Industry legend Ken Graham has announced he will officially retire at the end of 2020 after 44 years in the golf industry.
Having started his career on his 19th birthday with Slazenger in 1976, Graham has gone on to work for, and hold senior management positions, at some of the most recognised brands in golf.
Ten years at Slazenger during the brand’s heyday resulted in Graham leaving for the Acushnet Group, having risen through the ranks to Golf Sales Manager, while working with players such as Seve Ballesteros, Johnny Miller and Peter Alliss.
Graham would remain with Acushnet for a period spanning 28 years, holding a number of senior sales and marketing positions at both the FootJoy and Titleist brands. During his time at Acushnet, Titleist established golf ball market share dominance, while FootJoy established market share dominance in both golf shoe and golf glove categories, and was involved in the European launch of a number of iconic products, including the Titleist Pro V1, FJ DryJoys shoes, FJ WeatherSof golf gloves, Titleist Vokey wedges and Scotty Cameron putters.
Graham left Acushnet in 2013 to build the Under Armour golf brand across Europe, where it is currently enjoying rapid growth in different regions thanks to the foundations that he has built.
Graham said: “I have enjoyed 44 years working in the golf business for four exceptional brands. During that time I have seen so many changes to golf products and to golf retailing, and I feel very lucky to have been involved in such a wonderful industry.
“Working with Under Armour for the last seven years has been very special for me. When I was approached in 2013 by Richard Palmer-Jones and Neil Heslop to join them to set up and grow the Under Armour golf business in Europe I was very excited because I knew that Under Armour always developed industry-leading performance products and I also knew that both Neil and Richard had the same business principles and philosophies as myself. Through a network of the best distributors across Europe we have been able to achieve significant shares in golf apparel and also to be an important player in the golf shoe business.”
Looking back on his career, he added: “It has been wonderful, but now is the time to hang up my boots and to think about the next phase of my life. I have met so many great people over that 44 years – customers, industry association leaders, players, sales colleagues and more – so a big thank you to you all for helping to make my career in golf so enjoyable.”
Neil Heslop, partner of PJH Brand Management, said: “When Under Armour gave us the opportunity to build on our UK success and take the brand across Europe, there was only one person we had in mind for the role. Ken slotted perfectly into our business, and we gave him a blank sheet of paper to go and build the European team to start replicating the success we were seeing in the UK. Without Ken’s experience and contact book, we would still be in the starting blocks! It has truly been an honour and a privilege to call Ken a business partner for the last seven years, and he is now a great friend. I wish him all the very best for the future.”
Richard Palmer-Jones, partner of PJH Brand Management, added: “It has been our fortune and pleasure to have worked with Ken for the last seven years. His mark on the golf industry is indelible and our memories of our time with Ken are the same. A truly exceptional character who has positively impacted the lives of so many within our industry. He will be sorely missed by everyone within the PJH family – but we salute his incredible 44 years of service to the industry and look forward to enjoying many a reunion and hearing again the unmistakable laughter that has filled so much of our time together.”
Robert Maxfield, Chief Executive of The Professional Golfers’ Association, said: “It has been a pleasure and a privilege to have known Ken for the best part of three decades. He has made a huge contribution to the organisations he has represented, as well as being a well-known and extremely popular figure in our industry. Ken is someone who I have always admired and looked up to and it is always a real pleasure to spend time in his company. I would like to thank Ken for his contribution to the golf industry and wish him many happy, and well deserved, years in retirement.”