Gil Haslam grew up in Michigan, and as a kid he annually attended the PGA TOUR’s Buick Open in Grand Blanc, about 50 miles outside of Detroit. Back in the day, Haslam was a big Calvin Peete fan, the Detroit native who hit the big-time. Haslam also loved to walk the fairways, watching Jack Nicklaus and Seve Ballesteros, and he admits he always had a soft spot for Chinese golfer T.C. Chen. In other words, Haslam knows golf and has always followed the sport. In addition, he knows logos, and he recalls as a kid seeing the PGA TOUR’s logo in advertisements and getting psyched about the best golfers in the world annually coming to Warwick Hills Golf and Country Club.
“I’m a big golfer. I was excited about the tournament, and I was a big fan of logos even back then,” says Haslam, a two-time Sports Emmy Award winner. With that background, what’s Haslam’s take on the PGA TOUR’s logo, with its distinctive pillbox shape of a silhouetted swinging golfer set against a blue background?
“My view on the logo is it is iconic,” he says of the logo that is observing its 40th birthday this year.
Haslam, the Executive Creative Director at Troika, a multi-disciplinary design company in Los Angeles, is sold—always has been—on both the quality and the effectiveness of the TOUR’s logo.
Outside of minor tweaking here and there through the years—but nothing along the lines of a facelift—the iconic symbol of professional golf remains largely unchanged from its original 1979 design that replaced the TOUR’s “shield” logo. Four decades later, it has stood the test of time. With companies changing logos and color schemes and brand imaging all the time, the TOUR has not budged. Haslam believes he knows why.
“I think it does a great job in making itself distinctive, for the product and what the TOUR does,” Haslam says. “It’s what business they’re in—golf. If you do that icon alone, just that golfer silhouette, and you put that out there, it wouldn’t be as ownable or as distinct because you could put that up against any other logo or golf product.”
“But then you put in the letters PGA and the word TOUR and you have the qualifier of what that business is,” Haslam continues. “The two together are definitely needed. I like the combination, and I love the (golfer) icon inside of there because it quickly identifies the business they’re in.”
Haslam has been doing design work for his entire 30-plus-year career and has been involved with clients as disparate as CBS News, the National Football League, Lil Wayne, the Southeastern and Atlantic Coast Conferences, Golf Channel and EA Sports, among dozens of others. He adds, “When I look at the logo itself, I say that it has that classic feel, which tells you that it’s been around for a while.”
At age 40, is it time for the logo to undergo a change? Haslam doesn’t think so—on balance. Just like the NBA’s logo has its silhouetted player with a hint that the player is wearing short shorts, a style that went away in the early 1990s, Haslam does concede the TOUR’s logo could receive a bit of freshening. “There are a couple of things that are kind of dated, which is the clothing and maybe some of the typography,” he adds.
However, he uses the New York Yankees’ logo from the if-it-ain’t-broke-don’t-fix-it school. He explains that the team—and baseball fans in general—have embraced the equity built by the interlocking “NY” because of the heritage and history behind the logo. It has always been the symbol of baseball’s most successful team and likely always will be. “It holds great value and leads to the heart and soul of the fans. The Yankees’ logo is built with pride, and it’s an emblem and a symbol of passion for the city and for the team.”
Is that then true of the PGA TOUR’s logo, considerably younger than graybeard logos like the Yankees’ and, perhaps, Coca-Cola’s or General Electric’s? Haslam considers the question for a moment, with maybe the Michigan youngster in him showing itself a bit when he does respond. “My heart is warm when I see that red-white-and-blue logo, which is cool,” he says before providing his logo litmus test. “I could draw the PGA TOUR logo from memory, and I think a lot of other people could, as well, and that makes it powerful. It makes it memorable.”