For Wes Burton it all started, as it seems most modern entrepreneurial endeavors do these days, with a direct message.
Burton, then 15 years old, had created his own part-time job that partnered his artistic side with his passion for sports. He was taking baseball cleats and hand painting and airbrushing his own unique designs on them. They looked great and people liked them, so he started his own part-time business, Wes Custom Kicks.
After he got some experience under his belt, Wes, a die-hard Dodgers fan who lived in L.A., took a chance one day and sent a DM to Kiké Hernandez to see if the Dodgers’ young flashy talent would be interested in collaborating on some designs for the cleats he'd wear on the diamond.
“To my surprise, I heard back (from Hernandez),” Burton said. “After doing two pairs of cleats for him, my ‘roster’ of MLB players grew rapidly from one to double digits, while adding a number of minor league ballplayers as well.”
Fast forward five years, and Burton’s business is boomin’. He estimates he’s completed over 100 different pieces for pro athletes, the majority of those being baseball cleats. Not a bad part-time gig for a kid going through high school while preparing for college.
It turns out Burton is also a big golf fan (he plays to a 6.4 index) and he was eager to dip his toes into that space.
After hours of researching and crafting headcovers that spoke to each golfer’s unique story, Wes got to hand deliver them to the TaylorMade Tour Truck this week at the WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational in Memphis Tennessee. He even got to hand off his amazing Jon Rahm-inspired set to the man himself.
“Meeting Jon was a great experience. It’s always exhilarating to deliver my work to pro athletes and see their reactions,” Burton said. “My favorite part of a delivery, particularly one that was a surprise like this one, is seeing what really speaks to them or what their favorite aspect of a piece is.”
The process that went into designing each headcover was extensive.
First, Burton researched each golfer’s background, career and personality. Once he found inspiration, he scuffed the leather on each TaylorMade headcover with acetone to remove the factory finish. Then, he got to painting, either by hand or with airbrush. The entire paint process took anywhere from five to 20 hours per piece depending on the design, he said.
“I wanted each piece to be meaningful for each player and their inspirations come from various places in the players’ lives,” Burton said. “For instance, Rahm’s was inspired by vintage Blockbuster DVD boxes and his putter headcover was inspired by his jersey from the Waste Management Phoenix Open.”
Here’s what Wes Custom Kicks came up for each member of Team TaylorMade:
A Blockbuster-inspired driver headcover, playing on Rahm’s action hero nickname, Rahmbo. The putter cover is a nod to the Arizona State University jersey the Spaniard rocks on the 16th hole at TPC Scottsdale.
Tiger isn’t in the field this week, but a custom Stanford red fairway headcover is waiting in his locker. The hat was inspired by a throwback version of the Cardinal baseball team’s hat. Tiger’s father, Earl, also played college baseball.
Burton counted McIlroy’s putter cover as one of his favorite pieces. The story of a young Rory chipping balls into a washing machine for practice is well known and Burton put his own spin on it for this headcover. The driver cover features a lone rock amongst grass, which is the entrance to Holywood Golf Club, the course Rory grew up playing on.
In his downtime, DJ likes to be on his boat, which is why Burton’s nautical themed pairing came to life. DJ’s driver cover also has the names of his two sons on it.
Jason’s driver cover features the name of his family, including his wife and three children. His putter headcover is a copy of the state of Ohio’s license plate, a nod to the RV the Days like to travel around in.
Look for these awesome headcovers to make their way onto the bags of Team TaylorMade this week in Memphis.
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