Any golfer with their ear to the ground has noticed the rise of independent golf brands over the last five years. Akbar Chisti of SEAMUS Golf attributes that rise to the major OEM’s focus on mass market growth. “Their focus on mass appeal has created an opportunity for small brands to pop up and fill the demand for golfers seeking a way to put their own spin on their look, equipment, and accessories,” explains Chisti.
Whatever the reason, smaller independent golf brands have undeniably been on the rise. Their focus on individuality, craftsmanship, and quality strikes a chord with golfers who are happy to support smaller companies in return for a unique product that will last.
In this newsletter, we highlight three independent golf brands that should be on your radar, and we speak with their founders about what sets them apart.
Holderness & Bourne
Holderness & Bourne apparel offers classic style with superior fit and details, like structured collars that hold their shape over time. “We launched the brand in part because we saw a gap in the market between what the older brands were doing in terms of great design and what the newer brands were doing in terms of better fit and performance,” explains Alex Holderness, who started the company with John Bourne three years ago. “We offer what we like to think is the best of both worlds—classic style with a modern, more tailored fit—along with design improvements on our collars and elsewhere.”
Holderness & Bourne proves that modern fit doesn’t have to come in tandem with outlandish, loud design. Their understated branding and appreciation for the historic side of golf appeal to passionate golfers, which is why you’ll find their products in the pro shops of Winged Foot, Fishers Island Club, and the like. The attention to detail is clear with the company’s products. I continue to notice small details months after wearing my shirts. When you email the company, you will likely hear back from Alex or John, and chances are a friendship will spark from there.
SEAMUS is located in Portland, Ore., and the brand exudes the “maker culture” that is so prominent in that city. They began making headcovers out of wool tartans, but things grew quickly from there. “We are big into the craft movement of making great products domestically,” says Akbar Chisti, co-founder of the company. “Being in Portland, where there is a strong base of makers, we are able to grow our brand experience by continuing to create products that allow a golfer to accessorize with class and fun while maintaining a respect for the original purpose of the game.”
Speaking of brand experience, you can find Akbar and wife Megan at PGA Tour events this year, hammering hand-forged copper ball marks in the merchandise tents. They’ll be at Oakmont, so stop by, meet the minds behind the brand, and pick up some quality golf accessories. It would be a mistake to understate Megan’s role in the business. When you receive a headcover from SEAMUS, chances are she sewed it.
Jones Golf Bags
How is Jones a new, young, independent company? After all, you may have carried a Jones bag if you played golf through the ’70s, ’80s, and early ’90s. The company closed up shop in the early ’90s but was revived a few years ago by an entrepreneurial group of golfers in Oregon. They still produce the Original Jones carry bag (carried by yours truly), but they have expanded their lines to include stand bags, accessories, and apparel.
Matt Lemman is a partner in the company and one of the group of friends that revived the brand. He attributes the growth of independent golf brands to an underserved section of the golf market. “Independent golf brands are grabbing ahold of the golfer who appreciates tradition, and is not too concerned about being up to date with the newest driver or hybrid that came out in the last six months,” says Lemman. “The idea of minimal branding, and keeping things basic in the golf market has helped contribute to the growth of Jones and other independent brands.”
Once you begin to look for smaller golf companies, you begin to see them everywhere, and at that point, you’ve caught the bug. You suddenly won’t be happy with the OEM headcover that came with your driver. You’ll want a unique golf bag with bits of customized character. You’ll begin to notice the differences in quality and before you know it, you’ll be fully stocked with one-of-a-kind products that you’re proud to own.
There are many more than just three great independent golf brands. What are your favorites? Let us know in the comments below!