Imperial Headwear joined the AJGA as an Official Partner in 2019 under the direction of David Shaffer, vice president of sales and marketing at Imperial. The partnership has now come full circle for Shaffer, who is an AJGA alumnus himself.
Shaffer credits the AJGA with helping him get the exposure he needed to pursue a college golf scholarship at Northwestern while preparing for a career in the golf industry.
“[The partnership] means a tremendous amount to me both personally and professionally,” Shaffer said. “I’m now seeing the AJGA with a new lens being on the business side of golf and a parent myself. I have a lot of pride being able to come full circle from a player coming up through the ranks, and now being involved with the AJGA from a sponsorship role.”
Imperial sponsored its first event, the Imperial Headwear Junior Classic held at DuPont Country Club in Wilmington, Del. on Aug. 5-8.
“I’m most excited about helping the next generation of kids experience the game of golf the way I did…traveling, competing, growing and enjoying yourself while doing it,” Shaffer said.
Growth and development are AJGA core values and Shaffer credits the AJGA to numerous life skills and lessons that have helped him succeed even after junior and college golf. Competing in events helped him gain self-trust and confidence to take his experiences to the next level.
Originally from Andover, Massachusetts, Shaffer applied to a local AJGA event, the 1995 AJGA Tucker Anthony Junior, several times before being finally being invited as an alternate. He took advantage of the opportunity, qualifying into the event and finished in eighth place at New Seabury Country Club in Mashpee, Massachusetts.
Shaffer remembers receiving an invite in the mail to the 1995 Rolex Tournament of Champions from AJGA Executive Director Stephen Hamblin. The event at Innisbrook Hilton Resort in Tarpon Springs, Florida, was his favorite AJGA event.
Shaffer also finished T11 at the 1995 AJGA Boys Championship at Four Seasons Resort and Club in Irvine, Texas, now known as the AJGA Simplify Boys Championship at Carlton Woods.
Shortly after his performance that year, Shaffer received a letter of interest from Northwestern golf coach Pat Goss.
While at Northwestern, Shaffer was a four-time Academic All-Big Ten selection. The Wildcats finished inside the top-10 three times at the NCAA Championship and won three Big Ten Championships while he was on the team.
After completing graduate school at Northwestern, Shaffer’s goal was to connect his two passions: golf and business.
He started his career selling golf launch monitors before starting a business with friends and working in sales management for Greg Norman. In 2013, he joined Imperial where he came into his current role in 2017.
Imperial is one of the oldest brands in golf. Founded in 1916, Imperial has designed and manufactured premium headwear for more than 100 years. Some of Imperial’s other partnerships and affiliations include: the USGA, PGA TOUR, LPGA, Web.com Tour, U.S. Open Championships, PGA Championships, Open Championships, Ryder Cups, Solheim Cups, and dozens of State and Regional Golf Associations.
As the Official Headwear of the AJGA, Imperial provides hats to players at more than 200 events per year. Imperial also created a collection of AJGA hats with a portion of the proceeds donated back to the ACE Grant, which provides financial assistance to young men and women who aspire to earn a college golf scholarship through competitive junior golf.“Each person receiving one of our AJGA / Imperial hats will hopefully form an affinity with the Imperial brand, and then go on to be a professional, amateur or golf consumer for life,” Shaffer said. “I can’t wait to hear stories years from now about how a player received one of our hats and never forgot it was made by Imperial.”