FASHION OR FUNCTION?

When the tall, dark and handsome east coast Scot first arrived at the Golf Club there were a few swoons from the ladies section and it didn’t take long for him to be anointed  ‘Gorgeous Gordon’ by the most fervent of his admirers.  Keen to promote his golfing services to the members GG was soon offering a portfolio of teaching lessons including an introductory group offer to those interested in taking up the beautiful game.  This was the perfect opportunity for a small group of ladies to seize the chance to see GG swinging his hips close up. However the lesson was for six people and they only had four desperate to attend, hence the pleading telephone call to Mrs B and her friend.

‘I’m going to have a golf lesson’ she exclaimed one evening at the family meal.

‘Are you really darling’ came the immediate but unspoken thought. The plot was explained and the role of making up the numbers rigorously defended and off she went the next day to the group ‘lesson’.

Now Mrs B has known me as a golfer for a considerable amount of time. We had our wedding reception at the Golf Club, my youngest daughters’ Christening was held there, as was my 40th and 50th birthday parties. She accompanied me to the Open in 1995 at St. Andrews where she thought there was going to be a parachute display because there were so many ‘drop zones’ around the course. We’d been to La Manga on holiday three times, and Quinta Do Lago at least twice by the time of her declaration, all the time with golf being a tolerated activity at best. So for Mrs B to declare that she was going to give it a try was, to say the least, a revelation. What followed was unimaginable. Attending the group lesson became the weekly highlight and as those who originally planned the ruse fell by the wayside the two makeweights were soon the sole survivors and both had succumbed to the attraction – not of GG – but of the game of golf.

With some beginners clubs, a 5 day membership and weekly trips to the Ladies roll-up the conversation in the Butler household soon turned to the Rules of Golf, Decisions on the Rules of Golf, golf technique and inevitably golf apparel. Ah, now I had sussed it - Golf was a creative excuse for another outfit in the wardrobe, or so I thought, until one evening Mrs B declared in the midst of her favourite TV programme ‘I think I need a 4 wood’.

In 1999 with the Open at Carnoustie, ‘Sunderland’ (See Golf or Links Golf) and I ventured once again to the east coast of Scotland to play some of the great links courses in the vicinity of the Barry Burn. Gorgeous Gordon had returned home the previous summer and we happened to enter his pro shop after a round on the wonderful links course that surrounds it. Just inside the door were a brand new ladies set of Callaway clubs. Sealing a deal with GG with a handshake the clubs were soon safely in the boot of my car for the journey south – just in time for Mrs B’s birthday in early August.

They were carefully gift wrapped with a loving note as only a man from mars could pen ‘From now on dear your score has nothing to do with the inadequacy of your golf equipment – it’s solely down to you’. Fair play to her, it wasn’t long before she was down to a handicap of 18, her name on a board and a very impressive record for the club team. Golf is now as much a part of Mrs B’s life as it is of mine.

It’s sad to see that in the same period that Mrs B has been playing the game the female membership at golf clubs in England has declined by about 35% to approximately 150,000. I think the equality of having to pay the same annual subs as the men may have been a contributor to that. Nevertheless when I decided to launch ETIQUS I felt it important that a ladies range of timepieces was available at or very near launch. The percentage of female membership in Europe, particularly in Germany and Sweden is about twice that in the UK (30% to 15%) and as an online business I think that overseas sales is an opportunity for ETIQUS.

The first seven ETIQUS ladies models are now available and I must admit they have given me the most worry about getting the balance right between fashion and function. I was keen to carry over the themes from the men’s range and certainly the defining elements of the ETIQUS brand – Swiss movements, quality components, 3D golf ball effect dial, red flag second hand and the number sequence on the Butler Bezel. But some of the visual highlights that I think work so well on the men’s range needed to be removed in order to make the ladies versions more subtle and attractive to the female. Bigger watches are in for ladies too, so whilst a 38mm case may feel a little too large at first, particularly for those moving up from a dainty and traditional ladies dress watch it’s certainly the right thing to do. A rose gold version is a must in today’s market and the option of ceramic inserts is also a fashionable touch.

I hope that I’ve offered something that the majority of the lady golfers would at least consider adding to their jewellery collection.  They are ‘affordable exclusivity’ – affordable once again because they are around the price of a driver and exclusivity because they are exclusively for golfers – and with the declining numbers in women’s golf that’s sadly becoming a very exclusive club indeed.

Enjoy your annual presentation evening and dinner dances and don’t forget to pick up your trophies wearing an ETIQUS watch – it’s what all proper golfers do. If you haven't got one then you can always add one to your Christmas list.

I’ll be wearing one when I pick mine up. :)

Gary Butler

Founder

PS Note to self: Must do more to attract lady golfers to this great sport. Now what are those two daughters of mine up to?