When the RGC crew asked me to write this piece, I thought, OK, sure. It’s another promotional piece. It’s nothing sexy, but it allows me to try out some new golf balls, and helps pay my greens fees. I’ve written stuff like this before: talk about how great the product/person/concept is, make it sound cooler than it is, throw in a few glowing quotes, maybe a good anecdote or two, spellcheck, and request a timely check from the editor. Rinse, wash, repeat.
But before I get into why this is different, I do need to get the promotional part out of the way first.
*Cue cheesy Used Car Salesman Voice*
Weeeelcome to RANDOM GOLF CLUB, home of the new signature Vice Pro Plus! It spins like a PROV1X, carries like a Bridgestone XS, has the durability of a Srixon, all for the price of a Noodle!
And it’s all true. I’m an 8-handicap player, which means I will tell you I can break 80 (which is true…on occasion) but I’m probably more likely to flirt with 90. For a while I played ProV1s because I thought I was much better than I am. Then I became a Bridgestone guy, because Tiger uses them—again thinking I’m much, much better than I am.
And then I was sent the new Vice Pro Plus from Random Golf Club. I’ve written a few pieces for the site so far, and a package of new golf balls is the height of perks for me. And to make a long story short: I’m a Vice guy now. They can be customized, they spin a lot, which I love (my 56 degree is my favorite and most relied-upon club), they go as far or further than other balls, they’re durable, and drumroll please…they cost way less than comparable balls.
Okay. That’s it for my endorsement. Now let me tell you why the partnership between Vice and Random Golf Club is different—and honestly, why it’s worth writing about (or in your case, reading about!) at all.
As is always the case before I write something for RGC, I called Erik. Now, our conversations usually wander around and eventually find their way back to golf, like two people playing nine holes at the end of a Summer day. But this call was much more targeted.
“For me, the relationship with Vice is deeply personal,” Erik told me.
Vice was the first brand that took a chance on Random Golf Club. And for a site like Random Golf Club, and a creator like Erik, brand relationships dictate whether or not your channel will make it. For instance, let me ask you: can you think of a successful online creator that doesn’t have at least a few brands it promotes? Think YouTube, podcasts, Instagram, anything. Drawing a blank? Me too.
So that’s one pillar of reality: to have gotten this far, it took brands like Vice taking a chance so that Random Golf Club could continue to make videos, make merch, do meet-ups, create an editorial website, and become a truly unique and refreshing part of the golf world.
When Vice contracted Erik to do commercials for Vice, “that was the first big job of mine in the golf space. It felt like a big deal,” as he says. “It was the first step in a new direction.” And it really was. Without Vice, there might not be a TaylorMade partnership, or PrecisionPro, or Vineyard Vines, or Bonobos, or Jones Bags.
A little golf course down in Augusta, GA wouldn’t be etched into every golfer’s mind without the work of a faceless army.
Another pillar, as Erik says, is that “partnering with brands is complex.” RGC x Vice isn’t exactly Instagram Model x Fit Tea. There’s a certain threshold that needs to be met. And for Random Golf Club, that threshold is inclusivity. As cool as it may sound, Augusta National isn’t a perfect partner. And speaking above my paygrade for a moment neither is say, Miura or Scotty Cameron. These are uber-exclusive brands that scream money and prestige. Random Golf Club is all about “All Are Welcome.” It’s about not having to pay your way. It’s not about being on the list, because you’re already invited. The same goes for, well, Vice golf balls.
And as a creator, there’s a threshold for Erik himself when it comes to hocking a product: “Would I do that anyway?” As the Screen-In-Our-Hand Generation, we know when someone is selling us a brick for a buck. We see it every day on Instagram, on Facebook, and pretty much everywhere else on the Internet. “Hey, let me tell you why these Such & Such shoes are the only ones I’ll wear. Swipe up for more!” We know it’s bullshit. The person selling it knows it, too. So, we click away.
So, if you’re if you’ve read this far, you know this collaboration is a bit different. It’s not Titleist x Golf Network. This is about two brands that could’ve so easily failed—but didn’t. There are a thousand people a day trying to gain a following on YouTube, or even in the Golf world. But Random Golf Club found a way. And Vice did too. The company was started by two guys in Munich, Germany. And I don’t know about you, but I’ve never heard of another start-up golf ball company, let alone a German one. In a game that is perceived to be insular, Vice and RGC are all about the democratization of golf.
So, listen. You don’t have to buy these Vice balls. They won’t make your game much better. They won’t be found more easily if you slice one into the woods. But the dirty little secret is: no golf ball makes you a better golfer. But these balls might make you feel better about golf, and your game. That’s what this is all about. That’s what golf is about. Have fun.
You can find the balls here. And just an FYI: this is a one-off addition. There will be more RGC x VICE collabs, but this specific version is 1 of 1.
These collector’s edition balls have already sold out. Please consider joining the email list for product releases and restock notices. And as always, thank you for supporting RGC!
Tim Barnicle is a native of Lincoln, Massachusetts. He has worked in podcasts, television, music, and politics. In other words, entertainment. He has a B.A. from Georgetown University and a M.A. from Columbia University. He’s currently pursuing a PhD at Harvard University studying American culture. Tim has one Ace—a one bounce pitching wedge on the 8th hole at Rustic Canyon in Moorpark, CA.