Fescue & Dunes: Links ethos at heart of emerging golf brand

Fescue & Dunes
Fescue & Dunes work with emerging golf brands

Fescue & Dunes exists to deliver discerning golfers with something a little less ordinary. 

Rather than focusing on creating their own products (although they do a bit of that too), they scour the globe for other boutique golf brands and bring them to golfers wanting to take their golf set-up to the next level.

Storytelling is at the heart of what appeals to them. We spoke to founder David Richards to find out more. 

What inspired Fescue & Dunes?

Fescue & Dunes was borne of our love of links golf. We have always wanted our brand to evoke that feeling of walking the great links courses, with their crisp fairways, firm fescue grassy and imposing sand dunes. Links golf is unfussy, true and original. That’s what we look for in the products we stock and the brands we work with. 

The business came about because my friend and I were always on the lookout for something a little less ordinary for our golf set-up.  This regularly led us to the US market. One order last year got delayed and then we had a big shipping bill to pay. We figured we couldn’t be the only ones looking further afield for our golfing goods, and equally we were fairly sure we weren’t the only ones being stung by high shipping costs and long lead-times.

Jones Golf bags
Fescue & Dunes are one of the few companies to stock Jones golf bags

So, we started talking to a few brands – small or boutique premium golf brands  – about bringing their products in to the UK. We were looking for something a little different from the norm. Fescue & Dunes isn’t about trying to flog you the latest training gadget, edgy clothing or long-distance golf ball or club. We are traditional, premium and niche and will remain that way.

Are golfers increasingly looking for products with something a little different for their golf bag? Is the market changing?

There has always been a demand for products that not everyone can get hold of. From our days working in pro-shops in the 1990s, through our many years of playing and working in the industry, we’ve seen this.  

Two of the biggest drivers of the sudden upsurge in demand have been Instagram and YouTube. Tie that in to the Covid pandemic and people having more time on their hands to research different brands, and you have the perfect storm for the explosion of new golf brands.

There are a small group of us who are tired of being walking billboards for the big brands and yearn for something simpler. Something, dare I say it, more traditional. The lack of logos, the timeless designs, that feeling of quality and heritage.  If we can start to curate a collection of products to bring that style back to the fore, then we will be well on our way to helping golfers who want something a little less ordinary.

There are so many small companies popping up across the golf industry who are prioritising storytelling. Are they filling a gap left by some of the more established brands?

North Coast Golf
North Coast produce high quality cabretta leather golf gloves

Yes and no. Storytelling is wonderful and some of the work coming out from the likes of The Links Diary and Cookie Jar Golf in particular are a real breath of fresh air.  That said, for product brands it’s a slightly different story. Are they filling a gap?  One or two maybe. I’m thinking of the likes of Hame Golf and Flagbag, but the authenticity of the story is often weighed up by the size of the brand.  

Some big brands tell excellent stories but that’s seen as a tool to sell more product and so that makes it less authentic and gets lost as another ‘marketing’ angle. Smaller brands telling a story is authentic, until such time as they become mainstream and then that story edge is lost. Brands then have to go in search of new ways to stay relevant.

So, in answer to your question: yes, they are filling a gap, but only until such a point as another new brand comes along and tells another refreshing story.

What does a product have to do or offer to capture your attention?

We’re looking for premium quality both of product and brand. We aren’t in this for the mid or low-end items. We value quality in design and production. My career started in luxury goods retailing (clothing, watches etc) and I have always been involved with premium quality products, so it’s central to what we do. 

South Town Golf
Fescue & Dunes partner with South Town Golf

After that, to your question above, we look for brands which tell a story that chimes with us.  Sam and I are both quite traditional golfers, so while it is refreshing to see some of the new clothing brands coming through with their skate/surf-inspired ranges, wild prints and edgy branding, for want of a better term… those products don’t match our style, so it’s not something we’d sell.

Can you give us a flavour of the most exciting or interesting brands you’re working with at the moment?

A couple of our favourite lesser-known brands would be North Coast Gloves and Southtown Prints. North Coast is a new US brand which produces really high quality cabretta leather golf gloves with a neat, subtle design element, whether that be Augusta-inspired or a simple Navy cuff.

Southtown has a really cool range of prints, showcasing iconic golf venues in their own style, which we were instantly taken by. A recent addition has been Jones Golf Bags. We are one of a handful of places in the UK where you can buy these iconic bags.  I’ve carried a Jones for a few years now and the history of the brand and the quality of the bags is exactly what we look for. So, when the opportunity arose to carry some of their products, we jumped at the chance

We also have our eye on a couple of new brands, but hey, no rush. We have some great products available currently. Maybe we could add some clothing or some handmade clubs or accessories, but as we say, we need to know the products are right for what we want to put out. 

Fescue & Dunes coffee
Fescue & Dunes have created their own brand of coffee

And you have started to create your own products with the launch of your coffee. Can you tell us about that?

My other passion is cycling.  Some friends of mine have set up their own coffee company, providing coffee to bike venues. Most of us have or have had a cup of (usually dreadful) coffee from the Pro Shop before we go out.  I am a big coffee fan, so thought why not bring good coffee to golfers across the UK.  

Seeing the growth the Good Walk Coffee Company has had in the US gave us the confidence to give it a try. I’ve carried a small flask of coffee in my Jones Bag onto the course with me for some time. Not for some performance gains, but for the simple pleasure of a nice cup of coffee.  A duff drive or missed putt (of which there are many in a round) seem slightly less annoying after I’ve taken a moment to unscrew the lid on my Sigg flask and taken a sip of coffee.

We’ve been approached by a number of companies both here in the UK and further afield about launching a range of Fescue & Dunes branded goods. To be honest, as I said above, we are in no rush. If and when the right product comes along and we feel it fits our range and we can add something to it, by adding the F&D logo or actually by not adding the F&D logo, but maybe working on a bespoke design, then we will of course look into it. But for now our focus is very much on making great lesser-known brands from across the pond more accessible to our niche UK golfing customers.

To find out more about Fescue & Dunes visit www.fescueanddunes.com

The founder of The Wandering Golfers, Ben grew up on the links of Scotland learning the game from his beloved Grandpa. Previously a writer and broadcaster for The Times and BBC

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