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Friday, Dec 9, 2022

Golf Grip Co. Keeps Looking for Stroke of Genius

In 2019, the global golf grip market size was $529.8 million and forecast to reach $622.3 million by 2026, according to a “Global Golf Grips Market 2019” report.

That same list named Lamkin Corp., a San Diego-based golf grip company founded in 1925, as one of the top three golf grip manufacturers in the country alongside Golf Pride, founded in Cleveland in 1949, and SuperStroke, launched in 2009 in Michigan. The list order is based on production, revenue and market share, among other categories.

While Lamkin is privately held and wouldn’t share revenue, SuperStroke, for example, was forecast to post $30 million in revenue in 2014, according to reports. Today, the overall golf equipment business is a $2.6 billion industry, as per economic impact data.

With over 20 local employees and based in Otay Mesa, Lamkin is a third-generation family manufacturer of golf grips that cater to original equipment manufacturers, including locally based Callaway Golf Co. and TaylorMade, among others, as well as golf professionals and after-market grips for all golfers. It was founded by Elver Lamkin, who began crafting leather grips in the garage of his Chicago home in 1925. The company was relocated to San Diego in 1986.

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Bob Lamkin, Elver Lamkin’s grandson and current CEO of Lamkin Corp., said, 95 years later, the vision for the company remains the same: to be the leader of innovation in terms of material, design and technology for the golf grip industry.

Making the Sale

“We work very hard to educate golfers about the importance of grips and we’ve found that if we get a player to try Lamkin, they almost immediately understand the difference in quality over other brands,” he said. “Lamkin is built on being the best in the world and our customers expect high quality. We are constantly challenging our vision to be the innovation leader in material, design and technology and the industry is recognizing the achievements.”

John Little Jr., club-fitting specialist at Roger Dunn Golf Shops in West Los Angeles, said Lamkin is a respected name in the golf industry not just because of the quality of its grips, but also because of the company’s longevity and impressive golf partnerships.

“Lamkin is… one of the oldest grip brands still in business,” he said. “They’ve sponsored some of golf’s all time greats like Arnold Palmer, FedEx Cup winner Justin Rose and… Troy Mullins, who is the first woman to hit a ball over 400 yards. It’s been a great family business that has been passed down through generations.”

Specifically, Little Jr. name drops Lamkin’s Crossline grips, “which feature multi-layer, multi-texture technologies,” he said, and is a staple in the market. Crossline has been one of Lamkin’s best-selling grips for over 20 years, according to the company.

Lamkin Corp. manufactures both swinging and putting grips, with prices for swinging grips ranging from $4.49 to $10.49, while putting grips range from $17.99 to $24.99 each. Some of the company’s top performers this year so far, according to Lamkin, are the 2020-released ST+2 Hybrid Calibrate, which cost $10.49, Sonar+ Tour Calibrate, with a price tag of $9.49 and Sonar+ Wrap Calibrate, at $9.49. Also this year, Lamkin introduced two new technologies called “Smooth Tac”, for a more comfortable feel, and “Calibrate”, to help golfers keep their hands in the correct position at all times, said Lamkin.

In terms of how the grips are made, Lamkin said it depends on the type of golf grip, whether that is swinging or putting. That affects the grip’s injection, molding, pressing and assembly, he said.

Addressing Multiple Factors

“The grip is the only connection between a golfer and her/his clubs, so, the grip needs to address multiple factors such as feel, traction, weather condition, golfer’s swing speed and tackiness,” Lamkin said. He added that Lamkin Corp. devised a “Grip Selector” program that assists golfers in making more educated choices as far as their grips go. “Golfers have different preferences in terms of feel and materials used, so (we) have product line(s) designed to cater to these needs and offer a premium product for everyone. With that in mind, regardless of the type of grip being developed, we are widely known for producing grips that are extremely durable and offer great performance in all-weather conditions.”

While the end customers are any and all golfers, Lamkin said the company has two primary clients: all of the major equipment manufacturers who feature the Lamkin grips on their stock and distributors who supply large off-course outlets. Lamkin also sells its grips online via its website and e-commerce sites like Amazon. The goal is to get a Lamkin grip in the hands of every golfer, he said.

Manufacturing Facilities

Lamkin Corp. has two manufacturing facilities: one in China and one in Mexico, said Lamkin, and ships from these locations when logical, with 90% of its after-market products typically packed and shipped out of its San Diego headquarters. The company sources its material, or polymer product, worldwide, said Lamkin. He also said Lamkin currently has patents pending on its new Genesis Material, which is believed to last longer, grip better and feel better.

While Lamkin has had success for nearly 100 years in the golf grip industry, it does hit snags sometimes, especially when it comes to educating golfers so that they understand the difference in quality over other brands, said Lamkin. It is part of the reason the company recently launched “Regrip America 2020,” he said, a program that offers golfers the opportunity to get a free grip and free install of any Lamkin grip.

“We know that once they feel the difference, we have converted customers,” said Lamkin. “We make constant strides to improve our business processes and products. Most notably, we are implementing lean manufacturing processes, advanced 3-D R&D processes in 3-D printing, dedicated focus on our distributor partners and an unequivocal focus on quality.”

Marketing Strategies

To market Lamkin Corp. and its ever-evolving advances in golf grips, Lamkin said the company has a multifaceted marketing approach that includes traditional marketing through television and print, digital, like paid and organic social media, direct-to-consumer, including email marketing, and professional endorsements and brand ambassadors. Lamkin’s current ambassadors include PGA Tour standout, Olympian Justin Rose, World Long Drive competitor Troy Mullins and professional golf instructor Travis Fulton. In the past, the company partnered with the likes of pro golfer Arnold Palmer, who was a Lamkin ambassador until his death in 2016.

But, even before ambassador programs and social media hype, Lamkin Corp. was already making a name for itself in the world of golf grips, he said. After Elver Lamkin launched Lamkin Corp. and as golf continued to grow in popularity in the 1930s and 1940s, Lamkin said the company grew to meet demand and, over the following three decades, continued on to be an industry pioneer, mostly through the use of new materials, manufacturing and texture innovations “that provided players with functional performance advantage”.


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