5 Small Golf Brands That You Need to Know

By Tony Dear

Big brands budget big bucks to ensure media saturation. Lost sometimes are smaller brands which don’t have much spending power, but which still create excellent products. Here are five brands you may not be aware of, but should be.

Carbon Putters

Colorado’s Carbon Putters has enjoyed critical acclaim without hitting the big time… yet. The company remains family-owned with four core employees—Terri Kurtenbach and her three sons: James, Dan, and Dave. Four models are currently available: Holliday, Ringo, Ringo ¼, and The Kid—all blades forged from carbon-steel billets and finished using obsidian, making them both durable and elegant. Together this quartet makes up the Project Roulette series.

James Kurtenbach says 2018 will be a year of significant growth for the company as it takes on more machinists, completes the Project Roulette line (adding the Cassidy, Clanton, Oakley), and introduces the Bandit Series of mallets. “Not only are we introducing new models,” he adds, “we’re also targeting high-end fitting centers to offer Carbon Putters in a retail environment.”

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Club Champion

The concept for this Willowbrook, Ill.-based club-fitting company came from Nick Sherburne, an experienced fitter with an entrepreneurial spirit who teamed with Chicago-based venture capital firm KB Partners in 2010.

Five years later, Sherburne and the company’s CEO, Joe Lee, felt the time was right to go national. “We knew we’d hit on a good concept,” says Lee, “and we’ve been opening new locations at an accelerated pace ever since.”

Club Champion’s typical floorplan is approximately 3,000 square feet, and includes two Trackman-enabled fitting bays, a SAM PuttLab, and a build shop. The equipment wall holds enough shafts and heads to give customers 35,000 hittable combinations, and is where “a lot of the magic happens,” says Sherburne, who now oversees employee training and inventory selection.

By the end of January 2018, Club Champion will have 28 U.S. locations with plans to add 11 more by the summer.

Club Champion

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Epon

The market for high-end clubs has grown significantly over the last few years, bringing Epon into the spotlight—okay, nearer the spotlight. The house brand of the Endo forging house, located in Niigata, 200 miles north of Tokyo, Epon began building clubs for Japanese golfers in the late 1970s and now has a U.S. distributor, Swing Science based in Zionsville, Ind.

For decades, Endo produced clubs for several OEMs including Titleist, Mizuno, Hogan, Bridgestone, and Nike, which all imposed certain limitations on design and cost. Endo, however, is able to produce its Epon irons without restrictions. The result is as pure a forged iron as exists. The current AF series includes the handsome AF-Tour blade, forged from soft S20C steel. Casual golfers will balk at the $2,500 price tag; the cognoscenti say it’s money well spent.

 

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TPT Golf

A division of NTPT (North Thin Ply Technology), a high-tech manufacturer of laminate composites headquartered in Switzerland, TPT Golf was established in 2013 and claims to make the “most accurate, technologically advanced shafts available” using a process called “Thin-Ply Winding.”

Laying thin carbon plies concentrically results in a shaft with no seam or spine—inevitable consequences of the more common “roll-wrapping” technique. This, says TPT Golf, results in a shaft with more consistent torque, better feel and, ultimately, tighter shot dispersion.

At the PGA Show in Orlando, TPT Golf will reveal the 15LKP-LT-LW Shaft which has already been used to win three Tour events (the WGC-HSBC Champions in China, Turkish Airlines Open, and Indonesian Masters). Just making driver shafts for now, the company has plans to develop fairway wood and iron shafts.

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True Linkswear

In 2009, True Linkswear introduced the True Tour—a spikeless, flat-soled, wider-than-average shoe designed for the walking golfer. Extremely successful, it was largely responsible for the explosion in the spikeless golf shoe market. Ryan Moore wore them, and had a stake in the company. All was good.

Things went downhill, however, when True began making shoes for the mass-market. The company’s message got diluted.

Last year, it made a welcome return to what it does best—making shoes for the core golfer. There are now just two models on its web site, the Original and the Outsider (which Ryan Moore will be wearing this year), priced at $149 and $169 respectively. “We’re laser-focused on making the most comfortable shoe available,” says Jason Moore, Ryan’s bother and True’s Creative Developer. “No more wasteful spends on PR and advertising. From now on, we’ll let our customers do the talking for us.”

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What other small golf brands should we have included? Let us know in the comments below!

23 thoughts on “5 Small Golf Brands That You Need to Know

  1. Bombtech Golf should have been in your report. They make great equipment that rivals the big brand names at a much lower cost as they do not sponsor pros or sell,through a middle man. Check them out and you will be surprised.

  2. David Musty Putters. This is an exotic wood head putter. I have had mine for 9 years and love it. Would not trade it for any other putter and I have tried other putters. I bought mine at a trade show in Novi MI and they custom fitted it for me.

  3. Club Champion is a sham. I have had a personal experience that has been validated by many others with the same experience. During the fitting, they steer you to the most expensive options possible. I was “fit” for a driver that would cost $1,200. Once fit, I asked the staffer if I could test the proposed driver against my current gamer, and he did everything he could to prohibit it. He finally relented, and I was getting greater distance and Trackman numbers from my current set up.

    1. Thanks for this. I always thought 35,000 combinations was a bit over the top. There is clearly a sales element to this approach and at $350, it’s no bargain. A reputable local club fitter, whether private or public, is still the best way to go, imho.

      1. My experience with Club Champion has been nothing but favorable. I was able to first hit my own clubs seeing the Trackman numbers, then able to compare those numbers during the fitting. I truly believe that I was fit with the perfect equipment for me. As an avid golfer and a member of two clubs many people have asked me about my fittings. I’ve recommended Club Champion to them and everyone seems to have had a similar experience as I have had.

  4. Dormie Workshop … a Nova Scotia based family business making a wide range of truly customized leather products. Headcovers is their mainstay. Ordered six totally different headcovers as Christmas gifts. Rave reviews, incredible product … top notch!

    1. Dormie makes absolutely the BEST headcovers. I have used them for several custom event headcovers and they are first rate quality and stunning. Great guys.

  5. Black Lab Putters out of Savannah, GA are awesome and have a pretty a broad range of styles. They are all custom fit and customized. The owner does a great job.

  6. How about Scratch Golf, makers of some of the nicest leather head covers at affordable prices. I just purchased one of their driver covers and it fits my huge Ping G Head perfectly and looks sharp.

  7. Not exactly a ‘small brand’, but Ben Hogan Golf Clubs are definitely worth a look for many golfers looking for new sticks. The price and the product are both excellent and their new commitment to good CS is real.

  8. If you love golf in Scotland a terrific book to purchase and read is Preferred Lies by poet and avid golfer Andrew Greig. Greig recounts his experience playing well-known and off-the-beaten-path courses throughout Scotland. He writes with self-deprecating sense humor and quotable insights about the ancient game. Highly recommended.

  9. Try the new Knuth golf Fairway metals. Excellent engineering, easy to hit and long! Dean Knuth worked for the USGA, a trained engineer from the US Naval Academy has single mindedly designed and built unique fairway medals and drivers that rival any of the bigs with the highest COR of any driver on the market!!

  10. The best improvement I’ve had in ball striking, clubhead speed and distance resulted from the devices of Tour Tempo.

    The business is mostly family owned and the book describing the process is co-authored by famous golf writer John Garrity.

    Also endorsed on the website by a Yale Professor of Physics/Engineering .

    Really worth checking out

  11. glad to see True-Linkswear going back to basics. I was an early adopter after meeting one of the principals at my club. I have a wide, flat foot and my first pair was (and still is) terrific in all regards. 36 per day walking on a 2012 trip to Melbourne, no problem. I subsequently bought 5 or 6 iterations of their shoes, but experienced a variety of problems such as leaks, cracks and generally declining QC. They are so comfortable however that I will give them another chance. Thanks for bringing this to my attention

  12. I would agree with the experience being a good one. My clubs were hit first to create a base line. I hit may clubs honing in on the best choice. The fitter would ask me to look at the numbers with each manufacturer and in the end agreed on the best choice. I truly believe the money spent to got through the experience is well worth the time and dollars. The only drawback is their pricing on the equipment. I would get pricing from your local pro or another to check costs first before purchasing.

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