Golfers can have a complex relationship with their gloves. Most appreciate the benefit and feel of a good, brand-name glove, but not the part where they shell out $35 or more in a pro shop when they realize their old one has a hole or two, or has become simply too crusty to pull on.
While the vast majority of everyday golfers use gloves, upwards of 80% by most counts, it’s safe to say most of those are determined to squeeze a few more rounds out of their current glove. Kerry Moher counted himself as one of those. Now the avid golfer and entrepreneur is seeking to “wake up” the golf industry with a new company called Red Rooster Golf, which has a direct-to-consumer, subscription golf glove model and a mission to help grow the game.
“It’s an interesting time in golf where you are seeing the bigger brands have never been bigger, and yet there’s some really exciting things happening outside that,” says Moher, whose co-founder is longtime friend and professional golfer Brad Fritsch, a fellow Canadian who now lives near Raleigh, North Carolina, where Red Rooster is based.
Red Rooster is in the home stretch of a Kickstarter campaign that’s elicited particular interest for its buy-a-glove, donate-a-glove program. For every handsewn, Cabretta leather glove that’s ordered ($21 to $23), the company is donating a youth glove, with partners that include First Tee programs in North Carolina and Ontario, renowned instructor Kevin Haime’s golf school in Ottawa, and pro golfer Harold Varner III’s foundation that gives kids affordable access to golf. Those programs will reach almost 5,000 juniors this summer, so Red Rooster’s Kickstarter goal is to sell 5,000 adult gloves, which means raising about $100,000.
“We thought about giving a portion of profits or a donation, but at the end of the day we talked about the gap at some of these events where you’re introducing someone to the game for the first time,” said Moher. “First Tee Triangle (NC) has about 2,000 kids who will go through their summer program. Last year, when these kids went through and got exposed to golf for the first time, how many had a glove? Zero. Not a one. It’s not a good look. You show up, see your instructor has one, people have them on the range and you’re like, ‘Oh…’
“The analogy is showing up to the baseball field, everyone has a glove and you’re expected to just go out in the field and use your hands,” Moher said. “We make gloves. The question was, could we make really good kids gloves and if we did, what if we could give them away?”
It’s why Moher went to Indonesia and met with a dozen factories to see if his vision made sense, and whether they could afford it. Currently, Red Rooster is working with two factories in Indonesia that also manufacture gloves for big-name companies in the golf industry. Moher said about 2,000 gloves have already been distributed, with another 27,000 in inventory or in production.
Free shipping is a key component of the Red Rooster model, which allows consumers to consider subscription offerings such as a new glove every three months or one every month during the golf season. Others may prefer to just order six gloves at once.
“We’ve taken elements of different businesses we’ve seen have success and fill some holes that we thought were underserved in the market,” said Moher, noting that he’s been a customer of direct-to-consumer golf balls from companies like OnCore and Vice. “They definitely showed us the way. It’s a combination of Vice/OnCore and Dollar Shave Club on the subscription side, and a little bit of Tom’s (of Maine) and Bombas on the giveback.”
For now, Red Rooster is offering only a higher-end Cabretta leather glove, but the plan is to offer a range of gloves at different price points. As Moher notes, there will always be a Cabretta market and the company wanted to “earn its stripes” with a quality glove to start. But less expensive gloves are in the plans and a variety of new synthetics – including one Moher says is like a microfiber, stretchy suede – are being tested.
As for the brand’s unique name, that stems from a nickname Moher was given as a youngster, when he was a “carrot-top redhead.” Other golf-themed names were bandied about, but none stuck.
“I kept throwing out this Red Rooster idea because it’s waking up the game. It’s memorable and it’s different,” Moher said. “We didn’t want to get lumped in with the jargon where people were like, ‘What’s that golfy thing with the golf glove?’ We put this as a placeholder and said let’s try to beat it. We felt like we couldn’t, so we ran with it. It’s worked out well. We’re having fun with it.”