Made in USA Golf

I know a lot of creative people who play golf, but they don’t post about it and don’t talk about it. It’s a sort of sleeper cell of people who hate the associations that come with golf but love the game. It’s obvious that the optics of golf are challenged. You’ve heard the arguments. It takes too long. There’s no diversity. Too many polyester polos and obnoxious people driving golf carts smoking cigars. The criticism is fair, but there’s a new wave of golfers who are bringing a new point-of-view to the game and that’s exciting. There’s a lot of interesting things happening in golf right now and a lot of creative people who have embraced the game in a new way.

My take on golf is the same as it is with style: do what makes you happy. If driving a cart is your thing, do it. If you refuse to play anything but 18, then you do you. I see golf as an escape and a source of fun, so why would I be bothered by how other people partake? Most of the time when I play it’s just 9-holes in the early morning on a weekday. If it’s just me then I’m happy to be alone with my thoughts for a few hours in a beautiful place. My weekends are family time and I don’t disappear every Saturday for the entire day and then come home torched. That’s just not what I want out of golf or life.

I mostly wear cotton pants and a cotton shirt. I don’t need super performance clothes because I’m not running an ultra marathon. Whenever I can, I walk and carry my clubs because it’s more peaceful that way and better for me. A lot of people will probably see this and peg me as a “hipster golfer”. If that’s what they want to think — then go for it. Again whatever makes people happy is fine with me. The world is pretentious enough as it is.

This year I’ve been working on building an entire golf site that builds on my interest in the game and how it intersects with the ACL point-of-view. I started ACL because I couldn’t find what I was looking for in magazines and this ACL Golf site will attempt to accomplish a similar objective. It also makes sense to give golf it’s own home, because a lot of you aren’t signed up for it specifically.

If you have read this far then you are likely interested in golf at least a little bit and curious about how it intersects with ACL. With that in mind I put together a list of brands that are making good stuff here at home. More to come soon on the ACL Golf front. Have fun out there.

Finally a Good Rangefinder Case

The man behind NWKC must have had free time this year because out of nowhere comes Sentinel Golf. At this point it’s a single item brand aiming to make the prefect the range finder case. Anyone who has ever paid $500 for a laser has been flummoxed by the third-rate case that come from the manufacturer. The Sentinel case is solid and domestic, made of ballistic nylon with waterproof zips and solid brass hardware. It feels substantial in the hand without being heavy for long walks. Perhaps it is slightly overbuilt — which is exactly what I want. Would rather pay $88 once than $34 every other year till I die. [Sentinel Golf]

The Cult Walker

My MacKenzie in Donegal, Ireland.

MacKenzie bags have been made in Oregon since 1985 and are both highly functional and wonderful looking things. No object identifies one’s approach to the game of golf perhaps more than a MacKenzie walker bag. A Mac is the best-of-the-best for those who walk and carry. It’s not just a different bag, it’s a different mindset. Purist golf. Some people don’t want to walk, ever. Others don’t get the desire to own something not made entirely of plastic. To me it’s not a status symbol. I want to own something that gets better the more you use it — not something that just deteriorates. I bought my Mac before my first trip to Scotland and there aren’t many purchases that have delivered more happiness. [MacKenzie Golf Bags]

Kentucky Leather Goods

There are a lot of great brands making leather goods in the U.S., but not many that cater specifically to golf. It’s not like golf needs are complex, but most of what’s out there from a small leather goods perspective is unnecessary. Bluegrass Fairway is the exception by making well-made things that are functional and needed. The scorecard holders are perfect if you are walking and just make things easy. The leathers are Horween and the workmanship is solid. I even like the logo. [Bluegrass Fairway]

Irons Forged in the Heart of Texas

There’s a funny thing in golf where it’s become so much more technical than I think it needs to be. Granted, everyone has their own approach and level of seriousness. What I like might be what someone else hates. As I mentioned above: do what makes you happy. Dress the way that feels good to you. Approach the game the way you want and play the damn clubs that you want.

It’s always shocking to me that so many people have such strong opinions on the clubs I own and play. It should also be pointed out that I have far too many sets of clubs than I probably should — from a variety of brands. Like so many things I am interested in, there’s just something about knowing exactly who is making something and where. P53 is forging clubs from American steel in Fort Worth, Texas. I read a story where P53 Founder Christopher Griffin lamented the disappearance of American forged golf clubs from the market and decided if no one else was going to do it, he was. I haven’t played these clubs, but they look super clean. More and more with clubs I’m focused on aesthetics and origin rather than this years shiny technological advancement. [P53 Irons]

On a Whim

Unsurprisingly, there’s not much golf clothing that is made here anymore. There are a few traditional golf brands that haven’t offshored everything — Fairway & Greene stands out as one that continues to manufacture shirts in the U.S. Recently two new upstart golf brands have been selling non-traditonal golf clothes for the new wave of golfers who are coming to the sport and bringing with them their own style. Solo Golf in Boston is making golf clothes that are just different. You just don’t see a lot of chambray pop-over golf shirts at Dick’s Sporting Goods. Solo also has a nice fleece and a great hooded vest (which I like despite my disdain for hoods). It’s very much a small upstart but one that aligns with the energy that I increasingly see coming into golf. [Solo Golf]

Whim is another relatively new golf brand that is interesting two me. Founded by creatives Colin Heaberg and Will Gisel, Whim is bringing its own take on golf whether anyone likes it out not. I had a video chat with Colin and Will recently and they told me a story that I have heard a lot recently. They grew up playing golf only to move on to other things. At some point they rediscovered their affinity for the game but didn’t want to conform to the dress code and all of the other ridged aspects of the game. They channeled their creativity and passion for the game to start Whim — to do things differently. It’s a simple statement to dress the way you want and be happy. I’m on board. [WHIM]

This year I’m really re-thinking my whole connection to the holidays and gifts. I’m not sure if I even feel comfortable making a gift guide because I don’t feel like I want to encourage that type of consumption. I do advocate buying some considered things that last, but I want to be careful not to fall into the trap of promoting random consumption as it relates to the holidays.