectly synchronized movements just right in order to be any good. So there I was on the golf course, trying to improve my game and I found myself digging into my porcupine pocket every single hole looking for tees, ball markers, divot tools, balls, etc. It was a hassle, a very distracting one. So much so that I found it affecting my game. So that lens I mentioned earlier kicked in full-speed to fix this problem, because that’s what a good product manager does…solve problems.
So I conceived of and designed a clip that holds all that stuff. It had to be functional, fashionable (every golfer loves to look “good” on the course) yet invisible to the golfer so as to not bother them mid-swing. I contemplated the swing itself and envisioned a golf multitool that was one with the swing, and therefore the golfer herself.
The Byrd Clyp, I call it. Made of lightweight and rugged aluminum, can hold up to 3 tees, a ball marker and a divot tool and can be clipped anywhere…your shirt placket, your hat, belt, pocket, bag, cart…anywhere. And I personally think it looks good, enhancing the aesthetics of the golfer and their game, reducing a bit of noise and providing a few seconds per hole of presence.
Our goal is to help golfers focus on their game, not their gear. And our mission is to bring focus and presence to every swing, from tee to green.
We are The Byrd (my childhood nickname for having skinny legs and a big beak).
Kris Drey (me) and my genius manufactures, Steven and Jacky.
I started with a pencil and one of my 10,000 notebooks and began drawing objects that could hold essential golf gear, be out of the way while attached to your body, and be pleasing to the eye. I thought about materials that I like and that would meet these needs of the functionality; aluminum, neoprene, magnets. I love neoprene, such a fascinating material that is used on the “arm” of our Clyp as it is spongy and therefore cushions the golf tees yet is slick so the tees slide in and out elegantly.
The design had to be “invisible” not only to the user so as to not interfere with their swing but also not to cause them any angst when taking the tees off of or putting them back onto the Clyp. It had to be light, rugged, and colorful.
Iteration after iteration I landed on a design I thought was worthy of any anal golfer. It is comprised of an upper and lower body, an arm, teeth, a magnet, and a pillow of neoprene. It has our BYRD logo with a lightning bolt engraved on the back and is new, different, innovative for this sport.
I designed our logo, and people call us “the surf / skate brand of golf”.
I am, for the first time, loving what I do and I want to do more of it. Yet, as previously mentioned….I don’t know the software but I make up for it in passion and creativity.