The founder of the British brand of timepieces exclusively for golfers discusses his dream of getting a hole in one and how the industry can work better together.
What’s your favourite golf course?
Any one on the coast, preferably links and the more of the sea you can see the better. I’ve played over 100 coastal courses in Great Britain and Ireland, of which more than 80 were true links – all but one of the current Open rota (Muirfield excepted), most of the Open qualifying courses and many of the classic links. West Kilbride, with its spectacular view across to the Isle of Arran, is worth a visit and it’s just up the road from Troon, so an ideal course for this year’s trip to the Open.
What’s the best shot you’ve ever played?
I haven’t played it yet! Let me explain – I’ve never had a hole in one. I’ve come close a few times but it is one thing I’d love to achieve. I’m not bothered if I thin it, shank it, hook it, slice it or top it as long as it goes in the hole – that will be the best shot I’ve ever played.
Tough one, but I’d have to say Seve. I first went to the Open with a good mate in 1989, the year Mark Calcavecchia won in a play off when it was played at Troon. Seve was reigning Champion and in the first two rounds he played with Tom Watson and Steve Jones. For the next decade we would follow Seve around at every Open. We’d be all over the course looking for his ball, which we found for him on more than one occasion. You used to be able to take small steps in to get a better view and many times his wife, sons or other family members would stand between us, one foot on each stool, so that they could see him playing.
What one thing would you change about the golf industry?
I’m still finding my feet in it and my way around but my initial impression is that it’s pretty fragmented. The golfing establishment and golf bodies are pretty set in their ways and outsiders are viewed initially as a threat to the status quo. There appears to be a lack of win-win thinking and in some quarters you definitely have to have the right school tie in order to be welcome. In one way I’m very respectful of that, but in another way I think it’s limiting to the development of the game.
What do you enjoy most about your job?
I’m combining a love of golf, a keen interest in watches and a career background in IT and ecommerce. I’m really proud of the fact that from an idea that came to me lying on a sun lounger in the Algarve in 2002 I’ve developed it, secured IPR and Patents, and then brought it to life as ETIQUS. I’m very proud that I’ve already raised over £11,000 for The Golf Foundation as my charitable beneficiary simply by applying my commercial thinking.
What’s the hardest part?
New product, new business, new brand to essentially a niche market would be in the ‘difficult’ box of any marketing matrix. By offering our products exclusively online means we can offer a very good quality product at a very competitive price but new websites can be ‘out of sight out of mind’. Therefore we have to work really hard to get the brand out in the market and embedded in the consciousness of not only golfers but those who buy gifts for golfers.
I guess as someone with a business built on the principles of etiquette and the spirit of the game, playing the game at a better pace is something I’m clearly passionate about. Because it makes the game more enjoyable for everyone and because we’re more likely to get more of the next generation taking it up. They live in an ‘instant’ society with a low boredom threshold so we owe it to them to get a move on.
Who would be your dream dinner party guests – you and five other people?
My first three guests would be Seve, of course, George Daniels the British horologist who built around 30 watches in his life, all by hand. His watches took thousands of hours to make and would now sell for millions of pounds. I’d also have Sir Tim Berners-Lee, the father of the internet. To cook the food and choose the wine I’d have Raymond Blanc and to entertain us the great American saxophonist Charlie Parker.
What’s your favourite ever film?
Apollo 13! To go to the moon with less computing power that you would now have in the cheapest calculator was just unbelievable and in just 60 years or so since the first manned flight. I liked the resilience of how they handled the problem.
What are the most played songs on your iPod?
Anything by Bruce Springsteen. The second album I ever bought back in 1975 was Born to Run. I love his lyrics, the ‘band of brothers’ mentality in the group and the fantastic sax solos of the late great Clarence Clemons. One ambition is to be able to play his famous solo on Jungleland.