As an upstart in the golf industry, a plethora of wanted and unwanted advice flows freely from anyone you will listen to. While everyone has their own take, a few universal nuggets of wisdom seem to find their way into recommendations. The most prevalent of these: endorsements. In the case of endorsements, not all nuggets of wisdom are gold.
I vividly remember a discussion with an extremely famous Texas professional golfer almost a decade ago. A photocopy of his first check sent to BestGrips still proudly hangs in our shop. “These grips are amazing! You need a spokesman, but I doubt you could afford me,” he said, half jokingly. The truth, however, was that we couldn’t afford his endorsement, even as an almost retired, super senior. No start up can truly afford these endorsements, but in the age of low interest rates and an endless supply of money to borrow, they always seem to find a way.
Not wanting to sell BestGrips’s future for the present, we resisted the temptation of a big name endorsement. Consequently, we’re one of the only comapanies still in the golf business that began in 2003. Sure, there are success stories of upstarts buying the favor of a few pros and surviving, however, there’s a difference in surviving and thriving.
The golf industry is sick. I see the symptoms on a daily basis from other companies, the media and the governing bodies. This sickness has all but evaporated the last remaining shreds of integrity. The large companies have created an oligarchy in the business that keeps a giant boot on the throat of small companies. Everyone is encouraged to enforce the idea that you need endorsements to grow, knowing that if the time comes, those endorsements can be destroyed with the offer of more money.
BestGrips has never paid for endorsements and never will. We’ve seen too many companies pay a literal arm and leg for the relationship with a pro, only to watch the pro stab them in the back once the company has become a threat to the “real” golf businesses. Want to start a golf company? Don’t play their game and don’t play by their rules. Make a product that sells itself and watch everyone else starve.
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