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Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Links Candles - Light Up The Course

It's time for a new adventure. And there is nothing quite like launching a new product to get the creative juices flowing. So, that's what we are about to do and we are doing it with candles. Yes, candles! Who doesn't love scented candles. They look great, smell great and make the perfect year round gift. Over the course of the last few months we have sourced gorgeous 100% soy scented candles, labels, packaging, crinkle paper, shipping boxes, product cards and built a website. (Awesome job by Cary building www.linkscandles.com). I'm happy to say everything we have sourced is made in America. The majority of scented candles are made in China and the volumes required may be okay if you are Target, but not for us. We have no idea if anyone else likes the idea yet, so I didn't feel like having a garage full of 10,000 candles stacked upon each other and nowhere to put the car!
The inspiration for the candles is the great game of golf. The blue, green and yellow logo above represents the sea and sky, grass and sand. It's nature at its finest and the linked circles are the combination of the three coming together. We went through many iterations of the name and it was my father in law who really liked the simple name "Links" amongst our many possibilities. We hope you like it too! 

The scents for the candles came through many hours of testing and sniffing. Candles can smell very different when lit and the living room was our olfactory testing center for weeks until we all agreed on the ones we liked. The scents include fresh cut grass, pine tress, magnolias and more. We also had great fun naming the products to fit the golf theme. For example, we have Tall Pines, Earth and Magnolia (yes, I would have liked to have added another word to that one!)
The artwork above of the 16th at Cabot Links truly represents what Links Candles stands for and I have a couple of people to thank for allowing us to use the image on our website and packaging. Josh Smith, the incredibly talented artist who painted it and Ben Cowan-Dewar, the visionary behind the Cabot Links property in Inverness, Nova Scotia. See Josh's site here and Cabot Links here.

Well, that's a little of the background to the adventure. We will see where the journey takes us in the coming months. If you would like to order a candle or two, here's where you can do it. 
STOP PRESS - Our packaging just arrived and here it is.



Monday, February 15, 2016

Planning a Scottish Golf Trip This Year? You Need to See This Site.


One of the most interesting facets of the annual PGA Show is meeting new people. This year I had the good fortune to meet and spend time with passionate golf purist and Links Magazine Assistant Editor, Graylyn Loomis. Graylyn is a terrific young man who spent four years at the home of golf, St Andrews. Ostensibly, he was there to educate himself at the fine University, but really we all know why he was there. To play golf, caddy, drink beer and meet Scottish girls! As I was at university in Scotland too, in Glasgow, I understand the attraction of Scotland and all it has to offer.

Graylyn has come up with a great idea for golfers looking to put together a memorable Scottish golf trip. For a very small fee (too small Graylyn!) he will listen to your wants and needs and make recommendations based on your group size, golf ability, timing, budget and more. Take a look at his website, Scottish Golf Trip Planner featuring wonderful reviews of golf courses you know and also Graylyn's hidden gems that will add considerably to your enjoyment of your Scottish trip. Read More Here.

Saturday, January 30, 2016

MacDuff's Top Five from The Show

The Show is over for another year. My iPhone showed I walked 33,000 steps over the 3 days in the Orange County Convention Center. My feet feel like it! I did finally find a restaurant in the Hall I had heard of! Chick-fil-A had a couple of carts serving the awesome chicken sandwich, but you had to look hard to find them!
The steps were not in vain. It was a busy show and with rainy Orlando days, many who come for the mediocre golf available in Orlando actually attended the PGA Show and checked out the 2016 ranges of hard and soft goods. And as I walked 33,000 steps, so you didn't have to, here are my
Annual Top Five from The Show.

Holderness & Bourne


It was the inaugural show year for this New York based company. Owned by two young entrepreneurs Alex Holderness and John Bourne, the company has created a terrific range of shirts, knits and accessories. With bold stripes and a color palette that will appeal to golfers on and off the course this young company are going places. Their small range of luggage and accessories in canvas and leather is also stunning.  See the range here.

Oak Locker


Oak Locker is a cool idea. You go online to their site, register and curate your own locker of clothing, clubs, courses, even your fantasy golf Tour players. Oak Locker allows you to buy products through their partner websites and has a library of current content that is engaging and informative. They have wisely been selective about their partnerships and as their tag line suggest they only promote "the best in golf." You can create your locker here.

Seamus Golf


It's no secret that I have been a Seamus fan since clapping eyes on a single headcover that co-owner Akbar Chisti was wandering the cavernous OCCC hall with several years ago. He and his wife, Megan (she's the other owner!) have taken their simple idea of plaid headcovers and created a brand built on great ideas, execution and passion. Their wool, metal and wood products crafted in Oregon are irresistible! See the Seamus Golf range here.

swingOIL


I so wanted to like swingOIL. It has a great name, packaging and marketing and their endorsement deal with Jason Day is spot on. So, I wandered by their booth and met the engaging owner, Thomas Healey and heard the story behind the company. (You can read it here) I'm pleased to report the drink supplement, available in three flavors tastes terrific and will definitely be in my bag once the season begins. With glucosamine, chondroitin and turmeric, swingOIL will unquestionably help my flexibility and concentration. Read the whole story here.

Titleist


I have played the same set of irons for nine years now - Callaway forged blades. Having now seen in person the Titleist 716 T-MB irons I may actually switch brands. Built around a large tungsten weight with a thin top line they are an incredible looking set of clubs. I need to see my friends at Club Champion and go through a fitting to see if they will work with my rusty swing. Hopefully they will perform, because I really want these! Read more here.

Bonus Find! - Callaway Mack Daddy PM


This is a matte black line extension of the successful line created by wedge genius Roger Cleveland. I bought the 56 degree version last year and am very tempted to add the 60 degree version. My only question - why didn't they call it Black Daddy? Read more here.

Friday, January 15, 2016

It's Showtime! - Do's and Don'ts at the 2016 PGA Merchandise Show





I know, I rewrite this piece every year. Hopefully honing it, improving it and making more sense with each passing year!

The PGA Merchandise Show is a few days away and everyone in the golf business is frantically printing, manufacturing samples and making meetings for O Town. It is the best time in our world to meet old friends, make new ones and take a look into the crazy world of golf merchandise and see what’s new! That’s all everyone wants – new, new, new!

So here we go again with my list of Do and Don'ts for the PGA Merchandise Show.
  • Wear comfortable shoes...this is no time to break in your FootJoy teaching shoes
  • Don't sell on other people's booths. They have spent thousands on the space and months preparing for the show - it is just not cool. 
  • Drink plenty of water. The free Pepsi isn't going to help your hydration! There are water fountains and it may well be the only free thing in the Orange County Convention Center (OCCC)!
  • If you want to do business, dress appropriately. Smart casual is perfect and don't dress as if you are a PGA Tour player!
  • Eat a good breakfast at your hotel because the food in the OCCC is like a hot dog in a movie theater...overcooked and overpriced. There is nothing good to eat in the Convention Center – nothing!
  • Be very specific about where to meet your appointment. Pick a booth, preferably a small one, so you can't miss the person you are meeting.
  • Be prepared to stand and talk. There is nowhere to sit down in the OCCC, so Note to the organizers, people are here to meet, so you may want to invest in some chairs.
  • It's a long way from the 1000 aisle to the 6000 aisle so don't make three appointments in 60 minutes in three locations. It's like trying to get from uptown to downtown in Manhattan at 4 p.m.
  • Be patient. Everyone is busy and often running a few minutes behind. Whether you are buying or selling they will come.
  • Take some time to wander the floor. Go see the New Products section and marvel at the craziness of this business of ours. 

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Six Great Christmas Gifts

Like many people in this country I can't really think about Christmas until Thanksgiving is over. The perpetual "holiday creep" taking hold is so unnecessary and so blatantly led by retailers stuck with too much inventory. OK, I have that off my chest...on with my Pick 6 for Christmas.
1. Links to St Andrews - Love Letters to the Home of Golf This extraordinary 350 page book passionately compiled by Josh Evenson is an ode to the first town of golf. www.linkstostandrews.com
2. Beltology - The perfect belt on and off the golf course. With enough stretch to take in a full lunch and dozens of colors and styles to choose from Beltology belts are instant classics. www.beltology.com


3. Tin Cup - Yes, I'm biased as I have been on board since the beginning with this cool golf ball marking stencil. It's available in 150 design and and also custom designs. www.tin-cup.com

4. Best Made Co - It's just not the same unless I get something from one of my favorite online retailers. They sell cool, well made American products, like this match striker - Go see at www.bestmadeco.com

5. Lee Wybranski - Lee created the official posters for three Majors in 2015. His iconic imagery is extraordinary and his work is a fitting reminder of the great courses and memorable events played through the year. www.leewybranski.com


6. Bob Dylan's All the Songs - Maybe it's just because I really want this book that it made the list. But, if you like music then you owe it yourself to find the reason behind Mr. Zimmerman's genius. And for less than $30 on Amazon.com



Thursday, October 1, 2015

Mike Malloy and Waveborn - A Man and a Company on a Mission

Mike Malloy
 (Sunglasses entrepreneur and leading Ultimate Frisbee player)

Some people are just driven. That's Mike Malloy. I was introduced to Mike at 1776, the downtown D.C. incubator firm and he is a man on a mission. His company is Waveborn and they make awesome sunglasses in a variety of styles, including a couple designs, Dockweiler and Zuma that are great for golf. I can personally attest having played a number of rounds with them.
Zuma (Polarized)

Mike and his socially responsible company are on a mission to support funding for eye cataract surgeries around the world. Mike has partnered with See International a well known charity with a strapline that explains perfectly what they do - "Restoring Sight. Transforming Lives." Waveborn gives 10% of their profits to this incredible cause. Mike is passionate about his business and about giving back and his Waveborn is growing rapidly as a result of his commitment, alongside quality products and service.

I'm honored to have recently joined his Advisory Board and am steering him through the world of golf retailing. Mike also recently announced that three time Super Bowl winning quarterback, Troy Aikman has joined the Board. That's one Board meeting I am looking forward to!

Troy Aikman

Here's the Waveborn site and I recommend you take a look at the many designs and colors available. Mike also set up a coupon code for our Blog readers. The code is "macduff" and gives you a 20% discount off all sunglasses on the site.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

A Wonderful New Golf Book - Love Letters to the Home of Golf

Who doesn't love St Andrews? Well, if you are a golfer and you don't love it, either you haven't been there or you haven't been there enough! It is without doubt the greatest golf town in the world.

I was fortunate to attend University in Glasgow and as a member of the golf team we played many matches at truly great courses, including, naturally, The Old Course. I have great memories of those days and also in more recent times; walking around the town, staying in the Dunvegan and The Old Course Hotels, popping into the Jigger Inn, recreating Chariots of Fire on the beach and much more!
Thistle by Michael Klein

A fine young man, Josh Evenson, a North Dakota native, who attended the University of St Andrews, has gone many steps further than simply blogging about the Auld Grey Toon! Josh, along with an A list of the world's greatest artists, golfers and writers has created an extraordinary volume about the town, fetchingly entitled Links to St Andrews - Love Letters to the Home of Golf. He puts it best in his personal description of the book,

"Links to St Andrews is about links of many kinds in the world of golf and in life: links between fathers and sons, between coaches and athletes, between the past and the present, between an undulating expanse of grass and the swing of a club, between a town and those who fall under its spell."
Josh Evenson

Josh has travelled the world compiling this mighty tome with contributions from Messrs. Nicklaus, Palmer and Player, Annika, Greg, Tom - you know, all those for whom only one name is sufficient. And it doesn't stop there; the artwork is extraordinary, as is the art direction. The stories are compelling and tell so many aspects of the centuries old town, most of which I was unaware of. So, if like me, you love St Andrews, buy yourself a present and for less than half the price of a driver (which I almost guarantee won't be in your bag in a year) you can own one of the truly great golf books produced in my memory.

There are several editions of the book including a very special edition that includes the signatures of the 100 contributors, signed on hand made paper pressed from the grasses of St Andrews (I kid you not!). Good luck getting one of those! There is another limited edition tier coming at $295 signed by the writers and artists and includes a leather slip case. Available online right now is the "standard" edition, although there is absolutely nothing "standard" about this book. This version is $150 and likely to sell out fast. Although sans signatures it has everything you need to look at and read.
A sketch by Lee Wybranski

Josh undertook this venture with a passion and integrity rarely seen in Generation X and the result speaks for itself. This is a book you are going to want to own, read, study and read again. It's for sale on the Links to St Andrews website here.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

The High Heat Driver - Taking on the Big Boys


                                             
It takes brave souls in any business to take on the industry leaders, but in the golf business many would say you have to be certifiable. Well, crazy or not, two gentlemen, Dean Knuth and Steve Trattner decided to take on the behemoths of Callaway, TaylorMade and Titleist and launch a very cool and effective new driver. It's called High Heat and it is already making waves in the business. I'm told their first production run is already sold out and more drivers are on the way. And that's because it performs even better than advertised.

Both Dean and Steve have a long history in the game of golf. Dean is the "Pope of Slope" and if you have a USGA approved handicap you know his work, if not his name. He's the math whiz from the USGA who came up with the rating and slope system used in modern handicapping. His resume contains many extraordinary accomplishments (you can read it here) and suffice to say it was just a matter of when, not if, he created a great driver. His business partner is Steve Trattner and for full disclosure Steve is a family friend. He and Dean worked together for many years at the USGA where Steve was the intellectual property attorney (imagine the fascinating documents that came across his desk during that time). So, you know the patents and intellectual property for High Heat were in the best of hands.
I have worked with golf club manufacturers for many years, so I try not to get too caught up in the invented buzz words and marketing speak which invariably come with new clubs. For me, it's much more about understanding the tech without getting too wrapped up in the terminology. Look and feel mean more to me and these are tough concepts to sell, but are the most important factors to me when testing a club. So, let's get the tech bit out of the way. Thankfully and rather wisely High Heat has kept the marketing speak to a minimum  - they focus on High Heat having a deeper and lower center of gravity and a higher MOI than the major brands. 

That's all I need to know, as I understand both concepts. So that should lead to improved trajectory and longer distance, right? Well, in my tests both indoors on a launch monitor and outdoors where I was simply watching ball flight, the High Heat beat my existing Callaway RAZR Fit driver by a solid 10-15 yards and the flight dispersion with the Fujikura Pro 63 shaft straightened me up too!

The other really cool element is the no groove, shiny face that allows you to see where you actually strike the ball on the club face. It had the effect on me of focusing on a pure strike, rather than simply just trying to smash it - a strange calm took over and I started swinging instead of simply hitting, with very positive results! (See below - hard to shoot a great picture, but you get the idea!) I asked Dean about the smooth face for clarification and here's what he had to say,

"Another benefit of the mirror face is that it helps to lower backspin rates. Too much backspin causes distance loss. Lastly, there are seven zones of internal thinness behind the face for increasing the size of the sweet spot zone and putting grooves over this area would have created variability in performance."

If you would like to buy this great driver, go to the High Heat site where Dean and Steve have a MacDuff Golf special. In the "How did you hear about us?" section check the "MacDuff Golf" box and you'll get a $50 discount reducing the price from $399 to $349. You will love this driver! Read more about High Heat here.

Friday, July 17, 2015

The 144th Open Championship at The Old Course


It's The Open, The British, the British Open, the Open Championship - a major so good they named it four times. Call it what you will (and even as a Brit, I'm not hung up on the title), it's always very special when it is played in the Auld Grey Toon of St Andrews over The Old Course.

I was at University in Scotland (in Glasgow) and have played The Old Course many, many times in competitive and friendly matches. I even got it around in under par on one occasion. Ok, you don't really care about my score, but like all golfers I feel the need to tell you!

The real reason for this quick blog is to highlight my friend, Lee Wybranski's latest Official Poster for the Championship. Featuring a wonderful view down the 18th highlighted by The Swilcan Bridge, R & A Clubhouse and Hamilton Grand, it's a gorgeous addition to any golf collection. You can buy a signed copy here on his website.

Saturday, May 30, 2015

The 2015 U.S. Open Poster by Lee Wybranski

The U.S. Open is almost upon us again and this year will be a fascinating test at Chambers Bay in the Pacific Northwest. This is the first time for the national championship in that part of the country and the USGA should be congratulated for their bold choice. The players, naturally, are already moaning and groaning about the golf course - most notably, those who haven't visited the site! Listen, I represented professional golfers for over a decade and have literally never been to a golf course where one of them wasn't complaining about something! Once they get there and see the Robert Trent Jones II golf course, which resembles, but isn't, a links golf course, all will be forgotten. These guys are so good that they can play anywhere, in any conditions and once again a champion will be crowned. I do know it's a tough walk for the crowd, so I'll be enjoying my Father's Day watching on television.

So, all of that brings me to the magnificent official poster for the event created by my friend, artist Lee Wybranski. Lee is based in the delightful town of Flagstaff, Arizona and this is his eighth poster celebrating the USGA' s premier event. Lee has always said that "the poster is an advertisement" and uses iconic imagery, as well as using strong copy lines to tell the story of the course and area. This year's story features the 16th hole and captures the Sounder train running along Puget Sound with the iconic "Lone Fir" tree in the distance. Look even closer and you will see a Seahawk in the clouds above the golf course and the snow capped Olympic Mountains in the distance. The poster is wonderfully observed and beautifully executed.

For the last couple of months we have been working with Lee to re-design his website and you can now see many originals, posters, prints, as well as his extraordinary brand and logo work on his new site here. The talent of Lee and his team knows no bounds and the depth of his work in the golf business is amazing. You may also be surprised to see his non-golf and special commission work that includes many special events and bold contemporary work.

You can visit Lee's new site here and buy the 2015 U.S. Open poster here.