One of the best aspects of golf is when it's not the primary connection you share with someone. Facinated with William Hylton's art —discovered of course on Instagram— he made a special watercolor painting on commission. Later the conversation turned to the shared interest in British golf and the finely made bags he makes at Hylton Goods. Intrigued by his journey and his wonderful designs we got together to chat all things craft and golf. Hope you enjoy the conversation.
The Good Things in Life
Talking golf, art and British craftsmanship with William Hylton.By Michael WilliamsJuly 15, 2022
ACL: I’m curious about your creative journey. We met when you make a watercolor painting of my fictional townhouse Do you have formal training as an artist?
William Hylton: That’s Correct, you very kindly commissioned me to paint your ACL townhouse. I did study art at school but the majority of what I know is self-taught. Through years of practise, I managed to find a style and niche that clients enjoy.
How would you describe what you do?
I'm a designer and an artist. Hylton Goods and Hylton Goods Golf is where I design leather goods — weekend bags, washbags, briefcases and now golf bags and accessories.
William Richard Hylton is my art business where I sell original paintings and limited-edition prints (one in particular of the Open Rota courses might be of interest to your readers) and it is also where I am commissioned by clients like yourself to paint various projects.
Both of course have their ups and their downs but as a double act I find they work very well together. I love the reward of seeing a client’s joy at first seeing a painting and I love seeing my Hylton Goods products out and about being used.
The Hylton Goods collection is really handsome. What inspired the line?
Thank you. The current collection focuses on affordable luxury. In previous collections I have worked to a price point, meaning I basically couldn’t have every element I wanted as the products would have come in over price.
This time round I got everything I wanted. I found the best materials and hardware and then had them assembled by some of the most experienced hands in England but without the huge mark ups the global brands employ. It means my business model isn’t what private equity guys would die for but as a young brand I want to offer good value.
I wanted to offer genuine luxury at attainable prices. Investment pieces that are designed and made to last a lifetime.
Did you work with local craftspeople? How did that go?
Absolutely. My team in the North of England are fantastic. It's 100% a collaborative process. Their combined years of experience far outweighs mine so where I can use their experience and knowledge, their pearls of wisdom, to make the bags, accessories better, I do.
You are currently making a new range of golf bags? When do we get to see them?
From my knowledge I learnt from the luxury leather goods world, I knew I could take that and transfer it into a luxury golf bag. A bag thats practical as well as jaw-droppingly-beautiful and exquisitely made. A bag that makes you want to go out for that sunset round.
We finish the golf bag production next week. I will then have a very tough week taking them round a few of my favourite courses, Royal St Georges, Berkshire, Sunningdale, Royal Ashdown and Rye to make sure we have some stunning shots to show you all with the bags in action.
August is looking likely for launch. If you follow HyltonGoodsGolf you’ll be in the right place when the bags and accessories drop.
What’s your relationship with golf?
Big, big question... Family, friends, Childhood summer holidays, crisp autumn mornings, hot summer evenings, competitive sport, relaxed mess around, excitement, misery, jubilation, doubt, fun, old friends, new friends, reflection, distraction, everything, I love it!
Hence why I’m designing golf bags and golf accessories, so I can call playing golf work!
Why did you want to design/build a golf bag?
I wanted to bring style and craftmanship to golf bags. To bring simplicity and beauty to how you carry your clubs. I also wanted to design a bag that optimises my client’s enjoyment of the game. Our bags can carry a whole set but take out 6/7 clubs and I guarantee you will have a more enjoyable round.
Walk! Leave the trolley/cart at the club, enjoy stretching the legs and don’t be confined by the cart path or a bag with 15 compartments! Our bag is called the ‘Walker’ for a reason, it’s how the game should be played.
No score cards slots, forget par, play against your friend, get a foursomes match going, forget scores just go out and play and enjoy the walk. Single strap it and let the stripe show commence. Or in my case: let the push-slice-duff-stripe-slice-hook-show commence.
I’m curious to know your favourite course in the UK?
I have two.
My Grandparents were members at Rye. They taught me how to play.
There’s a special feeling at Rye, very traditional but very welcoming. I love the thought that I’m playing the same holes as my Grandparents played and sitting in the same chairs as they did for a pre lunch tipple.
Royal Ashdown is my home course, and the spike bar is my happy place. It’s laid out so that we all face inwards, so you are almost forced to speak to everyone in the bar. Many many friends have been made after a few Guinness.
Royal Ashdown Forest is the most natural test of golf you’ll come across, no bunkers, nothing remotely man made, just 18 holes that weave their way gloriously through and over the wonderous and enchanting Ashdown Forest (Winnie the Pooh’s home!).
Have you played golf in America — do you have an opinion on the game in the States?
I have, a friend very kindly took me round his neck of the woods in Florida. I was very fortunate to play a few very nice courses; Isleworth, Nona, Streamsong.
What do I think of it? The ones I’ve played are beautiful, smart, immaculate but it’s not my type of golf. Carts and no walking is a no go for me. I saw a fourball go off in four separate carts! To me they have completely missed the soul of golf. Plus, outrageous joining fees and subs mean the general joe like me would never be able to play there. I find that hard to swallow.
Great thing in the UK is that our clubs are often made up of the main membership but then have artisan clubs/local clubs that also have access to the courses at vastly reduced rates and joining fees.
I feel, I hope, there is a shift coming in America with a focus on better pay and play courses, more attainable memberships, walking courses where carrying clubs is encouraged. Courses that are welcoming to all who want to play.
What else do we need to know?
That I’m incredibly proud of my current collection and very grateful to writers like yourself and ACL to highlight them to your readers. As a thank you, I’ve set up an ‘ACL’ discount for all your lovely readers. Use code ‘ACL’ at check out for 20% off at the Hylton Goods website.
Please get in contact over Instagram or email if you have any questions as I always love to talk about my bags and will no doubt love to talk about my golf bags in due course, so please ACL readers don’t be strangers if you have any questions.