What happens when someone bigger takes your idea.

At the beginning, Golf Refugees were formed to enable us and our friends, to feel more at home when playing golf, by wearing our own clothing and playing with our own balls. We were looking for an image or product that could communicate our brand identity. Whilst searching through numerous 'same as' golf magazines, we noticed they were full of big brands all claiming that their white ball travels further than a competitors white golf ball. This is where the idea for our black golf ball sprouted.

As a new brand, we initially had some media exposure through an appearance on Channel 4's early morning 'Big Breakfast' TV show, interviewed by loud mouth Johnny Vaughan and the tasty Denise Van Outen. Next, we filmed three of our skateboarding friends trying to play golf through the hazardous streets of London, filmed by us and MTV, for broadcast on their sports show called 'Balls' hosted by rapper Coolio.

At this stage, with only had a painted black ball to show the audience, but the response was so positive, that we realised we had to make the idea a reality. After talking to a golf ball engineer at Titleist, who helped us to understand the technical aspects of golf ball design, we set off with some cash to find a manufacturing partner. Wishing to find a local manufacturer, we visited Penfold in Birmingham, UK. but they refused to make a black golf ball. Ironically, Birmingham is known as part of the 'black country'. Realising that most other UK based manufacturers had closed down, their moulds shipped out to the far east, it became clear we had to look overseas. After six months, we eventually found someone willing to work with us and developed a black golf ball to our specifications. The main technical objective was to try and increase the temperature of the core, as Titleist had told us that if you can achieve this a performance advantage can be gained. From this conversation Golf Refugees developed Thermal Distance Technology ( TDT ) to produce the ultimate long distance ball. The warmer a golf ball gets, the more efficiently it can transfer energy for entra distance. Our two-piece ball, has an ultra-thin heat-absorbing black cover with a high conducting metal-mix core.

Samples were sent out to numerous style, fashion and golf magazines. It became apparent that the style magazines loved the concept of a black ball, whilst the golf industry mags were dubious, Golf World calling it 'bonkers'. Golf Refugees were open to the fact that our black ball is designed to perform in hot sunny conditions, it is more visible in the air but less visible on the ground than a traditional white golf ball. None the less, we were confident we had created an iconic golf ball.

Through a contact in California, who worked for Reeebok, our black balls were featured in GQ USA, and played with in pro-am events by Alice Cooper and NFL football stars filmed by ESPN. It won the longest drive competition at the MGM media golf challenge day. The response was fantastic and we started negotiations with Modern Amusements about including our black ball & clothing in selected stores across the USA. Mean while back in the UK, Selfridges & Dockers had agreed to stock our original black golf ball.

We were flying high, until news from one of our USA customers e-mailed us of the imminent arrival of a Nike black golf ball. Reports ranged from it just being a PR stunt to help launch their new white golf ball called Nike One Black, because of it's black graphics. However, it soon became a reality that Nike had manufactured a black ball, given it to some of their golf professionals and started a media campaign. What had taken us nearly two years was all undone in a matter of days. The Nike black ball was splattered across all forms of media, we'd been buggered by the mighty swoosh.

Nike perhaps did something that we couldn't of done. They made the idea of a black golf ball legitimate with the golfing media. The golf magazines who thought our original black ball was bonkers, we're all soon lovin the Nike black ball. The same magazines were not too keen to mention, let alone test and compare our original black ball to Nike's. Understandable, considering the amount of money Nike spend on advertising, editors had to protect their revenue streams, still it was a bitter blow to us. One glimpse of light was freelance golf journalist, Tom Cox, who agreed to play with both black balls, albeit on a cold and damp February day and write an article for The Times newspapers, where a Nike executive is quoted as saying 'never heard of Refugee Golf black ball'

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