His mark on the game
Hatley stays involved in golf from the business side
The hard part is Sunday.
That’s the day that reminds Reid Hatley what might have been. That’s the day his old roommate, Ricky Barnes, might be contending with one of his old rivals, like Luke Donald or Matt Kuchar or Hunter Mahan, for one PGA title or another.
But Hatley has settled comfortably in Hayden, joined the country club – where he shot a 61 last summer – and launched his own business, RHI Golf, all in the dozen or so years since graduating from Ferris in 1999.
It’s more than enough to make him happy, except for those Sundays when he slows down enough to watch a pro golf tournament on television.
“I’m having fun,” he said. “I hurt my knee; that ended my professional career. I bounced around being an assistant pro but I’m a golfer, not someone who enjoys watching people go golf.
“I came up with a concept, launched it, now we’re here talking about it.”
What Hatley’s company does is manufacture custom-ordered logo items for golf courses, such as tee markers, flags, proximity markers, trophies and a whole lot more.
“When I was working I realized there was nobody that really does custom stuff for golf courses,” he said. “They’ll stock-order stuff and call it custom when they put a logo on it. We build it exactly to what the customer wants.
“It’s a new way of branding a golf facility so members and guests know where they’re at; know that the course’s attention to detail is there. It really does work. People notice stuff that they really don’t notice.”
The course logo can be water-jet cut on steel, aluminum, wood or almost any other material, and it can be done competitively as far as cost goes and be turned around quickly.
“I own the machinery,” Hatley said. “We make everything in-house, others have to out-source it to China or some other place. We can get it done and to the customer in a week or two, and we don’t charge a setup fee.
“Our price points compete with the low-end stuff and the customer gets exactly what they want.”
For Hatley, it’s a great way to stay in the sport and live where he wants.
After helping the Saxons win the team title while finishing second to teammate Cory Prugh in 1999, Hatley went off to Arizona, where competing for an NCAA title and against the best young golfers in the world was a way of life.
He still ranks in the UA Top 20 in career stroke average (74.63) and his 161 rounds are 12th on the career list. In his four years, the Wildcats were twice third in the NCAA tournament, with a ninth and 17th. Hatley was honorable mention All-America in 2000, when he placed 15th in the NCAA, and honorable mention All-Pac-10 in 2001 and 2003.
“I really don’t know how I hurt my knee; maybe just too much repetition,” he said. “I did some Nationwide Tour stuff but I never made it to the (PGA) Tour.
“Finally, I had to have surgery. My meniscus was completly gone; it was bone on bone. I dealt with it for a while, but to do so much walking, I could see some really bad habits creep into my swing. My game went down significantly.”
After a couple of years, he quit traveling and worked at Black Rock, then Hayden.
“My last year at Hayden, I would drive around to the back of the lake and wrote an extensive business plan,” he said.
RHI Golf has 18 salesmen and products are sent all over the country to top-end courses.
The season-opening tournaments in Hawaii were branded with his products and many top destination courses have them. They just shipped product to the Trump courses as well as Doral and Medina.
“The pros love it,” Hatley said. “We’re in the process of doing a couple of Tour events for next year. We’re right on the brink of getting pretty large.”
The work could translate into other arenas, but golf is the focus for obvious reasons.
“I want to stay in the golf industry as much as I possibly can,” he said. “That’s what’s fun for me and the guys that work for me.”
The next big thing is a golf training device that players will soon see on the Golf Channel.
Fun is the operative word and it’s reflected in his game.
“I’m probably better now than I’ve ever been because I have no pressure on me,” Hatley said.
In addition to the 61 at Hayden, he shot a 62 at Avondale and a 64 at Circling Raven.
But … “I’m riding in a golf cart,” he said. “I’m pretty content. It’s hard for me to watch TV on Sundays, knowing I was there, knowing I was as good as those guys.”
He may get close again as Barnes badgers him to play in the AT&T ProAm. There is a $10,000 entry fee, which doesn’t sound as daunting as it did a few years back.
“We’re ahead of projections; we’re starting to go international,” Hatley said. “I’m having fun. When I first started everyone was saying no way. We’re still here through our third year and our cash flow is positive. Honestly, the first two months this year we’ve sold more than the entire calendar the first year.”
Which means there might be at least one Sunday that isn’t painful in the near future.
You can reach Dave Trimmer at firstname.lastname@example.org