Leah Nordman is the art director at Cedar Falls, Iowa-based Standard Golf Co., the world’s largest manufacturer of golf course accessories. Nordman is in charge of many things, including the creation of golf course flags – the ones used on golf courses all over the planet. But it’s especially exciting – call it a wave-of – the-flag moment – for Nordman to see her golf flags on television during the major tournaments, such as the PGA Championship and the U.S. Open. “It’s cool … and kind of surreal,” Nordman says with a laugh. “I touched those flags.”
It’s more than cool and surreal, however. It’s tutorial, too. Nordman and Standard Golf have helped the PGA of America take their Standard Golf’s Championship-Worthy Flags flags to another level.
In 2014, Nordman suggested the PGA take a look at a different method to design flags for the PGA Championship at the Valhalla Golf Club in Louisville, Kentucky. The PGA brass wanted a particular look on their flags and wanted them screen printed, not knowing there were other options. Nordman showed them an example of a flag printed in dye-sublimation, a method that makes for a more crisp-looking and elegant flag, not to mention being more cost-effective. The PGA brass liked what they saw.
Standard Golf introduced dye-sublimation in 2012 and began selling flags made with the process at the Golf Industry Show in 2013. The goal was to make the flags look more “vibrant” on both sides of the flag, Nordman says.
Also, only six colors can be used with the screen printing process. “With dye-sublimation, you can have as many colors as you want as long as they aren’t metallic,” Nordman says.
Basically it’s easier to be more creative with the dye-sublimation method than it is with screen printing.
“It used to be where screen prints comprised the higher quantity of work orders, but dye-sublimation is taking over,” Nordman says. “There are many more positives to the dye-sublimation process.”
Todd Gary, championship manager for the PGA of America, says the flags have never looked better. The PGA of America’s creative department designs the flags before sending to Standard Golf to produce them. There’s also a science behind the design of the logos on flags.
It’s vital to design flags that maintain a consistent branding of the PGA, Gary says. However, the golf course logo also needs to be well-represented.
“We want the PGA logo to stand out, but the course logo also has to stand out, especially if it’s from an iconic club like Baltusrol Golf Club,” Gary says. Baltusrol, of course, hosts the PGA Championship this month.
The weight of the flag is also a crucial component in its performance, says Matt Pauli, director of marketing for Standard Golf.
“Some people think that heavier flags will fly better if it’s windy,” he says.
Not so. A 400-denier material (denier is a unit of weight by which the fineness of silk, rayon or nylon yarn is measured) is heavier and typically used on sailboats, Pauli says. Hence, a 200-denier material makes for a better-performing golf flag.
A 200-denier flag needs a 3- to 5-mph wind to get it moving. A 400-denier flag requires a 7- to 10-mph wind. The lighter flag is not only easier to see by golfers because it flaps more, it also places less drag on the ferrule, flagstick and cup, maintaining the longevity of those accessories, Pauli explains.
“Golf flags are meant to fly, and sails are meant to move boats,” he says.
Standard Golf began manufacturing golf flags in the 1970s and has supplied many of the major men’s and women’s golf tournaments since the 1980s. But it’s not just the big-name courses and the major tournaments that matter – so do the lesser-known courses and their needs.
“I’m proud of our consistency and that we require quality all of the time,” Nordman says.