When people ask what I do for work and I tell them about Sounder, the next question is always the same.
“Are you going to sponsor any tour pros?”
The sensible answer is no. Or not yet, anyway.
Why? Firstly, it’s because we’re a start-up brand with start-up budgets, which means that we couldn’t afford to sponsor anyone good.
Secondly, the player in question would need to add a load of corporate logos to our lovely clothes - their equipment partner on the cap, maybe a watch brand on the sleeve, or a global professional services firm on the chest. And that would make our creative director Cathal very cross.
If the person asking the questions hasn’t found an excuse to talk to someone else, I explain that we’re proud to be a golf brand for amateurs. For people like us - people who play for the love of the game (the word derives from the Latin amator - one who loves).
But if we’re honest, there is another reason why we tend to stay away from the world of professional golf. Because outside the Majors, professional golf is pretty dull.
With a few notable exceptions, pro tournaments are held on mediocre courses that provide a one-dimensional test of golfing ability. A diet of 72-hole strokeplay rewards consistency and repetition over creativity, and the demands of corporate ‘partners’ incentivise bland soundbites over genuine insights.
Even the controversies in pro golf are lame. Last week the world number one refused to shake someone’s hand on the practice range, so the other guy flicked a tee in his general direction. Golf Twitter talked about nothing else for a week. Tyrell Hatton wore a hoodie to play golf three and half years ago, and people still talk about it today.
This weekend saw the PGA Tour’s annual pro-celebrity tournament - the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro Am. Who is the star attraction? Bill Murray, star of Caddyshack (1980), Ghostbusters (1984) and Lost in Translation (2003). Just like he has been for the last 20 years. Talk about Groundhog Day (1993).
The Dunhill Cup - the DP World Tour’s equivalent of the AT&T - is no better. Bill’s there, of course. Along with Huey Lewis, Ronan Keating, Piers Morgan and Anton du Beke. I looked at the website for this year’s Dunhill to see who was playing. The players page features 12 professionals (all white men), and 12 celebrities (all white men bar one - an actress called Kathryn Newton, star of Netflix teen drama The Society). And we wonder why golf has an image problem.
So would we sponsor a tour pro one day?
We’d like to think that there’s someone out there who loves the game the same way that we do. Someone who represents a game that rewards people of all shapes and sizes, not just gym-honed graduates of the US college system.
Someone who can hit all the shots, and who can hit them without wearing a white belt.
And if that someone is reading this, we’d love to talk to them: firstname.lastname@example.org