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Acushnet launches Union Green golf ball brand

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You might expect the announcement of a new golf ball brand to fly under the radar. With the launch of Union Green from Acushnet, the parent company to entrenched golf brands Titleist and FootJoy among others, however, there’s no danger of that. This golf ball launch is different and signals a shift in consumer interaction for one of the largest companies in golf.

What is Union Green?

“Golf has the power to unite us all. With Union Green all are welcome.”

That single statement is the ethos of Union Green—to bring people together on the golf course, to be inclusive, inviting, and at the end of the day, to have fun.

Union Green seeks to represent the new age of the golfers that look to golf as a way to hang out with friends, relax, and have some fun along the way. From a branding standpoint, it’s the 9-hole muni down the street rather than the high initiation private club that you can’t see past the gate: both are great in their own way, but one is more relatable to the majority of the golf population than the other.

The new company will be largely direct-to-consumer, but considering Acushnet’s deep penetration in both on and off-course retail. you can expect to see the full lineup of lifestyle softgoods and accessories beyond the two new golf balls in shops around the country and beyond. Does that mean exclusive private clubs? Probably not. But at your local public course looking to offer a more value-priced golf ball, absolutely!

So, about the golf balls…

In the cluttered space that is direct-to-consumer golf ball brands, from a product standpoint alone, Union Green separates itself in a way that no other current company can. Its golf balls are made in the United States under the same strict quality control standards that other balls under the Acushnet brands are made, including Titleist TourSoft.

 

Union Green Pindrop

A three-piece ball built to offer greenside performance without giving up distance or trajectory—simple as that.

The tech details are light, but that’s OK. The golfers these are targeted at aren’t worried about the newest urethane mixtures being used to build the cover or some compound infused into the core to make them faster. It’s all about performance and value, and with Pindrop you get a three-piece (non-urethane covered ball) for $27.99 per dozen.

Union Green Teebird

A two-piece ball built for distance and designed to fly straighter. Once again simple and to the point. Plus, for only $19.99 per dozen, the Teebird offers great value for the golfer who might lose a few during a round. Not everyone can shrug off smashing a $6 ball into a pond, but at only $1.67 apiece, it’s an easier pill to swallow.

What does this mean for Acushnet?

This is the million-dollar question. Union Green is not Titleist Light or a Pinnacle replacement, it’s a totally new upstart to fill the void for golfers serious about having fun while playing golf—those who don’t relate to the stuffy atmosphere that is often associated with the sport.

Lifestyle brands in and out of golf tend to go in two directions: high-end and luxurious or more value and consumer-accessibility focused. The well-branded UnionGreen.com website, with long-haired, backward cap-wearing “dudes” and casually dressed legging-wearing women golfing, tells you everything you need to know about what they represent and who they are hoping to connect to.

Union Green has hit the nail on the head. As a millennial golfer myself who spends a lot of time playing public golf with people from all age demographics, this is a growing segment of the golfing population. Golfers, regardless of age or gender, who care less about what shaft is in their driver and more about making sure fun is had on the course with friends.

As an equipment-obsessed, fully tuned-in golfer, this might not relate to you, but I’m sure you know or play golf with someone that fits right into Union Green’s target market. Acushnet is hoping the brand messaging lands, like a high, soft wedge into three green.

It will be interesting to see if it does.

 

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Ryan Barath is part of the Digital Content Creation Team for GolfWRX. He hosts the "On Spec" Podcast on the GolfWRX Radio Network which focuses on discussing everything golf, including gear, technology, fitting, and course architecture. He is a club-fitter & master club builder with more than 17 years of experience working with golfers of all skill levels, including PGA Tour players. He is the former Build Shop Manager & Social Media Coordinator for Modern Golf. He now works independently from his home shop and is a member of advisory panels to a select number of golf equipment manufacturers. You can find Ryan on Twitter and Instagram where he's always willing to chat golf, and share his passion for club building, course architecture and wedge grinding.

33 Comments

33 Comments

  1. Mike

    Feb 15, 2020 at 6:01 pm

    Many of these ‘non-golfers’ now use range balls, which cost like 10 cents each when you pocket one. But I did hear you’ll get a free craft beer coupon w/ each dozen.

    Who on earth would order these balls when you can buy distance balls CHEAP at Walmart? And for ‘non-golfers’, DOES “DISTANCE” REALLY MATTER??? So, now, w/ this Union ‘distance’ ball, you’ll dribble your shot 18 yards off the tee instead of 15?

  2. ShortHitter

    Feb 13, 2020 at 7:42 am

    They’ll make good margins on the direct to consumer segment by cutting out retailers. If they charge for shipping, you could be paying $30+ for a surlyn cover ball. Makes complete sense for folks that pay $15 for a phone order $7 sandwich with delivery and service fees.

  3. Will Johnston

    Feb 12, 2020 at 11:25 am

    The ball will be a huge success if they denounce toxic masculinity and only use gender neutral pronouns.

  4. golfraven

    Feb 10, 2020 at 5:00 pm

    Some execs at Acushnet: so what are we doing about the Corona virus? Well, lets bring out a new ball brand and call it Union Green. Sounds Chinese to me and make us look like as we would care about next generation on this planet.

  5. Funkaholic

    Feb 10, 2020 at 4:12 pm

    This is “woke” capitalism in action, a bunch of old white haired guys sitting around the boardroom asking each other “how do we reach millennials?” Naturally the answer is to Bart Simpson up a brand of cheap balls. Everything about this is stupid. When will executive realize, you can’t brand “cool”. Most of the young people I see on the golf course are as serious as anybody. You aren’t going to win over the stoned Frisbee golfers and nobody wants them on the course anyway.

  6. jgpl001

    Feb 8, 2020 at 3:55 pm

    I have heard some nonsense in my time but this is total BS.
    What are they talking about with this inclusive, eco rubbish???
    And a few cheap, non descript golf balls – Give me a break
    Anybody who buys these needs serious treatment and antipsychotic medication

  7. Marty

    Feb 8, 2020 at 12:19 pm

    Completely incongruous. The logo doesn’t look like it belongs on a golf ball and the brand name sounds like some sort of house-brand one might find on sweatshirts and warmups at the GAP or some other big box store.

    Also, how people approach the game of golf is not a “Lifestyle” or a “Lifestyle Choice”.

  8. Chip2win

    Feb 8, 2020 at 6:23 am

    I’m going to make it my personal mission to avoid purchasing all Titleist/Footjoy products.

    • Brian

      Feb 8, 2020 at 2:57 pm

      Ditto. Why buy these when high-performing urethane balls are available for just a few $ more?

  9. Chip2win

    Feb 8, 2020 at 5:14 am

    I’m going to make it my personal mission to avoid ALL Titleist/Footjoy products in the future.

  10. Daniel Whitehurst

    Feb 8, 2020 at 4:35 am

    So this is introduced for the basic player that isn’t interested in the balls makeup or materials at a lower cost than the $47 prov1 at $27. You can get a great ball like Wilson DUO at $20 or Callaway supersoft at $22. What the point of this. I thought it was a eco friendly ball with GREEN in the name. Or maybe a non conforming ball for distance.

    • JThunder

      Feb 10, 2020 at 2:52 am

      Yes – Duo, Supersoft and several others compete with Tour Soft, but all at lower price than Tour Soft or Onion Green.

      • Danny Boy

        Feb 10, 2020 at 9:26 pm

        Onion Green – Now that’s something I can get behind

    • Steve Sanders

      Feb 10, 2020 at 3:21 pm

      Yeah Vice and Snell already offer high quality golf balls for less than this and even the big name brands already have plenty of products made of higher-quality materials in the $20-25 price point. Who in their right mind is looking for a “message” in their golf balls? I’ve never bought a 15-pack of cheap pinnacles at a course and thought to myself “But does pinnacle speak to my personal opinions on inclusivity and casual enjoyment of golf?”

  11. Rich Douglas

    Feb 8, 2020 at 1:10 am

    This is a press release, nothing more.

    How could these balls be any different from the rocks they sell under the Pinnacle line?

    How is it that these balls are some form of “lifestyle brand”? Seriously, what’s the lifestyle or the brand?

    If I’m running Callaway, I’m talking to the legal department about suing for infringement…on the TopFlite line!

    And if one of your selling points is that the ball is cheap to lose, well….

  12. MadMex

    Feb 8, 2020 at 12:55 am

    Good lord !!!!! All they needed was the race angle,,,,
    ” para todos ustedes que no pueden pagar el precio de las Pro-V1 les ofrecemos esta basura !!!”

    Translation: “For those of you who can’t afford the price of Pro-V1 balls, we offer you this garbage!”

    Yes, I am Mexican and do speak and write fluent Spanish,,,,,,,,,,

  13. hwt

    Feb 7, 2020 at 11:08 pm

    This is clearly an attempt to get into the vice/snell/tbc/sugarloaf sector. Too bad it looks like it was thought up by a heavy handed dumbo in the corporate office. Won’t be even testing these bc this is such a corporate facepalm moment.

    Also interesting they say that the ball get the same quality testing as…….the truesoft? Why in the hell would you promote that when you have the #1 ball in golf?

  14. JP

    Feb 7, 2020 at 10:35 pm

    Laughable

  15. 2putttom

    Feb 7, 2020 at 8:50 pm

    kewl, appealing to the millennial golfer.

  16. Michaele11111

    Feb 7, 2020 at 8:07 pm

    Was that an advertorial?

    No matter what dog patch you play at or how high your handicap is, I hope you are enough of a golfer that you wanted to vomit after reading that article.

    Whoever sold the Acushnet CEO on this one better have their resume up to date.

  17. Alexander Schilling

    Feb 7, 2020 at 6:05 pm

    This is dumb

  18. SV

    Feb 7, 2020 at 5:38 pm

    Bring back the Acushnet Club Special!!

    • Shallowface

      Feb 9, 2020 at 3:49 pm

      Nah. That name isn’t inclusive enough. “Club” implies exclusivity.

      Looking forward to the next decade when the children of these people turn on, tune in and drop out.

  19. James

    Feb 7, 2020 at 5:28 pm

    History has proven repeatedly that collectivist words like “inclusive” are dead ends and lead to complacency and laziness. Careful, Titleis… I mean Acushnet. The Ball is DOA.

    In other news, the Truvis already owns the cool-kid ball market.

  20. Moosejaw McWilligher

    Feb 7, 2020 at 5:18 pm

    By definition, something new from Acushnet – or sub-brand thereof – cannot be called an “upstart” (or startup).

    The “green” part of the name had me expecting something eco-friendly. That has been the near-exclusive connotation of “green” for decades now. Since that doesn’t seem to be the case, it feels like false advertising, which doesn’t endear Acushnet to me.

    • DL

      Feb 8, 2020 at 9:21 am

      Green means eco-friendly but it’s not so it’s false advertising hahhaha

      Maybe Union Green has to do with uniting people through golf which is played on a golf course that has greens… hence Union Green lol

      • Rascal

        Feb 8, 2020 at 11:42 am

        The green obviously relates to marijuana, come on guys.

        • Moosejaw McWilligher

          Feb 10, 2020 at 2:48 am

          In that case, $27.99 for a box that size is a good deal!

    • scooter

      Feb 8, 2020 at 11:44 am

      Yeah, probably the only way this ball has a chance in h*** is if Acushnet were to promise most of the profits go to true green (environmental) causes … ain’t gonna happen … just a $$$ marketing scheme

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Whats in the Bag

Jimmy Walker WITB 2020

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  • Equipment accurate as of the Farmers Insurance Open

Driver: Titleist TS3 (8.5 degrees @ 7.75, C1 SureFit setting)
Shaft: Fujikura Ventus Blue 6 X

Fairway wood: Titleist TS3 (18 degrees @ 17.25, C1 SureFit setting)
Shaft: Mitsubishi Tensei CK Pro Blue 90 TX

Irons: Titleist 620 CB (3), Titleist 620 MB (4-PW)
Shafts: True Temper AMT Tour White X100

Wedges: Titleist Vokey Design SM8 WedgeWorks (54-M, 60-04L), Titleist Vokey Design SM8 (64 degrees)
Shafts: True Temper Dynamic Gold Tour Issue X100

Putter: L.A.B. Directed Force 2.1T

Grips: Golf Pride Tour Velvet

Ball: Titleist Pro V1x

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What It’s Like: TaylorMade Golf’s “The Kingdom”

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One of the best parts of this job, beyond the people we get to meet, is the facilities. All of the core OEMs have a “place” that is exclusive, away from anything normal, and you gotta know someone to get a ticket in.

That’s what the “What It’s Like” series is about. Those certain OEM places with no doors open to the public. Those places that if you happened to sneak in, there is no way you can Fletch your way around into two steak sandwiches and a bloody mary.

I never admit this, but I used to manage a night club in Los Angeles called Les Deux (it was cool for a minute). It was a fun although soul-sucking endeavor but the thing that made the experience stick out was the exclusivity of it. If you got in by knowing someone, greased the door guy (me), or got invited, it was four hours of awesome. Yes, it’s a lame example, but there is, unfortunately, something about getting to the other side of a closed door that is just awesome.

TaylorMade Golf’s Kingdom is location No. 1, and as you would expect, it’s nothing short of pure golf ecstasy.

My Experience

I have been to TaylorMade HQ quite a number of times, and typically those visits involve time at what I call the gear junkie mecca (short of Tiger Woods’ garage or the Nike Oven graveyard now called Artisan) AKA The Kingdom.

The coolest thing about it is how subtle the location is. Located just steps away from the front door of TM HQ (and a very random corporate basketball hoop) sits a small-yet-elegant building that if you didn’t know was there, you would fly past it. Once you pull into the side parking lot, unload your sticks, and head to the door, there is still that feeling of “will they actually let me in?”

Here’s the thing. The best (all of them) have been in here. To test, practice, hang out, get fit, get wowed to potentially be on staff and everything in-between. A schmuck like me should get nervous, but then it happens, the door opens and you are not only let in but you are greeted by the master of ceremonies and a man I truly adore Tom “TK” Kroll.

With the passion to match not only yours but anyone else who walks in, he makes sure every nuance is seen and experienced. From the lobby with current TM athletes on the wall to the locker room with your custom locker that sits next to an exact replica of Tiger’s bag. There are snacks, extras shoes, gloves, swag, coffee, beer, and all your wildest dreams…and we are barely in the facility.

From a 35,000 foot view, The Kingdom has everything a golfer would ever want, need, or wish for. Starting with Duane Anderson’s putter studio that has tested thousands of strokes from players ranging from a 20 handicap to Rory McIlroy. The data compiled in this room is staggering. We did a video (link below) that gives you the full rundown.

There are three (one with an Iron Byron for testing) main inside hitting bays with all the bells and whistles you would assume. TrackMans, cameras, big screens, fresh gloves hanging on the wall, and a club fitting matrix with every TM combination you could think of.

The outside hitting area is heaven on earth. There is no other way to describe. Huge hitting area with multiple styles of grass, lies, pins, etc. Any shot you would need to hit can be recreated here on grass with a ball flying into the air and not into a screen. My favorite area is the Flick Tee. In honor of the great teacher and longtime TM staffer Jim Flick. Its tucked up high and privately in the corner of the range under a tree and this may sound ridiculous but you can almost feel Mr. Flick standing there with you as you look out onto the facility. I get goosebumps just thinking about it.

As mentioned, the man who manages your experience is Tom Kroll. He’s about as respected and beloved as anyone in the industry and for good reason. You combine passion with service you get an awesome human to hang out with. Everyone that has been through these doors has a TK story, which includes a chuckle and a smile.

I chatted with him recently about The Kingdom, and this is what he had to say.

JW: Walk me through how The Kingdom came to be what it is now? Basically origin to current day…

TK: Back in 1994, I was in R&D, running player testing, and we needed to find our own testing range. We built our headquarters in Carlsbad in the 1990s and added the range in 1998. Only robot, cannon and player testing were done at the start. Once in a while, a tour or staff pro would come out and test, but it was all operated from one building. At the time, what’s currently the clubhouse at The Kingdom was actually a maintenance building. But in 2010, The Kingdom was reimagined to the layout we have now.

Over the last three years I’ve been at The Kingdom, we’ve added GEARS, Quintic high-speed cameras, and a Foresight simulator bay. We transformed the putting lab with a Perfection Platforms articulating floor and SAM technology. Last year we resurfaced the main tee, redesigned and dedicated the Flick Tee, underwent a complete renovation of the short game area with new bunker complexes, redesigned the targeting downrange, and developed a par-3 routing. We partnered with Kurt Bowman Design, a longtime designer under Jack Nicklaus.

Our superintendent Mark Warren and his crew have done incredible work with our current maintenance equipment, and I can’t wait to see the conditions after we deliver a brand new fleet of brand new Toro equipment. We structured a long-term partnership with Toro and Turf Star Western.

JW: What is the simple function of The Kingdom? 

TK: We still have the robot bay and R&D does development work almost every day. We are mostly a resource for the entire company: Global Sports Marketing (Tour), developmental pros and ams, AJGA standouts, our Crusaders (club professionals), and commercial teams. We host pre-lines to introduce new product to our at-large teams and training events. We’re even a PR resource, hosting media, social influencers, celebrities, and professional athletes.

We also act as a hub for our Crusaders. They send their members to us, and we wholesale back to the staff account. I’ll do a significant amount of corporate events, charity events and have had “Flicks at The Kingdom” where we set up a giant projector and our employees bring their kids, beach chairs and blankets to watch a movie out on the range. Really a fun and cool event.

JW: Give me three awesome stories or experiences from your time there that you are cool sharing.

TK: It’s tough to only pick three! From Reggie Jackson stopping by to Matt Ryan, Drew Brees, Aaron Rodgers, Albert Pujols, Mike Trout, Jake Arrieta, Zack Greinke, President Bush. Those may be the most haughty name drops of all time! What can I say, it is beyond the coolest job I have ever had! It’s truly tough to pick, but here are my three…

Story 1: Tiger was preparing to make his first PGA Tour start after fusion surgery and he just spends the day grinding out here. He was testing an early proto of the TW irons and to see how much speed he still had. There’s a sound that only he and maybe two or three others make when they center it up. That sound is something that goes through your body, I can still hear it. It sticks with you.

He’s playing old school lofts, which are three degrees weaker than any other tour pro, but the carry distances were still there, the windows he hits it through, holding it against the wind, flighting a 6-iron even ripping a 5-wood 275 yards. His feedback and ability to discern the most minute details working with the advanced teams developing the irons was fantastic to witness.

To come full circle, I played with him in the Southern Cal Amateur when he was 16-years-old and had a front-row to his 62 at Hacienda, I was keeping his scorecard so he has my autograph. To again be standing three feet from him while he goes through the process is just special.

Story 2: I’m going to put two guys in the same bucket (because The Kingdom is so magical, I hope the golf gods are okay with it). Rory now spends a day out here the week of Farmers–he has for the last two years, and with the U.S. Open there 2021, I think he’s a lock for the next few. He went through two sets of irons in a wind quartering off the right at 20-25 mph. The consistency of launch, speed and spin were shockingly close! It was one of the greatest ball-striking exhibitions I’ve ever witnessed. We handpicked the range after his day, it took us 10 minutes He’s also the most gracious, down to earth person.

Jon Rahm stops by five or six times a year. To watch his sessions in the putting lab, to see Duane show him what’s changing and getting Jon back to baseline and see his confidence, to the 4-iron flop shots after we tell our Seve stories. Jon is part of the family. His brother and dad came out before Jon and Kelly’s wedding. He’s one of the two or three others where the sound goes through you.

Story 3: Has to be Operation Game On (OGO). We have partnered with  Tony Perez for over 15 years, we are the cherry on top of a 6-10 week program where wounded veterans take lessons and the graduation is a fitting at The Kingdom. I had a dear friend, Joe Horowitz, who’s a golfer and a musician, here late one day and I mentioned the OGO guys were coming the next day. It’s Veteran’s Day and the Marine Corps Birthday. Not to mention Jon Rahm would be here for a last tweak before he left for Dubai. Joe shows me a video of him singing the national anthem at the Jaguars game a few weeks before, and we both say let’s do that for the OGO guys. I get in early and send an email to all employees to be on the tee at 9 a.m. sharp. We have the OGO guys arrive and Jon is hanging in the locker room. I’m stalling to get all the employees onto the tee through the side gate, I walk the boys into the bay and hit the roll up door. Outside are 250 employees cheering these guys on! Joe sings the anthem (goose bumps every time), then happy birthday to Jon and the marine corps. There’s fittings, a pizza truck, Jon Rahm signed U.S. Open staff bags for the OGO boys. Then, get this, Jon goes on and wins that week in Dubai!

JW: If you could change anything about the property or the experience what would it be?

TK: At TaylorMade, the relentless pursuit of improving is in our DNA. The Kingdom is no different. We’re constantly innovating and reimagining the downrange experience. From targeting, to conditions and turf types, we’re always nuancing and squeaking out ways to be better. One example, we’re designing each of our targets with a specific purpose. When players are testing at The Kingdom, we want them to feel that every shot has a consequence. So, we want to deliver a real-world experience in every testing situation. We went through a massive redesign last fall and are currently still working with the advanced research team on new ways to enhance our testing and fitting experiences to meet the way that players perform in competition.

When it comes to the overall experience, The Kingdom has transformed from a predominantly R&D and fitting facility to the most capable environment to test, measure and understand how equipment performs and how golfers interact with their equipment. I call it the ultimate truth machine. We help golfers at every level uncover the insights they need to improve. After each session, we’re going to know everything about the club, the player and the ball flight.

So we came from a place where we were mainly focused on research, fitting, and selling. Our goals have changed. Now we obsess over how to help golfers get better.

What would I change? If you’re curious and passionate about making change, the answers are out there. The first thing we do is listen. We’re going to change everything that needs to be changed in order to meet our goals. I have an incredible focus group to bounce ideas off of. To ask our tour pros, club professionals, and teachers for feedback on the design ideas and what they like and prefer is fortunate. We’re constantly learning, we’re constantly improving, and if there’s a better way do something, then we’re going to figure it out and do it.

JW: What does the kingdom look like in 10 years?

TK: We have a lot of incredible plans for new targeting, bunker complexes, and refining the purposeful design of the range and short game area. Beyond that, we have designs for new teeing areas, a new short game complex, adding another GEARS system and Foresight Simulator, along with other new technologies. I can’t disclose all we do, since the R&D guys get a bit jumpy when I start going on about all the cool stuff and high science! I don’t know exactly what The Kingdom looks like in 10 years as technologies and our understanding continue to improve, but I do know give me six months, and we’ll have done something new. Always grinding to get better!

JW: Tell me a little bit about your career at TaylorMade.

TK: 31 years is hard to do in a “little bit” but I’ll try to give you the Clif Notes! Bob Vokey ran our Tour department and had me running his repair shop in Vista after George Willett took a job driving the Tour truck for TaylorMade. I was refinishing wooden clubs and repairing clubs for the local country clubs. I told Bob I was going broke making $4.50 an hour and driving all over San Diego. I asked if he could get me a job at TaylorMade and I started on the custom line with Wade Liles! Get to work at 2 p.m., off at 1 a.m. and golf in the morning. It was the life! Not to mention, I was lucky enough to meet my wife who worked for the company.

I started our player testing and worked for the great Dr. Benoit Vincent–the smartest man I know. I was a pretty good player, and I played a bunch of USGA and national amateur events. But when I did a TV commercial, I lost my amateur status and made the decision to turn pro. I quit my job and started that journey. Our CEO wanted me to take a leavem and I said: “I need to be all-in on this.” I had two children, a mortgage, car payments and had to buy health insurance while getting through all three stages of Q School. I realized I was a better amateur than a tour pro. We had our third child, and then I got the sales rep job in San Diego. After 10 years of sales, I moved inside the building and the ran innovations department before taking over our metalwoods category when we hit our highest market share in history. I spent a few years in product creation, ran global experiential for a few years and then got the best gig in all of golf here at The Kingdom. Been here for three years, and we’re just getting started!

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Puma Golf teams up with Ernie Els in support of Autism Awareness Month

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Puma X Els Autism

April is National Autism Awareness Month, and Puma Golf has teamed up with ambassador Ernie Els in support of the Els for Autism Foundation.

Throughout April, Puma will donate a portion of every individual sale of the brand’s Ignite Pwradapt Caged shoes with the proceeds going towards the Els for Autism Foundation.

Puma X Els Autism

Every pair of Caged shoes sold this month will include a blue Els for Autism shoe bag and puzzle piece ribbon lapel pin – with the color blue and the puzzle pieces representing Autism Awareness.

Puma X Els Autism

The Els for Autism Foundation helps deliver and facilitate programs designed to serve individuals with autism spectrum disorder. You can purchase the shoes here.

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