Posted on Friday 16 November 2012 by Ulster Business

Fred Daly

"Putting," Alan Boyd assures me, "is the easiest part of the game of golf."

It's a statement that the average weekend golfer, or certainly those who play even less frequently, would find it hard not to laugh at.

But Boyd, the Research & Design Director of Fred Daly Golf, fully believes it is the case, and when I meet him on a putting green, he shows me how the trademark Peanut Putter the company has developed at its Ballygowan factory can make the theory a reality.

The company was established in 2007 by Robin Daly, son of legendary Open Champion Fred Daly, and is backed by high profile investors Gary McCausland and Michael O'Neill.

They launched the new Peanut Putter and re-launched its brand to much fanfare at the Irish Open in Portrush – the perfect venue for a company sporting Fred Daly's name.

From selling a handful of putters from its older range at its first event a few years ago, Fred Daly Golf had 300 putters pre-ordered before the Irish Open even started, with final sales of over £20,000 racked up by the end of the tournament.

Fresh from that success, the company is now gearing up to take a swing at the US golf market. It has taken a stand at the PGA Merchandise Show in Florida in January, a golf equipment showcase at which the Northern Ireland company will go toe to toe with every other major golf manufacturer.

"In our market we are playing against multimillion pound brands. Adidas' marketing budget would blow us out of the water by hundreds or thousands of times. But our technology is totally unique. We are approaching the market from a very different perspective," Alan told Ulster Business.

"It's a bit like going to Ford and telling them that steering wheels, which have been around for 100 years, would be better square, and this is why. Everyone who works for the company will be in Orlando for a week to show what the Peanut Putter can do," he adds.

The Peanut Putter uses the latest computer technology to achieve optimal toe-heel weighting and a revolutionary stabilising anchor system to help golfers improve their game and sink more putts. Fixing the position of the putter on the ground gives golfers more consistency on the greens and greater confidence.

More than 40 players on the European Tour have been fitted for putters and the company is also currently testing three new models on tour, with one new putter likely to be released each year going forward.

Fred Daly Golf has seen a 270% rise in sales since launching the new putter, purely through its website and direct sales. Alan expects sales to take off further when the manufacturer ramps up its retail presence following the appointment of a new business development manager.

That business development manager is former 400 metre British Olympic runner James McIlroy – a keen amateur golfer and sports fan – who will be based in Manchester and cover sales in both the UK and Ireland.

"Operationally we've looked at how the business works in the UK, our routes to market, how we were getting the product in golfers' hands, e-commerce and branding," explains Alan.

"Everybody likes the product and what we are doing. What we needed was an on-the-ground presence to be the face of the business. Agents can get you sales but they don't really give customer service or help you to build relationships. Our shop windows are the pros who are using our putters, so it was crucial that we had a grass-roots presence."

With a clear strategy in place, it looks like we'll hear a lot more about Fred Daly Golf in future.

But as for putting being the easiest part of the game, well, I'm still not convinced!

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