Younger Awards – Part IV Created: Tue, 18 Dec 2012
This instalment of my year-end equipment and business awards focuses on Canada’s golf industry winners for 2012.
While this nation’s contribution to gear, apparel, accessories and services might be relatively small in an overall industry snapshot, Canada takes a back seat to no one for producing quality and craftsmanship. Canadian Business Story of the Year The nominees: Jim Little leaves RBC for Shaw Communications, PGA Tour purchases Canadian Tour, Wasserman Media Group acquires Catalyst Sponsorship Consulting, Callaway Golf Canada restructures, Cabot Links, Golftown merges with Golfsmith, Callaway Golf Canada assumes sponsorship of Golf in Schools The Winner: PGA Tour purchases Canadian Tour My take: Amid a worthy grouping of nominees, this category for 2012 was strictly no contest.
After languishing under tough economic circumstances since its 10-year Golf Channel agreement ended, the Canadian Tour not only got a financial reprieve from the PGA Tour early in the year, it wound up under its corporate umbrella. What it means for the newly named PGA Tour Canada remains in prospect. But a deserving tour and a group of great people running it get something they have not had in quite some time: stability.
Canadian Golf Product of the Year The nominees: Sunice ‘Silver’, Arnie by Quagmire Golf, Hollas Diversity Collection, Catwalk Zippy, Kikkor Men’s Pure Line, Dryrainge, ACCRA Tour Z shafts, Sligo Golf pants The Winner: Arnie by Quagmire Golf/ACCRA Tour Z Shafts My take: Nothing between the two winners who tied and very little between a worthy grouping of nominees in this category. Arnold Palmer’s trust in Geoff Tait and Bobby Pasternak of Quagmire was rewarded with the debut of an outstanding line of Palmer-inspired apparel from the 1950s, 60s and 70s appropriately named ‘Arnie.’ The three deliveries were all met with critical acclaim. ACCRA Golf of Kingston, Ont., continues to be a force in the high-end shaft market. Former world No. 1 player in the world Luke Donald continues to put his trust in ACCRA. Many, many players in 2012 put their trust in ACCRA’s Tour Z product. Canadian Executive of the Year The nominees: Don Nichols (Second Skin), Mark Fletcher (Fletcher Leisure Group), Geoff Tait/Bobby Pasternak (Arnie), James Lepp (Kikkor Golf), Adam Barr (Miura Golf), Dave Wilson (PING Canada), Gawain Robertson/Dave Makarocha (ACCRA Golf) The Winner: James Lepp (Kikkor Golf) My take: As I write this James Lepp is one of two finalists for Big Break Greenbrier. That’s not why he is Executive of the Year. The former NCAA Golf champion’s vision for his fledgling company Kikkor means he’s willing to go the extra mile to help brand his product and further infuse its identity into a younger golf demographic. Lepp works hard at it. He’s been strong in the area of social media, runs contest after contest to keep people intrigued and he’s never met a microphone he didn’t like. Lepp got added traction with a few Canadian Tour friends, as well as LPGA Tour player Ryann O’Toole. He continues to be chief designer, CEO and COO, communications and marketing director. THAT’S why he’s my 2012 Executive of the Year. Emerging Canadian Golf Company of the Year The nominees: BioSteel, Spanner Golf, MA-Nine, Team World Golf, Pin High Golf, Just Golf Inc. The Winner: BioSteel My take: An incumbent sports drink in the NHL with the likes of Tyler Seguin of the Boston Bruins, Carey Price of the Montreal Canadians and former Toronto Maple Leaf standout Gary Roberts, BioSteel entered the golf market in 2012 doing so in a big way. The Canadian company signed PGA Tour winner Hunter Mahan to its staff and made great strides in introducing its healthy hydration product at golf courses across the country. Canadian Golf Company of the Year The nominees: Sunice, Quagmire/Arnie, Miura Golf, Sligo, Second Skin, ACCRA Golf, Sundog, Catwalk Performance Artwear The Winner: Sligo My take: A longtime Canadian brand that, rather than fall just under the radar, was all over the radar during 2012. Sligo’s spring/fall offering of products gained immediate acceptance with its retail accounts around North America and produced traction with emerging Sligo markets in Asia and Australia. Adding Weyburn, Sask.’s Graham DeLaet and Scotland’s Russell Knox to existing staff member Brian Gay on the endorsement team gave the brand more well-intentioned marketability with golfers interested in blending up-tempo fashion with performance.