By Tony L. Starks
The craft beer scene has swept the nation. From small towns like Sperryville, Virginia (population 342) where Pen Druid Brewing pumps out micro-brewed delights, to big cities like Philadelphia where Yards Brewing Company has kept the Brotherly Love flowing since 1994, craft beers are all the rage among experienced and adventurous beer seekers.
To help golf facilities “tap” into this market, in 2018 the Golf Range Association of America and partner Pukka Headwear kicked off an event series called Range Brews – collaborating with local breweries to organize craft beer tastings on the practice ranges at the Country Club of Birmingham (Alabama), Carmel Country Club in Charlotte, North Carolina, and Union League Golf Club at Torresdale in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
These events were not just about the beer samples, however. There was music. In Charlotte, Carmel Country Club served wings from its pizza truck (yes, the club has its own pizza truck)! At Birmingham (Alabama) Country Club, a bulldozer served as a target for golfers – signaling the upcoming renovation of the range.Golfers of various skill levels competed in fun games and contests. It was about engaging and connecting with people. It was about using the practice range to deliver a fun and unique atmosphere.
Pukka Headwear, Exclusive Headwear Partner of GRAA Range Brews, helped conceptualize the series of events over a lunch with the GRAA a few years ago, and helped bring them to life in 2018. Known for its “Be Original” philosophy, Pukka saw the opportunity to bring fun to the range and engage golfers in a unique way.
“It has been a pleasure working with the GRAA and PGA Magazine on such a unique program as Range Brews,” says Pukka CEO Shawn Rogers. “We pride ourselves on the ‘Be Original’ concept, so collaborating with great partners to bring this idea to life fits perfectly with our brand. Through our pooled resources, we’ve been able to build a program that’s given golf facilities, PGA Professionals and golfers an evening of entertainment, craft beer and fun. We look forward to continuing to support the Range Brews in 2019.”
“The whole goal of the event was to show other clubs in the area a different way to utilize the practice range while also engaging our members and golfers,” says Matt Walbert, PGA Assistant Professional at Union League. “We were hoping to have 50-75 members come out for the tasting, but ended up with well over 125 attendees.”
Union League has 350 golfing members and an additional 4,000 members who belong to the social and athletic club in downtown Philadelphia, where they have access to a variety of amenities. The craft beer event attracted more than 30 social members who’d never been to the golf club before that night.
The three local breweries highlighted were Yards Brewing Company, Sterling Pig Brewery and Levante Brewing Company – with each providing a bevy for brews ranging from the hoppiest IPAs to the smoothest Pilsners.
“Bringing in craft beer brought in members that we wouldn’t have otherwise seen,” says Walbert. “That’s really the appeal of these events. You attract clientele outside of your traditional members and/or customers; for us that meant showcasing our golf facility to social members.”
The day was also paired with free clubfitting and demo sessions, heavy hor’d’oeuvres, instructional tips and contest – including a Long Drive, Pop the Balloon and Closest to the Hole Challenge using a ToughLie 360.
“We saw that pairing golf with the breweries allowed for a great bridge for our non-golfers to have a fun, no pressure introductory experience to our golf property,” adds Sean Palmer, Union League’s PGA Director of Golf. “Golf can certainly be less intimidating with a beer in one hand.”
Given the initial success of Range Brews, the GRAA will continue to promote these events in cities throughout the country in 2019 with Pukka Headwear returning as a sponsor. Flip the page to whet your craft beer taste buds and learn more about the breweries we featured during 2018 Range Brew events.