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How one of golf’s leading apparel companies went from producing shirts to surgical masks

March 30, 2020

The mass disruption of the COVID-19 virus has at least inspired pockets of ingenuity from manufacturers, golf included. Joining golf brands like Seamus and IS Golf in efforts to mass produce surgical masks, Billy Draddy, creative director of Summit Golf Brands (parent company of Fairway & Greene, Zero Restriction and B. Draddy) designed a prototype mask that has been approved for distribution among emergency-care workers near its Wisconsin production facility.

We caught up with Draddy to discuss the challenge of making this noble idea a reality, how surgical masks present different design challenges than golf apparel, and where the effort goes from here.

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What would you normally be working on this time of year?

Well, this is our Spring 2021 design season. At this point we’re doing fittings of first prototypes trying to get the new designs right before salesman samples are delivered in July.

So a part of you is busy with that and part is surely paying attention to what’s happening in the world. At what point did you realize you might be able to help?

A week ago Thursday, we got an email through our customer-service department from one of our customers who had suggested that we could make masks for emergency-care workers. I spent the weekend developing a first prototype. We got on a conference call on Monday to discuss, then looped in our Wisconsin warehouse team who would be responsible for executing. I sent my first prototype out to them. Then through our in-house embroidery and heat-sealing machinery developed two prototypes that we then took to the Wisconsin Emergency Management Agency.


What goes into the design of a surgical mask that you hadn’t originally appreciated?

Dimension and scale. The women’s masks are way smaller than the men’s masks and the amount of dimension that you need for the N95 masks to include the filter and create more of a custom fit is really more than I ever expected. You’re really building a 3-D item.

But you were able to create something that has been approved and can actually be used by people who need them. So what happens now?

Yes we did. Now we have a 1,000-unit order we’re producing for the Wisconsin Emergency Management Agency, which we will complete mid-week and we have been pulling demand to fill after that. We have also been making prototypes of a N95 mask should we need to up the quality of the filtering based on need. As it is now we have more than we can handle with the surgical tape masks.

And if people want to help, is there anything they can do?

Well, purchases made at during this time will support our effort to continue and add production capacity. If individuals want to do the same, we’re posting updates and resources to as we continue to learn through this initiative.