Go to any golf course or driving range in Australia (as well as many overseas facilities) and you’ll more than likely see a David Golf product. Whether it’s one of their iconic green ball washers, flagsticks, pin flags, cups or any of their myriad golf products dotted throughout the course, the David Golf logo is instantly recognisable by Australian golfers.
Founded in 1956 by David Finks, David Golf is an institution (and a household name) in Australian golf. And while the average golfer may identify David Golf with “cups, poles and flags,” the company, in fact, produces so many everyday golf products, that it can make your head spin faster than a ball in one of their iconic crank-action ball washers.
Believe it or not, there are literally thousands of David Golf products which may be right under your nose at your local club or course.
From shoe cleaning brushes, to rubbish bins, bunker rakes, NTP markers, range mats and range buckets, to safety equipment and apparel, and ultra-modern and state-of-the-art agronomy, irrigation and turf management equipment, David Golf’s list of golf equipment products is extensive.
“We have about 3000 products in the system,” explains David Golf owner, David Slobom.
“When people ask me what I do, I say ‘cups, poles, flags’ because everyone knows those things. But bigger than the stuff that golfers see, is the stuff they DON’T see. Specialist irrigation products, the specialist rakes, specialist drag mats, grinding pastes, specialist Brushes,Turf Doctors and hole cutters….all the things that you don’t see…we’re doing.”
During a recent tour of the Melbourne factory and warehouse, I was simply gobsmacked at the extensive range of products that David Golf offers. Row after row, rack after rack, and shelf after shelf in the 30,000 square-foot facility are all packed with golf products that the average golfer encounters every day on the course, but would have little regard from where it came.
Take course signage, for example. From hole layout signs to yardage marker posts, to the ubiquitous ‘Carts This Way’ signs across the course, the amount of signage at a course can really add up. And David Golf has a hand (literally) in making them.
“We have a computerised CNC machine that cuts and routs timber or recycled plastic sheet, for tee signs and course signage,” Slobom explains. “They are each then carefully hand-filled with special UV stabilised paint. And many get a final clear finish over the top.”
And then there are the flagsticks and the flags for each of the 18-36 holes at every course. Most golfers would be surprised to know that, at many courses, the flags themselves get replaced multiple times per year due to wear from sun and wind. Here again, David Golf has it covered, manufacturing/selling more than a whopping 20,000 flags a year (whether their own in-house brand, or an imported model from US-based Standard Golf). During our tour, we watched as a team member, Winnie, went about her business, hand-stitching each of the flags for a client order. That’s right…hand-stitching!
And did you ever stop to think about the flagsticks themselves? Well, they are assembled here too.
“All of the final assembly is done here, including the top ferrules and bottom ferrules, according to the client’s chosen cup,” Slobom explains. “We have about seven different types of cups – which all take different ferrules.”
They even assemble the measurement tape on the flagstick for measuring Nearest to the Pin. (On a side note, have you ever wondered why the standard measurement at the end of the flagstick tape measures exactly 154cm—versus, say, a more maths-friendly 150cm? I have. And when I asked Slobom about this, he admitted, with a chuckle, that he wasn’t sure, but would look into it).
And there are heaps of other items that can be found at every golf course, which only a General Manager or Super would think about. Things like hire buggies, specialist Wet Weather apparel for the course staff, Driving Range Ball Dispensers, footwear, bird-proof bins…even paint!
“Paint is a big part of our offering,” Slobom says. “We developed our own David Golf marker (with our own formula), which is a turf-friendly paint, for marking GUR, boundaries and penalty areas.”
And then there are things like shovels. While the average layperson (including yours truly) would have found it hard to get excited about a shovel, Slobom’s eyes light up when describing the unique and brand-new “David Golf Transfer shovel” that his team have developed.
“You can’t find these at Bunnings,” he says with a smile. “It’s really lightweight, made from aluminium, with a small head, but strong as anything. It’s ideal for ground staff when transferring sand and dirt.”
(When you think about it, that IS quite exciting, especially if you are a crew member shovelling tonnes of sand and dirt.)
The company clearly gets down to the nitty gritty. Literally. David Golf also manufacture their own grinding paste – the DG Staysharp, back lapping paste (composed of “secret herbs and spices” Slobom jokes), which is what mechanics use to sharpen blades on the mowers.
You can probably now understand why I was so gobsmacked during our visit. I mean, these guys do EVERYTHING. And not just for Australia, but overseas as well, with the company exporting to New Zealand, United States, The UK, and most countries in Asia, including Thailand, Vietnam, Hong Kong, Indonesia and Japan.
Of course, you can’t talk about David Golf without referencing their famous ball washer.
Originally designed and launched back in 1963 (proudly manufactured in Melbourne), the M63 crank-action Ball Washer soon became an icon across Australian golf courses. And while the design changed slightly over the years (including spherical and rectangular models), the most recent iteration, the M18 hearkens back to the company’s heritage, albeit with a fresh, clean look.
“I thought it was important to bring back the heritage of the washer,” Slobom explains. “We have a long, proud history, and we want to celebrate that.”
Beyond the manufacturing and supply of golf products, David Golf is also a major player in the Corporate Golf arena, with their “The Corporate Golfer” division providing branded gear and items for some of the industry’s largest companies.
“Callaway is our exclusive corporate partner,” Slobom says. “We also work with brands like Wilson, and Bushnell, Oakley and Under Armour. When you ring up these companies regarding a corporate golf product, it comes through to us.”
And it’s a big business. During our visit, we witnessed hundreds of products in the process of being branded with corporate/company logos.
“We’re printing golf balls, grips…decorating anything we can. If you stand still here long enough, we will print YOU and put you in a box and send you out!” Slobom jokes.
Managing a huge list of products is no mean feat, and it not only requires a sophisticated computer system to track it all (including a 35-page print-out document that is reviewed every week!), but also an extremely solid team of over 25 talented staff, including nine full-time factory technicians.
And it’s this team, Slobom explains, that is responsible for the company’s remarkable success.
“We are very much ‘Team First’. Everyone here contributes,” Slobom says. “I’m proud of the way we look, the way we present ourselves, and, most importantly, the way our customers think of us.”
Indeed, the customer-focussed attitude certainly speaks volumes. And if you ask any GM or Super about David Golf (as I have) you’ll discover that the company is held in very high regard.
This reputation, Slobom says, comes down to one simple belief.
“We want to be known for great quality, great service and fair prices,” he says.
Having seen the company in action, I can attest that they are certainly succeeding in that endeavour.