SAN FRANCISCO – Six weeks before the Hanwha Lifeplus International Crown began, Orca Golf received a call. LPGA officials called and said: “Ladies, we need bags.”
Deborah Bennett and Erica Bennett enlisted the help of friends and colleagues to create 32 bags, each one unique and well-made, for players from eight countries. One day before the tournament began, the last panel arrived at TPC Harding Park. Deborah is not an emotionally driven person but she knew that seeing her custom bags displayed on a worldwide stage would have a great deal of meaning.
Deborah said, “Knowing how they got them into their hands, and the care, thoughtfulness, and desire to have them proudly carry that bag.” It’s the bag itself.”
Deborah and Erica started their golf business four years ago after receiving an apprenticeship in bag-making from a man from Scotland. Deborah has worked in D.C. Politics, NGO’s, and education. She once managed 300 engineers in nine different countries, all of whom were men.
Deborah said, “If you thought technology was tough, try taking on the golfing industry.”
Erica, the artist and storyteller behind the bags, drew inspiration from her Jamaican roots as well as the rose garden that the couple maintained in D.C.
Erica stated, “I wanted something personal and special to each player but also for each country.”
When I was growing up in Jamaica I loved flowers. There were always flowers on the road when I ran to my grandmother’s house. As I was designing these bags, I asked myself what my 10-year old self would have put on them. “The answer was flowers.”
Each team has a flower representing their country on their bag. Team USA has a rose, for instance. Ronald Reagan signed a law in 1986 that made the rose the floral symbol of the United States.
Other national flowers include: Korea, Japan, Sweden and England.
Deborah and Erica’s work has a greater purpose than just bags. Orca and its founders support, for instance, LPGA*USGA Girls Golf, and First Tee. Erica personally sends handwritten notes of thanks to every customer for each custom order. She can still recall the stories behind every custom design.
The brand received a huge boost last fall after creating a special yellow bag for Jack Nicklaus, Barbara Nicklaus, and their Play Yellow Campaign that benefits Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals. Deb says that Jack was surprised to find out that the bag was created by two women.
Deborah smiled through the phone and said, “I wish we could see his face.”
Orca was launched just before the COVID-19 Pandemic. 2021, therefore, was a rebuilding year. Orca’s business has grown in just one quarter of 2023 compared to the entire year 2022.
Deborah said, “The conversations are the best part of golf.”
Why not bring something to get people talking around you?