Linksoul, a small, West Coast golf apparel company, announced this week that it has signed pro golfer John Merrick to be a "brand ambassador." Merrick, a native of Long Beach, Calif., played golf at UCLA and then turned pro in 2004. He's ranked 73rd on the FedEx Cup point list and recently finished one stroke behind Dustin Johnson at the FedEx St. Jude Classic in Memphis.
Golf companies usually sign young players fresh out of college or amateur championship winners, but Merrick is a solid veteran. So why now? Apparently Merrick and Ashworth have bonded over the Southern California golf scene.
Linksoul, which is based in Oceanside, Calif., has a spacey storefront off the Pacific Coast Highway. The company describes itself as "more of a philosophy than a brand." On its website, pictures of surfers and artworks seem to outnumber images of golf apparel.
John Ashworth, the company’s creative director and founder of the original Ashworth brand (now owned by Adidas), said of Merrick: "John’s a California guy, and our clothes really speak to his sensibility. He’s got a great attitude, totally gets the Linksoul vibe and is a stellar representative for our brand."
For his part, Merrick said he started wearing Linksoul earlier in the year and fell in love with its look and feel. "The fit is perfect for me," he added.
Apparel sponsorships for elite players often involve five- and six-figure contracts, or more. Or they can pay nothing at all – just free clothes. The deal between Merrick and Linksoul is just a friendly product-only arrangement. Merrick gets to wear what he likes and feels comfortable in. Linksoul gets a guy who has come close to winning a few times and may showcase their brand nationally.
Merrick will wear Linksoul’s collection of extra-soft polos, plush sweaters, lightweight jackets and pants – made from natural performance materials (read: cotton, poplin, linen, cashmere, and merino, with a bit of stretch). The clothes are aimed at more fashion-conscious golfers who appreciate fine detailing and fabrics, and perhaps seek an alternative to the reigning "golf uniform" of polyester technical garments.