Al Janc, Oakley’s sports marketing manager, took the time to answer these questions from GolfWRX Managing Editor Zak Kozuchowski about the future of Oakley Golf.

ZK: The two latest additions to Team Oakley, Bubba Watson and Zach Johnson, have both won The Masters (Bubba in 2012, Zach in 2007). But they have different personalities and contrasting styles of play. How are they both fits for Team Oakley?

AJ: Bubba and Zach do have different personalities, different games and go about their business in different ways on the golf course. We believe this is a benefit, as both guys appeal to different target demographics, which widens our consumer base.  While both of these young men have contrasting styles, they have values that align with our brand’s core values of Passion, Authenticity, Performance, Humility and Innovation. Bubba and Zach believe in family and faith and they respect the game of golf.  They maintain professionalism on and off the course, and believe the game of golf should be for everyone to play and enjoy, not just the elite.  They both keep themselves in excellent physical shape and wear the Oakley apparel collection very well.

ZK: How do endorsements like Watson’s and Johnson’s work? Do athletes approach Oakley, or vice versa? 

AJ: It works both ways. In some instances, we have identified and pursued athletes. In other instances, we’ve been approached by individuals that, after meeting them and analyzing their body of work, we felt they were a good fit for the Oakley brand and culture and signed them up to endorse the brand.

Courtesy of Oakley

ZK: The Oakley website lists team members in dozens of sports. What is the company’s commitment to golf and where does it see growth potential?

AJ: Most people know Oakley as a performance eyewear company, but even avid golfers still don’t know we’re committed to categories  outside of our eyewear: apparel, footwear and accessories. This perception is quickly changing, however, due to a number of factors: the performance of our athletes on professional golf tours around the world, the quality of the products we’re producing and the incredible ambassadorship Oakley maintains at the grassroots level. From a US standpoint, there are tremendous growth opportunities as it pertains to a number of entities in the golf space—apparel, footwear, accessories, women and active ophthalmic eyewear. From  a global standpoint, there is huge a opportunity in every segment of our golf business as we are now diving into a wider market.

ZK: Who is the Oakley Golf brand targeting – golfers or athletes? Does Oakley believe that there is a difference between the two?

AJ: Oakley does not believe there is a distinction between a golfer and an athlete any more. Years ago, people who played golf didn’t have the physical skills to keep up on the diamond, gridiron, or basketball court. That is not the case any longer. The athletes playing the sport of golf now, and in many cases, are choosing to be a golfer rather than a football, basketball or baseball player.

ZK: In your opinion, what’s the most important thing a golfer wears on the course?

AJ: It would probably be the golf shoe followed closely by  eyewear.  Golfers spends an incredible amount of time on their feet during the course of the day, so their shoes need to be as  light and comfortable as possible without giving up any performance benefits when it comes to swinging a driver and knocking a ball 300 yards or more. The shoes need to have a stable platform, be light and comfortable with incredible traction all wrapped in design lines true to the Oakley design.

Courtesy of Oakley

Eyewear is key piece of equipment as well. We are really seeing a trend in players protecting their eyes from the sun, wind and foreign particles blowing around on a golf course.  You cannot reverse eye damage and you are seeing many of the modern players understand this and adapting to wearing eyewear.  We believe those athletes who play in eyewear have a huge advantage over the competitors who don’t by reducing eyestrain from squinting into the elements all day long. Oakley has created an array of lens tints specifically suited for the game of golf and the changing light conditions. We also have sports specific frames like Fast Jacket and Radar Lock that were conceived so athletes and consumers have the ability to change out their lenses in varying light conditions quickly and easily.

ZK: What should golf fans expect from the Oakley brand in golf in 2013 and beyond?

Innovation. Innovation is in Oakley’s DNA. The company was built on the premise that “everything can and will be made better,” and that includes our own designs. With patented technologies in our eyewear, apparel and footwear we’re armed and ready to be a leader in the industry when it comes to cutting edge innovations for the sport of golf. We’re excited about the many opportunities that lay in front of us as a brand.

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  1. Dave Pelz was pictured wearing Oakley shoes all last year in Golf Magazine. It looks like Oakley is making the push, but in my opinion they need to match Addidas in performance and comfort. For me, Addidas fits me best and has the best platform for lateral movements. Last year’s models could not compete with my 3 year old Tour 360’s.

  2. That’s cool they think ZJ has fans… good for him. He does wear glasses when he plays I think so that was probably part of it. They need to scrap everything and start over on shoes. Keegan looked ridiculous last year in those things. Bubba is very marketable. That partnership has some potential. I just hope they let him wear FJ’s until they get things figured out.

  3. It’s interesting because I’ve always identified Oakley as predominately an eye wear company. Even after seen Rory McIlroy wear their clothing it’s always been their eye wear that I have associated them with.

    This will be the challenge for Oakley to change the perception and have themselves viewed as a leader in all golf and athletic apparel.

    Bubba and Zach are two great role models for golf and Oakley have done well to sign both. Losing Rory McIlroy will hurt them but these two guys are very well respected and always command plenty of television coverage.

    Thanks for the interview, much appreciated.

    • Hard to take footwear seriously when NONE of their athletes wear it.

      Rory didn’t, Bubba doesn’t, Zack doesn’t. Only guy who did is Keegan and they let him get away.

      • Oakley shoes are great, the problem with them is that they don’t make most of their styles in anything but D. People have wide and narrow feet. Start making more sizes and I’ll start buying them again. They are my favorite shoes, when I can get them in a wide.