Bill Murray has been an ambassador of golf for a long time. Aside from his role as Carl Spackler in the classic Caddyshack, he regularly appears on some of the game's grandest stages. Last year at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am and the Ryder Cup, he wore some of the brightest and loudest pants you have ever seen.
The pants were designed and made by Loudmouth Golf and Murray is not the only celebrity wearing them. Will Ferrell and famed rocker Alice Cooper are regulars, and the pants have been featured on TV shows such as Dexter and The Tonight Show with Jay Leno.
John Daly is the most popular athlete to wear Loudmouth gear. But with original patterns like "Disco Balls" and "Magic Bus," it also has a following among other golfers, including those on the LPGA tour, and Olympians.
The man responsible for this bold fashion trend is Scott "Woody" Woodworth. In 2000, Woodworth was a graphic designer who had reached the point in his career where he could spend more time on the golf course. "When I played golf, I wanted people to know that I was not at work, that I was having fun," Woodworth said.
So he headed to a JoAnn’s Fabric & Craft Shop to look for the most outrageous print of cloth he could find. After nearly an hour of elderly ladies whispering their curiosities about him behind his back, Woodworth emerged with the perfect swath: A powder blue base with each of the Looney Tunes characters riding in golf carts.
Woodworth had never sewn anything of significance in his life before that day. But stitching together that pair of pants was the start of a venture that did $10 million in business in 2012. The company is projected to do even better this year with at least 25 new patterns planned for release, including a design called "Swirls Gone Wild."
Loudmouth has grown beyond just golf apparel for men with lines for women and kids as well as golf bags, golf grips, hats, watches, snow pants and more. Additionally the company is producing gear for the Dallas Cowboys and college teams. But in keeping with Woodworth's sensibility, Loudmouth is less about the clothes and more about a lifestyle that knocks down the stiff and boring connotations associated with golf.
The company has more than 40 full-time employees and products available online and in stores all over the world, but for many years, Woodworth was a one-man operation.
"When customers would call to place orders, I would answer the phone," Woodworth said. "When they asked to speak with someone in another department, I would put them on hold, wait a few seconds, and then take the call."
In 2000, his first year of business, he sold 72 pairs of pants and made $3,000. But he got his first big break that year when he met Tom Tolbert, the former NBA player and a host on San Francisco's all-sports radio station KNBR, at a function at Silverado Country Club in Napa. Woodworth not only wore his Looney Tunes pants that day, but also brought all of the other patterns he had in his inventory. When Tolbert saw what Woodworth was offering, he ordered a pair of shorts -- in every pattern -- and became a walking advertisement for Loudmouth.
"I’ve always loved their stuff,” Tolbert said. "One of the first pairs of shorts I owned had a sushi pattern. I wore them so often the crotch dissolved from being washed so much. I finally had to retire them."
In 2003, he wore them when he played at the American Century Celebrity Golf Championship at Lake Tahoe where other stars took notice. "Bo Jackson asked my caddie why I was wearing pajamas," Tolbert said.
As Woodworth grew his customer base locally in Northern California, he also started gaining repeat customers. Larry Jackson, a Silicon Valley executive, was one of the first, and he liked the line so much that he wanted to go into business with Woodworth. He saw the opportunity for growth. "I’d call up and Woody wouldn’t have what I wanted," Jackson said. "But he was very good about selling me another pair that was available."
In 2006 while playing 18 holes together, they had a serious discussion about how Jackson could help Loudmouth Golf reach a global market. They became business partners and at the end of the year Loudmouth's revenue was up to $60,000. In 2008, with Jackson fully entrenched and serving as the CEO and Woodworth focusing solely on the design aspects, the company began to really take off and started to gain global visibility.
Then in 2009, an introduction through former NFL quarterback Jim McMahon led to Daly, a two-time major champion, signing as Loudmouth's first celebrity endorser. The timing was perfect as Daly didn't have any sponsors then, and Loudmouth was looking to expand its market share and recognition. Today, Daly remains Loudmouth’s most recognizable brand ambassador, but the company reached a whole different audience at the past two Olympics.
At the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, the men's curling team from Norway had seen Loudmouth gear somewhere and ordered some for team uniforms. When the Norwegians wore the pants, it created an overnight craze. Matt Lauer and the rest of "The Today Show" cast wore them, and Loudmouth quickly shot to the top of search results on the web for "crazy pants." Then at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, U.S. beach volleyball players Phil Dalhausser and Todd Rogers wore Loudmouth as part of a four-year sponsorship deal.
With the boost in brand exposure and business going well, Woodworth and Jackson were in position to follow their other passion: Supporting charities.
Bruce Hooper, co-founder of American Blind Golf, happened to be watching the 2010 Olympics when he saw the Norwegian curling team. After determining who made those crazy pants, Bruce gave Loudmouth a call. After only one conversation, Woodworth offered to outfit all U.S. players and coaches for the McCulloch Cup, a team competition of blind golfers against Canada.
Within a day or two after the matches, Hooper and his co-founder Mark Arnold received inquires about their pants from news outlets all over the world. "I am tremendously indebted to Woody for all that he has done for us,” Arnold said. "Woody should take great pride in that his contributions bring such great exposure to our cause."
In addition, Loudmouth helped inspire the golfers, Hooper said. He is fond of joking, "My pants shot 75 today. What did yours shoot?"
Another terrific fit for Loudmouth has been Bunkers In Baghdad, a charity that supports active duty military at home and abroad, as well as wounded warriors. Joe Hanna, who founded the group in 2008, called various companies within the golf industry to drum up interest and support. Like Hooper, Hanna was surprised to speak directly with Woodworth, and was even more surprised when Woodworth offered to help in any way that he could.
"It was great to see the generosity and kindness come from the top down,” Hanna said. "The pants and shirts that we have received from Loudmouth Golf over the years are a huge hit. They provide our soldiers a release from the stress and every-day grind of being away from their families."
"If Loudmouth can put a smile on their faces,” Woodworth said, "then that’s all the thanks we need.”
Loudmouth also works closely with individuals and families that have charitable platforms but lack significant exposure. In 2009, folks from Loudmouth met then 7-year-old Kyle Lograsso. At the age of 2, Kyle lost his left eye from Retinoblastoma, a form of cancer. Kyle is a kid who inspires everyone in his path, and Loudmouth is honored to support Through Kyle's Eyes Foundation in any way it can.
"Kyle always wanted to be loud,” his mother Regina said. “And through the continuous generosity of Larry, Woody and Alan [Wallace], he can be.”
Kyle, whose favorite Loudmouth print is the "Hoola Girls", was the first kid to wear its line, and he still has all 86 of the pieces of clothing they’ve given him.
"I love the crazy pants and crazy shorts," he said. "I get more compliments like, 'Wow, I need some sunglasses to see those things'."