NCGA Golf

Summer 2019

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NCGA.ORG | SUMMER 2019 33 The older brother of a golf apparel icon, Hank has left his n California and the golf industry By Tony L. Starks F or more than two decades, the name Ashworth has been synonymous with California cool. Born to deliver more style and versatility to golf fashion in the 1980s, the company brandished the name of its founder John Ashworth and grew to be a multi-million dollar publicly traded powerhouse in the 90s and early 2000s. Hank, John's older brother and a resident of Santa Cruz, was selling phone systems and computers for AT&T before becom- ing a key player in the brand's success after coming on board in 1991. "I made a decent living, but I was kind of hating every minute of it," says Ashworth, recalling his days at AT&T. That same year Hank and his wife, Brenda, a beloved schoolteacher, moved to Carmel where he oversaw sales for the Northern California region, ushering Ash- worth into the pro shops at Pebble Beach Golf Links, Cypress Point, Pasatiempo and virtually every iconic course from the Monterey Peninsula to San Francisco. "I became more than a sales rep; I was their friend," Ashworth says. "That's what makes golf such a special industry and the greatest game in the world. It's all about building relationships. It wasn't a job. Selling computers, that was a job." At its peak Ashworth owned more than 60% of the soft-good market share. But like many growing corporations, Ashworth underwent a great deal of change. John left the company in 1997 and Hank shortly thereafter. They struck a licensing deal with Callaway Golf in 2001, which lasted until 2007. In 2008, TaylorMade-adidas Golf acquired the Ashworth brand. "I never liked what the other brands did with Ashworth. I think they changed what we were about, what our message was," Ashworth says. "It was just different." Ashworth spent a few years as an inde- pendent rep working for Straight Down, Maui Jim and Bugatchi Uomo before reuniting with his brother, who in 2005 founded Linksoul, the popular California- based apparel company that blends golf and surf cultures into one sought-after lifestyle brand. "With Linksoul we're back to making it about the relationships and the people," Ashworth says. "That's really what the name Linksoul is all about. When you meet and play golf with someone, you have a chance to link souls and become lifetime friends within a matter of four or five hours." Hank Ashworth Hank Ashworth, pictured far right at top, center in middle and left in bottom right.

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