Sunday, 11 December 2016

Review - KenRick Golf Company

Accessories. When you think of vital golf equipment the thing that golfers are most likely to think about first are clubs, balls and golf bags. Of course, these are all integral to playing the game. But at some point accessories enter the fray. Shoes for example are considered an accessory in my eyes and so are belts. After all without them... we could be losing our pants every swing. (Before continuing special thanks go to Irlianna and Holly of Golf Marketing Services for the opportunity)

I think it's fair to say that all belts are not created equally. I used belts from different companies over the last five years and while some were good... others were rubbish. Long forgotten because they weren't durable. However, the focus of this review is so far on the opposite end of the spectrum that it isn't funny.

Nestled away in the Northeastern United States lays a little state called Rhode Island. This is home to the KenRick Golf Company. KenRick is the creation of Ken Block and Rick Schad. I had the pleasure of talking to Mr. Block leading up to this review and I learned a lot about the innards of how KenRick came to be. Both gentlemen as one might expect are passionate about the game of golf and admittedly they are not world beaters. Mr. Block has been quite active in politics (he ran for Governor of Rhode Island in 2014) and has a background in computers. Mr. Schad has over two decades of design experience and his reputation in the design industry is extraordinary. Having designed shirts for some of the greatest rock bands, designed toys for some major brands and FOX Sports. Between the knowledge of both men is a great foundation for success.

Part of this success is due to their passion of designing the best possible product and having the product made at home in the United States as opposed to outsourcing overseas. The advantages of this means that for quality control purposes they "don't need to travel around the world" and of course there is tremendous pride in being truly Made in the U.S.A. So how does a company like KenRick keep all of the production at home? As fate has it, Maine is home to one of the last remaining tanneries in the United States. All of the leather straps are produced at this tannery and it's only a short five hour drive for KenRick to check on quality control of products... if needed.

To the average person many would be inclined to think... "what's so special about a belt?" and the answer to the question is easy. You can tell that a lot of thought went into the design of the belt. To that end the design is for the most part Mr. Schad's. The belt straps are offered in a very fine and premium leather and a "ribbon webbing". While the leather straps come in white, black and a crocodile embossed brown. The ribbon webbing can be customized and is great for companies or tournaments wanting to promote their respective brands. The ribbon is woven and not printed which is a point that Mr. Block pointed out. This leads to a superior product. Rounding out the design of the ribbon webbing version of the belt is a cotton backing and genuine leather. The leather version as stated earlier is made with the highest quality leather and the quality is obvious.

While the entire product is quite impressive the star of this show is the divot tool. The divot tool is made from cast aluminum and is the tip of the sword... I mean belt. It was by chance and accidental that the sound of the divot tool coming out of the belt is similar to the sound of a Samurai Sword coming out of the sheath. It was something that I noticed but never paid attention to until my conversation with Mr. Block. The design is smart and clicks when it's inserted back into the belt. The ball marker included is magnetic and sits inside of the divot tool. A recent change has seen KenRick make the ball markers open to customization.

As far as my observations go when tested this product tested with top marks. It's hard to ignore the practicality of this belt because everything is right there. Have you ever dug through your pockets looking for your divot tool or ball marker? Of course you have. Have you inadvertently had yourself poked and prodded in your  "nether region"? You might have... I have. Have you put a hole in your $100 pants by a divot tool? If you have then you have me beat. Either way, kiss all of these problems good-bye. When I wore the belt for the first time while practicing at Whirlpool Golf Course (Niagara Parks Commission) I knew that KenRick had a winner on their hands. I was working on approach shots of varying lengths and as I approached the practice green I would slightly pull out the tip of the belt, remove the ball marker and then using my thumb and index finger I pulled out the divot tool. A quick repair of the green later I picked up my marker, inserted it into the back of the divot tool and clicked the divot tool back into the place. No digging and no fumbling around. I would also get one last hurrah in on the course and I wore my black belt with the excellent contrasting white stitching. My KenRick belt was a star and that was something that I thought that I would never say about a belt.

Seeing that KenRick Golf is newer to the golfing industry the only thing missing is getting these belts into more hands of the golfing masses. This is something that KenRick intends to address at the 2017 PGA Merchandise Show. The belts come in at two different price points. Which is a stroke of genius from a retail perspective. If you go to http://kenrickgolf.com/ you will find that the current prices are $44.25 USD for the Ribbon Webbing version and $74.25 USD for the leather versions. The Croc Embossed Brown is a little more at $89.25 USD. Either way, these products from KenRick are worth every dime. If you're in the market for a new belt really consider KenRick Golf (Twitter handle @KenRickGolf)

December 13th - An amendment to the article. It is important to note that it is advised to remove the divot tool when going through TSA/Security Checkpoints. There is no guarantee that they would see it on x-ray or confiscate it. Better to check it than to lose it. Always better safe than sorry.