New Zealand Golf Magazine
What's in a Name?
“Hey, what's in a name? Quite a lot…”
While I don't expect any of you to be familiar with this quote (since it is a line from a pirate themed children's song), it did get me thinking about how important names, brands, and images are to the golf industry.
With the current value of worldwide golf well in excess of $100 billion USD, golf brands should be treated with the same standards as those applied to other major industries. Unfortunately, some brands are less protected than others, and in this day and age, the placement and security of one's brand can be the difference between failure and success.
A brand can be your most valuable asset more than the land value of your course, clubhouse, or equipment. However, when discussing course, clubhouse, and equipment, we go to great lengths to protect these items with insurance, regular maintenance, and competent staff as caretakers. When it comes to our brand however, most golf businesses in New Zealand either disregard this area or place it in the hands of someone who has no experience or ability to grow and protect it.
Looking at the most popular brands in the golf world, we see names of retailers like Taylormade, Callaway, Titleist, Golf Pride, Club Car, EZGO, Foot Joy, and Scotty Cameron. These are brick and mortar companies that produce a real product. Many are publicly traded with shareholders and annual reports, and therefore we expect them to protect their image and build their brand.
However, we also need to consider the other brands of the golf world those like Pebble Beach, The Old Course, Jack Nicklaus, and Pete Dye.
I recently had an amazing opportunity to spend about a week with Tom Fazio, one of the most respected golf course designers in the world. At one point, the conversation turned to Tom's brand, his image, and how they are both protected. The conversation also covered Tom's longstanding design relationship with Augusta National Golf Club, who along with their tournament, The Masters, are two of the most well respected brands not only in golf, but in the world. Tom Fazio Design, Augusta National Golf Club, and The Masters Tournament all have plans in place to ensure their brands are protected, so why don't most golf courses do the same?
If we turn our focus to New Zealand specifically, who would our most recognizable domestic brands be? Off hand, I would say Golf Warehouse, Dot Golf, Wairakei, The New Zealand Open, and Kauri Cliffs would have to be part of the discussion. These are essentially household names amongst golfers and I would say each and every person reading this would touch one of these brands at least once annually.
While I can't speak to the internal approach of these companies, I can point to one that I feel did an excellent job re-inventing, and now leveraging and protecting their brand, and that is The New Zealand Open.