BY: JESSICA MARKSBURY JANUARY 27, 2020
Earlier this month, the LPGA announced a new partnership with Orca Golf Bags — a Fort Lauderdale, Fla.-based bags and accessories company — that will enable LPGA professionals and amateurs to receive exclusive discounts on LPGA-branded Orca products.
At first glance, this joining of brands appeared to be like any other run-of-the-mill corporate announcement, but there is one significant aspect that sets it apart: Orca is the only female-owned golf-bag design and build company in the United States, making this relationship between a women’s golf organization and a women-owned brand the first of its kind in the golf space.
For Deborah and Erica Bennett, Orca’s owners and founders, the recognition is the culmination of years of hard work. Having previously spent their careers in the corporate world, the duo decided four years ago to pivot into something more meaningful and fulfilling.
“We wanted to do something that was not just a continuation of business, but of business with a purpose,” Erica, seated next to Deborah, told me on a recent teleconference. “So for us, it was doing something that we loved, and that we felt we could make a difference. If we’re not doing something to give back or to make a purpose, then what is the real meaning?”
The Bennetts’ business idea started like many before them: by noticing a gap in the marketplace.
“We wanted our own golf bag that reflected us; we didn’t want the same golf bag that you’d see everywhere else,” Erica said. “So we thought, if we wanted a bag, other people would want a bag as well.”
Orca’s offerings range from stand bags for $335 up to tour staff bags for $595; among their other products are lifestyle bags, head covers and cooler caddies.
The women spent two years learning the ins and outs of the custom bag business before launching Orca. While their company had already enlisted a number of corporate and individual clients (Charl Schwartzel carried an Orca-designed bag at the November Masters), the LPGA deal represents an opportunity for the brand to shine on an even larger platform. And for the LPGA, Orca’s bags will be used as a means of unifying the organization’s thousands of members with more established and consistent branding.
“There are all these amateurs, and there are all these professionals, teaching professionals. But nobody knew them because they had a Callaway bag or a Titleist bag,” Erica said. “The idea for me is every time an LPGA member, whether it’s a player or a teacher or an amateur, walks somewhere with their bag, the LPGA branding is there.”
Striving for greater inclusiveness in golf is one of Orca’s primary objectives, and a particularly personal priority for Erica. Growing up in Jamaica, she wasn’t exposed to golf until moving to the U.S. as an adult. Deborah, an experienced golfer who played collegiately, took Erica to the course for the first time. Turns out, Erica was a natural, and she won a tournament only six months after picking up the game.