Barry Smith Head PGA Professional at Downfield Golf Club in Scotland, explains how apparel brand Original Penguin Golf, known for its unique, bold and detail-oriented clothing, is injecting a fresh modern look to his retail offering.

    Tell us about the Golf Shop at Downfield?
    Downfield has quite a large membership – 900 members – so it’s important we have leading brands in the shop. What’s interesting is that my retail revenues are now 50% from members, and 50% from walk-in customers. We are seeing an increase in business from customers who realise they do not need to be a member of the club to visit our shop. I now get a lot of business from members of other clubs. Apparel is an important part of my business and this is likely to increase in the future. We are currently embarking on an exciting project that will see us develop our driving range facilities, with the creation of a new fitting studio, and with this our in-store sales dynamic is likely to change. We expect to have less hardware on the shelf and more fitting equipment in the studio. This will create more space in-store, and with it creates a great opportunity to expand our apparel displays.

    Why did you start stocking Original Penguin Golf apparel?
    It stems from Stuart Neillie (UK and Ireland Regional Sales Manager, Original Penguin Golf) who has had a significant and very positive impact on my business. He recommended the brand to me. I was aware of its 1950s Munsingwear origins, and the way it which it transcended fashion, leisure and golf, and as a result was a ‘different’ brand that I was keen to stock. I have to say, because of its on and off-course fashion appeal, it has really taken off for me.

    How popular has the brand been with your customers?
    Original Penguin Golf is a really strong addition to our apparel offering. I was looking for a brand to replace Ralph Lauren, something that had a lifestyle edge to it, and it was a perfect fit. It was important that I was retailing a line of products that my customers could see the benefit in wearing as much away from the golf course, as on it, and that is where Original Penguin Golf’s product lines perfectly fit this crossover market. Quality is also excellent and price points are very competitive, which is important. I’ve stocked it for a few years now, and customer have really taken to it.

    What appeals to you about the brand?
    Crossover appeal is key and it is driving an increase in sales in my shop. My customers want more from their golf apparel than just being able to play in it. Original Penguin Golf have led the market in this area, consistently offering apparel that fits as weekend leisure wear too. It’s basically offering my customers much better value when they make an important purchase.

    How is the current Autumn/Winter 23 collection selling though?
    Even though we are quickly moving into the colder months of the year, I’m still seeing really strong sales of Original Penguin Golf polo shirts. Clearly, we are also selling mid-layer pieces, jackets and sweaters too, but the demand for polos is still strong in the run up to Christmas. I’m sure this is also being driven by a growth in customers booking holidays in winter sun destinations – the nature of OPG shirts being bright and colourful makes them a perfect choice for the travelling golfer.

    Are your customers generally embracing the more vibrant designs and stronger colour palettes in the Original Penguin Collections?
    I think Original Penguin Golf kick-started something new with their bold designs. I see all the other brands now following this trend. The traditional ‘safe’ colours that underpin the UK apparel market – blues, blacks and greys – will always be quite important at retail, but since enjoying significant success with stocking Penguin, I’ve certainly
    got a little braver with my orders!

    Do you think having former Open champion Cameron Smith as a key Original Penguin Ambassador directly influences sales in your shop?
    I look at it this way, he is a walking, talking advert for Original Penguin Golf and I like brands that sell themselves to a certain extent. He is an Open champion, people see the brand, and are subsequently motivated to buy it. It makes a difference, Cam is fresh and exciting, and I’m sure it helps to drive the brand forward in the eyes of
    my customers.

    How has it been doing business with Original Penguin?
    They are very interested and hugely supportive of my business doing well. They have really helped me when it comes to merchandising the product effectively. This is a huge benefit to me. The better I do, the better Penguin does, and that sits really comfortably with me. We have a great relationship, I receive regular visits from their sales manager, and they are very good at what they do. It’s also important to note that through quite difficult wider market conditions, Penguin has maintained its margins and not tried to clear unsold stock at clearance prices. GR


    As an avid golfer since the age of eleven Dan lives and breathes all things golf.  With a current handicap of eleven he gets out and plays as often as his work life (and girlfriend) allows. Dan confesses to still being like a kid at Christmas when it comes to seeing the latest golf equipment. Having served as GolfPunk’s Deputy Editor, and resident golf geek for the past 13 years and working for golf's oldest brand, John Letters Dan brings to GOLF RETAILING an excellent understanding of the sector.