In 1990, David Glod designed the first wide-sole, cavity-back iron for his then fledging company, Tour Edge. The club caught the attention of Ping founder Karsten Solheim, whose irons revolutionized the game in the 1980s.

"One day, Karsten came up to me and said, 'You know, you're infringing on my patent,'" Glod recalled. " 'But you're so small, I don't care.'"

Glod can laugh about that conversation now as he walks through his state-of-the-art 55,000-square-foot facility in Batavia. Tour Edge definitely isn't small anymore.

The company Glod launched out of his Warrenville condo in 1986 has grown into one of the biggest success stories in the golf equipment industry.

At a time when many manufacturers are struggling with sagging sales -- or even going out of business -- Tour Edge continues to post annual double-digit percentage increases in sales. Glod won't disclose actual figures, but industry estimates put revenues at $25 million to $30 million.

According to Golf Datatech, a firm that monitors equipment sales, Tour Edge ranks in the top 10 in market share among companies for woods, hybrids, irons and putters. Its clubs are sold in more than 40 countries.

That might come as a surprise to some people since Tour Edge doesn't have instant name recognition. Glod doesn't believe in shelling out millions to top stars like Tiger Woods (Nike) and Phil Mickelson (Callaway Golf) to get them to use his clubs. Also, viewers won't see ads for Tour Edge airing on tournament broadcasts; the company has a relatively modest advertising budget.

The approach has allowed Tour Edge to stick to its mission.

"Produce top quality products at a reasonable price," Glod said. "Midwest-thinking."

When Glod was in the early stages of developing Tour Edge, he thought several major companies were producing inferior products "and selling them for $600 per set." Glod decided his company had to do it better and cheaper.

"The only way to sell our clubs was at half the price," Glod said. "If the hot driver was going for $300, ours had to be $149. It had to be as good and many times perceived as being better."

Consumers bought in. Tour Edge's best marketing proved to be word-of-mouth. Golfers saw its moderately priced products as an alternative to higher-priced brands.

Tour Edge currently has a driver that sells as low as $49.99 with higher-quality versions going for $149. Premium drivers sell for as much as $500.

"If you look at any consumer survey, price and value are way up there with purchase decisions," said Michael Johnson, the equipment editor for Golf World and Golf Digest. "Tour Edge offers a good option. If somebody is on the fence, the salesman might say 'Give this a try.'

"They may never have heard of Tour Edge, but once they see the price, they're like, 'Whoa.' You can get tour-quality equipment at 70 percent of what you'd pay elsewhere."

Glod's equipment roots started while in high school at Glenbard South, when he began repairing clubs. He then played college golf at Florida Southern University, where his teammates included PGA Tour winners Lee Janzen and Rocco Mediate.

Glod continued to tinker with clubs while in college, restoring and then selling classic versions. He even redid a driver for Greg Norman.

After college, he was a golf professional for two years at Village Links in Glen Ellyn. But after he realized he didn't like teaching and wasn't good enough to join his old teammates on tour, he devoted all his energy to making golf clubs.

"My second love," he said.