The Custom Golf Bags That Give Back
A Florida-based company that makes bespoke luxury golf bags is turning that work into philanthropic efforts across a spectrum of charities.
Founded by company president Erica Bennett and CEO Deborah Bennett, Orca Golf out of Boca Raton is the only women-owned design and manufacturing company of custom golf bags. The company uses high-end materials and works with buyers to create one-off or team-centric equipment.
Erica grew up in a Jamaican village that lacked access to essential resources but says she survived thanks to communal support. She brings that experience into her work as an executive at Orca Golf, staying on the lookout with her partner for opportunities to turn their business into a chance to give back.
Orca Golf’s design and manufacturing setup allows the company to work with individual customers, small groups or teams to create bespoke golf bags that express players’ identities and personalities in considerable detail. While the retail side offers a selection of carry, stand, and cart bags for men and women, the Erica Bennett Design division works with the buyer to lay out a custom product.
Bennett Design starts with a basic bag choice and employs artistic imagery, graphic elements, and an expanded color palette to create the made-to-order bag. While offering this special service, the Bennetts are proud to flourish in the often male-dominated world of golf.
“We understand the challenges and barriers that minorities face in the golf industry,” Erica says. “That is why we strive to create golf bags that not only meet the highest standards of quality, but also make a statement of strength and empowerment.”
The Orca Golf creative process begins with eight base golf bag types broken down into four categories. The custom bags range in category and price from US$975 to US$1,400.
Once the individual player or team chooses their starter bag, the final cost includes the Erica Bennett Design process. The customer submits color preferences, logos and text before the Orca Golf crew produces a layout for the buyer to approve. A little give and take and a few notes back and forth between the company and the player forges a final creation that goes into production. A couple weeks later, the resulting club carrier arrives ready for duty.
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With the creative operation up and running, the Bennetts turned their attention to a variety of charity projects. With golf serving as a launching pad, Orca Golf contributes to youth charities, women’s groups, and the fight against cancer. Its work began by making golf affordable for disadvantaged youth with First Tee. Erica Bennett serves as vice president for First Tee of Broward and as director of First Tee Florida for the Gold Coast.
“We are involved with First Tee from a financial perspective, but we enthusiastically devote our personal time with the students, coaches, and parents,” Deborah says. “Erica sees each First Tee boy or girl as a representative of her younger self. She had immense golf talent, but no opportunity growing up—so the ability to give back is even more personally heartwarming and rewarding for her.”
The Bennetts also work with LPGA Girls Golf, partnering with that organization to design and produce tour-grade golf bags at a discounted rate for the young competitors.
“The idea is to have every young girl feel empowered and confident, just by walking on the golf course with a bag of great quality—personally designed by women who share their journey and story,” Erica adds.
In addition, Orca Golf embraces the American Cancer Society with Deborah serving as a panelist at their recent Chicago Select Golf Invitational event that raised more than US$1.2 million—aiding the fight against the disease that claimed 28 members of her family.
Erica says her motivation to pitch in for all of these causes grew from her upbringing.
“Every aspect of my life is a direct result of my childhood in Jamaica,” she says. “We had nothing material, but what we had in abundance was education and community. If we wanted a toy, we made it ourselves. My mom raised chickens just to send us to school, and even when we had no finances to purchase more chickens, she would be giving what she could to people who didn’t have what they needed.”
This November, the company will sponsor the CME Group Tour Championship at the Tiburon Golf Club in Naples, Fla., to benefit St. Jude Children’s Hospital. Meanwhile, the co-founders want to focus on making their operations more environmentally conscious.
“We would like to be a force in the golf industry from a sustainability perspective,” Deborah says. “We already have our eyes set on change—in the materials we use, how they are sourced, and how we can make this planet a little bit healthier and cleaner.”
No matter what the cause, both Bennetts want it known there’s a place for young women throughout the golf business.
“This is what we hope our future will have in store,” Erica says. “We want to inspire those who have dreams of one day working in the golf industry. We want them to know that the only restrictions are those they put on yourselves.”THE ITEMSTHE PRICEWHAT’S THE GOOD?WHAT’S NEXT