Best of British: A celebration of UK-based golf companies

We speak to Glenbrae, Stewart Golf, Golfstream and Greenhill to find out how it is possible to be a success story while manufacturing at home...

The British inventor James Dyson once said: “Manufacturing is more than just about putting parts together.” 

For the British golf manufacturing industry, however, it might appear as if those words have become less relevant. The vast majority of companies now either bring component parts into the UK and assemble them here, or simply ship entire products into the country having built them overseas.

Yet there are still a few brands who buck the trend by making entire products in the UK.

High-quality knitwear brand Glenbrae and motorised trolley companies Golfstream, Greenhill and Stewart all make goods in Britain and are extremely proud of their heritage.

“Being able to work in the UK rather than in an anonymous factory in the Far East gives a nicer character to the products that we make and to the company generally,” said Stewart Golf’s chief executive officer Mark Stewart.

However, it is not just the lure of being different that keeps these companies in the UK. There are tangible benefits to not being based overseas.

“The big thing about our British heritage is that we have incredible reliability. If we do come across a problem with one of our trolleys then we can deal with it very quickly,” said Golfstream’s managing director Derek Richford. 

“We are very much closer to our customers and their demands. People are really now beginning to get the idea that having a British made product really does make a difference.”

Greenhill sales manager Andy Bradley agrees. “The major advantages are that we can keep tight control on our quality and be very flexible to the market needs,” he said.

“As we manufacture everything for ourselves we know the quality of the components are correct. It is not expensive to hold stock, so we can deliver quality products on very short lead-times.”

The value of being based in Britain is also clear to Glenbrae’s general manager Andrew Jones.

”Not only are we using British manufacturers and British traditional skills, we’re able to service it from this country with quick turnaround,” he said. “It makes for a very cost-effective way of merchandising.”

Most manufacturing work previously conducted in Britain has been shipped out to the Far East because production costs are cheaper. However, as the global economy changes and the costs of exporting work out to countries such as China rise, the benefits of manufacturing golf equipment in Britain are becoming clearer.

“With the changing economic global climate, there is huge pressure on exchange rates, there are greater salary expectations in foreign countries and the cost of manufacturing is getting closer between the UK and the markets overseas,” said Jones.

“When you’re in somewhere like China, the time zones are difficult, communication is difficult, and it costs a lot of money to go over there,” said Stewart.

“So if you’re not doing a lot of volume then you can very quickly lose all the benefit if you have one or two problems a year.”

“Prices in China are increasing. They are demanding much higher minimal order quantities,” says Richford.

“Businesses pre-recession may have been ordering 1000 units per month and were quite happy. Then the recession hits and they’re down to 500 units per month, but China are still saying that you’ve still got to order 2000 products at a time.

“When that was two months’ worth then that is ok, but now that’s four months’ worth and you can’t see the horizon. If you then have an order on the way and an order in the pot then that’s eight months’ worth and the cash flow involved is phenomenal.”

All four are optimistic about the future of golf manufacturing in Britain and believe that we could be at the beginning of an era where more work starts to return to these shores.

“We have got, as a nation, extremely good engineering skills,” said Stewart.

“I believe companies like ours, who have continued to invest in new machinery and new products, will be at the forefront of the British manufacturing fortunes,” said Bradley.

“I would like to hope that there is a resurgence for British manufacturing, because Britain has a huge heritage in technology and manufacturing. The marketplace is demanding quality and I think there are more opportunities for British manufacturing to grow.

“However, we can’t kid ourselves. We have to ensure we have the technology, and that we have a new breed of young, talented people. There is no shortcut, we have to invest. I think there are great opportunities for British manufacturing if we focus on our strengths – quality, technology and innovation.”
The British inventor James Dyson once said: “Manufacturing is more than just about putting parts together.”

Stewart Golf

Location: Gloucestershire
Number of employees: 11
Contact: | 0333 800 1818
About: Stewart Golf specialise in producing high-quality, premium motorised trolleys. They launched their first product, the X1, in 2003 and are based in a factory in the Cotswolds.  In 2008 they produced a second trolley, the F1 Lithium, which was awarded a Design Excellence Award from the British Business Council.
All parts of their electronic trolleys are designed and made in-house, with an emphasis placed on quality. Stewart products retail at the high end of the market, priced between £999 and £1499.  


Location: Yorkshire
Number of employees: 250
Contact: | 01484 843732
About: Glenbrae produce high performance knitwear, and the company was born out of a Yorkshire manufacturing firm which has produced textiles for over 100 years. All the products are made, dyed and packaged in Britain and contain the highest quality Merino lambs wool. Once produced, the jumpers are hand finished using needle and thread. All Glenbrae products are seamless, and the jumpers hold their shape, grip on the forearms and don’t interfere with the swing.


Location: Kent
Number of employees: 7
Contact: | 01843 594213
About : Golfstream specialise in producing electric golf trolleys and also sell spare parts for many of the leading electric trolley brands. They have two trolley lines – the Evolution and Revolution. The trolleys are made on site and all the component parts on Golfstream trolleys come from the UK. The founders have over 50 years’ experience in the electric trolley industry. The Revolution trolley features a patented one-click folding mechanism that make it one of the easiest trolleys to use on the market.


Location: Lancashire
Number of employees: 30
Contact: | 0845 634 7290
About: Greenhill was founded in 1991 has been making Pull and Electric trolleys since 1994. They were the original designer of the popular Z-shaped trolley folding mechanism which is now seen on many brands. All aspects of their trolleys are produced in house, including the moulding of plastic parts and the production of clutches, axles and gearbox components. Greenhill also produce golf bags and a range of other trolley accessories including umbrellas, rain covers and battery bags.

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