Sun Day Red deep dive Q&A with TaylorMade CEO David Abeles

Feb, 2024

While it’s Genesis Invitational Week, and Return of Tiger Week, across the broader sports (and apparel) worlds, this week may best be remembered as the Sun Day Red Week, owing to the seeming omnipresence of Tiger Woods’ apparel brand across all media.

While we love a launch at GolfWRX — especially when it features a compelling launch event, as Sun Day Red surely did — we also like to dig into the details. Concerning Sun Day Red, that means learning more about the origin of Tiger Woods’ post-Nike lifestyle venture and finding out what we can about what comes next.

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Fortunately, TaylorMade CEO David Abeles, who has been intimately involved with the project from the beginning, spent some with our Andrew Tursky.

Check out their conversation below.

TaylorMade CEO David Abeles on stage with Erin Andrews at the Sun Day Red launch event.

Andrew Tursky, So what exactly is TaylorMade’s involvement with Sun Day Red? I know Sun Day Red is an independent company under the TaylorMade umbrella, but can you just elaborate on exactly what that means?

David Abeles, CEO of TaylorMade: Yeah. Andrew, I think the easiest way to look at it is TaylorMade is a holding company. Right? And it holds businesses and assets. One of the businesses is TaylorMade golf, which Is our equipment-involved business. Another one is an entertainment asset, which is Popstroke Entertainment, which ironically happens to be co-invested with Tiger Woods and Popstroke Entertainment.

Greg Bartoli, the founder of that business, who is dynamite. He’s terrific. And then Sun Day Red sits underneath the holding company. So it’s a separate vertical. It’s a separate business unit. It’s independent from the TaylorMade Golf business. That doesn’t mean that those businesses don’t work together to find resource allocation, or, business partnership applications that could help them all be successful. Well, in terms of management, it’s directly managed by a Sun Day Red team, with an executive team that leads that function.

The products are completely separate from TaylorMade, as you might expect, because they’re different categories, and they require a different discipline. And even all the commercial and operational strategies are separate from TaylorMade. Now, we share warehousing space, which makes sense, so we can distribute our products in different markets starting in North America, via on May the first, which we talked about last night. But, generally speaking, we have our own office space in San Clemente, and we’re strategically positioned in San Clemente, because when you’re in the apparel and footwear business, there’s a lot of talent in Orange County in LA, as you might know.

There’s also, we also want to make sure we had access to Golf Town in San Diego, and that’s why we’re situated in the middle. And that’s why Orange County was a good fit for us. So, when you walk into the Sun Day Red offices, those are dedicated Sun Day Red employees, with no TaylorMade responsibility. And when you walk into the TaylorMade offices, those are dedicated TaylorMade individuals, with no Sun Day Red responsibility. So, we decided to build it that way, because we believe brands require authenticity.

They require individual focus and attention, and we’ve always felt that the best formula for success is having passionate people that are solely dedicated to a specific cause, and Sun Day Red is no different.

AT: Can you talk about some of the people that are involved with the company, and how that group came together? Like, did you guys [TaylorMade Golf] hire them? Were they already a group?

DA: It was an amazing process, because when we started pulling talent together, and started to recruit talent, it was under a lifestyles venture concept. We weren’t disclosing really what we were doing at that point in time, because we didn’t feel that the world needed to know much about who is involved, and who we were partnered with. But as we started to recruit talent, it became fairly evident to us that was a lot of interest in joining the TaylorMade holding company, and thinking about some type of apparel concept or apparel business. There was quite a bit of energy from product leads, energy from commercial leaders, energy from operational leaders, and even back-office functionality.

So when TaylorMade announced that we are starting to recruit on our website, that we’re looking for competence in apparel and footwear, we started to populate quite a bit of talent into the organization that we would review and assess. But we were very specific on the front of this, even before we started recruiting, that we wanted individuals that had really active lifestyle apparel and footwear experience. We also wanted to ensure that even if they had active lifestyle apparel and footwear experience, that they were associated with premium brands before. They understood what it was like to make the highest of quality of products, as we talked about last night, there was meticulous attention to detail with no compromises on what we call form and function. “Form” being the design language, “function” being how the product works. So that was critically important to us and continues to be to this day, as it is for Tiger. I mean, that’s what we are directly aligned with in terms of how we think about products.

So as we began to recruit for these positions, we found a president, that will run the company. His name is Brad Blankinship, who you may have met last night. Brad comes from Quicksilver and RVCA. So those are certain action sports industries, but deep, deep experience in running apparel and footwear companies with big brands. And so that was great. And Brad loves the game of golf, but he also understands that golf can extend into lifestyle spaces at a premium, and that’s what he’s been able to bring to us.

We hired Charley Hudak. Charley runs our footwear business. Charley has an unbelievable background in golf footwear. You could look him up and see where he’s been, but we pulled him out of some of the biggest footwear influencers in all of golf, and he’s now leading that charge and doing a masterful job. Caje Moye, who you may have met last night. Caje was running TaylorMade’s accessory business, but before that, he had deep apparel experience with brands like Oakley and others.

So the three of them are kind of the nucleus of product function. And then Scott Frost, who you met, is our Head of Marketing. We’re about to hire a Head of Sales as we start to build out our distribution strategy over time. And then we’ve got a group of really all-star designers and developers underneath those respective teams. So, we cast a net that was focused on athletic lifestyle, a touch point in golf to make sure that the individual has played the game of golf, the authentic requirement as we engage and embrace this partnership with Tiger.

But we focus on talent. We focus on talent first, same as our [TaylorMade] product. I mean, as we think about the disciplines that we deploy in our product, it starts with the disciplines we deploy in our people.

And then the last piece, which quite candidly is probably the first piece, is, are there a great cultural fit? Are they ambitious? Are they driven? Are they creative? Are they willing to take on some risk as we enter into a new category, and redefine the brand and how the brand will be positioned, and the products will be positioned underneath that brand.

So it’s been a wonderful process. Clearly, once words started getting out that there may be a potential synergy with Sun Day Red and Tiger Woods, you can imagine what our human resource team had to deal with. You know, Tiger obviously is a tremendous asset for recruiting talent when you’re working on a brand and association and partnership with him. So we continue to hire. San Clemente is a great office. I welcome you to come down whenever you want, but it’s been a great, great process, and it’s a very different culture than what you would experience at TaylorMade. It’s very focused on the categories in which we compete: apparel and footwear. Incredibly creative leaders in that building with great hands on apparel, understanding apparel, fabrications, and technologies, and new design languages, and a modern approach to thinking about golf, and then active lifestyle. And so that’s what you’re starting to see in these products, and it’ll get better and better as we continue to grow.

AT: I was talking to Charley a little bit today. Charley Hudak. That was probably the biggest surprise today. We weren’t sure when, or if, Tiger would put Sun Day Red shoes on. What’s that process been like, and how are you guys manufacturing the shoes? I understand you’re doing it yourselves…

DA: We are. Yeah. And footwear has, at times, as much complexity as building a carbon-faced driver. The fit, the comfort, the performance, the stability, the last. I mean, no two feet are exactly the same, so you have to build a common last that works. As Charlie would say, building any shoe starts with the last of the shoe, and then it goes from there. What Charley has done with the team has been nothing short of miraculous to be able to put together prototypes. And that’s what Tiger is wearing right now. They’re prototypes. We are testing those shoes. We do not anticipate having footwear in the market, at the earliest would be the end of this year, but most likely in 2025.

And Charley may have mentioned this to you, but we’re following the compass, not the clock on footwear. We need to make sure, and the mandate is to build the greatest golf shoe ever built, and then build extensions of lifestyle off of that. No different than what the mandate would be at TaylorMade. Build the greatest driver ever built and then build, you know, technologies that can work from that platform in woods. So, anyway, we are absolutely following the compass, not the clock.

Tiger obviously has the shoe on today. You probably saw it. He’s testing it. He’s testing it right now, and I’m excited about that because he wants to continue to find a shoe that works for him. And once we find a shoe that works for him, and that technology works for him, I think it’ll work for most of us. So we’re getting closer and closer, and, it’s an exciting process. Charley has a really strong team of developers, designers, and developers that work directly with our sourcing partners and supply partners, that are based all over the world – many of them in Asia that have incredible competence in building high-performance athletic shoes.

But we also have street shoes suppliers, too, as we get in the lifestyle. So the one you saw last night is a coaching shoe. That’s a fashion-forward approach to kind of what I would call casual golf, and you’d wear it off the golf course, as well, like we did last night in an affair, like a launch party or, you know, a dinner party somewhere. So, finest materials, finest construction. I know I sound redundant, but we’re just not going to compromise on anything as it relates to product. Today, or ten years, or twenty years from now. There will be no compromises on product. And that, when you really think about this partnership with Tiger, that is one of the real unique connection points between the two of us because neither of us will back down on a better product innovation that helps either of us perform better. And we think that the consumers, whether you’re a golfer or an active lifestyle, will appreciate that.

AT: And then the name itself, Sun Day Red, separating them out as three words. I’m curious how that name came about, and also if there were, like, were there trademark concerns? Or is that like an SEO play to separate them?

DA: It’s honestly, of all the things that we have done, even over the past 12 hours since we’ve launched it, it’s amazing that continues to be an area of inquisition for most, because it’s a brand new brand, and everybody has a perspective on the brand and the logo, and some people love it and some people are questioning it.

We started with, “How do we create something that’s identifiable to the world, in and around the greatness of this athlete?” And, Andrew, we looked at a lot of different options, a lot of them. But as even Tiger said last night, Sun Day Red has become, to some degree, synonymous with Tiger. And what we liked about Sun Day Red, when we started just kicking it around and talking about it, was certainly, it’s unique and connected to Tiger through golf, but Sun Day Red has applications beyond golf.

It’s…a cool name with a cool brand, and you can build really great marketing concepts off that brand. It’s three words. And as I shared last night, we believe in the Rule of Threes. In fact, one of the inside stories, which was fantastic, Tiger had sent me a note a while ago essentially saying, ‘Hey, take a read on this Rule of Threes. I believe in the Rule of Threes, too.’ And TaylorMade, we have thought about the Rule of Threes forever.

And, you know, the first rule is, go get after it or you’ll never get it. The second rule of threes in life is ask for it or you’ll never receive it. And the third one is don’t get in your comfort zone, because someone will take it from you.

So, we have always kind of thought through that, in the DNA at TaylorMade, but that DNA applies to any innovative company that’s trying to break new design or new technology. And, so, when we started thinking about Sun Day Red, we started to separate the words and get creative and play with it. And we separated it into three words, and then there was a secondary meaning, which is you play golf in the sun, ideally. I think we’d much rather play in the sun than not in the sun. Sunday is a day in the week, one of seven, but we all love to play golf all the time. So it’s not necessarily Sunday. So, day, and then red is the color. There’s a red thread that runs through all the products, whether it’s in the design language or the ethos of what we’ve talked about relative to the importance of quality, in innovation and all of those products and the design of those products.

The last piece that finally got us there was the working theory of application of the logo or trademark to the product itself. And so when we design products, apparel or footwear, the logo application has to be right. And when you split up the word Sunday into two words, then you add red as three words, what we started to see when we were kinda conceptualizing applications in apparel and footwear, is those three words fit really well in some of the things that we were planning on doing, and some of the things that you’ll see Tiger wearing right now.

So, at the end of the day, we fell in love with it. We think it’s very cool. But brands and logos are built over time, and as you know, and they’re built over time with great concepts and great people around them, and great products that consumers get really excited to play. And then they tend to take on the life of their own. We’re just getting started. You know, this brand was born last night, 12 hours ago. It’s brand new. We haven’t even sold our first product yet.

That’ll be May 1st on But we love the brand. Tiger loves the brand, and I think most of the public that’s looking at it is saying, hey, this is really cool. I can’t wait to see more, and this brand, ultimately, will be owned by everybody who consumes it. And we’ve always said that even at TaylorMade, which is as much as our internal folks in leadership own this brand and love this brand and perpetuate and nurture this brand.

This brand is owned by golfers who love TaylorMade. No different than Sun Day Red. It’ll be owned by golfers and active lifestyle, men and women, boys and girls that love the brand because it’s cool product and it resonates with them, and they’re inspired by the athlete that ultimately is partnered in on it with us. And, we’re gonna do cool things with it, and we’re just getting started.

AT: I’m not sure if you’re going to be able to answer this question yet or not, but price-point-wise, who’s the intended consumer? And what do you see that audience being like?

DA: That’s part of kind of the DNA of what we’re building. So we’ve used the term “premium” a few times. And premium really refers to the quality and the material management and the construction of all of our products across both apparel footwear and even into accessories. So when you build products the way we build them, there’s a cost associated with that. So how they’ll be positioned in the marketplace is what I would call kind of mid-to-high-end of premium, if you compare it to other apparel and footwear brands.

But that’ll provide enough access to millions and millions and millions of golfers, and people looking for lifestyle, you know, apparel and footwear around the world. So, we’re going to be in the market and accessible, but also, I think we all recognize that to make the products we want, there’s a cost assigned to those products, which pushes our price points up, to the mid-to-higher-end of premium. But there’ll be a wide range of products, both in golf and in lifestyle apparel that I think everybody will want access to and will have access to.

We’ll range from t-shirts to hoodies, to cashmere that got talked about quite a bit last night, and everybody loves cashmere, to athletic gear if you want to go work out, to ultimately beach gear if you wanted. Beach will come later, but we talk about, you know, whether you play golf, whether you’re at a soccer game, or you’re hanging out on the beach. We’ll have something for a lifestyle like that, and that’s going to be exciting.

So the price points specifically are being defined right now, and you’ll see those in a couple of months. But, this is going to be a great brand. A great brand that will have, as I said, millions and millions of men and women, boys and girls around the world, because we want everybody to be able to experience these products the way we build them.

Check out our photos from the Sun Day Red launch event here.

See photos of Tiger Woods in Sun Day Red apparel and shoes here.

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