When I first started playing golf, it was at a modest driving range -- with the artificial turf mats that left the green stuff on the soles of all my club -- because it also had batting cages. I was already there, beating baseballs, so I figured I would get a rental driver and beat some golf balls.
At the time, I played baseball, basketball and soccer. The reason I wanted to start playing golf was one of the coolest guys I know, my uncle Russell, was in love with golf. I realized in pretty short order I was better at hitting golf balls than baseballs, so my parents hooked me up with four lessons with the driving range pro.
My first experiences playing golf were at par-3 courses attached to other driving ranges. The tee boxes were mats. The greens were small and super slow. The bunkers were poorly kept. Then I graduated to the then-12-hole Carroll Park in Baltimore, where the regulars would tee up ball next to the practice green and try to blast them on Interstate 95, running parallel to the course. They eventually closed three of the holes, probably in part because locals would pop out of the woods and steal your golf ball after your drives and then try to sell them back to you. (This actually happened to me.)
In the more than two decades that followed, I've played some incredible places, made lifelong friends and met fascinating people. However, I've never forgotten where I came from or where I get my joy in playing golf. Golf makes me most happy playing with people I love, who don't take themselves or golf too seriously too often. Whether those people are pros, pluses or 20-handicappers, they make golf's unique examination more fun. Golf presents a huge physical and mental challenge. The game is really hard and incredibly humbling, and it makes you find out a lot about yourself -- some things you don't like.
I firmly believe golf is best enjoyed when we focus on fun and shed our egos to embrace everything the sport throws at us.
So, when I decided to create golf apparel that expressed what I love about golf, I eventually settled on a ball retriever logo. If you have one, you clearly don't take yourself too seriously, and you're willing to humble yourself to pick up golf balls out of puddles of water.
And with that decision, the Unpro collection was born. We make golf-themed apparel -- hats, shirts and more -- with a sense of humor, joy and humility.
The apparel will always be reasonably priced because something isn't necessarily better just because it costs more money. Hopefully you'll take a look at our collection and join the Unpro ranks. If you have an idea or a request, we'd love to hear from you. You can tweet me, as always @RyanBallengee, or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org