October 2012 (October 18, 2012)
Classmates Launch American-Made Golf Wear
Vincent Garrett JCA ’84 formally launched Gaulf, LLC -- 100 percent made in America golf apparel – in 2008, but says the company actually began in 1983, on Sage’s Albany campus.
That’s when Garrett – who grew up watching professional golfers Lee Elder and Calvin Peete on television – first picked up clubs himself, and where he met Kyle Harris JCA ’86, Jacqueline Polanco and Michael Johnson, now his business partners.
Garrett returned to his native New York City after graduating from Sage and continued to hone his golf skills on weekends and after work – reveling in the more laid back aspects of what can be a vexing game. The camaraderie on the golf course, as well as a demand for golf clothing that appeals to all ages and skin hues, inspired his line of apparel for golfers who, like him, “express a sense of humor while still remaining respectful” of the game.
He said the name “Gaulf” came to him after a particularly frustrating visit to the driving range. “Someone had the unmitigated gall to give me instruction, when he was just as bad or worse than me!” he said. “I watched him hook, slice and shank each shot and then attempt to tell me how to swing a club. Hence the name Gaulf was taken from the word ‘gall.’”
Garrett brought his company name and idea to former Sage classmate Jacqueline Polanco, a corporate planner and strategist, for help building the Gaulf brand. She took the company from concept to product launch, exhorting Garrett to commit to using American labor and materials in the manufacture of Gaulf merchandise.
“Statistics show that if every American purchased $3.33 worth of American-made products, it would generate 10,000 jobs here,” said Polanco. “Our products are not only made in America, our ‘Elite’ line is produced using only American-grown cotton, American-made notions and most important, American labor.”
It took Jacqueline more than a year to identify American fabric mills and other manufacturers that were still in existence, but she convinced me that it was the only way to fly, said Garrett. “That’s what makes us so special. We are not just another shirt!”
Garrett and Polanco then recruited Sage classmates Kyle Harris and Michael Johnson to Gaulf. “Vincent always said I had the gift of gab and therefore would make an excellent salesman,” said Harris. “He sold me!”
All four former classmates continue to work full-time jobs -- Garrett is a supervising inspector for the New York City Department of Environmental Protection; Polanco produces continuing medical education symposia and other events for the pharmaceutical industry; Harris works for the New York State Higher Education Services Corporation; and Johnson works for National Grid -- but they relish the opportunity to interact personally with customers at trade shows and tournaments.
Gaulf exhibited at the Asia Golf Show in Guangzhou, China in 2011, the PGA Merchandise Show in Orlando, Fla., in January and at several golf tournaments, including Sage’s Gator Golf tournament in June. Gaulf sponsored Sage’s tournament and will outfit the 2012-13 men’s golf team with custom shirts and hats.
Garret hopes that Gaulf apparel will be an important reminder to the players. “Stay in touch with the friends you meet in Sage because you never know where they may take you,” he said. “Gaulf came to me later in life. I have no doubt that if I had not met Jacqueline at Sage, I would still only have an idea and would still be trying to figure out how to make it happen.”
Pictured: Kyle Harris JCA '86, Jacqueline Polanco, President Scrimshaw, Vincent Garrett JCA '84, President Scrimshaw's husband Allan Stern and Michael Johnson at Sage's Gator Golf Classic.