Name recognition, unique branding certainly help when attempting to carve out a significant niche in the crowded golf merchandise landscape
ORLANDO, Fla. — With more than 600 brands dotting the floor of the 69th PGA Show, grabbing the eyes of thousands of professional golfers, general managers, course owners or media members is paramount.
So, I’ll ask a simple question. What’s in a name?
Plenty of vendors vie for attention, and eventually sales deals. Unique names such as Moonshine Golf, Breakfast Balls or Monster Mat will resonate long after folks leave Orlando and the Orange County Convention Center.
They also draw foot traffic to their respective vendor spaces, where company reps can explain their unique name and company story, and hopefully form a networking relationship for the future.
“We are definitely not traditional, you are not going to see many other Moonshine Golf’s here at the PGA Show,” said Justin Fowler, one of three childhood friends who co-foundered the Denver-based apparel company in 2020. “You want to have a brand that has some staying power and allows you to formulate your own opinion. When you hear Moonshine Golf it’s a little bit intriguing, it definitely makes you question ‘what are these guys doing over here?’”
A unique golf name also produces website clicks and an increased social media presence.
“It makes people follow us because there is something intriguing about it,” Fowler said. “As a new brand you are trying to grow and expand your story to as many people as possible, and you want it to resonate with people, you want it to stick with them.”
A product’s success or failure rate is not directly tied to name recognition or a cool logo — quality and functionality do matter — but a catchy name never hurts, especially now with golf diversity hitting all-time highs.
Take Breakfast Balls for example. The golf apparel brand that features overall print patterned shirts is the golf offshoot of The Roosevelts (RSVLTS), which features licensed clothing for the bold and fun.
That segment of the population will now include golfers. The Breakfast Balls called the PGA Show “it’s coming out party” for its new golf line, with the Fred Flintstone polo golf shirt stealing the show.
“Everybody is buzzing about the Fred Flintstone shirt, so we started calling it the Freddie flop-shot shirt,” said Chris Joyce, director of wholesale for the Hoboken, N.J., company founded about a decade ago.
Like most unique company names, there is a compelling story surrounding its launching.
“Let’s say you get to the golf course, you are late and you run up to a tee box and your first shot is just a shank and it goes into the water or out of bounds,” Joyce said. “If you take another tee shot most people call that a mulligan but we have always called it a breakfast ball. That’s how we came up with the name because we are all hackers here.”
The name was hatched in 2019, but it took some friendly arm twisting to finalize the deal.
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“We knew we wanted to call it Breakfast Balls but someone owned the website domain name,” Joyce said. “After three years of hounding this guy he handed it over to us and we paid him a little bit for it. It’s perfect for what we do. We want to be the fun golf brand. We realize that golf is getting younger. We realize that golf is getting a little more fun and no one is really doing the licensing thing in golf and all of our shirts are officially licensed. We have so many connections so why not use them for a golf brand?”
A few hundred yards away, Brent Paschal’s booth is particularly decked out in the latest and greatest décor, but his trusty neon green Monster Mat sign attracts a crowd.
For decades now, show attendees want to know and see the Monster Mat. Paschal has been owner and president of Safeplay Golf for close to five decades. The Dallas-based company manufactures synthetic turf products for the golf industry.
The neon sign is iconic, and the name is an attraction, as is its story.
“It was 35 years ago and a friend was handing me a golf mat through an upstairs manufacturing facility, and it was so heavy and he let it fall and it hit me and he said ‘Well that was a Monster Mat,'” said Paschal. “I said ‘It sure was and that’s what we’re going to call it.”’
Paschal arrived at the show this week to disappointment — the neon sign was not working. However, he wasn’t about to let a show go by without the green neon shining.
“I spent $300 on it Tuesday, having one little corner fixed so it would light up,” he said. “People will look across the hall because they know where that green sign is and that’s where to get the best golf mats in the world.”
The logo and its font can also create eye candy and stick with folks. For example, the Moonshine Golf custom logo itself would help move shirts and hats.
“We worked with our creative team on that for a long time,” Fowler said. “It’s rugged and looks a little bit a path that a truck would leave going down a dirt road. And we finish it off with a golf hole and flag as the letter “f’ at the end. Definitely a lot of thought went into it, probably a lot more than most people would believe.”
The Breakfast Balls brand is already getting creative for a 2023 launch of four golf balls in an egg carton with logos of sausage links, bacon, eggs and pancakes.
“The plan is for bachelor parties or guys playing in tournaments to use these, where everybody starts with one ball on the first hole and whoever keeps it the longest wins a prize,” Joyce said.
“We have a great in-house design team, about eight of them, and a roster of 30-freelance illustrators,” he added. “Our brand is fun and it gets a reaction. We’re targeting guys who go out in a foursome and want to wear the same shirt. It’s a fun brand and there are not too many fun brands in golf. I personally don’t think anybody is as creative as our company and I believe we can really kill it in the golf game.”