A Pioneer's Tale
Have you ever wondered where that head cover originally came from? Who made it? This is the story of how Pioneer Golf Co. A small start up from the great white north, more specifically Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.
Pioneer Golf Co. was founded by AJ Mark, I asked AJ how did Pioneer start and here is what he had to say.
"I am a bit of a gear head and have buddies that call me a “hipster golfer” because I have always liked the smaller brands and like having gear that not everyone has. In the winter of 2019 I wanted to get some new headcovers to use with my Jones bag and at the time there were not a lot of options out there for what I was looking for. When I finally found something I liked to get them shipped, pay duty, account for exchange it was hard to justify. Because it was the winter and I had nothing else to do I figured I’d get a sewing machine and see if my wife could make me some Headcovers for the upcoming year. Turns out not the easiest machines to use, being the stubborn person I am I decided to try and figure it out, After way to many hours to count and well over a hundred inside half completed Headcovers I finally had it figured out. I made myself a couple sets for the season and figured that was it. That summer I got a lot of questions about them and people asking where I got them from and how much they were, I used them for the entire season and they help up great. Last winter I was bored looking for something to do to kill time in the winter and decided to make a couple headcovers and put them on Kijiji. Every time I posted one it was sold a couple days later and I had requests for other designs, it was about a month after this that I decided to launch Pioneer Golf Co and see what happens." For those that do not know what Kijiji is, it is similar to other buy and sell websites such as Ebay, Craigslist, ect.
When talking to AJ about what Pioneer means to him, it has a a deeper meaning that just a name. It like many other companies starts with his youth and how he spent his time in the summer. "Pioneer Golf to me is a lot more than our headcovers, alignment sticks and other products. I grew up at a small executive golf course Pioneer Meadows, and when I say grew up I’m not exaggerating lol. It was the place my Dad would drop me and my siblings off before going to work in the summer, its where I had my first job, made my first birdie. It was the place that I fell in love with golf. Unfortunately as Edmonton expanded the land it was on was very valuable for development and the Golf Course closed to be developed into residential housing. When I started making the headcovers and it came time to deciding on a name it only made sense to try and pay tribute to a place that played such a huge part in my life."
Like most companies who are starting up with an idea, you have to find or source material for your products. With all that has been going on in the world with COVID-19 and some materials not being available or shortages, AJ goes over his experiences with to trail and error and finding the right material for him. "I have learnt what materials work best for my products, and in turn what materials don’t. Shortly after we got the online shop going Covid hit which put a real wrench on getting material, the local suppliers were all closed and I had to rely on using online suppliers to track down good quality material. There was a lot of material that was very high quality and worked great but I also ended up with lots of material that couldn’t be used and would have to be repurposed in some other way."
For the upcoming 2021 season like other brands Pioneer has plans to add to their product selection. "This year we have expanded our headcover and valuable pouch offerings, we have our Pioneer Sticks that can now be customized not only in the colours you want but also laser etching initials, names or even logos (depending on the level of detail). We recently released 4 new private label hats that I am very excited about and there is potential to have a few more PGC products up on the site come spring."
Talking about being a small business in Canada is a very proud family to be a part of and AJ feels no different. "I don’t know if that has really sunk in yet, I am extremely proud to be a part of Canadian small business owners. I have so much respect for those who followed their dreams laid it all on the line and just went for it. I cant put myself in that group of people right now as this is still a side project but if it ever gets to that point I will be in great company."
When talking about what sets them apart from other brands and why should a consumer think about supporting Pioneer Golf Co. AJ provides a simple and clear answer "Quality Products at affordable prices. I have a very simple rule If I wouldn’t want to put it in my bag then its not shipping out to a customer. I appreciate our customers who are spending hard earned money on a small online company that’s brand new, and when they get their new headcovers or valuable pouches or any of our other products I want them to feel like they got their money worth."
A closing thought by yours truly, having been a customer of Pioneer Golf Co. also having the pleasure of meeting AJ on a few occasions I could not say a bad thing about the quality and workmanship along with pride that goes into the products they produce. Supporting local and Canadian business as much as possible means a lot to me and to I'm sure many more of you out there, so the next time you are in the market for headcovers, alignment sticks, valuable pouches, hats, tees and towels give Pioneer Golf Co. a shot.
All photos in this blog were provided by Dan Mann @golfspymbp on Instagram
AJ Mark @pioneergolfco on Instagram.