Missoula women may repel bears with zucchinis, but Missoula raincoats can't repel water.
That's probably the extent of many Europeans' knowledge of our city after two stories made international headlines in recent weeks. Apparently, when it rains it pours.
The latest story to go viral involves Missoula-based business Sun Mountain Sports, a golf equipment manufacturer that made a splash at the Ryder Cup golf tournament in Wales last week. Sun Mountain rain gear worn by the American team during torrential downpours proved to be about as waterproof as a 100-percent-cotton Griz hoodie. The rain suits performed so poorly the players and their caddies purchased new ones from the Ryder Cup merchandise tent for about $550 each.
"We were disappointed with the performance of them, and you know, we just fixed it," U.S. team captain Corey Pavin told reporters last Friday. "They were not doing what we wanted them to do, so we went out and bought some more waterproofs."
It was, to use popular parlance, an epic fail by Sun Mountain Sports, one it may never live down. The Internet is abuzz with hundreds of stories lambasting the company. Yahoo Sports called it a "wardrobe malfunction." ESPN's Rick Reilly dubbed it a "Waterworld disaster." And Bloomberg News called the situation "Waterproofgate."
And the rain-suit failure became even more embarrassing for Sun Mountain when bloggers began posting one of the company's recent Facebook updates, which has since been removed. It read: "Weather will most likely be a factor at this year's event. May the team with the best outerwear win."
Europe, of course, clinched the cup on Monday.
Sun Mountain's public relations firm, Sublime Public Relations, also of Missoula, acknowledged the company failed to minimize the distraction of the inclement weather.
It's too bad, because Sun Mountain, which employs more than 120 people in Missoula, is usually at the forefront of golf gear innovation. Its founder and CEO, Rick Reimers, owns roughly three dozen patents for golf-related products, including the invention that set his company on course to becoming a major player in the sport back in the mid-'80s: golf bag legs.
The Independent profiled Sun Mountain as part of a local inventors cover story back in March, and some readers found it surprising that an industry leader in golf equipment would reside in a mountain town better known for its rugged outdoor sports. Even more surprising: That the same company's biggest blunder comes from simply not keeping its customers protected from the elements. The whole debacle leaves the company hoping for a mulligan.