For a game so closely associated with leisure, golf sure is polarizing. Listen to your local sports-radio station long enough, and you'll inevitably hear a few (poorly articulated) "Are golfer's really athletes?" arguments. Turn on the Master's at a family gathering, and you'll elicit as many groans as you will debates on the nuances of Phil Mickelson's putting mechanics.
Even if you're into golf, there's little middle ground: Maybe you watch it for the 50-foot birdie putts that tiptoe just right along the break, or maybe you just hope to catch a club-throwing, divot-inducing meltdown. Maybe you're a fierce competitor working tirelessly to improve your 7 handicap, or maybe you just like having an excuse to wear white pants and drink outdoors in the middle of the day.
However you feel about golf, though, there's one thing everyone can agree on: The maybe-or-maybe-not-sport is teeming with promotional product sales opportunities. Want in on the action? Get in the game with the sales tips below.
While sports like soccer and basketball require little in the way of special equipment to play, golf is a bit trickier. You need clubs (drivers, irons, putters, wedges, etc.), a bag for your clubs, towels, a golfer's cap (preferably plaid), shoes, a bag for your shoes, and more. (OK, you don't need a golfer's cap, but they look totally cool.)
But what's the one item you need more than all of those? Golf balls. Lots of them. As if water hazards, woods and the occasional golf-ball-snatching-seagull weren't taxing enough on your supply, there's also regular wear-and-tear that necessitates frequent golf-ball replacement—according to the website Golf Ball Planet, an individual ball will typically be used for only 12 to 15 shots. In other words, golf balls will always be in demand. "Golf balls continue to represent the largest percentage of golf business and are a needed staple," said Kim Shaw, senior trade marketing manager for Norwood & BIC Graphic.
Pro Tips: Find the ball that best fits your client's needs. If your client is running a fundraiser tournament, for example, you may not need a Titleist Pro V1, a ball popular with professional golfers that has a number of fancy, expensive features. Golf balls are designed for different skill levels and come in a wide range of prices (Norwood's website lists 80 items in the golf balls category), so do your homework when choosing a ball.
Also, keep in mind that while golf balls have similar quality and available features across brands, established golf customers may still prefer one brand to others. "Many customers are very loyal to specific golf brands, similar to how we prefer certain brands of clothing," noted Shaw. "A brand is a golf vendor's greatest asset and [should be] protected highly by its marketing efforts."
We mentioned above that golfers need a ton of gear, but we didn't even get into the nitty-gritty. Sure, that futuristic carbon-fiber putter with the polymetal-groove technology will be the envy of your foursome, but without tees you'll never make it to the putting green to use it. Shaw noted that items like tees, ball markers and divot tools have lower price points, making them good giveaways for everything from golf tournaments to trade shows.
And then there are accessories like can coolers, sports bottles, sunscreen, lip balm and hand sanitizer. While these products don't technically fall under the "golf products" label, they're all useful on the course, said Shaw.
Pro Tips: Shaw recommended offering golf kits that bundle tees, divot tools, ball markers and other essential items to create a product with high perceived value and lasting logo exposure. "We have seen growth in kits, as they can be unique and customized to fit various budget ranges," she explained. "Once the components of that kit have been used or lost on the golf course, the customer will keep that exterior packaging, load it up with new accessories and use again, ensuring many lasting impressions of your advertising message."
Umbrellas are good for three reasons: Massive. Advertising. Area. "The best part of the big umbrella is that it's an outdoor billboard," said Jeffrey Nanus, president of Northvale, New Jersey-based Rainmen USA/AAA Umbrella/Satchels. "So if you watch a golf event on television, you'll notice that the golf companies, when they put their logo on, they print their logo across multiple panels. Instead of having a 9" logo they'll have a 29" logo going across, like a big billboard."
But what if your client wants something without flashy colors or a huge company logo, for a corporate incentive program? No problem: Umbrellas offer a number of subtle customization options as well. "I've seen plenty of investment bankers who don't want to have their name flashy on the outside of the umbrella, they'll find very unique ways, subtle ways of branding," explained Nanus. "They'll put their logo on the Velcro closure on the outside. Or they'll put their logo as a medallion in the handle. Or they'll print their logo as a tonal print on the outside. Or in some cases they'll print their logo on the inside."
Pro Tips: Nanus noted that golf umbrellas have several features that set them apart from standard umbrellas, including a larger arc size (typically 62"), a more robust construction (fiberglass shafts, rubberized grips) and wind-venting technology. But he also explained that not all umbrellas marketed as golf umbrellas are created equal. "There's a huge difference between a true golf umbrella and what we'll call 'golf style'—so, something that might [just] look like a golf umbrella," Nanus said. "We sell golf-style umbrellas for a third of the price, that have steel shafts and much-less expensive components, that a real golfer probably wouldn't find acceptable."
If your client asks for a tournament-ready, tough-as-nails golf umbrella and you provide one that snaps in half at the first gust of wind, that's a problem. Know why your client needs the umbrella and plan accordingly. "I think it's very important for the distributor to know from their client how the end-user is going to use the product," Nanus advised. "If it's just an inexpensive giveaway then golf-style is the way to go. If it's something that will see the golf course, then you need a different type of product."