Say hello to MyGolfSpy Japan.
The incomparable Wu-Tang Clan reminds investors to “diversify your bonds.” In this case, it’s an apt descriptor of MyGolfSpy’s ongoing commitment to expand our reach beyond the limited confines of North America.
MYGOLFSPY JAPAN BACKGROUND
The worldwide golf equipment and apparel market represents roughly US$13.5 billion.
In terms of the golf business, the United States is the largest single market. Japan is second, South Korea third, followed by the UK and Canada, respectively.
Together, the U.S. and Japan control roughly two-thirds of the worldwide market (US$9 billion). That’s some serious salad.
THAT’S INTERESTING, BUT…
Our unwavering goal at MyGolfSpy is to give every consumer data-centric unbiased information that’s always rooted in performance.
When you ask a question, we want to be able to answer it.
However, the world of golf equipment is like a Las Vegas all-you-can-eat buffet on steroids. It simply too massive to consume in a single sitting.
As we gain bandwidth and capacity, the goal is to increase our coverage, expand our footprint and do so in a manner that maintains the integrity of the information which serves as the foundation of all we do.
Technically, it’s a reintroduction but consider this the official grand opening of MyGolfSpy Japan.
WHY MYGOLFSPY JAPAN?
The obvious answer is because it’s the second-largest golf market in the world.
But that’s not the whole answer. The differences between the U.S. and Japan are much more than geographic. They’re rooted in widely disparate traditions, history, culture, philosophy and many more aspects, including the approach to the game.
That doesn’t mean there isn’t plenty of common ground. As you might expect, this shared space is defined by a mutual love for the game and the equipment we spend countless hours researching, trying, buying and, eventually, replacing.
WHAT’S ON THE MYGOLFSPY JAPAN MENU?
Plenty. But mostly equipment. The JDM (Japanese Domestic Market) is replete with brands many of you outside of Japan probably aren’t aware exist.
Companies like Ryoma, Maruman, Seven, PRGR and Akira aren’t exactly household names in North America.
Then there are major players like TaylorMade, Callaway, Titleist and PING that also produce equipment exclusively for the Asian market. Sometimes the differences are primarily cosmetic. (See Callaway Epic Star). Occasionally, manufacturers create a line solely for the Japanese market. (See Titleist VG3)
Regardless, there’s plenty of equipment to discuss. And demo. And test. But, beyond performance, there are plenty of questions worthy of discussion.
As a rule, Japanese equipment tends to be more expensive. But why?
You also routinely hear terms like craftsmanship, heritage, meticulous attention to detail and refined. The list goes on but where’s the line between marketing malarkey and an honest effort to draw attention to quantifiable distinctions?
Over the last decade or so, several Japanese brands have made a run at the North American market with varying degrees of success. The objective to “figure out North America” was the common refrain from companies like Fourteen, Vega, Yamaha, Honma, Epon and Miura at more than one PGA Merchandise Show in recent memory. Most manufacturers failed. Why?
At the same time, we’ve seen both niche (PXG) and mainline (Callaway, TaylorMade) companies look to strategically increase a presence in Asia. In the case of PXG, golf equipment is just a piece of the evolving puzzle.
SPEAKING OF STORIES
Golf’s parlance is universal. Birdie. Par. Three-putt. It’s pretty much the same regardless of location or language. But, how individuals experience the game can be as different as persimmon and titanium.
Going to play a round of golf in Japan? Consider the following norms:
- Be ready to share a ride and ship your clubs to the course. Get comfy because it’s likely at least an hour trip each way.
- Like a restaurant, you pay after your round is complete.
- Unlike a restaurant, you don’t generally tip for routine service.
- Don’t forget to pack formal attire (including a jacket) for dinner.
- A round of golf is an all-day affair that can easily exceed several hundred dollars.
- Golf in Japan is more of a full-scale experience than an event. It’s not a perfect analogy but it’s something like the difference between a four-course meal and going to Outback.
EVERYONE NEEDS A GOLF PARTNER
You probably didn’t know that the Guiness Book world record holder for the largest golf chain store also resides in Japan. That would be Golf Partner which boasts 380 stores and more than 550,000 in-stock clubs.
On balance, Japanese golfers tend to take better care of their golf equipment but that’s a story for a different time. The salient point is that used equipment with less mileage presents a better value for consumers.
And like Starbucks in the U.S., Golf Partner retail outlets are ubiquitous in Japan. Now, with online retail and a comprehensive distribution network, golfers have access to a part of the equipment market they possibly weren’t even aware existed.
It’s not exactly like having a DICK’S or PGA Tour Superstore down the road but it’s a hell of a lot easier than booking a flight to Okinawa.
Beyond pre-owned sticks, Golf Partner also offers a robust slate of new equipment. If you haven’t started down the rabbit hole that is JDM golf, my advice is to start slowly. And don’t say I didn’t warn you.
It can be like shopping at Target or Home Depot. You walk in with a shortlist of items and $50 and you walk out with a bunch of stuff you didn’t know you needed and a new credit card.
YOU TELL US
A good bit of what we discuss, research and test at MyGolfSpy is based directly on reader feedback.
And the addition of MyGolfSpy Japan presents something of a unique opportunity.
So, let’s hear it. What would you like to know? What equipment do you think MyGolfSpy should test?
*This content is backed by the MyGolfSpy Integrity in Advertising Promise.