Golf Junkys DOT com writer CB Maxwell speaks with Joe Skovron, the caddy for Rickie Fowler. Joe also is the owner and CEO of Beyond the Links, a new clothing line.
Also, the answer to #15 that's on everyone's mind. (see question #12)
1. Hi Joe, thanks for taking the time to answer some questions for us.
Good to be answering questions. Always glad to be a part of Golf Junkys.
2. First off, how long has your clothing company Beyond the Links been in business?
We have officially been in business since 2005, but we came out with our first "real" line in August of 2008.
3. Who out on the Tours do you have wearing your clothing?
Well, we have scaled down a bit. It can be tough if you are not paying guys big money. We have a couple guys that wear individual products that are not Team BTL guys. For example, Marc Leishman (2009 PGA Tour Rookie of the Year) wears our belts, but has another clothing contract. Brad Iles does the same thing with our hats on the Nationwide Tour. We have a few PGA Tour caddies rocking the hats as well.
Our main Team BTL guy on the Nationwide Tour this year is Brendan Steele. We also have Byron Smith, Eric Meichtry, and Berry Henson who are all great players on various developmental tours. All these guys have been with us for a while and are close to breaking through.
We have also added a Long Drive guy named Jason Eslinger. He made it pretty deep in the Finals at Mesquite last year.
I know this is a long answer, but we are also excited about having SDSU Aztec Golf on board with BTL in 2010.
4. What made you want to start a clothing line in the Golf Industry?
Well, I can honestly say that I didn't know what I was getting myself into. haha. But, I really wanted to create a brand that reflected what my friends and I were wearing off the golf course while keeping that golf quality product.
5. I've noticed you're doing well. What's it's going to take to compete with the big companies? Or is that not even your goal?
My goal is not to compete with Nike, Adidas, Ashworth, or Under Armour. I want us to be a successful company that provides something "different" and "edgy" in the golf apparel business. We don't want to be in every golf store that you walk into. Our goal is to build a brand and a following rather than just trying to move through numbers.
In order for us to be successful we need to be seen by a bigger audience. We are getting a great response from those that know our brand. We just need more people to know about Beyond The Links and where to get it. At some point that takes a little bigger budget than what we are working with right now.
6. What do your shirts retail for?
Our golf shirts retail from 52.95 to 59.95 while our tees are in that 24.95 to 29.95 range. Our gear is very affordable.
7. Has your business done better since you've started being a caddie for Rickie Fowler?
Caddying for Rickie has definitely helped a bit with brand recognition. There have been some sales that can be directly attributed to contacts I have made out there or people seeing my hat/shirt on TV. I try not to talk about the biz too much out there. I only mention it if someone asks me. I am out there to caddy for Rickie, not to promote my business. But it doesn't hurt to get on TV every once in a while. haha
8. What's it like traveling as a tour caddie?
It's not the normal 9 to 5 that's for sure. For example, I am in Atlanta airport on a 2 hour layover for a red eye flight from Phoenix to West Palm right now. I love it though. I get to see different places and meet new people. What more can I ask for? It's the next best thing to playing the tour.
It's got to be harder on the guys with a wife and kids. This lifestyle would have to be tough with a family. You are gone quite a bit.
9. Since you are a good player yourself, do you get the urge to get back to playing since you are around the PGA Tour all the time?
A lot of people ask me this and while that was my goal from the time I was 9 years old, I don't really think about it much anymore. I am caddying for a player who is something truly special and what I have gotten to experience in this short amount of time has been so much fun that I don't really think about being out there myself. Would it be nice to be competing at that level? Sure, but that part of my life is over. I am a caddy now and instead of wanting to be the best player in the world, I want to be the best caddy in the world. Rickie has a chance to do some special things and whatever I can do on my part to aid in that is good with me.
10. Since you've been out on tour, who has been the nicest pro you've come across?
Well, I knew a decent amount of guys from playing and caddying in the past. Rickie and I are pretty close with Scott Piercy. We do a lot of dinners with him and his caddy Darren (DWOO). I have to say, Rickie and I have gotten treated very well since we have been out here. The veteran players and caddies have all been pretty nice. I would say of the guys I didn't know before, Chris Riley seems to stick out in my mind the most as the nicest guy. We talk Charger football quite a bit. Mickelson was great when we played with him as well.
11. How many events are you guys playing this year and what event(s) are you looking most forward to?
We are planning on playing quite a bit, but our scheduling is pretty tentative right now. How we play determines what events we can and can't get into so it's hard to look to far ahead. Would be nice to get into Augusta...that was always my favorite event. The Opens at Pebble and St Andrews would be great too. Pebble sets up awfully good for Rickie, so it would be really nice to get in there. Obviously Mr. Palmer and Mr. Nicklaus's events will be an honor to be a part of.
12. I have to ask this. What was your guys' thought process on the 15th in the final round at the Waste Management?
haha....that seems to be a pretty common question. It comes down to the fact that Rickie wasn't 100% comfortable with going for it. He is a great wedge player and that pin was pretty accessible for a wedge so we layed up. Like Rickie said, we could have lost the tournament on that hole, but you couldn't win it there. If we knock it to 3 feet no one asks that question, but we didn't so I'm sure he and I will hear about it for a while.
What's funny about that is that we layed up on Par 5s more than ever this week and actually played them very well. Rickie and I still stand by the decision we made. I think it was a lot of discipline for a 21 year old in that situation.
Something him and I are learning fast is that you can't try to please everyone with your decisions out there. We got a bit of flack for not laying up on #18 at Frys, a few criticized "going for the pin" on #17 at Torrey, and now there are some that didn't like the decision on #15 at Waste Management. It comes with the territory. We are just making the decisions that we think gives us the best chance of winning a golf tournament.
13. Back to your company. Is there anything you would like to tell the viewers about your company?
Just to check our our site and try our product. I think it speaks for itself. Once people wear it they usually are long term customers. We have plenty of ideas an are only going to make Beyond The Links better and better.
14. Can you only purchase your goods on your site or do you have other places your clothing is in?
Our site is our main source of business, but we do have some retailers. You can find that information on our site at beyondthelinks.com.
15. Anything new and exciting coming out this season we should watch for?
Our 2010 line has launched and we are excited about that. Watch for some new fitted hats coming soon. We are going to add a couple of styles including the flat bills that I rock on Sundays.
16. Love the shirts and everything else you have at your company! Thanks for taking the time to answer our questions!
Thanks for having me. I hope I didn't put anyone to sleep!!
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