This month, well-known golf brand TravisMathew will open the only permanent storefront to be on the 18th hole of St. Andrews golf course. The Old Course at St. Andrews in Scotland is one of the most famous courses in the world (it was established more than 600 years ago). The “ath-leisure” apparel line is debuting a co-branded series of more than 100 new products unique to the course. Some will be available online, but others are exclusive to those visiting Scotland.
At a time when the sport is rising in popularity (in part because during the Covid-19 pandemic, people were still able to get outside and play golf), the clothing company wants to make the sport more approachable for all ages.
Research from the National Golf Foundation shows that golf is skewing younger and engaging more females and people of color than ever before. In the past year, more than 3.2 million people starting playing on-course golf for the first time. Overall, the average age for people playing golf on a course is 45 while those playing off a full course is only 30.
TravisMathew CEO Ryan Ellis explains why this major milestone for the brand is the catalyst for how it wants to change how players view golf. Whether they travel to famous courses or enjoy at home, on or off the course, the company’s new line has a more casual and comfort-focused focus.
Why did TravisMathew want such an iconic storefront?
The conversation with St. Andrews had been going on for several years, probably as early as 2019. During the pandemic with everything shut down. TravisMathew was still having monthly calls with teams from numerous golf courses like Pebble Beach and St. Andrews. That’s when the idea of a store came up again. It seemed like a long shot, but the St. Andrews team really understood how TravisMathew represents modern golf with its more casual clothing line. When you combine that with the rich tradition of St Andrews, it could be something incredible. The brand is about bringing modern touches to such a historic sport and taking it into the future.
How were sales during the pandemic?
Over the past decade, there has been a trend towards “casualization” in menswear. TravisMathew has really led the charge in many ways, getting men to replace their dress shirts with polos, their slacks with performance pants and their weekend wear to be t-shirts and shorts or jeans when playing on the course, heading to the office or traveling.
The pandemic took that trend quite a few steps forward with people working from home and comfort being paramount when choosing a wardrobe. The brand was in growth mode, but then the pandemic shut the business down for 3-4 months. Once it opened back up, it went from steady growth to hyper growth in a heartbeat. A combination of consumer trends, brand awareness and strength of product really propelled TravisMathew post-pandemic into a powerhouse men’s brand.
What is the retail strategy for golf resorts?
There is nothing else really like the new TravisMathew store located right on the Old Course itself and next to well-known golf hotels like Rusacks St. Andrews and the Old Course Hotel, Golf Resort & Spa. No other retailer has something like it. The brand also has incredible hotel and resort partnerships throughout the U.S. and internationally. It is an ideal travel brand since the products are comfortable, easy to wash and neither wrinkle nor fade.
Many product categories such as Cloud Collection, Heater Active and Cuater are well represented in resort properties since they often have fewer space constraints than a typical pro shop. TravisMathew is in many golf resorts like Pebble Beach, Pinehurst, Big Cedar Lodge, Bandon Dunes, Turtle Bay, Pelican Hill, Kohler Resorts, TPC San Antonio and Streamsong among others.
The brand is also in non-golf resorts such as Wynn Las Vegas, MGM Resorts (a World of Hyatt partner) and Fairmont Desert Princess (part of the Accor All Live Limitless loyalty program). Many of the resorts with TravisMathew products participate in their own branded golf programs like Marriott Golf Links and Preferred Golf. These allow players to earn or redeem points for gift cards when they play and take advantage of other promotions and discounts when they travel for golf.
Are the clothes travel-friendly?
Ideal for leisure or business travelers, these clothes are well-received. Designers consider things like fabric weight, wrinkle-free fabric that does not snag easily and “washability.” At the same time, it needs to be flattering on the body while maintaining an elevated casual look without the shiny look of other performance brands. When you are traveling, all of those components make TravisMathew the ultimate choice for both versatility and quality.
What’s next for the brand?
Strong retail expansion from 15 locations in 2019 to over 50 by the end of next year is already underway. The most exciting launch is our women’s collection, which had an initial release in May that sold out in less than a month with a full assortment coming next spring.