MAJOR GOLF OEMs ARE GETTING HIT HARD BY THE RECESSION
You may have heard a few weeks ago that Dick’s Sporting Goods laid off all of its PGA professionals—more than 500 men and women—as a result of a downturn in the major retailer’s golf equipment business.
“Dick’s aimed to have one PGA professional at every store to better differentiate the experience from online retailers that try to undercut brick-and-mortar stores,” wrote ESPN.com’s Darren Roven on July 22, 2014. “But the economy, the downturn in participation, the decline of Tiger Woods and too many products flooding the market cut into Dick’s bottom line so much that the company seems to be giving up on winning the golf equipment business.”
Dick’s, which also owns golf specialty retailer Golf Galaxy, is the nation’s largest retailer of equipment from the major golf club companies. Last month’s job layoff announcement was preceded a month earlier by reports that Dick’s was reducing the floor space allotted to golf clubs in each store by 1,000 square feet.
Which makes me wonder… If Dick’s is laying off golf sales staff and reducing the space given to selling golf clubs, I’d bet that most other big box golf club retailers are sharing the same, leaking boat.
So what does this mean to America’s professional clubfitters? Is this a preview of darker, harder times to come for the golf clubfitting and clubmaking industry?
To everyone but Chicken Little, I would say absolutely not. In fact, while I mildly regret Dick’s and most other OEMs (original equipment manufacturers) suffering from a significant downturn in their golf equipment sales, professional clubfitters and established custom clubmaking equipment design companies like Tom Wishon Golf Technology are holding steady and showing realistic signs of growth.
Why are we not as affected? Why should we believe that these menacing, dark clouds in the OEM side of the industry have a silver lining for professional clubmakers? Here are two basic reasons why:
1) Major golf club OEMs have a common Achilles’ heel that makes them extremely vulnerable to a bad economy: Their business models force them to be more focused on revenues and profits from high volume sales than offering clubs that can genuinely allow golfers to play to the best of their ability.
That means, among other things, that the major brand golf equipment companies—several of which are publicly traded companies that must answer to demanding shareholders—must sell millions of clubs every year in order to prevent the price of their stock from plummeting. And that means glutting the market is an unavoidable consequence. It’s simple supply-and-demand economics: When there is too much of something, it means lower prices to dump the inventory to make room for that next new model to follow with its “fresh story” for “better performance.”
2) Imagine what a golfer might think when a golf club he or she purchased just a few months earlier is now selling for 66% less.
Does the golfer feel ripped off, that he was the victim of higher energy marketing claims designed to push and recycle what is so often previously seen technology onto an over-eager, unsuspecting, uneducated marketplace?
Could a golfer lose confidence in the large companies, especially when confronted with barrels and barrels of barely six-month-old unsold clubs tagged with bright-yellow “SPECIAL PRICE” stickers?
Does a golfer begin to wise up and stop throwing good money after bad, realizing the clubs he or she bought just a few months earlier are no better than the dozens of “new and improved” designs now displayed on the showroom floor?
Apparently so. Just ask Dick’s Sporting Goods or the 500-plus PGA professionals who are now looking for a job.
I don’t mean to be sanctimonious or sarcastic, I really don’t. Still, major golf club manufacturers can point to a bad economy, or Tiger’s troubles, or that golfers are just not playing as much to explain their declining sales figures. That dog, as we say out west, just don’t hunt. Consumers who have been the target of a new club model every 6 months, each with its new claim for better performance, are beginning to know it, too.
But let’s get back to what I wanted to say from that beginning:
Golf clubfitting, via professional clubmakers like you, can offer frustrated golfers a solution to their desire to achieve game improvement. Buying OEM clubs off the rack cannot. And you can get your foot in the door to win over the golfers when clubfitters present their services under the following documented statement:
Professionally fitted clubs can positively help more than 90% of today’s golfers achieve visible game improvement. By pairing professional clubfitting analysis with premium designed golf clubheads, shafts and grips (like those engineered and manufactured by Tom Wishon Golf Technology), golfers who shoot in the low- to mid-80s to high-90s can reduce their score between 3 to 10 shots.
That is a statistically proven fact, verified by more than 15 years of feedback from hundreds and hundreds of custom clubmakers. And that, my friends, is why the economic troubles of the major OEMs are such great news for us. Because OEMs cannot—and will never— devote the required time and training necessary to professionally fit clubs to individual golfers. Period.
So where are the club buyers? Well, apparently they’re not shopping at Dick’s or other big box stores. They’re still out there, waiting, wanting clubs they can believe in, eager for equipment that will have a real, genuine and proven result in making them better golfers to increase their enjoyment in this great game.
New buyers have not gone anywhere. They’re just a little frustrated and disappointed by the hollow promises of the big golf companies.
By partnering together, we can take advantage of this opportunity and offer a better solution for golfers who are frustrated—but remain passionate—about becoming better players. We don’t need millions and millions of golfers. We only need thousands and thousands. Wishon Golf is devoted to this industry, and we will continue to work our tails off to drive customers into your shop, golfers who are intrigued by your professional clubfitting and clubmaking services as well as the tour-quality components engineered and manufactured by Tom Wishon Golf Technology.
In fact, you’re invited to use any of our videos, photographs, logos, copywriting, etc. to help you promote and sell your services. Let me know if you need anything from the website. We are partners in this effort, after all, because this also your time to be talking loud and clear about professional clubfitting, about why your services—coupled with Wishon Golf club components—are a better consumer solution than buying big-brand-name clubs off the rack.
Thank you for your continued support and we’ll keep you apprised of our renewed efforts to help increase your business.
Just recovering from a heart attack, very weak, bought a 915 HL 9 wood, a Matrix Studio 64 shaft, whilst the club is quite old, it is in mint condition and very easy to hit. I found this much better than the new Nike fairway wood.At a fraction of the price. Just bought, today on eBay a 915 driver with 360 head 11deg. Together with a 3′,5 and 7 wood, the latter three have steel reg shafts. Is theMatrix Studio 64 shaft still available ? It would be nice to fit one of them on one of the fairway woods,… Read more »
First off best wishes to you in your recovery that you can get back to good shape and back on the golf course regularly. I am not the person to ask about the availability of Matrix shafts. You’d have to contact the company and ask them. Which I am sure you can do if you search their site on the web and send them a question through their website. There are just far too many shaft companies and shaft models from them all for me to stay on top of.
Was in the golf biz until i sold ny shop in Boca in the 90’s. Ted Kroll was my mentor in clubs and instruction.He thought your line of wedges were the finest he had seen!!! And after a 20 break— i was wondering if there is a place for fitting from a pcs member down here? Prices seem to be all over the place?
MARTY Thanks so much for taking the time to visit and offer your comment!! I’m very well aware of Ted Kroll from my passion for the game and it is very nice to hear what you said about his comments. During your 20 yr break the PCS is no more – very sadly an employee of the PCS admin staff embezzled enough money from the organization that it put the PCS down some years back. At any rate, in its place are the AGCP and ICG and both have accreditation programs to identify the most knowledgeable and skilled clubmaker/clubfitters. Best… Read more »
Really enjoyed your info/expertise. I’m a retired PGA class A. Completely agree that
custom fitting is the last technology. Thanks for presenting this info.
ps: I used to play in Atascadero, Ca. I knew a PGA pro named Gary Wishon. Any relation?
Thanks Bill for your comments!! Yes, I became aware of Gary Wishon in the So Cal section of the PGA back in the mid 90s. If I remember correctly, he was the head pro at a club back then by the name of Virginia CC in So Cal. I remember corresponding with him back then because I was surprised to find someone else in the golf business with the same last name. But we found that apparently we are not directly related, at least in terms of going back 2-3 generations. So just a coincidence, but interesting since our name… Read more »
And yet again the apparent decline of Tiger Woods is mentioned as a reason for golf going bad, or will go bad, or has gone bad. I wonder how he feels, since everyone seems to be blaming him for the imminent implosion of golf. No wonder he has a bad back- he’s been carrying an entire industry for over 15 years!
Sorry, I couldn’t resist.
dMac Count me in the group that rolls his eyes and gets that “oh give me a break” thought in my head whenever I hear some maven in the game wax on about the game’s decrease in participation being tied to the fall of Tiger from prominence. I suppose statistics can be found to say that’s a small part of it, but at the end of the day it is a whole lot more than that. For all of us who genuinely love the game, those reasons we play – the individual challenge, being out on acres of manicured grass,… Read more »
Tom, You are correct, TaylorMade and Callaway are having to produce to much stuff that as it hits the Golf Shops it is obsolete and the next model is on its way. What ever happened to the 2 – 3 year product life cycle ? One area that should be thriving is the marketing departments cooking up a lot performance hype. I took a real good look at some of the current offerings at my local retailer. They did have some nice new colors to differentiate the model changes and as usual they said the new models will hit the… Read more »
May I say that I have a “wry smile” on my face when reading your comments! With the VAST amount of design, engineering and industry experience that you have puts you at the very, very top when it comes to really knowing what has been going on in this industry for several years now. Thanks so much for taking the time to stop by and offer your comments!!