Creative Director / Summit Golf Brands – Interview conducted by M. James Ward

Billy Draddy was named Creative Director of Summit Golf Brands in July 2011.  Early in 2013, the Company announced the launch of B. Draddy, an exclusive lifestyle brand targeting the best clubs and those associated with them.  In his role as Creative Director, Mr. Draddy is responsible for the full collection of Fairway & Greene, EP Pro and Zero Restriction.

Mr. Draddy most recently served as Vice President of Ralph Lauren’s Golf & Tennis divisions, where his responsibilities included design, sales, marketing and merchandising.

Prior to joining Ralph Lauren, Mr. Draddy was the head designer of Bobby Jones, adivision of Hickey-Freeman. He was previously a sportswear designer for Timberland and an outerwear designer for the Joseph Abboud Collection.

A graduate of Boston College, he was born and bred into a world of fashion, being the latest  generation in a line of “industry” pioneers.  His father’s family caused a retail explosion when they brought the French label Lacoste to the United States and made it a staple in the market.  Billy honed his “aesthetic sense” by looking up to his well-dressed family members from an early age.

How is Summit Golf Brands viewing the golf industry from the vantage point of 2013 ?

DRADDY: This is going to be a real year of growth for us.  Over the past two years, we have worked tirelessly to create innovative new products while maintaining the classic look of the brands that are key to our DNA, like the Fairway & Greene Double Mercerized Lisle and the ZeroRestriction Gore-Tex Traveler Jacket. These changes have all been received very well, both by our retail partners and the customer. Early signs show that they want more of what we have been giving them.

WARD: Golf has been flat in terms of overall player growth – do you see the glass being half full or half empty given the various efforts made in increasing total people playing the game?

DRADDY: For us, half full.  A large percentage of our customers are members of private golf and country clubs.  People who join these clubs make a lifetime commitment to these institutions.  It’s probably the last thing they will cut from their life.  So we see the clubs spending a lot more time attracting families to the game, which isn’t where the emphasis was 10 or 20 years ago. So despite the flat overall player growth, I am very bullish about the future.

WARD: Not too many years ago golfers had various clothing and outerwear options limited as “golf only” clothing – what caused that to change ?

DRADDY: Over the past 10 years, the clubs have generally relaxed their dress codes.  At the daily fee course, that may mean you don’t have to wear a shirt with a collar anymore, giving you the option to put on a T-shirt. And a lot of clubs used to require that you wear pants, which meant you needed pants that were different from what you wore to work everyday.  Now shorts dominate and all of us have plenty of shorts that cross over from golf to what we wear to a barbeque. So no matter where you play, you can now wear what you normally put on for the weekend.

WARD: From your vantage points what future trends do you see happening in the near term ?

DRADDY: Certainly, color as a fashion statement.  The past couple of years, everyone, even the most subdued of fashion houses, has focused on color and pattern.  This is something that has always been very accepted on the golf course.  So from that perspective, you can expect golfers to adopt the bright colors and graphic patterns that have been prevalent on the covers of magazines.

WARD: How much of an impact do the top players in golf have on what happens in terms of fashion ?

DRADDY: None, really.  They may reflect what is happening in fashion, such as the emphasis on color and pattern that I justmentioned or on slimmer silouettes. But I have never known top golfers to actually create fashion.

WARD: What role does durability / versatility play now with various clothing options?

DRADDY: I really don’t think durability is valued as much as it used to be.  We guarantee our rainwear for life, but people don’t want to keep wearing the same jacket they wore years before.  Versatility, on the other hand, has never been more important.  People today want to be able to go from town, to the course, to lunch, to their kids’ game without having to do wardrobe changes.

WARD: Costs are also an issue for players – how do you see Summit Golf Brands registering with various socio-economic levels among different types of golfers ?

DRADDY: Unfortunately, we don’t really have access to that type of information, in terms of who’s buying our products.

WARD: If you had one fear for the golf industry what would it be ?

DRADDY: Don’t let the classic golf courses become obsolete because of changes in the design of clubs and balls.

WARD: What kind of feedback do you get from customers – what concerns them the most ?

DRADDY: Any complaints we get are about quality — and therefore we just don’t get many.

WARD: Complete the sentence … Billy Draddy is …

DRADDY: A husband, father, designer, golfer.