Interview With Ralph Dunning
Recently, we had the opportunity to sit down with Ralph Dunning, founder of Dunning Golf. Dunning aims to be the most tech, player specific company in apparel. Check out our interview with Ralph below as he talks tech, the industry, how Dunning came to be, and more.
Ralph Dunning: For five years, the majority of people just laughed at it. They didn’t understand it, they said this is a golf industry Ralph. We're not interested in your little polyester shirts and your polyester jackets.
How Dunning Started
Ralph Dunning: I started a company that was just making very technical triathlon and cycling apparel. And I did that for probably eight years and we became one of the premier technical brands in the world for the sport of triathlon. In 2000 I went to Hawaii to watch some friends race at Ironman. I raced there in 09.
So in 2000 I was there playing golf really for the first time and I thought it was very similar to the culture of cycling. There was a heritage to it, it was very purist, and it was incredibly difficult, just like Ironman racing. So I went back to the condo, I was staying with a bunch of people, and I said to my wife “I’m going to start a golf company.” Flew back to Toronto and went and met with all the engineers we were using for our cycling products and just built a full set of samples. Golf shirts, rain wear, wind shirts, layering system.
The Tech Story
Ralph Dunning: If you think about it in 2000 when I came up with the idea, the whole industry was driven by cotton. There just wasn’t a technology story that existed in golf, but we had some tour guys that really understood what we were doing. Mike Weir wore our products and then in 2005 I signed Zach Johnson. He was relatively unknown at the time, but two years later he goes out and wins the Masters. Zach wore a next to skin mock neck with a polo and a vest, and that did not exist in golf.
On The Brand Itself
Ralph Dunning: Fashion and design is really secondary for us. It’s really what does a player look for in his products, and that comes from my days in triathlon. So it’s really based on fit and playability.
Ralph Dunning: Our fabrics for example are all inherent fiber. So that means you can wear it for 20 years, you can go run a marathon in it, it’s not going to smell. It’s as technical as you would see in ironman racing.
Ralph Dunning: This company really believes in engineering and is built around players. This has remained consistent for eighteen years, but where we’re heading is to take technology even further. Our goal really is to be the most technical player specific company in apparel. That’s it. We will tell people straight up we’re not a fashion company, we’re not a ski company, we’re not a running company. We want to be a player specific golf company that has world-class proprietary technology. That’s it.