It was a trip to Las Vegas that planted the seed in Travis Schmidt’s mind to launch a line of clothing for golfers and their sons. As he prepared for his Strip vacation that would include a round of golf, Schmidt noticed something was wrong with the selection of golf shirts available to him.
“I wanted to find a shirt that, you know, had that Vegas vibe,” Schmidt says. “I wanted something that had a bit of personality.”
He didn’t want the typical pinstripes or checkerboards or houndstooth or diamonds. Schmidt was looking for something, well, wild.
After scouring the world of online shopping for days, Schmidt realized he just wasn’t going to find a shirt with a fun/edgy pattern that would match his price. That’s when the gears started turning.
“I was thinking, ‘Where are those cool Texas sweaters? Where are the shirts that have a little bit of personality, not only for me, but also for my sons?’
The answer to his questions became Chaparral Golf Co., an online store where you could find funky models at a reasonable price for fathers and sons. The idea was there; he just needed some funky patterns.
As fate would have it, Schmidt had two graphic designer friends, Jay Wise and Zac Saathoff, who both work as graphic designers at Alcon, a billion-dollar Swiss medical company specializing in eye care products.
The three — who all happened to be Texas Tech grads — had a burger lunch at Grumps, where Schmidt would pitch his clothing line idea to Wise and Saathoff.
“We all love golf. We all have sons,” Saathoff says. “[Schmidt] I was wondering if we had any interest and what it would take to get the idea off the ground. Interestingly enough, Jay and I had discussed a few years earlier about wanting to do something in the apparel industry.
Initially, the partnership was supposed to be Wise and Saathoff designing shirts while Schmidt paid them for their services.
“Finally, we said, ‘Hey, not only do we want to design for you, we want to be part of this.’ So we both invested,” says Saathoff. “We also wanted to become marketers. We have ideas and ways to expand that in the future.
The three landed on designs that straddled the line between edgy, sophisticated, and uniquely Texas.
“We wanted to hit something right there in the niche,” Wise says. “We all lean into the Texas thing a little bit. We’ve put together a list of a few shirts we’d like to wear. Travis also came up with some ideas, and Zac and I came up with them.
The trio named each shirt on their website – there are currently six adult and youth designs available – after a city in Texas. The Bulverde features a vibrant cactus pattern; the Pecos, a bandana look; the San Jacinto, a concoction of Texas clipart; and Marble Falls, a zigzag of blue caps.
“It’s no secret that our shirts contain Texas-inspired elements,” says Wise. “We created the patterns and designs that we love, and then came up with a name tied to a place in Texas. For example, Pecos is where the first rodeo in America was. That’s why we opted for a western bandana for this shirt.
Even the name, Chaparral, is inspired by Texas. According to Schmidt, the three initially chose the name simply because it was one no one else in the apparel industry had. And, upon closer inspection, it tied into their Texas motif as well.
“We stumbled across it, and the name really stuck,” Schmidt says. “There’s really no reason for that. It just sounded cool, and nobody else had it.
The website, chaparralgolfco.com, has been live since November 2021, which launched just months after they first met at Grumps. And, while they’re happy to make shirts in addition to their other endeavors (work, parenthood, and golf), the dream would be to grow Chaparral to a point where it’s their full-time gigs.
“I think about it every day,” Schmidt says. “What if I could wake up, go to the warehouse, fill a hundred orders, then go play golf? It looks like the dream.