Storytelling is at the heart of what makes us human. It helps us know who we are, it puts things into context and add sentiment and emotion to places and possessions.
It’s very much at the heart of what’s important to us at The Wandering Golfers and it was that which drew our attention to a small golf company based in the Home of Golf, or the Hame of Golf, as it’s known in Scotland.
Hame is the brainchild of Robbie Spriddle. In his workshop in Fife, he creates beautiful handmade head-covers, accessories and golf products with storytelling weaved into their very core. Can headcovers really tell a story, we hear you ask? Well, Robbie’s story will help you make your mind up. Here he explains how he came to start Hame Golf, a company which represents his two great passions in life – art and golf.
The Wandering Golfers: From studying Fine Art at the Glasgow School of Art to setting up your own business making beautiful headcovers and accessories. That’s quite a journey, Robbie …
Robbie Spriddle (founder of Hame Golf): Well, I come from a family of golfers and have had it instilled into me from a young age. I played for the Fife boys’ team and in the under 16s SGU development squads alongside British Amateur champion Bradley Neil and European tour player Calum Hill.
As a dyslexic, at school I didn’t enjoy any subject that involved writing, this led me to explore creative avenues and soon a passion for the fine Art and craftsmanship was unearthed. My journey ultimately led to me going to The Glasgow School of Art, whilst golf remained my hobby.
After graduating I continued producing paintings, sculptures and screen-prints for exhibitions while caddying in the East Neuk to supplement my art.
I’d carry up to 250 bags a season, meeting characters from all of the world. It soon became apparent to me that it was rare to see golf bags and covers of quality. I was surprised to see what you would typically consider as ‘high-end’ products were actually anything but – plastic heavy, lacking the weight and quality you’d expect. I found myself thinking I could do a better job making these so-called aspirational products.
Thus, the idea for Hame Golf was born, I wanted to make hand-crafted, quality, sustainable products and give golfers the chance to dress their clubs with real pride. I continued to caddy whilst honing my skills with fabric.
Once the Covid pandemic struck and caddying was a no go, I knew the time was right to start making my dream a reality.
TWGs: It’s obvious how much craftsmanship and thought goes into your products…
Robbie: My passion for creating hand-crafted items and artworks have led to a great respect and appreciation for things that are well-made. To hold something in your hand and feel its weight, texture, strength, colour and precision is a beautiful thing that I hold a great appreciation for.
This appreciation extends to woodwork, metalwork, shoes, clothing, fine art and all the way to hickory golf clubs. For me quality and perfected process is what excites me. My goal has always been to try to make everything as well as it can be made – whether that was building a canvas for painting, producing an etching or sewing a headcover.
I’ve always admired my grandparent’s possessions from a time that predates mass manufacturing, when there was a profession and skillset to each crafted item from lead soldiers, to old golf clubs, hand-made shoes, clothing to model sail boats. They have stood the test of time because they are well made and because of that they all have their own stories to tell. That means the personal connection to the owner is all the greater. They are looked after as the effort to make them is respected, that will last a lifetime and become sentimental. Through a meticulous creation process and the finest quality materials I’m confident our products will also stand the test of time and contribute sustainably to the golf accessory industry.
TWGs: Sustainability is obviously a key part of what you are doing. Why is that so important to you and do you think we’ll see some of the bigger manufacturers incorporating that ethos into the way they work in the future?
Robbie: Over the past five years or so, I have made moves to educate myself on sustainability and do everything with in my power to lead a sustainable life. So, there was no doubt in my mind that a big part of Hame would focus on sustainability, it was one of the motivating factors behind starting the business – I don’t believe there are many sustainable options when it comes golf accessories.
I find the prospect of sustainability overwhelming, but I’m of the belief that if every individual and company tries their hardest then collectively a difference can be made.
There’s a growing pressure on big companies to be more sustainable and that is being driven by consumers. However, greenwashing is a massive issue – just because a product is made from recycled material doesn’t answer the gaping question of where is the product being made, how much are the factory workers getting paid, will the stitch last until the next season’s cover is released etc?
Much will depend on whether the big companies can find a profitable way to make sustainable items. I hope to see products that aren’t done as a tick box limited edition recycled cover and more environmentally friendly changes across the board on all products and manufacturing processes. Hame covers are made to last and even improve with age, the materials are sourced locally, and the full production process is done on sight in my workshop in Fife. Durability is one of the main things that sets the covers apart from other companies.
TWGs: The materials you are using – Scottish textiles, premium leather and metals – feel very authentic and connected to where you work in Fife and therefore, to the game of golf. How important was that to you?
Robbie: I’m a proud Scotsman, so sourcing the materials from within the country was critical. I’m very familiar with the local production and appreciate the quality and traditions, particularly the tartan, Harris Tweed and wax canvas used on the Hame Golf covers.
I love the history and spirit associated those materials and the fact they are a handmade product of Scottish craftsmanship is essential to Hame Golf.
Golf is a game of Scottish heritage and I wanted to keep the brand true to those origins. That’s why I aim to give the covers a traditional, yet timeless design – to help connect players back to the history of the game. And to tell that story.
TWGs: The varieties of headcover you produce are often named after recognisable places or people in the game: Augusta, Old Tom – or inspired by the colours of golf, like burnt links fairways …
Robbie: The collection of covers reflect aspects of Scottish landscapes and courses or the origins of the game through historic figures. We try and infuse a sense of Scottish spirit into the textiles – the tartans of Scottish Clans and the Harris Tweeds inspired by the landscapes of Scotland, encapsulate Scotland in a cloth, like a painting would capture a place on a canvas. From their deep textures to their multi-toned flickers of colour.
The tweeds in particular look to me like abstract paintings of landscapes. For me this is where the artist meets the craftsman. Being on the links with your tweed and tartan covers makes you feel more connected to the landscape and the game. The titles I give the covers are reminiscent of those scenes – they inspire me.
TWGs: Your products are now shipping to all corners of the world – how does it feel to know the workmanship and quality is being appreciated not just in Scotland or the UK, but in far flung corners of the world?
Robbie: During my time caddying I saw first-hand the love golfers from all corners of the world have for Scottish traditions and history, so I knew my work would appreciated all of the world. However, I didn’t expect the brand to be noticed overseas through the power of social media – the response to the products has been amazing and I am so happy with how they have been received. I’m glad the covers are able to see some of the best courses and get some sunshine! And I’m happy that people all over the world can share the passion I have for Scotland, Scottish produce and the game of golf.
TWGs: In recent years there seems to have been a real and welcome boom in the number of small companies entering the golf equipment market. Why do you think that is and do you think golfers are more open to look away from the obvious brands now?
Robbie: I think people are becoming more in-tune with sustainability, something big brands don’t really offer. The market has been stale, this has created a demand for unique items and with the presence of social media, small brands now have a platform to make a real impact.
TWGs: What does the future hold – where would you like to take Hame Golf and how do you grow while staying so rooted in this authentic brand you have created?
Robbie: I want Hame Golf to be the finest producer of golf accessories. We want to keep the range small and to keep it local. So it isn’t about dominating the golf accessory market but it is about making the best products around. I have exciting plans for new products, which are in early development stages. But the ultimate goal is to continue enjoying the process of creating these products and to continue to inspire happy and loyal customers.
You can find out more about Robbie, his products and Hame Golf at www.hamegolf.com