“Noonan!” For golfers, that word, sometimes shouted, and sometimes said under a competitor’s breath, is meant to mess us up. However, it’s really the name of a character, Danny Noonan, that epitomizes the everyman golfer in the classic golf movie Caddyshack.
In speaking with the co-founder of Noonan Golf, Marcus Dormanen, I found out that they really want to make golf equipment – namely high-quality headcovers – more accessible to the average golfer. They are looking to mirror the way that more and more, golf is becoming a sport for everyone.
How It Started
Dormanen and his partners saw a ton of companies that produced headcovers and other golf products that he loved. He saw tremendous quality and design in companies like Swag, Cayce, and Seamus and wanted to be like them. “COVID kind of cleared some of our social calendars, so it kind of gave us the bandwidth to really dive in and work really hard to make this come to life, which has been fun,” he said.
But there was a bit of a problem. He felt that many of these companies were pricing out the regular golfer. He was aware of a lot of people’s reactions to the typical covers. People were asking him, “Why are covers $90 dollars? It just seems like the most capitalism thing ever. There’s no way it costs anybody more than $20, $30 dollars to make, so why are people charging $90 bucks?” Since the expectation has been set that a premium headcover typically does go for around a hundred dollars, it’s a bit of an uphill climb for them to convey the quality of a product like theirs.
At the end of the day, it comes down to their identity of making golf more inclusive. “How do we get golf to be less stuffy and more attractive to young golfers or people who haven’t golfed at all? I think that high price point limited edition items isn’t going to do it for us,” he said.
What They Do Now
Noonan covers three main categories: hats, headcovers, and towels. At the time of writing this article, there are currently 36 items available for purchase. That includes 9 towels, 7 hats, 7 driver headcovers, 7 mallet putter headcovers, and 6 blade putter headcovers.
If there’s one word I could use to describe Noonan Golf, it’d be “Nostalgic.” The designs are primarily licensed patterns that evoke memories of the ’70s, ’80s, and ’90s. Patterns that you’d find on cups, wallpapers, or carpets back then. “The stuff we gravitated towards was some of that nostalgic flair,” he said. “During the pandemic, a lot of millennials started moving out towards the golf course…this new generation of golfers who grew up in the ‘80’s and ‘90’s and we thought there was a big opportunity in the market to cater to those newish golfers or those getting back to golfing.”
My experience was extremely positive across the range of products they offer. The value is fantastic when considering the quality of products. Since the headcovers are the main product, it’s no surprise that the quality is good there. They feature magnetic closures, 100% polyurethane leather, plush insides, and can fit a wide range of different golf clubs.
What is maybe a bit of a surprise is that Noonan’s towels are pretty great. Although a bit small, at 15” x 24”, they come with a carabiner clip that makes it immediately attachable to your golf bag. The towels are a microfiber blend featuring a waffle texture that wipes away dirt easily from both clubs and balls alike. The other product that they offer is snapback hats, both in flat and curved brim styles, that were comfortable to wear. I loved the design features of having their nostalgic designs underneath the brims of the hats.
While I think that the designs can be a bit simple, the value is the real story here. At $35 dollars per cover, the quality is better than expected. All of Noonan Golf’s designs shine in unlocking memories you may have even forgotten you’ve had as a Gen X or a Millennial. The designs can transport you to a different time, years back. Especially since being on a golf course is already a bit of an escape for many people, Noonan’s designs lean into that escapism.
With a company that is so new, there’s clearly a lot that Dormanen has in store for the future. His company’s immediate plans are all about expansion, continuing what they do well, and improving overall.
Part of that expansion and improvement is gaining feedback from the public. Other plans from the future include moving away from licensed designs and into custom designs, leaning into the talents of great local artists in Minneapolis, but still keeping their same vibe and personality. For instance, this “cheesehead” design is something that may soon make it into production!
Although he said it’s not a priority at the moment, in the future they’re weighing the opportunity to expand the product line into koozies, divot repair tools, and golf gloves. However, don’t expect apparel. “We were pretty aggressive to do three product lines when we started,” he said. “I was very surprised the quality we were able to achieve in that short time frame…I come from a retail background so I have learned to stay away from apparel…there’s no appetite for us there, we bit off a lot with those first three.”
Like any responsible company in 2021 though, Noonan Golf is looking to do more than make a buck by cashing in on golfers. Dormanen says that a huge reason they’re even in business is to focus on growing the game. 5% of all sales will be donated back to different golf-related non-profits like At The Turn, which makes golf more accessible to teens and young adults of different socioeconomic backgrounds.
They’re also very interested in catering to a younger audience, in the future. “It would be really fun to do more geared towards kids as well. It’s one of the big things we’re passionate about,” he said. “I have a four-year-old and a six-year-old who already love it. I think we can turn that dial up a little bit more on the kids’ side as we start to build out those partnerships with different organizations.”
At its core, Noonan is a company with a cause I can get behind. It’s light-hearted, making the game more accessible, and is filling a need now that premium headcovers are getting more and more expensive. Noonan is also run by kind and funny people like Marcus Dormanen. If you couldn’t tell that from this piece, I’d highly recommend you check out their Instagram page HERE. I’d also recommend you to give their products a look.