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.
Rose & Fire raises the bar for high-end headcovers
Golf fashion, these days, isn't limited to the clothes you put on to hit the links.
Golf fashion comes in a number of other forms now -- your glove, your bag, the color of your golf ball and even your headcovers, just to name a few.
In November 2013, Mike Buchfuhrer officially opened the doors for his business Rose & Fire, a company that specializes in high-end headcovers.
Like many, Buchfuhrer's reason for starting his headcover business came about out of the desire to fill a void he saw in the industry. All of these golf manufacturers -- especially those building handcrafted putters, another business Buchfuhrer dabbled in for a time -- were making expensive clubs that consumers would buy, but, "a special headcover was needed to compliment the craftsmanship of the putters," Buchfuhrer said. "Nothing available worked."
With a family background in fashion, Buchfuhrer got to work in 2010 designing his first headcover. It quickly became a passion and an obsession.
"There came a point where I decided that if I wanted to make truly great covers and achieve my dreams, I needed to open my own shop," he said. "I bought all the proper sewing machines, sourced amazing materials, created the designs, sewed prototypes, and found some of the most incredible craftsmen. That was the birth of Rose & Fire."
The name "Rose & Fire" carries particular significance too.
"Rose" pays homage to Buchfuhrer's grandmother, the first designer in the family, while "Fire" is a play on the second part of Buchfuhrer's last name.
"She was the matriarchal designer in the family and always told me that I could do whatever I wanted to do if I worked hard enough," Buchfuhrer said. "Hearing that and knowing she and other members of my family were able to succeed in fashion gave me the confidence -- and guidance -- needed to get going. I'm incredibly lucky to be in the this position. I get to design and create my dream covers for golfers, boutiques, pro shops, and the best putter manufacturers in the world. It feels great to improve what is out there and make something amazing that otherwise wouldn't have existed."
So what separates a Rose & Fire headcover from the stock headcover that comes with your expensive new driver, fairway wood, hybrid or putter?
For starters, Rose & Fire headcovers are 100 percent made in the USA.
"The number one thing that I tell all my sewing machine operators is that our quality must be the best in the world," Buchfuhrer said. "Made in USA needs to mean something, and not be a plea for charity. We have to back it up with exceptional products -- ones that are undeniably the best. Slight advances aren't enough. We need to shake things up. There's a reason why our logo is a lit match -- we're starting something new."
Buchfuhrer said he uses special materials that are sewn together in a way that respects their quality and heritage. He said industry people often insist the materials Buchfuhrer is using are overkill or unnecessary because consumers won't notice something of lesser quality.
Buchfuhrer disagrees. And that's why he's not willing to compromise the quality of his headcovers.
"I'm here to make covers as if each one was for my personal use," he explained. "Aside from using quality materials, it's important that our constructions compliment them. Our ballistic nylon cover, for example, is constructed very differently from our denim covers. The level of sophistication is also a point of separation. For example, if you look at other companies, embroidered vinyl seems to be the accepted material of choice for putter covers. As headcover makers it's time to step things up and give golfers the quality and material selection they deserve."
Quality craftsmanship can come at a price. At Rose & Fire, though, that price is on the reasonable side.
Buchfuhrer's headcovers -- made from materials including denim, leather, waxed canvas and more -- sell for between $40-$60 per piece.
"Golfers who buy a Rose & Fire covers are really paying for the time, skill, and materials that went into making it, not hype," Buchfuhrer said. "We're here to stay and know that in order to do that we have to treat people fairly by providing the best quality at a fair price."
One aspect of Rose & Fire headcovers that truly sticks out from others is that each cover includes a zippered pocket (or, a regular "jean" pocket on the denim pieces). On drivers, this is a great place to store tees, or even a little cash you may need when the beverage cart comes around on the course. On the putter cover, it's a perfect place to store your ball marker and divot tool.
Follow T.J. Auclair on Twitter, @tjauclair.