Stylish Collabs

What’s behind the ‘intentionally disruptive’ trend of golf brands partnering with food, liquor and (now) cannabis companies?

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Increasingly, we’re seeing golf brands, new and established, find creative partners with well-known food and beverage companies—and Bad Birdie’s recent release took it up a notch by including an exclusive beer in addition to the beer-inspired collection. The collaboration marking yet another hallmark of a larger trend in fashion, marketing, and sportswear that is making its mark in the golf space. Then, as soon as we thought we saw the peak of golf and lifestyle collaborations, the cannabis industry entered the picture. This week, cannabis brand Timeless announced it has teamed up with several popular streetwear golf brands—including Mackenzie, Students Golf and Quiet Golf—on a 17-piece golf collection of apparel and accessories.

The collection ranges from upscale golf bags, crested t-shirts and vintage-inspired polos, to modern utilitarian-styled shorts, bold graphically-covered mocknecks and a discreet vaporizer flip case. While rooted in the cannabis lifestyle company's logo and branding, it's not an overtly cannabis-driven collection—so if you were picturing imagery of plants and paraphernalia, you will not find that here. Instead, pieces are on-trend and of-the-moment with golf's current blending of preppy styling with streetwear designs and silhouettes.

"Given the increasing influence of fashion and streetwear culture in the golf community, and the intersection of cannabis and golf, we have continuously made an effort to destigmatize cannabis within the sport," Timeless founder Rocky Huang said. "Golf requires precision, power and endurance, while cannabis can enhance focus, relaxation and provide muscle and pain relief ... it’s clear to us that the two go hand-in-hand."

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When we caught up with Bad Birdie founder Jason Richardson and Four Peaks Brewing’s marketing director Trevor Needle after their recent collab dropped, they had similar thoughts and hopes that collaborations like these could be both a celebration of each brand’s craft and communities while helping tear down negative stereotypes in both industries.

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“This collaboration is a continuation of Bad Birdie's mission to disrupt golf and push the sport toward being more innovative, inclusive and creative,” Richardson said.

Added Needle: “At Four Peaks, we take the pretentiousness out of craft beer, making quality and innovative beer for everyone—just like Bad Birdie’s mission to bring in a new community of players.”

With a similar mission of making golf a more inclusive and inviting sport, Malbon has launched three capsules with Budweiser. The most recent collection dropped late last year with a majority of pieces selling out almost instantaneously. The collabs have added a host of limited edition, chill-forward, punchy red designs winking with Malbon’s signature smiling golf ball icon to its repertoire.

“Partnering with Budweiser has been a nostalgic moment for the brand,” co-founder of Malbon Golf, Stephen Malbon said. “We both approach our respective industries with a fresh outlook while paying homage to our heritage.”

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Above Left: 7-Eleven Golf Collection released August 2023; Right: Adidas Waffle House Shoe released April 2022

In addition to Malbon x Budweiser, we’ve got Foray Golf, who has teamed up with Corona Premier for a zesty collection of smooth yellow knit polos and cool silver bomber jackets that go down as easily as a cold longneck mid-round. TravisMathew launched a limited but very sunny collaboration with High Noon. Devereux partnered with Michelob for a lax unisex capsule inspired by the “utopian” bodegas of New York City. And Tito’s Handmade Vodka continues to find a playful creative partner with Willliam Murray Golf, who just added women’s gear to their list of offerings, and has a whole festival of polos and accessories dancing with purplish, lime transfusions, longhorns, martini glasses, and more—signs of celebration familiar to golfers.

Worldwide, the 7-Eleven golf capsules continue to drop, selling out fast and creating buzz across social media platforms, particularly in golf- and convenience store-crazed markets in the U.S., Japan, and Korea. And in the past, we’ve seen memorable one-offs like the syrupy Adidas x Waffle House sneakers honoring the Masters back in 2022. Plus, we need to throw out an honorable mention to the Crocs x Poptarts collaboration earlier this fall which actually featured edible sweet treats to the salivation-worthy confection. So why the appetite for golf gear themed around food and drink, and what’s in it for the brands?

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Pieces from the Foray X Corona Collection released Summer 2023

To answer this question, we chatted with Megan LaMothe, founder and CEO of Foray, and now frequent collaborator with Corona Premier. One of her business mottos is to “go where your customers are.” For many of these fizzy beverage brands, you’ll find drinkers kicking back or celebrating mid-round with a favorite pick-me-up. “You’ve got people captive for four-to-six hours,” LaMothe explained, “time to develop a brand affinity.”

Plus, as LaMothe pointed out, golfers are “especially loyal,” known for sticking to their favorite brands with a dedicated passion that means longtime support for a smart brand.

So for a food and drink company to be associated with nostalgia and good-times, two words often synonymous with golf, the course and clubhouse are great spaces to grow a golfer’s brand investment and sport their love and loyalty for other members of their foursome to see. It’s a golden marketing opportunity, one LaMothe has dubbed “intentionally disruptive,” which has all the right ingredients for a viral social trend.

For Foray and Corona specifically, it’s a chance to merge two often underserved but powerful customer and audience bases: women and people of color, two groups incidentally also responsible for driving the sport’s resurgence and renaissance.

“Almost every golf round, unless you’re doing it wrong, involves food or beverage,” LaMothe said. “It’s a touchstone of the sport. How many things have that? It’s a ritual.”

What’s also exciting about the “rare” Corona x Foray partnership is that it marks a shift in the response to women golfers, where companies are prioritizing their women employees, wanting to offer them just as stylish, performance-enhancing, and comfortable gear to sport at company (or leisure) rounds. Plus, if you’re wondering why so many of the brands on this list are alcohol-focused, you can in part thank the pandemic, which saw a rise in women’s consumption of alcohol—on and off the course.

But you’d be hard-pressed to find golfers on either side of the industry upset about the ongoing limited releases and food collaborations prepped and ripened for collectors’ closets. For most, the menu of golf x food options is a sign of a sustaining, healthy sport with a vibrant consumer base that’s ever-growing and expanding in age, locale, accessibility, race, and gender, which only means more players to crack open a cold one with after the 18th hole and sport twinning logo-encrusted crewnecks.