Bob Lamkin is the third generation of the Lamkin family to head up Lamkin Grips. Following in the footsteps of his grandfather Elver and father Robert, Bob continues his family legacy to this day, with a commitment to tradition and innovation that has seen the company thrive since Elver produced the first leather Lamkin grips from his garage in Chicago in 1925.
THE LAMKIN STORY —
I was brought up around the golf industry seeing my grandfather and father working with the world’s best players and growing Lamkin into one of the leading grip manufacturers in the world. Despite that grounding and witnessing the growth of the industry up close, I majored in Criminal Justice at Benedictine College in Kansas to prepare for a career in law enforcement.
However, after college, my father needed help in the family business and so in 1987 I embarked on a career with Lamkin Grips. As is the family tradition, I worked in a wide range of departments, experiencing life in sales, marketing, engineering, and manufacturing. Through that experience I grew to love the family business and built the broad base of knowledge that would prepare me to take the company forward as CEO in 2000.
How does Lamkin stand apart from your competition?
I think what sets the Lamkin brand apart from the competition is the fact that we have been providing customers with incredibly high-quality products since my grandfather first started manufacturing grips back in 1925. Since our early days of manufacturing leather grips, we’ve become ingrained in the sport and have played a role in some of game’s greatest moments. Over our 90+ year history, we’ve supplied grips to literally every top golf club manufacturer including Callaway, TaylorMade, and Ping and have been the grip used on the game’s bestselling golf clubs including the Big Bertha, Burner Bubble, and Eye 2.
How do you keep the ethos of a ‘family’ business when you are operating across the globe?
Golf, family, and innovation is the story line of Lamkin and I take great pride in the fact that my name is on each and every grip we produce. Starting with our early days, we have maintained a steadfast commitment to producing the highest-quality products possible and
have taken extensive measures to do just that. By using a vertical integration approach, we remain in control of every aspect of the manufacturing process to ensure we consistently deliver the quality Lamkin grips that golfers have come to expect.
What recent key steps have you implemented in widening your overall visibility in the marketplace?
We’ve engaged in traditional channels including our current Golf Channel commercials which feature Justin Rose sharing why he plays Lamkin Grips and have also become more active on social media and digital channels. This year we have also increased our community involvement and support for organizations like the AJGA and Amateur Golf.
Do you believe golfers thoroughly understand the importance in having quality golf grips?
I’m not really convinced that most golfers understand the importance of using quality grips, but I do know that once a golfer gets into the right quality grip, his or her scores and overall enjoyment of the game can significantly improve. A quality grip will provide the touch, feel, and traction needed to play with confidence.
I think that’s part of the reason for the success of our SONAR line. As soon as you get it in your hands it feels great. The tackiness, the patented micro textures in our fingerprint technology and our Genesis material, all combine to deliver a secure connection that you can trust, and more importantly, can feel.
It seems from my observation many golfers go too long on not changing their grips. Is there something from an industry perspective that can help educate them in this area?
Educating golfers on the importance of regripping is an ongoing effort for our brand and grips manufacturers as a whole. Golfers should replace their grips every 40 rounds or every 30 rounds if you’re spending a fair amount of time on the practice range. But regardless of rounds played, a grip should always be replaced at the first sign of noticeable wear.
If you had to estimate — what is the percentage of golfers fitted correctly for their grips?
I think it would be tough to pinpoint the percentage of golfers who are not properly fitted for their grips. But playing with an incorrect grip size can really hinder your performance. For example, with the right size grip, you can set the club properly at the top of the back swing. However, if the grip is too small, it may result in too much hand action and cause the club face to close prematurely, and result in a pull or a hook.
Too big and it may cause the clubhead to open up at impact.
To help golfers determine their own proper size, we’ve developed an interactive Grip Size Finder and Grip Selector, and in late fall we are also rolling out our Lamkin Putter Fitting System in select retailers which allows golfers to touch, feel, and actually test out various Lamkin putter grips in order to select the product which is best suited to their needs.
The major golf organizations — USGA, R&A, PGA of America, PGA Tour, LPGA — are all seeking ways to attract Millennials, women and minorities to the sport. If you were counseling them — what would you advise be done?
I think we need to place emphasis on the many benefits golf has to offer. Few people realize that if you walk, instead of taking a cart, you are tracking over 5 miles – which obviously has a tremendous health benefit. From a personal character standpoint golf has been shown to help develop critical real life skills like patience, respect, integrity, competitiveness, humility, sportsmanship and many more. From a business aspect, we know that golf has served as the backdrop for corporate hospitality and events for many years. And lastly, from a social aspect, golf is just fun. To gather with a group of friends, enjoying a few laughs, and enjoying the great outdoors – I can’t think of a better way to spend the day.
If you could change one thing in golf unilaterally — what would it be and why?
I’d just like to see continued efforts to get more people out on the golf course and for those in positions of power within the game to be open to what modifications which may be necessary to make this happen.
What type of improvements do you see coming in the near future regarding golf grips?
Since the days when my grandfather produced leather grips, Lamkin has made it our mission to continue to enhance and advance the quality and performance of our products. And based on our progress over the past few years, I am more excited than ever by the innovation and evolution of the Lamkin product.
Over the course of your years in the golf industry – what advice would you pass along to those just getting started?
Just like any other business or industry, in order to be successful – you’ve got to love what you do deeply. I’ve been fortunate, I always been passionate about the game so in many respects, the long hours and my life’s dedication to the Lamkin brand, isn’t work – but simply part of my life. Don’t give up.
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