By Mike Purkey
Image courtesy of Golf Pride
The industry leader in making grips for golf clubs is about to swing closer to the people who use its products. Golf Pride broke ground in December on a new headquarters at one of the most well-known courses at Pinehurst Resort.
Golf Pride is relocating its current offices in Southern Pines and nearby Aberdeen a few miles down the road near Pinehurst No. 8, known as Centennial Course. The company, a division of Ireland-based Eaton Corp., is planning a 36,000-square-foot facility that will house corporate offices and the R&D department when it opens later this year. According to Golf Pride’s president, making the short move geographically will improve the company’s visibility.
“The challenge is that we’re a global brand,” Jamie Ledford says. “When we say we’re from Southern Pines, no one knows where that is. Having a Pinehurst address was an important piece of the puzzle for us for the name recognition of that place in the world of golf.”
Having a firm grip is a key part of a golf swing. The new facility will include a first-of-its-kind consumer grip-fitting studio, replicating services available to the pros. Golf Pride has 38 employees in Moore County and will have about 50 in the new facility.
The company has been talking about relocating for a few years but couldn’t find any suitable existing buildings. It became clear that a new structure would be needed. Officials at the resort, which owns nine courses, made land available at the entrance to No. 8.
“This has the opportunity to be the first ripple in a body of water that might become a wave as you think about Pinehurst and golf-equipment companies that are potentially looking to be in unique and innovative places,” Tom Pashley, president of Pinehurst Resort, told the town’s planning and zoning board in November.
Moving to Pinehurst will enable the company to have ready access to more rank-and-file golfers. Most golf equipment manufacturers operate in relative secrecy, test prototypes with players on professional tours and then introduce the equipment to the public.
“We’ve launched more new products in the last four years than Golf Pride has done in the last 20 years,” Ledford says. “We’re doing more consumer testing than we’ve ever done before.”
Golf Pride products range from about $5 to $25. Founder Thomas Fawick started the company in the 1940s and sold it in the late 1960s to Eaton, best-known today as an electrical-equipment maker. Golf Pride controls about 60% of the U.S. business in golf grips with 80% of PGA Tour players using them, according to the Darrell Survey, a Los Angeles-based research company. Most equipment manufacturers ink endorsement deals with professional golfers, though unlike many rivals, Golf Pride doesn’t pay players to use its grips.