What is it with white golf gloves? Why can I only buy a white glove, or a black one if I want to wear an all weather glove with the same level of comfort and feel as those hand-knitted mittens you wore in the school playground when it threatened to snow?
I discovered the answer to the question earlier this year when watching TV coverage of the Masters from Augusta. Out of a field of 97 professional golfers, only one, Jonas Blixt, was wearing a non-white glove. Apparently the dye used to colour the leather white is the least intrusive, and leaves the leather softer than with any other colour dye. The feel is all-important when you are playing for a first prize worth $1,620,000 but not quite as vital when playing with your mates on a Saturday morning off a handicap of 12 for beer money and bragging rights!
I checked out the American Golf website and my local store, 94 gloves listed, only two were something other than white or black. You could choose a baby blue or a baby pink glove, but only if you are a LADY!
And thus a lightbulb popped in my head.
But, let’s go back to the beginning, or at least a little bit earlier than now, to set the scene and try and explain how I got to this point.
It’s been 13 years since I had a proper job. By that, I mean a job with a monthly pay-slip, administered by someone else, with paid holidays, sick leave, health care, company car, pension plan, stock options etc etc etc. Up until then, I had made a living as a marketing suit, for various technology companies, rising to the dizzy heights of EMEA Marketing Director, eBusiness Solutions at Nortel Networks. I had a team of 19 people dotted around Europe and my working week was a continual merry go round of meetings in various corporate boxes around Europe. I quite often left home on a Monday morning, only to return on a Friday evening.
And then, in the summer of 2001 I became a dad to Hannah, I was made redundant and I had an epiphany – I did not want to be a work-away dad, missing out on all the small stuff. So I took advantage of a healthy redundancy package and became an independent marketing consultant and worked pretty solidly for the next 7 years. And then Freddy Mac and Fanny Mae hit the wall, and life became a lot tougher. I’ve managed to ride the storm, but it got me thinking about an alternative way to earn the cash. I don’t want to be selling my time as a commodity, for the next 10-15 years until retirement, indeed if a normal retirement is even currently an option.
Two years ago, I caught an interview on BBC Breakfast with the two founders, Holly Tucker and Sophie Cornish of NotOnTheHighStreet.com. Up to that point I had never heard of them or their site. But I paid attention when I discovered they had grown the business to an accumulative £100 million turnover, in just a few years, without actually buying any stock. Their model is to offer an online retail platform for independent designers / manufacturers and all sales are made on a drop-shipping method. They just skim 25% off the top of every transaction.
So, in the car that morning on the way to a client office, I started thinking. Maybe I could replicate this model, but in a niche? By now I knew I wanted to do something in the golf space. Why? Because if you want to do something new, do it in an area that you love – work should be fun. That’s what all the self-help books will tell you. And it’s true.
By 10 AM that morning I had registered NotInTheProShop.com and all the social media accounts as well. I set to building a business plan that mimicked NotOnTheHighStreet.com, discovering artisan golf products with a view to selling them via a drop-shipping method. Everyone I spoke to loved the idea.
Sadly, those artisan golf product owners hated the idea. It seemed that nearly everyone I spoke to about selling their product was delighted, but actually wanted me to take all the risk. It seems the world is full of people who have blown their redundancy money on inventing and manufacturing a golf product, only to discover that they didn’t know how to market it. So, when I called, they saw me as the knight in shining armor who would buy their 30 boxes of ‘stuff’ that was presently sat in their garage, and they could go back to having a ‘proper job’.
So, that’s what brings us to 2014, and me watching the US Masters, and seeing everyone wearing a white glove.
The golf market has been punked in the last few years with clothing brands like Royal & Awesome and Loudmouth, these brands offer highly coloured and patterned clothing that offer a modern day ironic twist on the 1970’s caricature golfer who wore very bright clothing.
The Masters marks the start of the golf season, both in terms of playing and shopping. So in the run up to the tournament, players like Rory McIlroy, Luke Donald and Ricky Fowler (see below) would share their ‘wardrobe script’ (you learn something new every day) via Facebook and Twitter. But they always had a white glove – even Ricky who is perhaps the most colourful of today’s golfers.
What if I wanted to wear loud golf clothing but didn’t have the nerve to wear a pair of Disco Ball trousers from Loudmouth? What if I could display my individuality by wearing a bright glove? A non-white glove?
And thus the dream was born, I will become a golf glove manufacturer. I will offer the world something that they didn’t realize they wanted. A golf glove with a pattern.
My name is David Long and I am a golf geek! ‘Golf’ because I’ve been playing for over 35 years (managed to get down to 7, but now hovering around 12). ‘Geek’ because I have used the web to promote companies, people and products since 1994.
In 2013 I created a golf blog on Facebook called NotInTheProShop that searches out fantastic golf gear that is being designed by independent brands, and as the name suggests, you won’t be able to find it in your normal pro shop. In August 2013 I wrote a review about the PGA Expo in Las Vegas. It’s a golfers paradise of new brands, designs, products etc. As a result of writing that blog post, I realised that there was an opportunity for creating a different type of golf glove. Whilst the world of golf is synonymous with brightly coloured clothing, the humble glove, the bit that connects a golfer with his club, is just plain white, with the odd splash of colour if you are lucky. So I decided to create a golf brand that focusses on putting colour on the hand of every golfer.
If you like lots of golf news, follow me on Twitter @NotInTheProShop – I usually tweet golf news from the tour, including retweets of the more interesting stuff posted by the tour pros. I also tweet about great golf products that you can’t find in the local pro shop!