SBD/Issue 15/Sponsorships, Advertising & Marketing

Failure Of U.S. Ryder Cup Rain Suits A Blow To Sun Mountain Sports

U.S. Ryder Cup Team Ditches Sun Mountain
Rain Suits After Downpour In Wales

Montana-based Sun Mountain Sports officials are "undoubtedly feeling embarrassed" after the rain suits the golf company designed for the U.S. Ryder Cup team "weren't able to hold off the downpour in Wales" Friday morning, according to Darren Rovell of CNBC.com. The U.S. team "publicly ditched the custom outfits for raingear the team purchased in the merchandise tent" after hearing complaints from team members. What "remains to be seen is how much damage Sun Mountain, which makes golf bags, outerwear and golf push carts, may face," as many people "outside the golf industry who have never heard of their brand now might see them as a tarnished company." However, due to rules set by the PGA of America, the company that gets "awarded the rights to make the gear by the US team captain cannot put its logo on the gear, cannot publicize its relationship with the Ryder Cup and cannot sell its gear at retail"  (CNBC.com, 10/1). ESPN’s Rick Reilly notes the PGA of America bought 24 rain suits made by ProQuip, the same company that made the European team’s rain suits, at a cost of 350 pounds per suit. Reilly: “I got to hold one of the (original) rain suits, and it literally was dripping out of my hands.” He added the players’ bags are “even worse,” as they are “soaked.” Reilly: “The bags also are all about form and not function, and the players aren’t happy at all with the bags.” But U.S. team member Stewart Cink said, “I think the volume of the rain coming down inundated our rain gear, and it was coming down so hard almost any rain gear would have become soaked. When it starts to get in your shirt and you get cold underneath you really have to do something and this is our only option being in unfamiliar territory” (“Ryder Cup,” ESPN, 10/1).

DRESSED FOR SUCCESS? ESPN’s Reilly reported U.S. team member Tiger Woods “was saying in the team room … ‘Why don’t they do it like they should do it, which is call all of our sponsors as soon as they know you are on the team and just get blanks sent. Blank rain suit, blank umbrella, blank everything, so you are using stuff that you are used to.’” ESPN’s Paul Azinger, who was the U.S. captain during the ’08 Ryder Cup, said captains “pick top to bottom” the apparel the team wears. Azinger: “The PGA of America actually can make some suggestions; generally they do it every year, so they have manufacturers that they use every year that they like. But I went away from it. I used Nike gear. I was with Nike at the time -- I’m not anymore -- but I liked the Nike stuff at the time and I used it” (“Ryder Cup,” ESPN, 10/1).

EVERYONE'S A CRITIC: In Boston, Matt Pepin writes the U.S. Ryder Cup outfits "feature 'classic' golf looks, including purple cashmere sweaters and gray striped trousers, quarter-zip sweaters and red, white and blue belts." However, the Sun Mountain rain gear "unfortunately has them looking like a prison work detail, or maybe like orderlies at a hospital" (BOSTON.com, 10/1). CBSSPORTS.com's Steve Elling writes the original U.S. rain gear, "adorned with ugly white stripes that looked like something worn by an Alabama chain gang, also featured the last names of the American players, akin to a baseball warmup jacket." Swing coach Butch Harmon said on the Sky Sports broadcast Friday, "They look ridiculous. ... They have names on them? They know who they are" (CBSSPORTS.com, 10/1). 

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