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PGA trade show, smaller, but upbeat

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By Staff Brunswick Beacon

Each year the Carolinas Section of the PGA hosts a Merchandise Show at the Myrtle Beach Convention Center. I always go to check out what’s new in the world of golf.

This year, I zeroed in on three booths. Two were startup clothing businesses and one was promoting one of the oldest courses in the world: the Royal and Ancient Golf Club at St. Andrews, host of this year’s British Open.

The first booth I visited was the “House of Carrington.” I spoke with Jared Henzlik, vice president of sales and operations and learned his three-year old business is doing well. House of Carrington features classic, luxury apparel for both men and women.

“We are doing just fine,” he said. “We have four lines of clothing in timeless designs. We are not trendy and that’s working well for us. In this economy, the wild throw-away styles are no longer what people want. They want lasting quality and they will pay a premium for it.”

Jared conducts “Dress for Success” seminars and advises golf pros and other business professionals to dress up, not down.

“We need to be comfortable in a suit or sports jacket, we need to wear good trousers. Cargo pants, jeans, sweats and sneakers are not appropriate in all situations. I sometimes see someone dressed in a suit and they look like they’re going for their first job interview. They need to get comfortable in good clothing.”

Jared believes that a man should put on a jacket or suit, maybe even a tie, if he is taking his wife or girlfriend out to dinner.

“Business meetings and Sunday church also call for a dressy look. We’ve become sloppy with dress-down days but that trend is changing. A golf professional needs to look classy at all times. He might even want to wear a jacket on Sundays in the pro shop and he certainly needs to encourage his staff to dress up, not down. The members will appreciate it.”

The four lines the House of Carrington features are “Westminster Palace” (early fall colors like pale oranges, medium blues, claret, greys and browns). Next comes “Oxford Knights” with true fall colors: ruby reds, a deep green, a dark blue and something called “sunshine,” a pure, pale yellow.

For our golfers who travel south in the winter or go on cruises, there is a “Saint Tropez” line with bright aqua, violet, greens with complimentary blacks and whites.

Their fourth line, Isabelle, is not for playing golf, but is the clothing one wears for dinner or lunch at the club. It features elegant cashmere and merino wool sweaters, knit tops, sweater dresses, jackets and trousers for men and women. The clothing I saw was not inexpensive, but it was beautiful in a classic style that would remain viable for years.

Next, I found a booth of children’s golf clothing in bright colors called The Littlest Golfer or TLG. The clothing sizes went from infants to kids up to 12 years of age.

Two cute cartoon frogs called Sandy and Putter are everywhere, on signs, sales brochures and on the clothing. The colors were bright pink, blue, fuchia, navy, beige and white. There were onesies for infants, T-shirts, polo shirts, vests, visors, caps, polo golf dresses, knickers and argyle socks in all kids sizes.

Kris and Keri Wilson founded the company a year ago and this was their first showing. Their goal is to make golf fun for kids at a very early age and continue that as the child learns to play.

“My 2-year-old son knows who Tiger Woods is, he’s interested in golf. My 12-year-old daughter is playing,” said Kris. “Why not encourage that? They have Bob the Builder toys and clothes, why not do the same with golf? We don’t want to dumb down our kids, we want to encourage them, to give them stories and logos and clothes for golf. Our motto is ‘Golf earlier, play longer’ and I believe in that vision.”

Kris got into golf much later than his kids.

“I moved to North Carolina as an adult. I went out to play with some friends one day and at the end of nine holes, I was totally hooked. Suddenly I wanted to eat, live, and breathe golf. It’s such a great game and it teaches you so many things, things you have for your whole life like honesty and perseverance.”

“My wife and I wanted to start a new line of children’s golf clothing because what we saw out there was simply mom’s and dad’s golf attire in small sizes. Our kids’ golf clothes are designed specifically for kids.”

Kris showed me a tiny wind shirt with a bright logo on it. It looked just like a regular black wind shirt, but it had a bright green smiling turtle on the chest and the neckline had a Velcro opening on one shoulder.

“Sandy and Putter are the names of our boy and girl turtles,” explained Toby Maurer, the creator of Sandy and Putter. “They are characters that kids can relate to at a very young age.”

Toby works for Brandinghouse, an Ashville advertising and communications company that is working with TLG to develop brand recognition.

I loved their clothing and hoped that one of my daughters would have a new baby soon so I could buy them a little golfing T-shirt or onesie.

The last stop was at a booth that featured my ultimate dream: playing the old course a St. Andrews in Scotland.

I spoke with Jan Thwaites, regional director of sales for a company called “The Old Course Experience.”

“In 1996, St. Andrews approached us with the proposition that they would give us a certain number of tee times at St. Andrews and the other courses in that region. You see, those are public golf courses and the money they make goes right back into keeping them as perfect as possible. We decided to market tours there, which would include tee times, hotel reservations, transportation back and forth for golf or dinners. It’s been a huge success.”

Normally, if a golfer wants to play what is unarguably the most famous golf venue in the world, he must enter a daily ballot or drawing for tee times. Because of this company’s contract, they can offer tours to Scotland with guaranteed tee times at St. Andrews.

A golfer must qualify with a minimum handicap of 24 or lower for men; 36 or lower for women. You must walk with a caddy because golf carts are not allowed at St. Andrews.

Other courses in the British Isles are available through The Old Course Experience and may be added to the three-day basic St. Andrews tour. They include the New Course at St. Andrews, Carnoustie, the Castle Course, Turnberry, Royal Troon and Ballybunion.

Old hotels with claw-footed bathtubs and creaking floors are there, as are castles and pubs and the beautiful coastline and the rolling heather hills.

With a better exchange rate and huge reductions in airfares, perhaps it’s time to book that tour while you’re still young enough to walk the Olde Course at St. Andrews.

My passport is ready.

GOLF GAB GROANER

Advice for Golfers: Watch the Ball.

Watch it go right. Watch it go left. Watch it dribble down the fairway. Watch it move 2 inches. Watch it hit a tree and go backward over your head. Watch it sail onto a road and hit a new Mercedes-Benz car. Watch it sky. Watch it shank. Watch it hit the clubhouse. Watch it hit the large gentleman in the foursome ahead of you, then watch him come roaring back to you with his oversized driver in his fist.

On the other hand, don’t watch the ball. Too many horrible things can happen.

ELSA BONSTEIN is a golf columnist for the Beacon. Reach her at elanbon@atmc.net.