T.J. Auclair is a Senior Interactive Producer for PGA.com and has covered professional golf since 1998, traveling to over 60 major championships. You can follow him on Twitter, @tjauclair.
Appalachian Leather Works: Great accessories every golfer could use
Appalachian Leather Works
Every now and again you come across a special golf accessory. It's one that every golfer could use, but not many have (unless you're playing at the Tour level).
Before we detail this accessory, take a few seconds to think about this question: How do you store your scorecard during a round of golf?
The answer to that question probably varies from one of the following: the steering wheel on a golf cart; the scorecard holder on a push-cart; the scorecard pocket in your golf bag; or, in my case, your back pocket.
There's no question that all of those are great options for storing your scorecard. But, if you're like me -- particularly when playing golf on those dog days of summer -- you might find that scorecard looking more like oatmeal by the end of a round. Maybe this is an issue that plagues only me, but I also find that I go through multiple pencils over the course of the round because they somehow fall out of my pocket.
So what's the solution?
A man by the name of Chris Ashley is glad we asked.
Ashley, a United States Air Force veteran, is the founder of a company called Appalachian Leather Works based in North Carolina. Appalachian Leather Works produces beautiful, high-quality yardage books, scorecard holders, head covers and cash covers made from a variety of materials, including leather, gator, ostrich and stingray.
Obviously, not all recreational golfers take their game seriously enough to need a yardage book holder (those who are serious enough will love Ashley's offerings). But, everyone can use a scorecard holder, which easily fits your scorecard, has a pencil holder and is the perfect size to slip in and out of your back pocket with ease.
The best part about Appalachian Leather Works is that its great products won't break the bank. Prices range from as little as $42 to as much as $120 -- a small price to pay for a great accessory that will probably last you for life.
So how did it all get started?
"I have a collection of yardage books from courses I've played throughout the years, and I've always wanted to buy a yardage book cover to use while walking the course," Ashley said. "However, the ones I liked were really out of my price range. And then there are the cheapies that I wouldn't trust to even play 18 holes, so I thought, 'Hey, I'm a pretty creative guy. I'll just make one.' So I did. After I finished mine, I realized that people like two things: quality and at a fair price.
"I may also have a sick addiction to putters," Ashley added. "I'm at the point that I can admit that today. So let's just say that I have a few putters and I wanted to make some quality putter covers made out of leather for them. After tinkering with that for a few weeks I had the design that I liked and so I began making putter covers for friends and family to try out. After rave reviews we started the site and it has grown from there."
Appalachian Leather Works officially opened for business in February 2013.
"It seems like it was so long ago since it began," admits Ashley. "A lot has been improved upon and new products added as we believe that a golfer somewhere may want it. We have always strived to be one of the most customizable golf accessories companies out there. With all of our options offered online, we have taken several custom orders for jobs for things that range from embroidery for golf events or business outings to custom stamping on the new executive line of leather products."
Even with customization, the turnaround time for products produced by Appalachian Leather Works is incredibly impressive -- just about 10 business days for yardage books, scorecard holders and cash covers and about 10-14 days for putter and wood covers.
"Everything is made by hand," Ashley said. "For yardage book covers, cash covers and scorecard holders, we hand-cut each piece of quality Hermann Oak leather, then dye each piece of leather by hand. After it dries, we assemble the item by hand, punch the holes, and hand-stitch. The stitching is where the most time is spent, but it is the most important in the piece's durability. Each piece is finished with a burnished edge and then applied with Aussie leather conditioner to help seal out moisture for hot days on the course. These pieces take anywhere from 2-4 hours to complete."
Attention to detail is what truly makes Appalachian Leather Works so special. Ashley, you could say, is well-versed in attention to detail -- while in the Air Force (and also a Firefighter/EMT in Tucson, Ariz.), he was on the Air Force Shooting team where he won the 2005 Armed Forces Skeet Shooting Championship.
Now, Ashley resides in North Carolina with his wife, Jill, and two boys, Brett and Grant. Ashley is balancing the growth of Appalachian Leather Works while also studying Economics and Mathematics at Appalachian State University.
"Jill is a Registered Nurse and wonderful wife for letting me have my addiction to golf," said Ashley.
For now, Ashley's work is available through his website, www.appleatherworks.com.
"We do have future plans to expand our yardage book covers and scorecard holders into golf courses," he said. "We are working on including new designs and more options in both our putter covers and wood covers. The future changes for the putter covers will include options for leather stripes instead of the current ribbon or even genuine gator stripes as an option. We also take custom orders of many types; all someone has to do is email us (through the website) and we will do our best to bring their idea to life."
If you're looking for a fantastic, high-quality accessory that any golfer in your life -- including you -- can use for years to come, Appalachian Leather Works has just what you're looking for... even if you didn't know it until now.
You can also check out Appalachian Leather Works on Facebook and follow them on Twitter, @AppLeatherWorks.
You can follow T.J. Auclair on Twitter, @tj_auclair.