My name is Sam Goulden.
I started this company in 2019 because I thought that golf companies, associations, and just golf in general were doing a great job of sustaining the historic aspects of the game and a pretty sub-par job of keeping up with the modern golfer. I thought it would be cool to make a golf bag that spoke the language of who/what the game is becoming. I wanted our staff and all our customers to be a family. And I wanted our company to influence the more established names in golf to catch up and start making better decisions for the planet. Four years in and I’m convinced we can make a major difference in the way things are done in golf.
It all started when I was three.
I learned to golf through sporadic snapshots of influence. My first introduction was at the age of three when at a family golf outing I was set free on each of the nine greens at Blaire Country Club in Blaire, NE. My dad would set me down with my little hand-made, cut-off putter and a ball and let me putt around while the rest of the family (three uncles and my grandpa) finished out. My memory is pretty faded on this event so just take it for what it’s worth but as I recall I was plopped on the first green about 30 feet from the hole. My dad instructed me to hit the ball at the hole. I did. It went in. My first hole in one.
From there I would rarely hold a golf club except for the few times I threatened my neighbors windows with a backward facing 7-iron (I swung naturally from the left but my mom’s clubs were naturally right handed) from the basement and some old flying ladies from my mom’s bag. She saw this and put me in a little one week summer camp at one point but It wasn’t until I was a high school senior that I took the game seriously.
The spring of 1997
A golf team was forming in the spring of 1997 at Washington High School and I confidently approached the tryouts with one week’s practice and a begged-for set of clubs. I was pretty weak but somehow convinced the coach that I’d get better and he let me on. I didn’t stand out by any means, shooting a season low 42 on the par 32 9-hole course in Owensville, but I was a part of the team and about to be hooked on golf.
After high school I got a job at Blockbuster and proceeded to dominate at video games and skateboarding while attending community college (rarely) until news of a new golf course opening in my hometown with a bunch of job opportunities. I thought it would be amazing to work at a golf course and after a bunch of phone calls and random meetings with the pro, I was hired to pick range balls and clean carts. For my efforts I earned minimum wage and unlimited range balls. This fueled my addiction and set me on a 15 year pursuit of golf perfection.
After a year working at Wolf Hollow Golf Club I had gotten to scratch. Six months later I was signing a scholarship offer to play golf for Lincoln University. 18 months later I’d be kicked off the team for skateboarding but that’s not relevant. I’d found my career path – or at least my field of work.
I started teaching golf after leaving Lincoln University and was quickly and fully engulfed in the education process. I read hundreds of books, went to every seminar I could, and taught as often as possible. As my craft of coaching improved, so did my game. And, at age 25, decided I wanted to win the US Open.
Over the next 9 years…
I spent the next nine years dedicated to my own development while continuing to teach up to 1000 lessons per year. I got my first professional win on the Pepsi Tour at the age of 30 and followed it the next week with another win. For the next two years I set out on a Monday Qualifying tour in hopes of learning what it would take to get to the PGA Tour. In 2014 at the age of 33, I rounded up some sponsors and took a group of hopeful qualifiers out on the road with me (all documented in a series on YouTube called #TourQuest). Throughout this time I created over 500 instructional videos and published seven coaching books and guides.
Finally, at the end of my 34th year, I was gently urged into a development position of SquareValley who were in the early stages of building the 18Birdies app. It was this role which not only ushered me out of competitive golf but helped me see the necessary and obvious changes that were sure to come in golf.
I left my full time role at 18Birdies at the end of 2015 and then for two years lived in Isabela on the northwest coast of Puerto Rico. I continued writing books and guides and publishing content for my online coaching platform samgouldengolf.com. I learned to surf and started a new life as Director of Golf at my favorite golf course in the world, Royal Isabela. I was starting to finally speak the language when, in September or 2017, Hurricane Maria hit hard, shutting down most of the island for at least six months.
I moved to Manhattan Beach, CA to wait for the lights to come back on at Royal Isabela. In that time I’d started coaching a little on the mainland and that’s when I saw the minimalist golf bag of one of my students. I told him that the game was evolving to become more inclusive, fun, and minimalistic and that golf companies were a thousand miles away from fulfilling the need of the modern golfer. He said he’d back me in whatever I wanted to create and six months later I had a prototype of the very first MNML GOLF V1 Golf Bag.
Why did I feel the need to share this with you? Well, as our team and family grows I have big goals and I want you to be a part of the journey. I want your inspiration in making better designs. I want your thoughtfulness when it comes to taking care of the planet. And I want your charity when it comes to helping to make the game more inclusive. And I don’t expect you to want to help a company you know nothing about.
So, in closing, thank you for being a part of this mission, for supporting the development of something truly special, potentially life-changing, and certainly influential in the betterment of the planet.