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.