Who Is Alfred Dunhill And Why Is He Sponsoring A Golf Tournament?

Alfred Dunhill in 1893
Alfred Dunhill in 1893

Who — Or What — Is Alfred Dunhill?

Alfred Dunhill, LTD is a British luxury goods retailer that sponsors two golf tournaments: The Alfred Dunhill Links and The Dunhill Championship.

A perusal of the company website reveals very high end products such as $370 polos and $1500 hoodies. A Dunhill lighter for your smokes will set you back $995.

I like the looks, though. If anyone at Alfred Dunhill is reading this, I am always in search of a sponsor.

The Alfred Dunhill Links Championship is played annually over three courses: The Old Course at St Andrews, Carnoustie and Kingsbairn.  The tournament is played in September and early October.

The Alfred Dunhill Championship is played in South Africa in December at the Leopard Creek Country Club near Kruger National Park.

Who Is Alfred Dunhill And Why Is He Sponsoring A Golf Tournament? Dunhill ad
Dunhill Roller Blind Ad, The People, London, 1904

The company’s namesake, Alfred Dunhill was born September 30, 1872 in Middlesex. His father was a blind maker and Alfred initially followed in his father’s footsteps.

Dunhill’s entrepreneurial career took off when he inherited his father’s business and expanded into automotive accessories, such as drivers’ coats and goggles. Beginning in the mail order business, he later opened store front selling clothing and other items aimed at chauffeurs.

Who Is Alfred Dunhill And Why Is He Sponsoring A Golf Tournament? Dunhill ad
An Alfred Dunhill employment ad from the 1918 Kensington News.

In 1904, Dunhill invented a pipe designed for motorists (the open tops in those days no doubt made it difficult to keep them lit.)

The pipe led Dunhill to open a tobacco shop, where he offered custom blends. That led to the Dunhill cigarette. In 1921, Dunhill was named official tobacconist to the Prince of Wales, Edward.

Dunhill also developed a lighter that could be operated with one hand.

Who Is Alfred Dunhill And Why Is He Sponsoring A Golf Tournament? Dunhill ad
Alfred Dunhill Ad, New York Times, 1922

New products followed, as Dunhill expanded the motorists’ clothing and accessories into luxury goods. Shops were opened in New York and Paris in the 1920s.

An article in Bloomberg says

Dunhill … prefigured the modern luxury goods market with its international ambitions. It opened a Paris store in 1924 and pushed into Japan and the Far East, even China, long before others saw the sense of it.

Bloomberg, 2005
Who Is Alfred Dunhill And Why Is He Sponsoring A Golf Tournament? Dunhill ad
Dunhill Ad, 1956, St Louis Globe. The $3 set would cost $32.67 in todays’ dollars.

Among the products Dunhill sold were pipes, leather goods, lighters, board games and sporting equipment.

Who Is Alfred Dunhill And Why Is He Sponsoring A Golf Tournament? Dunhill obituary
Ottawa Journal, 1959.

In 1924, Dunhill published The Pipe Book, which is still in publication today (Amazon link). The book is a comprehensive look at pipe smoking from earliest times to the 20th century.

Dunhill retired as chairman of Alfred Dunhill Limited in 1928.

His yacht, The Lady Gay took part in the Dunkirk evacuation in 1940.

Dunhill died January 2, 1959.

The Dunhill company is credited with developing an early butane gas lighter. It has been used by James Bond in both the books and in the movies.

In 1993, Dunhill was acquired by Richemont, a South African luxury goods company (thus the South African golf tournament connection).

Who Is Alfred Dunhill And Why Is He Sponsoring A Golf Tournament? Dunhill ad
Pierce Brosnan as James Bond with Dunhill cufflinks
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