Podcast ep 28: We speak to Dean Klatt, the founder of Seed Golf, about his in-demand product and golf’s renewed popularity in Ireland.
If we turn the clocks back 12 months, golf was a sport in danger. Golf clubs across Ireland were recording worrying figures in relation to memberships, and participation was down.
KPMG’s Golf Participation Report for Europe 2019 highlighted a drop in registered golfers and golf club members in England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales for 2017, 2018 and 2019.
But skipping forward to 2020, the unwelcome arrival of the coronavirus proved to be the catalyst for renewed demand for golf. Memberships are up, and there are reasons to be optimistic when looking to the future.
As the sport begins to get back on track, one Irish company is taking advantage of its new-found popularity.
“Our mantra is same performance, for half the price”
Selling into more than 30 counties around the world, Carlow based Seed Golf is developing an excellent reputation among amateur golfers.
The company, which was started by Australian Dean Klatt, produces quality golf balls that are aimed at amateur golfers at half the price of its competitors.
Klatt, who has worked in golf for his entire career, got the idea for Seed after playing a round of golf with a friend who lost several expensive golf balls. For golfers with a higher handicap, the likelihood is that they’ll lose a number of golf balls every round they play, and the cost that goes with that is quite high.
He decided to address the issue, and so, Seed Golf was born. The company’s aim is to ‘make the game more affordable, more enjoyable and more accessible’.
“Golf is definitely having a moment here in Ireland right now”
“Our mantra is same performance, for half the price,” says Klatt. “Any product we bring out, we apply that mantra to it. We do that by not paying the big professional endorsements and we’ve also cut out that retail margin, so customers are buying directly from us.
“I also think with internet distribution, that idea of being able to buy products directly for us, it makes it a much quicker and cost-effective process for the customer,” he added.
While most leading golf ball manufacturers develop relationships with professional golfers on tour, Seed Golf is taking a different approach and is targetting the more casual golfers.
“It’s quite an expensive approach to take. By not paying the likes of Rory McIlroy $20 million, we are actually saving our customers. We decided against doing that. I wouldn’t say it’s something we’ll never do down the line, but it’s not in our plans at the moment.”
The adopted Kildare man was born into the game, with his dad being a golf pro at a club in Australia, and he says he always wanted to work within the sport.
“I grew up in the back of a golf pro shop. I had visions of following in my dad’s footsteps, but I was probably never good enough. I then ended up working on the other side of golf, which was really interesting and from then on, I knew I’d stay within the sport. I’m a golfer through and through.”
“The first month back after lockdown was our most successful month, and each week after we’ve seen record sales”
The arrival of Covid-19 earlier this year was initially seen as a concern as golf courses were forced to shut down their operation during the lockdown period, but demand for the sport rapidly grew upon reopening.
“Golf is definitely having a moment here in Ireland right now. When lockdown hit, we had a tough decision to make – do we keep our staff on or what will we do? The Irish Government’s wage subsidy scheme was super beneficial for us.
“We elected to keep everyone on, and staff worked from home. We used this period to be creative and work on things that we didn’t have a chance to pre-lockdown. We built a new website which we are delighted with, and we’ve been working on new products which we are starting to release now.
“When golf courses reopened, we worked hard on our marketing and saw demand for our products grow. The first month back after lockdown was our most successful month, and each week after we’ve seen record sales,” he added.
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By Stephen Larkin
Published: 7 September, 2020