History

Langley Perrins and Global Golf’s History

Langley Perrins left for America in the early 1980s when he was 17, on the advice of PGA Tour pro Denis Watson, whom he had befriended while a member at Parkview GC. He won a handful of amateur events in Florida, but in order to stay in the country he was forced to turn professional. A year later, he was playing on various mini-tours, but also working in the pro shop at the Plantation Country Club in Venice, a job that piqued his interest in golf retail.

On returning to South Africa, Perrins played on the Sunshine Tour for 10 years without much success, and started his own business called Active Bullet, which imported gloves, tees and David Leadbetter training aids (having met the legendary teacher in Florida through Watson) and that is where the history of Global Golf started.

Further ventures followed in the equipment industry, first with Dale Hayes and Bullet Golf and then with Tony Rice and Mizuno. “While playing the local tour, I always dabbled in some form of business to stay alive,” says the 42-year-old. “Then my ankle was crushed in a car accident in 1993, and I endured seven operations on my right index finger after I got gangrene from an accident while changing the grip of a club. I was out of golf for 18 months and needed to find alternative sources of income.”

In 1996, while paging through an American golf magazine, Perrins came across adverts for Cutter & Buck and had the idea of bringing upmarket golf apparel to South Africa. He contacted the company and traveled to America to set up the deal. It was immediately successful and became the benchmark in this country for high-end apparel, which Global Golf then expanded into its own stores. “The decision to partner golf clubs and resorts in running their pro shop operation has been very beneficial for both parties,” says Perrins. “Clubs wouldn’t normally go the route of buying high-end merchandise, but we take the risk because we know what we are doing. We believe in our products and have the merchandising techniques to sell them off the shelves.”

Perrins is also a partner and shareholder in Prestige Brands in Australia and New Zealand, which follows the same business model of Global Golf. Former River Club CEO Rob Selley is a partner in the business, after emigrating to Brisbane at the end of last year.

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Nothing is ever simple or the same.” But it hasn’t always been plain sailing for Global Golf. Perrins admits that the company suffered “two big hits” in the past that almost left them insolvent. In 1997, the company’s third big shipment had arrived in Durban and was being transported by rail to Johannesburg when thieves drove a bakkie down the tracks and boarded the train. Out of Global’s 70 cartons on board, 55 were never seen again and they were not adequately insured. The second shock was when the rand crashed at the end of 2001 against the dollar, to an all-time low of R13.84. Global Golf were awaiting delivery of goods to arrive from their factories but still had to pay the head office in America. To make matters worse, they had pre-sold merchandise to local customers and would eventually lose between R300 000 and R400 000.

“Both times, we had to trade our way out of the hole,” says Perrins. “Fortunately, we had understanding shippers, and had always maintained a great relationship with Cutter & Buck, who were sympathetic to our plight at the time.”

Courtesy: Compleat Golfer