Founder Luke Davis left the country club culture to create a company that seeks to make the game more accessible and inclusive in an organic fashion
Somewhere in the middle of Luke Davis’ dreamy gigs at upscale venues Upper Montclair Country Club, TPC Sawgrass and Westchester Country Club, he measured his introduction to golf. The working experience with well-connected memberships wasn’t anything like he first envisioned. It wasn’t — as he likes to say — “home.”
“I fell in love with golf because of the grungy, muni, public side of the game,” says Davis, the founder of Lie + Loft, a Raleigh, North Carolina, design brand company that takes an artistic, soulful look at golf.
Davis’ grassroots introduction to golf came as a tyke, tagging behind his Air Force father on a military course in Zaragoza, Spain, and at now-defunct Snyder Park Golf Course in Springfield, Ohio. “I didn’t have the junior experience like most core golfers,” Davis says. “I looked at golf as recreational time to goof around. I dismissed it.”
Baseball became his sport, earning him an opportunity to pitch for Division III St. John Fisher College in Rochester, New York. An injury as a freshman, though, sidetracked his career, and an off year from college began with a summer job in maintenance at a Syracuse, New York, golf course. Working 5 a.m. to 2 p.m., mowing and fixing irrigation heads, and then hoofing it around for late afternoon rounds made golf his No. 1 sport.
Davis transferred to N.C. State for its PGA Golf Management program and excelled, graduating in 2012 as the valedictorian. While earning that degree, he was a part of N.C. State’s high-level, paid internship program and held the upper-crust assistant pro jobs that nearly drove him away from golf. Following college graduation, he exited the game completely and pursued tech jobs in the Raleigh area before creeping back into industry by working with new-age golf businesses Jones Sports, Linksoul and Seamus Golf.
Seeking a way to make golf more accessible, Davis founded Lie + Loft in summer 2015 as a way of connecting his passion for golf to home through artwork, design, inclusion and adventures. Originally named Land and Loft to tie outdoors enthusiasts to golf, the brand evolved to Lie + Loft, with loft representing someone’s home space and the angle created by the clubface and the ground where a golf ball sits. The company logo has two capital ‘L’s’ forming a flag at rest and Davis calls those who participate in events “golf homies.”
Davis taught himself graphic design to develop the cornerstone of his business, course drawings. He sold them wholesale for golf courses and direct to the consumer. He also became an FAA-licensed commercial drone pilot. The artwork is a throwback to 1950s-style aerial course layout drawings with a modern angle on making the configuration stand out with special touches such as gold embossing or constellations.
Among the more than 40 courses displayed at www.lieandloft.com are icons Augusta National Golf Club, Pebble Beach Golf Links and Winged Foot Country Club, public tracks like Wilmington Municipal and cow-laden, nine-hole Garner Country Club — both in North Carolina — or an option to have Lie + Loft draw your favorite course for an additional fee. Davis said his company has relationships with more than 400 golf properties. Additionally, Lie + Loft works with clients on still and drone photography and animating or editing video.
The adventure experience is just that, led by Davis’s desire to organize and venture out to see golf in a different way and to inspire the artistic nature of his team and followers. A few years back, at Tobacco Road in Sanford, North Carolina, there was a somewhat unusual gathering — a smattering of tents set up around the driving range and into the tree line. This was a Lie + Loft event where participants gathered in late afternoon on a Friday, played nine holes, had chipping or putting contests at night, feasted on outdoor cooking, slept in tents, bathed in the clubhouse facilities the next morning, played all day Saturday, repeated the under-the-stars accommodations on Saturday night, got up with 18 on Sunday morning and then returned to their homes.
“A lot of the people who are following us are people a smaller group of us met while out playing golf and stayed in touch,” Davis says. “That’s how our community keeps growing. There’s a sense of acceptance, no matter where we’re playing or what we’re doing. Someone heard about a golf event, has an idea for a golf event or saw what we are doing on social media. That puts a cool twist on our events.”
Other gatherings have been even more offbeat. A group biked 900 miles down the Pacific Northwest coastline from Portland to Pebble Beach, towing golf bags behind bikes, camping 14 nights and playing 17 golf courses along the way. Another group tripped from Raleigh to Las Vegas in a camper van, visited national parks, camped on public land and played golf when the urge struck. A venture two years ago visited the Midwest where it played 19 sand-green courses. There is interest in an international escapade and a night event at the re-created East Potomac Golf Links in Washington D.C., is on the books. Maybe even a hickory golf event, which Davis dabbles in playing. Or an industrial setting, where tennis balls are used and targets are established in a more urban setting.
Recently, Lie + Loft began sponsoring Belgium’s Leslie Cloots on the Epson Tour as she focuses on her career climb. Davis caddied for Cloots in an early March tournament in Florida.
“When you push yourself out of your comfort zone, you can gain the confidence to do the scariest things and you will be OK,” Davis says. “I took a leap of faith to be among the first to pedal down that coastline. It was one of those a-ha moments for me.”
Lie + Loft’s business success may be harder to quantify. The course drawings business has been increasing rapidly and the events are stacking up also. Davis says his company just surpassed 20,000 Instagram followers and there are approximately 25,000 followers overall in the community, which trends toward a younger and more diverse group aged 20 to 45. Word of mouth is also a key drawing card.