Dick’s Firings Signal Major Recalibration of the Golf Equipment Industry
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Dick’s Firings Signal Major Recalibration of the Golf Equipment Industry

Dick’s Firings Signal Major Recalibration of the Golf Equipment Industry

Written By: Tony Covey

The golf equipment industry’s retail model is broken.

That’s an opinion, but it’s an opinion shared by every last person I know in this industry.

As if we needed more evidence that the system is in need of recalibration, Dick’s Sporting Goods, the #1 sporting goods retailer in the USA, very recently fired 100% of  the PGA Professionals on staff.

That is, unfortunately, an undisputed fact.

ESPN’s Darren Rovell reported the number of people who lost their job at over 500. My sources put the number at roughly 550. Either way, it’s a bad situation.

As is usually the case when bad things happen, there is plenty of finger pointing right now. The fingers that aren’t being pointed at Dick’s are trained squarely on TaylorMade, and to a lesser extent, Callaway. Those who are being kind simply blame the equipment companies.

We have reached a tipping point.

Years of accelerated product cycles and equally accelerated consumer discounts have finally caught up with golf’s biggest retailer (Dick’s + the Dick’s-owned Golf Galaxy), and just as quickly it’s catching up with the industry’s two largest manufacturers…and everyone else too.

The Channel is Flooded

Selling off a little bit of inventory at a discount price isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It’s not killing anybody to slash prices and clear out a literal handful of PING and Titleist drivers after a one-and-a-half to two-year lifecycle.

When lifecycles drop to six months and the discounting starts after only 3 or 4 months, it’s a huge problem. It’s half the reason golfers have stopped buying equipment. We have no faith that what we can buy today won’t be cheaper tomorrow.

As one industry contact recently said to me, “golf equipment isn’t like toilet paper. People don’t need to buy it.”

Nailed it. Golfers don’t need to buy new equipment, and so for now, they’re not.

In fairness, nobody…not TaylorMade, not Callaway or anybody else plans on a six-month-release cycle. In golf, just like everything else, sometimes shit just happens. Nobody consciously set out to destroy the golf equipment industry.

The decision to drop the next big thing ahead of schedule is made for any number of reasons, not the least of which is the need to make the balance sheet look palatable for investors. You can absorb a bad quarter or two, but you can really only blame the weather for so long.

Eventually heads roll.

All In

The thing is, a business like Dick’s doesn’t buy as they go. They commit early, and they buy big. For a company the size of Dick’s Sporting Goods TaylorMade is their Costco, they save when they buy in bulk.

They did, and they got stuck holding the bag for a metric shit-ton of TaylorMade gear.

How bad is it?

I spoke with two senior level industry experts yesterday who estimate that a full 60% of Dick’s golf inventory is tied up in TaylorMade. Couple that surplus with another estimate that puts Dick’s TaylorMade sales down by upwards of 40% from last year, and well, it’s pretty easy to pinpoint the source of the congestion.

Net Down to Zero Profits

At any given Dick’s you’re likely to find upwards of 10 different TaylorMade drivers still on shelves. That number includes an assortment of standard models (R1, RBZ, RBZ 2, SLDR, SLDR S, JetSpeed), Pro & TP, black and white, and for good measure, a few Dick’s exclusive’s like the Gloire and RBZ SL.

Having a huge selection of gear, particularly at discount prices isn’t necessarily a bad thing for the consumer, but it’s a huge problem for Dick’s right now.

Because of the way most major manufacturers handle price cuts (a process known as Net Down), Dick’s (and everyone else) only makes much in the way of an actual profit when it sells the very latest and greatest.

For the rest of it (the 6+ month old stuff)…the cost of those discounts was already applied to the purchase of the new gear. So while selling a few R1s might clear some shelf space, it doesn’t actually make Dick’s any real money.

Good news…all those near-zero profit drivers, they still count in the market share reports (Dick’s doesn’t provide info to Golf Datatech, but most other retail outlets do).

Once upon a time retailers could Net Down and still turn a profit. Not anymore, not with this much surplus. With the retail market and the industry as a whole in decline, the accelerated release model has very quickly been proven unsustainable.

Enough Blame to Go Around

While TaylorMade faces the brunt of the criticism, the reality is that this mess isn’t totally on them. Callaway followed the TaylorMade model, and as recently as last year was still talking about being extremely aggressive with their releases.

I’m guessing plans have changed.

Over the last few seasons, Cleveland, Cobra, Adams…actually let’s call it what it is – EVERYBODY not named Titleist, PING, or Nike has aggressively discounted gear early in the season, and they too have contributed to the equipment clog.

Let’s pause for a moment to appreciate those few companies who refused to contribute to what is now, inarguably, a total clusterfuck.

If you’re going to blame TaylorMade for being the leader, shake an angry fist at all of the followers too.

Dick’s shouldn’t get a pass in this either. It’s not a victim by any stretch. Absolutely TaylorMade has been known to do some arm twisting. You want the biggest wholesale discount, you’ll need to buy more inventory than anyone can reasonably expect to sell in this market.

Not only did Dick’s load up with the standard stuff, they partnered with TaylorMade on those exclusives I talked about too. Dick’s went all in with TaylorMade and they got busted.

Dick’s twisted its own arm.

Sadly…that’s only half the story.

The Other Half of the Story

There’s more to this than just a flooded retail channel. It would be easy to view those 500+ golf professionals who lost their jobs this week as collateral damage in TaylorMade’s war on the rest of the golf industry, but the reality is they’re victims of a badly miscalculated power play on the part of Dick’s Sporting Goods.

Have you ever stopped to think why Dick’s even staffed PGA Professionals in the first place? I mean, when you really think about it, it’s ludicrous.

You think the average big box customer cares about custom fitting, or having access to a credentialed PGA Professional? C’mon.

Would Best Buy hire sound engineers to sell stereos?

It’s just bad business to pay someone 40-50K per year to do the same job that somebody else will do for $10 an hour.

That’s not a knock on the PGA Pros who lost their jobs. It’s a safe assumption that the vast majority are more skilled and much more knowledgeable than the average Dick’s associate. They don’t deserve to be out of work right now. They’re talented guys who were in the wrong place.

What I’m suggesting is that Dick’s had a plan…and it wasn’t a particularly good one. The Big box business doesn’t need much in the way of professional anything, at least not at the ground level.

It’s reasonable to assume that the idea to staff PGA Professionals was conceived with the belief that by offering custom fitting (your actual mileage with that will vary) and other services (club repair, regripping) more commonly associated with Green Grass and mom and pop golf businesses, Dick’s could take an even bigger chunk out of the ass of the little guy…and the club pro too.

Credentialed PGA Professionals would add authenticity to Dick’s golf business. They would legitimize the money grab.

Dick’s misread the market and its own customer base.

Big Box is All About Price and Instant Gratification

While there will always be exceptions, the average big box customer doesn’t much care who’s behind the counter. He doesn’t care about custom fitting either.

The majority Dick’s golf customer doesn’t know the store has a PGA Professional on staff. If he does, it doesn’t much matter, because he’s not at Dick’s for the service anyway. He’s there for the inventory. He’s there for instant gratification. Dick’s has what he wants and he doesn’t have to pay for shipping.

Golf consumers aren’t much different than any other consumer. They want what they want for as little as they can possibly spend, and because of MAP Pricing, Dick’s can’t sell him a driver for any less than anybody else.

You know who can? eBay. It’s the only place where anyone has a competitive advantage at retail.

Those who are actually interested in fitting and a full-service experience, they were never going to come to Dick’s in any meaningful numbers. The Big Box stigma is too strong. Those guys…probably guys like most of you; you’re going to a custom fitter, or a golf specialty shop.

Dick’s believed that it could make golfers see them as something more than a big box sporting goods store. They were wrong and 500+ PGA Pros are out of work today because of it.

What Happens Next

This unfortunate Dick’s situation isn’t the story. It’s barely the start of a much larger one.

Big, big (and much needed) changes are coming to the golf equipment industry. Participation in the sport is dropping, and while I’m not one who believes it’s time to start the countdown to the total demise of the game just yet, the current retail sales model is broken. It’s clearly not sustainable in this declining market.

I don’t have any details solid enough to print just yet, but the firings are just the beginning of major changes to Dick’s golf business. The forecasters at Dick’s don’t believe the golf equipment industry has hit bottom yet. They’re cutting back…on inventory, and on floor space.

Make room for Yoga. That’s where the money is. And I’m not kidding.

That alone will impact the industry in a big way. Inside their biggest revenue source, golf companies will have less square footage peddle their wares. It’s a potentially massive shift.

We believe we’re going to see a much more restrained industry. Expectations will be reset. Product cycles will rationalize, and the rapid discount game is going to come to a very sudden halt.

Direct to consumer sales will be a larger part of the strategy for most golf companies, and that’s going to take yet another chunk out of what’s left of the retail guy’s ass. It’s going to get worse before it gets better.

My guess is that all of this trickles down to my side of the industry as well. There will likely be fewer and smaller media events. The free equipment frenzy that keeps the average golf blogger banging away at his keyboard is going to end. There’s going to be much less to go around.

Existing advertising models? We’ll see.

The entire golf industry is going to contract and consolidate.

Some will no doubt accuse us of being overly dramatic (we respect your opinion), but the industry has been tumbling towards this inevitability for a while now, and the firings at Dick’s are only a harbinger (what an ominous word, right) of even bigger changes to come.

At the risk of overstating it, we believe this is nothing less than chapter one of the biggest equipment story in the history of MyGolfSpy.

Stay tuned for the rest of the story…

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Tony Covey

Tony Covey

Tony Covey

Tony is the Editor of MyGolfSpy where his job is to bring fresh and innovative content to the site. In addition to his editorial responsibilities, he was instrumental in developing MyGolfSpy's data-driven testing methodologies and continues to sift through our data to find the insights that can help improve your game. Tony believes that golfers deserve to know what's real and what's not, and that means MyGolfSpy's equipment coverage must extend beyond the so-called facts as dictated by the same companies that created them. Most of all Tony believes in performance over hype and #PowerToThePlayer.

Tony Covey

Tony Covey

Tony Covey

Tony Covey

Tony Covey

Tony Covey





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      Dan Sueltz

      10 years ago

      Our business is doing very well also, but we have really switched gears to adapt to our customers needs. Instant gratification is everywhere so fittings need to be shorter and more concise, delivery times need to be shortened, and the value proposition (why custom clubs versus off the rack) needs to be clear. Golf is competing with lot more outdoor activities so the industry needs to make it more fun and less time-consuming. Yes, the golf industry is having problems but I do not believe it is dead by any means. Will there be fewer courses?..absolutely because every property development in the world put in a golf course when only 12-15% of the owners golfed. Do we have an oversupply in golf equipment?..absolutely because everyone can get rid of their old clubs on eBay or Craig’s List instead of letting them sit in the garage. This will sort itself out over the next 3-5 years so adapt, adapt, adapt if you are in the industry as it is definitely not a growth industry here in the US.

      Reply

      Bob Pegram

      10 years ago

      Mike –
      Same question as I asked Mike. Where are you located – what city and state? Just curious. Thanks.

      Reply

      Steve Almo

      10 years ago

      Bob! Don’t I know you?

      Bob Pegram

      10 years ago

      Hi Steve –
      I worked for Leith Anderson until he moved to Indiana. I don’t know if we have met though. We have had previous discussions on My Golf Spy.
      Bob

      Steve Almo

      10 years ago

      From N. Ca. to Indiana………..Bob talk about a radical climate change…LOL! Tell Leith to chop plenty of wood…Persimmon wood…it burns longer…LOL!

      Steve Almo

      10 years ago

      Dan and Mike…let me clairify that statement. I was speaking of wholesale distributors, manufactuers and specialty designer boutique companies like myself….otherwise known as the Minors. I do knoiw of some retailers that are doing well as they are adapting as you say Dan. Most just refuse to fight the battle Dan.

      http://www.geekgolf.com

      Reply

      Dan Sueltz

      10 years ago

      Yeah, Steve, I hear you. Some very dear friends in the industry making very high quality components like yourself have had to really change their business models in order to survive. We do less than 10 percent of the business with folks like yourself that we did 10 years ago. It’s all about branding and you have a VERY tough sell but keep up the fight!

      Steve Almo

      10 years ago

      Dan…Believe me…I did not want to sell off my site. I have to. I always tried to protect my account base in that respect. Also, I set ground rules for them selling on E-Bay…they have to stay on the same page with MAP pricing.

      I don’t even have my address on my site so retail customers cannot visit me to buy which in turn protects retailers close to me.

      I still maintain MAP for me and e-bay sellers. I don’t sell on e-bay BTW.

      mike

      10 years ago

      My shop is doing extremely well, up significantly YOY. But the golf industry is dead!

      Reply

      Bob Pegram

      10 years ago

      Mike –
      Where are you located – what city and state? Just curious.

      Reply

      Berniez40

      10 years ago

      Golf Industry, Auto Industry, whatever industry—they all go through cycles. When the niche players get squeezed out, the big players start scrambling in order to grab market share at any price. Unfortunately, if things get too crazy, the industry actually commoditizes itself, as the computer industry did to itself several years back. Instead of the race to 460cc drivers, 5400 MOI on drivers, and other forms of specification one upsmanship, the computer industry did it with the speed of chips and the amount of Ram, (Remember when they used to have to subdivide SRam and DRam in order to impress you as a customer.) Well we all know what happened to the $4000 desktop computer. My little $600 laptop can kick my old desktop’s a$$, and I’m sure many of you have hand held devices that can kick the tar out of your old desktop from back in the day.
      Sadly, as far as golf goes, we are in a sideways economy, and many of the players have basically commoditized the industry. Because the economy itself is no longer growing at a faster clip, the shrinkage and thinning of the herd has already begun en masse. Hopefully, things will level off, but in the meantime, desperate times have some of the big boys not only cutting the fat, but zipping right through the muscle, and into the bone in order to grab whatever few percentage points of market share that they can. They are counting on huge war chests to see them through the sausage grinder of stagnant growth. These were the very tactics and scenarios that led to the death of auto greats such as Packard, and once great consumer friendly computer companies such as Gateway. I’m hoping golf doesn’t dissolve into another Big 3 that consists of larger companies pumping out mediocre products in mass quantities, but the history of economics says that that might very well be where we are headed.

      Reply

      Steve Almo

      10 years ago

      Nice post Bernie…only one thing….this isn’t just a cycle the golf biz is going thru…this is a complete melt down! I have been in the golf biz for 37 years and have been thru a couple of hiccup cycles…this is a whole new world.

      Reply

      Berniez40

      10 years ago

      I’m afraid you may be right Steve. You are one of the very few niche players who has survived, and I hope you continue to do so. I have gamed several of your clubs in the past, Bang-O-Matic, Bangster, and currently, when my swing is in top form, I’ll pull out my No-Brainer, complete with Talamonti Shaft. You have indeed ridden the wave of this crazy industry for sometime. Some of my friends currently work for Edwin Watts which got bought out by Golf World. Sometimes you can see their eyes wax nostalgic when they talk about the times they spent on the various Tour Vans for Cleveland, and others. I pray for a lot of people every day, and say grace over my day job. I hope your newest driver is a hit. In the meantime, can you tell me if you were the brains behind the old Aurora Drivers—the last of the great steel headed monsters. Back then as now, you always seemed a step and a half ahead of the rest. I hope you continue to do so.

      Steve Almo

      10 years ago

      Thank you very much for the kind words, Bernie. The Floyd driver is doing extremely well and getting exceptional reviews on different internet sites. But, I must tell you Bernie…I am hanging by my fingernails as well. Anyone who says they are doing well is BSing. It’s tough out there Bernie. The clubfitters are dropping like flies…which as you know was my main marketn for resellers. Because of that…I had to sell to the consumer direct..to help stimulate sales and make up for fitters that are going out of biz.. I hold my MAP pricing to protect my account base and I don’t like doing that but I was forced to Bernie. I do things a bit different than everyone else as you pointed out and have a nice cult following…but, Bernie who knows? Again…it’s tough right now. Evertone is on survival mode right now, Bernie.

      http://www.geekgolf.com

      Steve Almo

      10 years ago

      Sorry for the bad spelling and grammer in my last post…I did not look back to check it….again.

      SA

      mike

      10 years ago

      Most of u have no idea what you are talking about. Just because u play golf doesn’t make you an expert. Don’t pretend to be one. Actually working in the industry and having some knowledge on this subject. Someone commented earlier on the pro’s not liking working there and I would agree. If they did it was because they were terrible pro’s. There were a few good pro’s and there stores golf shop was profitable. The fact is who do you think worked at dicks? The pros that couldn’t get a real job. Dicks was also ruined by TM. The whole golf industry is being ruined by TM.

      Reply

      Steve Almo

      10 years ago

      God….you’re in the industry!!?? The fact that we have lost millions of golfers and that the number of rounds has gone down dramatically including closure of golf courses has nothing to do with PGA Pro’s having been forced to work for a Dick’s? And to lay all the problems at the door of TM is moronic. 25 years ago when there were around 14,000 golf courses or so…everything was fine. Now you have around 22,000+ courses, with many in trouble. Where a good public track ran thru 90,000 rounds per year and now is running thru 60,000 because of over building and less golfers…what did TM do to create this problem? Mike your laying the blame in the wrong place.

      http://www.geekgolf.com

      Reply

      Berniez40

      10 years ago

      Yes, and Stachura thinks his unicorn shits skittles too!

      Reply

      Berniez40

      10 years ago

      Glad to see you guys got some re-affirmation on a hypothesis you received more than your fair share of flack for. I remember a few years back when Wilson Staff started dealing direct with the public, and you guys called the beginning of the end for the current golf retail model at that time I also remember many people saying, “Oh that’s only Wilson Staff, and they’re only an also ran at this point.”
      Congrats on calling one right on the money several years in advance. Let’s see how many “Me too…me too.” bloggers and magazine writers fall into line with your lead. I hate to see the industry head south like this, but when Nickent folded, and not even the likes of Greg Norman could save the resurrection of MacGregor, it was a sign for me to pinch all the pennies I could before leaving the product review business last year. Just about the time this downturn finally became obvious to everyone else, and the place where I hung my shingle folded up shop. Hang in there guys, it’s going to be some ride for the next few years.

      Reply

      Steve Almo

      10 years ago

      MacGregor hasn’t been a ‘player’ or 30 years…and Nickent never was. Don’t base what is happening now by what happened to those 2 companies.

      Reply

      Simon

      10 years ago

      TM followed the model used by the Russians…… put an AK-47 in everyone that hates America! But the difference is the AK-47 is prime commodity and does not change model every six months.

      Reply

      Steve Thomson

      10 years ago

      Great article, curious as to your thoughts on how this will effect the Private Club golf shop in Canada. We need an almost full time person dealing with the world of net downs in our shop.

      Reply

      DDD

      10 years ago

      I can tell you of a number of green grass shops in the north that are either cancelling future orders or are being very, very careful about every delivery to ensure the common practice of over shipping is stopped as well as just being cautious that product that is not selling is not continually coming in the door. Incidentally, and not unrelated, Adidas reported huge drops in profits of apparel and are soon to blitz the market with promotion. You see, the buisness model – the culture, of this particular company is to push product and create the demand. The demand, in my estimation, is pushing back by not buying into the hype. Sorry but this is where the rubber meets the road and that road is going to be a long one in the near future for TMAG.

      Reply

      Dindi

      10 years ago

      Now for the biggest joke of all. Word has it that Dick’s management expects the golf services to remain the same now as when the Pro’s were working. Can you imagine having your $699.99 set of irons “fitted” by a $10 an hour associate. $10 an hour, are you kidding…try $7.00.

      Reply

      David H

      10 years ago

      Mark, I have to totally agree with you on most of what you wrote. In Dick’s case they may have had this grand idea, but a Walmart concept in a large sports store will only drive the guys who are looking for discounts. Unfortunately it was a good idea badly implemented. To start off, most of the store a walked in, none of the pros seemed interested in providing service, orientation and to say the least they looked like the usual guy selling baseball hats. They never made it a point to differentiate them from the rest. As far as the industry equipment…, it’s frustrating to see that after you have purchased the ultimate driver, that you are presented now with the new and most ultimate driver, 6 mo. later and your old driver is now 30% cheaper and out dated.

      Reply

      Steve Almo

      10 years ago

      On the firing of PGA Professionals at Dick’s. No one became a PGA Pro, at whatever level, to be selling golf equipment at a Sporting goods store.or any type off course retail golf shop…unless they owned it. They went into the PGA Program to become a Head Pro at a course (muni, private or resort type)…somewhere down the road. They want to teach and run a Pro Shop in an on-course situation. How could they possibly enjoy their employment at Dick’s? The turnover had to be huge in that respect. It had to be merely a stopover to hve a check coming in…while still attached in some way to the business of golf. I see no other reason. Unless I am missing something.

      Reply

      Tony Covey

      10 years ago

      Was talking with my head pro about this last night. He’s a guy who actually spent a couple of seasons working at Golf Galaxy while he was between course gigs. By pretty much all accounts, Dick’s was the last place any Pro wants to be.

      I mean…I’m sure there were a few who appreciate the relative ease of a mostly 9-5 schedule, but the majority would rather be somewhere else.

      Consider the obvious…all of those courses that have closed and will close…the majority had PGA Professionals. All else being equal, we’re talking about the creation of 14 jobs for the 150-something that were lost. That’s the kind of ugly math even I can wrap my head around.

      With courses closing, big box downsizing, and manufacturers embracing direct to consumer models, where are these guys going to go? What jobs will be available for today’s PGA apprentices?

      The PGA of America can spin it as a blip all they wants and point to whatever whimsical fantasy that suggests it’s all going to turn around, any minute now (once the weather stays warm, I guess) but I’d point out that all the way back to the PGA Show (hmm…guess that wasn’t that long ago), PGA President Ted Bishop was on stage with Mark King (TMaG), Joe Beditz (NGF), and Gary Hamel (Mr. King’s hired gun) talking about how the sky is falling, and we’re all screwed if we don’t do something to fix (hack) golf right freakin’ now.

      6 months later…it’s not that bad.

      Have things really improved so much since late January that 500 Pros out of work is just a hiccup?

      Reply

      Chris Christensen

      10 years ago

      As a PGA professional for 20 years (most as a teacher) I have been observing the issues discussed in the article for some time. I have been warning people for 5 years that these things were going to start happening; the first sign was the shortening equipment cycles and participation has been flat and sliding for over a decade. I have been dissuading young guys with college degrees from getting into the golf biz for years. Unfortunately I agree with everything Tony said in this article. BTW Tony, stop using all the expletives for emphasis. There are better words to use and based on the content of the article, you must be smarter than that. We’re not in seventh grade anymore.

      Reply

      Kris Moe

      10 years ago

      Enjoyed the article and the very informed comments as well.

      I’m in the business and sometimes I feel like I’m in a boat that is sinking. However the PGA gets it and it sounds like you guys get it that too. The market has changed for numerous reasons and the sport has to evolve to meet the wants of the new market. I believe it will but there will still be a lot of contraction.

      As an instructor and someone involved with business development for my golf school and the facility I work at I’m really excited about the future with the technology of launch monitors. They are amazingly helpful in improving golfers and many of them also have a “skills test” function that makes practice so much more valuable and frankly interesting.

      I believe the Top Golf golf range model is going to bring a resurgence of golfers back or to the game. If you haven’t experienced one, google Top Golf. Even Millennials like to play.

      Anything to make learning the game cheaper and more welcoming will grow the game along with these cool new technologies that make more experienced golfers better faster.

      Reply

      Steve Almo

      10 years ago

      Tony…Love your writing style! Just marvelous stuff. If you ever got together with Mike Tait…between his writing style and yours…you guys could own the World!!!!

      Reply

      TwoSolitudes

      10 years ago

      So the future will be “The TMAG Store” like the Apple Store? I am note sure that will really work either.And even if it worked for TMAG that business model would shut out all but the very biggest brands. Maybe all online direct to customers, with a few fitting shops that don’t actually carry any product to sell? Direct sales on Ebay? make it seem like you are getting a great deal while still buying from the legit brand on Ebay and that might be a winner.

      Either way looks like a pretty steep drop in volume sold is coming. The only ones not really impacted will be Spaulding and Northwestern sets you can buy at Canadian Tire.

      Maybe its time to buy a Yoga mat.

      Reply

      Steve Almo

      10 years ago

      TwoS…interesting you bring that scenario up. IMO the only Major golf company that could sustain this type business is PING! I can see PING only stores. They are the cleanest golf company and have been forever. It is definately doable for them as a franchise. But they won’t.

      Reply

      DDD

      10 years ago

      The golf pie is smaller. TM’s approach in the last 12 years or so was to capture as much of that pie as possible. Adidas coming together with TM helped facilitate that. They’ve bought Adams as well. Other companies are gobbling up competitors to help gain a bigger slice of the pie. Ping was never in the business to do that. Titleist as well is more interested in making great products for good/great players (their ball business is priority). Ping and Titleist will continue to do what they do with less stress on maintaining business. Those who are in constant attack mode are the ones sucking it up right now. Their very aggressive strategy to gain those sales and market share has quite possibly blown up in their face.

      So much like other components of our economy in the last 12 years there is a massive money grab, euphoria, then the floor drops out. i.e. banking, mortgages/housing

      I’m sorry PGA Professionals lost their jobs at Dick’s. Dick’s had their own strategy and it didn’t work. IMO it didn’t work because they drank some of the money grab strategy kool-aid and it didn’t work. Dick’s will move on to something else. Will TMAG? Or will they take a big hit in the chin on their equipment money grab strategy?

      Either way Ping and Titleist are likely to continue to plunk along and may even pick up on some of the disgruntled TM customers who bought the “latest and greatest” for $299 to find it at the same store 4 months later discounted and a fairway wood thrown in. Everyone has a storeroom full of TM equipment – everyone but TM. Prediction? TM equipment sales takes a bigger hit as other retailers finally push back. I can only hope. The who industry needs it.

      Regis

      10 years ago

      DDD Please don’t let the facts get in the way of your opinion.. Earlier you mis-stated that TMAG rushed the SLDR to market so as to bury the failure of the Jet Speed, notwithstanding the fact that the SLDR driver was released 4 months before the Jetspeed. I’ll give you Ping but this idolatry of Titleist has to stop. The equipment division was spun off years ago and last I checked was owned by Fila Korea an international conglomerate that also owns (for example) Jim Beam Bourbon. Their clubheads are made in China and they use made for shafts just like everybody else. Don’t misunderstand me I’ve owned Titleist drivers and fairways and I like them but today they introduced their new 915 series woods which SURPRISE has a speed channel just like TM and Adams introduced although they call it an “Active Recoil Channel” . OOOOhhh, This image of skilled craftsmen slaving over their Massachusetts workbenches handcrafting your new driver is a figment of your imagination.. Oh and by the way for all you detractors out there the original SLDR driver has now been out a year and the price has not dropped. Be well-Just venting

      AWOL

      10 years ago

      Finally!!! Someone else that actually doesn’t think Titleist is the Holy Grail of golf. Although I play Vokey SM4 and wouldn’t trade them for anything. I still think PING is a better company than Titleist. Anytime a new person comes to me about equipment for beginners that they can grow with and still use as they become good players, my #1 recommendation to them is PING. PING maybe somewhat stale or arguably less innovative, but their stuff is still awesome. And PING isn’t afraid of being themselves. Although i will never tell anyone Titleist stuff is crap, they have a very passive and elitist attitude that i think is off-putting. And this is coming from someone who has a lot of TMag in the bag. Usually i would have more PING in my bag, but this last year when i redid my set i had for 7yrs i just hit better with TMag. Strangely especially any of my friends would tell you im a PING guy.

      DDD

      10 years ago

      My point is Titleist and Ping don’t “reinvent the wheel” every 6 months and cram a bunch of product down their retailer’s throats. TM used to feed you the bs about the white club head with a black face is the “most optically beneficial…..bs” Then it was all about adjustability – ours can be changed to any of 15 combinations! Then was less or no adjustability. Now smaller clubheads with more loft. So what is it? What’s optimal? As a consumer AND someone within the industry I look back and just claim BS.

      [ Side note: I’d challenge someone to put together a comprehensive survey to TM retailers and find out how many of them deal with over shipments, mis-shipments, duplicated orders, product showing up that was never ordered, and then of course the hassle with their credit department. You might be very surprised.]

      Yes, Titleist and others have adjustable clubs but the roll out clubs every 18 months or so and quite frankly don’t make wholesale changes to their equipment and claim some miraculous improvement in their club like others do. I’m just saying the more conservative companies who pride themselves on making great equipment and aren’t out there to commandeer the marketplace will continue to do what they do and won’t suffer the huge fall out as other manufacturers might. The bigger they are, the harder they fall.

      AWOL

      10 years ago

      This has been some of the most interesting comments i have read in response to an article. Good job with the write up and its nice to see so many people passionate about the state of golf. I dont think i can really say any more than what has already been said. But i think we should note that it isnt the fault of any one individual company for the state that we are in. Its not Dicks or TMag or Callaway. It just sucks. I hate seeing people lose jobs, i hate seeing things get out of control on cost and i hate seeing golf courses close. There are/were some pretty cool courses that have closed that many didnt get a chance to experience. I will say if i did have to point a finger at one person for all this i blame ourselves. Mainly because of the retards we elect to office. 90% of all politicians shouldnt even be allowed to run or be in office. Their poor decisions and greed and BJs under the table have gotten america into this situation. Bad politics=bad economy=poor employment=broke people. And all the great things like shooting, golf and other activities as citizens we partake in get to take it up the a$$. Because Americans essentially have no middle class and are being paid less. I feel America is due for an overhaul and its not going to be pretty. Until that happens i would like to see golf salvage what they can. More private courses need to go public, elitist attitudes need to be gone completely, and kids really need to have an ability to play free or heavily discounted. And green fees at exceed $300 is just flat out absurd. I lived in Oregon for 20yrs and never played the Dunes because of the outrageous fees, Pebble Beach ($500) hell no. Where in the hell do they think these prices are warranted. And if any of you have lived in Oregon you will know that the Oregon coast has some of the worst wind and weather you have to play golf.

      Reply

      DDD

      10 years ago

      Until Pebble Beach has an empty tee sheet the prices will remain. It’s supply and demand 101.

      The mass of consumers simply don’t buy at retail any more. Most consumers are very value conscious these days and the mass marketed goods had better have that value or the consumer is going to tell you they are done with your retail prices. Only the new gadget junkies are the ones lining up for the new t.v., iphone, playstation, or golf equipment.

      Reply

      Leith Anderson

      10 years ago

      This is one of the most interesting threads in a while…

      I can spice up the conversation with something I heard this week. The source was in a position to know – an Adams rep who obviously had inside knowledge of sales numbers. (Not the Indiana Adams rep).

      He said that Dicks was responsible for 30% of all golf clubs sold in the USA.

      I thought that was a stunning number considering that it appears Dicks management is saying: “Lets get 50% of our inventory value back, and 50% of the floor space currently dedicated to golf clubs”. Will it be yoga? Soccer balls?

      There is no going back for Dicks. At the store near me in Indianapolis, the PGA Pro did all of the fittings and all of the repairs. Today, the best they can do is install grips. Without a fitting option, they are going back to the “Big 5 Sporting Goods” model – low prices and self-service.

      It will be interesting to see the impact on TM and Callaway after they lose their biggest customer.

      Leith Anderson, Indianapolis, IN

      Reply

      Tony Covey

      10 years ago

      Leith – That sounds right to me. Dicks combined with Golf Galaxy is the #1 source of golf club sales in the US. Downsizing of the golf departments is going to happen (it’s sad considering they just finished expanding golf in many areas). They went all in on the sport (and with TaylorMade) and it hasn’t panned out.

      There are a number of rumors floating around, and I haven’t been able to confirm anything, but it’s either a substantial downsizing of golf or a transition to a model that doesn’t involve selling the latest and greatest. Imagine a scenario where Dicks becomes the clearance center. Basically previous generation stuff and cheap crap only. I’m far from certain that’s what’s coming, but it’s one rumor that is floating around.

      Golf is mostly over at Dick’s. The ROI per square foot of floor space isn’t there anymore. Soccer is growing, Yoga is epic. That’s where the money is. Worth noting, while they’re golf business is much smaller, Sports Authority has also traded golf for Yoga and other sports where sales are driven by non-durable soft goods.

      That’s the big box model moving forward, I think. Everything I see suggests that direct to consumer is the future for the golf companies.

      I’m still not sure people realize it…this is the tipping point. It’s the beginning of a monumental shift in the business of golf. More chips will fall soon.

      Reply

      DDD

      10 years ago

      Don’t forget the abysmal sales by Dick’s in the first quarter of this year reflected only a 2% dip in unit sales indicating they sold about as many items. Remember too that it was one of the worst winters on record for the north. So let’s call the unit sales about even from the previous year. So why such a plunge in $ sales? Prices. Why were prices so low? Because Dick’s jumps into bed with TMAG and Callaway (primarily) and have to dump product that isn’t selling, even in sunny warm Florida. TMAG admitted the JetSpeed equipment was D.O.A. and expedited the release of SLDR. To move the junk JetSpeed equipment they gave away a fairway wood with the purchase of a (discounted) driver. So every other piece walking out the door was discounted, and every OTHER piece was free. Now is that a Dick’s strategy by choice or necessity?

      On another note I wonder what sales of Ping and Titleist equipment was in that same first quarter and what the average selling price was for their equipment? I don’t know but I’d suspect that the unit sales weren’t off from previous years by much and average $ sales/unit held quite steady. Can someone furnish this? Can someone get a writer/media person to ask these types of questions?

      Regis

      10 years ago

      DDD- The SLDR was released in July of 2013. The Jetspeed was not released until November, 2013 so I guess your saying that TMAG rushed the release of the SLDR or delayed the release of the Jetspeed? Not sure where you’re going with this.

      DDD

      10 years ago

      There is a whole new line of SLDR – S, Mini, etc. that just started shipping recently. The first SLDRs shipped last year and in our area had horrible sales results.

      Steve Almo

      10 years ago

      Leith…that sounds like a pretty big number…i.e. 30% for Dick’s. Maybe he was speaking about Adams biz being 30% at Dick’s…LOL!, Let’sa be honest here….Most Golf Reps think they know it all and generally are responsible for 30% of the rumors floating around. LOL

      Reply

      Leith Anderson

      10 years ago

      Steve,

      I put that number out there because it sounded very big and weird – but I thought the guy might actually know.

      Here’s another one that came up in my research in the last few weeks. Any guess on the number of golf courses that have closed since 2008?

      17,500 in 2008 is now down to 14,500. 3000 golf courses closed in six years.

      I would hate to be the guy taking quota from TMAG next season looking for a 10% increase.

      Regards, Leith

      Jeff

      10 years ago

      Are you talking World Wide or just a USA?
      How many NEW courses have opened?
      Regards
      Jeff McCarthy

      Leith Anderson

      10 years ago

      Net decrease, USA only.

      I think I saw a number of new courses opened last year under 20 with something like 160 closing.

      The next organization that needs a strong B.S. call is the PGA. Their “plan” is to bring 25 million new players into the game in 5 years. (The current executive management retires in 3 years).

      Tough conditions.

      Regards, Leith

      Tony Covey

      10 years ago

      The numbers for 2013 are 14 opens against 157.5 closures. 643 18-hole courses have closed in the US since 2006.

      Last year saw the fewest rounds played since 1995. Some of that is weather related, but as I said in the article, you can only blame the weather for so long.

      Here’s the real killer, the HUGE majority of what’s closing now are relatively low-cost public golf courses, while what’s being opened are higher-end private and higher-priced resort courses. Basically we’re eliminating the type of facilities necessary to foster and grow the game.

      According to the NGF, there was a NET LOSS of 400,000 golfers last year. Nearly 200K of those who walked away from the game were from the 18-34 year old demographic. I don’t have to tell anyone what a devastating loss that is for the future.

      I suppose it’s almost honorable that Golf Digest is trying to find the silver lining. Mike Strachura just posted a stat the the number of non-golfers interested in playing golf is up 1.2 million to 29 million. Sunshine and rainbows, maybe even a unicorn right…

      Wonder how many of those are guys who already left the game because of time and money…they’re interested in playing, but they can’t and they won’t.

      If we went down a list, you could also probably find 1.2 million things I’m personally interested in doing…doesn’t mean I have the time, or the money, or the actual motivation. It definitely doesn’t mean that I will do any of it.

      I’m interested in owning a boat.
      I’d like to drive a Ferrari.
      I wish I watched more movies.
      I’m extremely interested in visiting Tibet.
      I’d love to take a stab at competitive jai alai.
      It could be fun to own a couple of those fainting goats.

      Odds that I do any of it…slightly more than zero.

      BillA

      10 years ago

      This is really a sad state of affairs for the PGA pros and their families. I have never had the wealth to go out and buy anything I wanted in golf, so I have bought most of my clubs off EBAY. Being left handed, I know that the manufacturers always have a few sets of left handed clubs left over at the end of the model year. Only a small percentage of the population is left handed in the first place, so selling lefty golf clubs is a very limited market to begin with. When that model year is over, you can often fine brand new clubs on EBAY for a fraction of their list price. I have bought three sets of new-in-the-wrappers major brand irons this way. You can find two year old brand new clubs for a song. I bought my favorite irons, Hogan Edge CFT irons, that way for just over $200 with the wrappers still on the heads. So there are some advantages to being left handed.

      Reply

      Frank

      10 years ago

      As much as I like to see golf companies releasing so many new products, the fact of the matter is that an iron set that was released 2 years ago has a marginally higher performance boost than something being sold right now. Golf is a game where you use stainless steel putters/wedges/irons and titanium metalwoods so your equipment lasts quite a long time. Golf manufactures really need to start marketing and thinking within their means or they will continue to lose money.

      People just getting into the sport will be very frightened by the cost for brand new clubs; why would anyone be surprised that they go looking for other means to get what they want?

      Reply

      Steve Almo

      10 years ago

      “Frightened by the cost of brand new clubs?” Said Frank.

      They are practically giving the stuff away right now.

      Reply

      Robert jiang

      10 years ago

      this is good news !

      We are your vendor NO:9529 (Better bags Factory LTD),shipped golf bags for you

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      Robert

      Reply

      Steve Almo

      10 years ago

      ??? A commercial?

      Reply

      BillA

      10 years ago

      I have 4 sets of irons, and my newest and favorite are Hogan Edge CFTs. These clubs are all I need, and I see no reason to spend hundreds of dollars to have the so-called “latest”. They have done about all they can do in iron head design, and the biggest differences these days are purely cosmetic, not performance. An iron head can only be so large and so heavy, and there are only so many ways to move the material around. I see little performance difference with 2014 irons and my 6 to 10 year old models. I’ll use my money to PLAY, and not just to buy more golf clubs. I’ve even gone back to my 2004 model Cleveland 330 Launcher driver. I hit it very well and very straight and long. I own a half dozen other drivers, but this one seems to work best. I also play my 250cc Louisville Golf persimmon driver and it is a superb club.

      Reply

      Andy W

      10 years ago

      Last Friday, with my brand new “never-been-hit-before” Krank driver in my bag and a USGA Index of 9.6, I got to the 9th tee three under par. Man, the world was right, the heart was pumping, and the brain shouts, “Just make par and 33 gets written down on the card.” Even from scratch golfers, a 33 is something rarely seen at my Rees Jones designed course in Augusta GA.

      At that point I could have care less about OEM woes, the economy, or whatever, but in the clubhouse with a beer or two, reflected back at the game that made that happen, brought some REAL & incredible excitement into my life! And that is hard to do after my six decades on this planet.

      Reply

      Steve Almo

      10 years ago

      Another commercial!

      Reply

      BillA

      10 years ago

      Congrats on the 33. From you half-witted post, it looks like you shot your IQ

      Reply

      Andy W

      10 years ago

      I bogie hole #9 and carded a 34 thus raising my IQ to an unprecedented level.

      Drew

      10 years ago

      I would like to hear some perspectives on these large endorsement deals that are being signed. For example, Rory’s $20 million a year deal with Nike etc. How is this sustainable in a declining market and is this why we are being charged $400 for cheaply made drivers.

      Reply

      DDD

      10 years ago

      Nike will sell 50X more apparel, caps, shoes, etc. than equipment. The margins on those soft goods are always going to be better and easier to move. The sale of a driver might bring $60-$90 in profit. I sell two shirts with a retail of $65 that I paid $30 for an there you have it! And I can sell two shirts and hour all day. Do the math. The players are merely billboards and mannequins.

      Reply

      Socorro

      10 years ago

      One of my best friends is among those who lost their jobs last week. Another closed his golf shop eighteen months ago after 15 years as an independent retailer. This article and cogent discussion are close to my heart for those reasons.

      What I see as the root cause is a characteristic that’s developed in American culture during the last forty or so years. We tend to want results without putting in the necessary prepratory effort has become skillful or wealthy or happy.

      Why study when you can buy an online crib sheet and get A’s and B’s in any high school and most colleges? Why earn honest money when you can defraud to investors? Why work with your spouse to keep one another happy when you can get a perscription drug that takes care of that for you?

      Why learn and practice proper golf fundamentals when you can buy a new driver that guarantees you 10, 20 or 30 extra yards?

      TaylorMade and Callaway have engaged in an ongoing marketing war that’s geared to this mentality for several years. Dick’s became one of their principal outlets. Big businesses want big bottom lines. They’ll do anything their accountants tell them will make the bottom line bigger.

      As to reality, it will rear its ugly head some day, but by upper management at the big manufacturers and big outlet stores will have made their millions and not give much of a **** about the future.

      Reply

      DDD

      10 years ago

      Spot on. As the golfers age they assume now that a piece of equipment will give them yardage rather than more flexibility and strength.

      Reply

      Steve Almo

      10 years ago

      “Not sure what you disagree with but those are just a few facts. Just like other industries create their own “bubble”, golf did the same. Sounds like you are doing well though. I’m glad.”
      Said John

      Bob……Doing just OK. I am caught just like everyone else. The new Floyd The Driver is doing very good…No Brainer very steady and the reliable DCT always does good. But, I depend very heavily on resellers (mainly clubfitters) and their biz stinks for the most part…so I am hanging by my fingernails with them! No ones biz is good in the golf biz at this time. If they say they are Rockin’ they are full of B.S.

      Reply

      Nevin

      10 years ago

      A lot of comments on this problem, some very good, a few are foolish. I’ve noticed very similar discussions on a number of other hobby/leasure time websites besides golf. So I don’t think it is just golf. Regardless of any other issues that golf might have, the real problem is that the economy is not very good and has changed, perhaps permanently. That is going to effect people’s ability to spend money on leasure activities including golf. I had a bank economist tell me in 2008 that it would take 10 years for the US to completely recover from the recession and I have not seen any reason to think he isn’t right. When people have money to spend, then I think golf will start growing again.

      Reply

      David W

      10 years ago

      Tony, one thing I feel you left out of this story is counterfeiting. People can’t get it through their heads that if a club sells for $199 (discounted) at most golf stores then you can’t buy it for $39 in the wrapper from another store or on ebay.

      Reply

      markb

      10 years ago

      The trouble is — you can do exactly that with real clubs. The vast overstocking/overstuffing of clubs that don’t sell in retail outlets creates a huge motivation to move product any way they can. That includes dumping it on ebay for whatever price they can get. The last TMag driver I bought new on ebay was from a retail store in San Diego, an authorized TMag outlet. Paid 48% of MSRP one week after release.

      Reply

      golfercraig

      10 years ago

      They were either selling their demos for margin enhancement, or they were selling one of the staff deals an employee got.

      Oliver Jones

      10 years ago

      Too many golf courses built, equipment saturation in the U.S. at retail and on-line – go to Amazon.com and type in “Golf Club” – 101,780 results, on ebay “Golf Club” brings you 303,000+ results, DSG has company in the big box arena – Golfsmith, PGA Tour Super Stores, TGW, Roger Dunn, Nevada Bobs, and on and on – and last but not least the closeout retailers RockBottom Golf.com, etc…

      Equipment manufacturers and big box Stores have hi-jacked the spirit of golf for profit and consumers are brainwashed by false claims.

      The Millennial Generation (born 1981+) doesn’t golf because it’s not fast enough, it’s too time consuming, too many barriers and it’s exclusive. This generation craves diversity and inclusiveness….

      The future of golf is uncertain but it should remain a game of artistry and skill, 15 inch holes is like giving a child a ribbon for 10th place .

      What does growing the game of golf mean? And to who?

      Reply

      Bob Pegram

      10 years ago

      There is a lot of discussion of the length of time needed to play a round. When I lived in the Los Angeles area, both the City of Los Angeles and the County of Los Angeles had several full size 9-hole courses. I used to play one near L.A. Harbor a lot (Harbor Park Golf Course). It is a good, narrow, course that requires straight, well-placed, shots. It is not for a beginner. I would play there when I didn’t have time for a full 18-hole round.
      Now that I live in Silicon Valley (San Jose area), there are NO full size 9-hole courses. Courses having severe financial difficulties might do better if they close one nine or let people play the two nines separately. It doesn’t eat up nearly as much time, would get more players who would otherwise not play, would keep the costs to golfers down and would increase revenue for the courses.
      I have many days I would like to play a full size course, but don’t have time for 18 holes. I have no options in this area so I don’t play as much.

      Reply

      Regis

      10 years ago

      Bob-of all the posts, yours struck a cord at least for me. I’ve been playing for 50 years (I’m 63) Most of that time was at a private club and guys girls and kids would always go out during the week and play as many holes as they felt like (6, 9 ,15). On the weekends it was different and rightly so. I now play at a County course that has 27 holes. Play 3 times a week and the number of golfers (especially seniors) that just play 9 probably accounts for 30% of the traffic. The place is well run and accommodates all levels of golfers and I have to say every one seems to be enjoying the mix. I notice that the USGA had a “play 9” promotion last week (I think if you signed up you got a set of ball markers). Would be interested to see how that panned out.

      Reply

      John

      10 years ago

      I saw the golf industry heading towards things like this 15 years ago. I was an assistant pro at two clubs for 8 years, a head professional for 12 and a PGA member for 15 of those 20 years in the business.
      Got out of the business altogether 12 years ago and have not looked back. As someone who was deeply involved at many levels of the industry [but now looking at form the outside and more objectively], I can honestly say this recent development is only the beginning of a massive overhaul of the entire game. Saw a recent statistic that between America and Canada together, almost 1,000 course have closed since 2013!
      It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out where things are heading. . . . .

      Reply

      Steve Almo

      10 years ago

      John…15 years ago the golf biz was rocking and rolling! What made you determine it was heading in this direction that far back? The one main reason it was rocking and rolling: It’s name was Tiger! 25% of every dollar that went into a cash register…you can thank Mr. Woods for that jump start! Everyone in the biz knows that…unless they had blinders on.

      Reply

      DDD

      10 years ago

      Sorry Steve – false. If Tiger brought so many golfers into the game where were they 10 years ago when “regular” golfers (8+ rounds a year) was shrinking? He came on tour in 1995, if your kids were 10 years old then, they’s be 29 now. Where are those players? Tiger brought viewers, viewers made money for networks and the sponsors of events, thus purses went up.

      In all that mix the average consumer is exposed to more advertisements which may have created more merchandise sales but the number of players never really exploded – ever. Regular golfers increased marginally 1997-2000. Ever since then it’s been the same or declining. Those are statistics from multiple industry (proprietary) reports.

      At no point was there a huge increase in the number of regular golfers in the last 20 years but developers and others thinking that Tiger or the lure of the game itself would make them money built golf courses. They built hundreds of courses a year for a decade – a small portion of them ever had a chance to be successful because of the lack of growing demand and in the meantime took traffic away from existing venues – diluting cash flow for everyone.

      The game would have had to grow by 5-10% in number of regular golfers to have any chance of meeting the supply of golf courses as they came on line. Try growing anything 5-10% during a 6 year recession. :-(

      Steve Almo

      10 years ago

      DDD….Several reasons. And I will sum it up fast instead of some lengthy B.S.

      Parents got their kids involved for the plain simple reason…no catastrophic injuries to their children and they can play the game their entire lives.

      They never got better at the game…they did not put in the time and effort to get better. Expense certainly played a part. Time consuming…golf has turned into an all day event. It was a ‘fad’ for some…most all the ‘newbies’…everyone talking about Tiger and they got caught up in Tiger fever. Like I did with Mark Roth. He is the guy that made me want to bowl. And buy a new ball, shoes and whatever else. Everyone gets caught up in most sports because of a player they admire and aspire to be like. With me it was Bobby Nichols. He always wore a button down Navy Blue sweater over a white shirt (floppy collar) with grey slacks and FJ Staff Grade White shoes. Let me tell you DDD…when I went out to play..SAME OUTFIT! LOL!

      DDD

      10 years ago

      Bobby Nichols lives in a community not far from me! lol

      John

      10 years ago

      Quite False. Contrary to popular belief rounds were down, clubs were struggling financially, Green Fees to play even average public courses were becoming outrageous, OEM Manufacturers were using green grass shops to legitimize their product then shutting them out by mass marketing them to huge retailers and the Golf Professional was getting squeezed financially at both ends. I could go on. . . . . . Not that I predicted anything specific but I didn’t see a “rosie” future for me to stay in the industry.

      Steve Almo

      10 years ago

      I have to disagree with most of that, John.

      John

      10 years ago

      Not sure what you disagree with but those are just a few facts. Just like other industries create their own “bubble”, golf did the same. Sounds like you are doing well though. I’m glad.

      DDD

      10 years ago

      I’m not sure of the exact number but I would be willing to bet that there were 4,000 golf courses built in US/Canada between 1985-2008. Which was probably 3,000 more than could ever be justified. Some of the construction was based on anticipated growing demand with baby boomers retiring (grossly overestimated) and many were built as amenities to developments where developers were always more interested in selling lots and homes and couldn’t care less about the golf club – they were well on their way to the next development before they were going to be stuck with the ownership of the club itself. So in the middle of a deep recession (now 6 years old) who would expect golf to grow? What is growing?

      Seriously, upwards to 3,000 courses SHOULD close. Now it’s about survival for most. The limited demand for play was diluted over far too much supply of courses. Once the supply comes down (and demand grow as it can) there will be more balance.

      Reply

      Steve Almo

      10 years ago

      DDD…Interesting your comments on Bowling. I remember every Saturday at 3:00 PM (West Coast) like clockwork I would be in front of the T.V. to watch all those great stars Bowl. Which, of course, motivated me to get off the couch and…go bowling! What happened? We tend to forget that the entire sporting goods biz has been terribly affected by this downturn…it’s NOT just the golf biz.

      DDD

      10 years ago

      PBA was nearly dead. I remember those days. ABC before any real sports (at least the ones I was looking forward to) was on there was bowling. Earl Anthony. Anyway, a couple of guys bought the PBA Tour for a pittance – something like $200K and reinvented it with flashy televising and bringing personalities into the fold. It made a HUGE impact on bowling nationwide. Today people realize for $15 I can bowl a couple of games, borrow all the equipment I need, and go do something for a couple of hours. It’s easy enough for anyone to at least enjoy without requiring expensive lessons or expensive equipment. Golf is the opposite it seems. Lessons for beginners should be very inexpensive – very inexpensive. Once you reach a certain skill level maybe things change.

      Steve Almo

      10 years ago

      Actually DDD…lessons for beginners are cheap. It’s called group lessons and it is essential as they teach you the basics. What this really does is a ‘tool’ to see if the person really does enjoy the game. If they do…they move on more seriously.

      Golfer Burnz

      10 years ago

      Nice analogy to the PBA. But I see a fan backlash in many professional sports. The middle class has been priced out of taking the family to professional football, baseball, etc. etc. you need to mortgage the house when you take traveling to the ballpark, parking, concessions, and ticket prices into account. It’s pure madness.

      golfercraig

      10 years ago

      Bowlers quit bowling because it got too easy. Reactive resin ruined the game. And not in the way people think long golf courses ruined the game. In golf, the worst players quit. In bowling, the best quit. I was a college All-American. I have 17 ABC 300 games. Bowled against Pat Healy, Chris Barnes and Justin Hromek when they were on the SAME TEAM at Wichita State. When run of the mill dipsits starting averaging 210, I quit. It was too easy. I would literally go weeks without missing the pocket. My target was only 2 boards, but they both had arrows on them. Anything outside of ten hit the hole. I hated it. In our scratch league, 32 of us had averages over 220. Took all the skill out.

      Steve Almo

      10 years ago

      So then GolferCraig…I take it your in favor of the 15″ cup (hole)…LMAO!

      And WOW…17 300 games! My best score ever was 215…started with 5 or 6 strikes in a row….I was in Heaven! First time I ever broke 200!

      DDD

      10 years ago

      Best article yet – the truth is eventually going to bubble to the top. Unit sales were only off 2%. It was obvious to anyone in our industry that sells equipment what was going on. Can’t necessarily blame Dick’s for trying to bring more credibility to their sales force with PGA Professionals. The push marketing strategy I have been saying for years, is going to blow up in their face at some point. Shazzam! It happened. If you think TMAG sales were off before, I’d be surprised if they rebound any time in the relative near future. Callaway can’t afford for this to be a failed marketing strategy. The followers are going to take a hit as well. It’s about time. I know of about 550 PGA Professionals that may never again be a retailer of TM products in the future. Green grass professionals are likely to look closer at what they are buying and from whom. And I bet they will be more careful about signing off on deliveries so as to not get stuck with over shipments that is also a common practice by said manufacturers. No wonder their sales are so good. Sales to their retailers? Or sales to end consumers? I’ve never believed their numbers as being accurately disclosed.

      Another note to the Chicken Little’s out there. Golf is stagnant or a slow decline in the last 10 years. Remember we’ve been mired in a 6 year deep recession. Inflation figures, unemployment figures, etc. are warped and twisted to provide the best possible press to create hope. Hope then makes things churn (they hope), and the economy starts to grow again. I don’t believe hardly anything coming out of DC these days. Meanwhile golf courses were totally over produced and over engineered in the 1990s and 2000s. Way overproduced. The fact that courses are closing is, in large part, due to lack of demand. Yes. Demand never approached the amount of supply coming on line. Nor was it ever likely to grow at a rate to fill all those new golf courses. So courses surviving just fine 15 years ago found themselves trying to compete against three new courses within driving distance. Most courses didn’t get the demand required to be successful so what do you know, we’ve just diluted the same or similar number of golfers over far too many courses. Everyone suffers. So there is correction going on. Golf is retracting to some degree, yes. Going away? No.

      Reply

      Steve Almo

      10 years ago

      John…15 years ago the golf biz was rocking and rolling! What made you determine it was heading in this direction that far back? The one main reason it was rocking and rolling: It’s name was Tiger! 25% of every dollar that went into a cash register…you can thank Mr. Woods for that jump start! Everyone in the biz knows that…unless they had blinders on.

      Reply

      Steve Almo

      10 years ago

      Sorry DDD…wrong place.

      Andy

      10 years ago

      Obviously their retail model needs some major “re-modeling”. How much of this can be attributed to the decrease in league and competitive Golfers ? I own a bowling a bowling center and the bowling industry has seen a dramatic decrease in the number of league bowlers in the last 10 years. Golf courses in my area have also seen their league numbers drop off significantly. These avid Golfers are the people buying new equipment. It seems to me that Dicks should somehow get involved in grass roots efforts to encourage people to play golf and get lessons to improve their game.

      Reply

      DDD

      10 years ago

      Bowling is inexpensive, less time consuming, non-elitist, and you can play it indoors and at night – everything golf cannot. Bowling isn’t necessarily easy but like golf it pits man/women against themselves trying to achieve what they believe they can accomplish. Society today simply requires our entertainment to be less time consuming and more options.

      Reply

      Dan Sueltz

      10 years ago

      Dick’s would never do this. As their name states…Dick’s Sporting Goods. They will follow whatever hot trend there is (cross fit, yoga, etc.) and never be a leader in growing anything, in my opinion. If they utilize the Golf Galaxy franchise they may be able to continue to compete against Golfsmith and PGA Tour Superstore. We that are in the golf industry must take it upon ourselves to grow the game through education (MGS is doing that nicely), promotion of golf through things like First Tee, and making golf more enticing to the 18-34 age group (see Top Golf). As a “senior citizen” I still love and always will love the game, but I see a lot of competing activities that are vying for the time of potential golfers. In this age of instant gratification, it is rare to find someone that has the patience to play the game of golf let alone teach the game of golf. I played as a twosome this morning with a 14 year old at my course. I asked him how he got into the game and he said he just happened to golf with some friends while he was at a hockey camp an actually liked it a lot. He went from a 22, to an 11 to a 2 in 3 years. He is now working with a local PGA instructor and is looking to play college golf. How many of you remember your father or even grandfather getting you excited about the game? Forget about Tiger Woods. Think about all of the other players that are making a difference and play the game the right way. We can do all of the crazy things to make the game faster/easier but I think it still takes a mentor to get someone excited and passionate about golf. So…go out there and mentor someone!

      Reply

      Bob

      10 years ago

      You just ‘sprained a lot to me that I had puzzled over for a couple of years. Thanks

      Reply

      Golfer Burnz

      10 years ago

      Here is my personal experience with Dick’s, if it helps anything… I’ve gone to the mall a few times and stopped by Dick’s. I walk through the golf department and see what is in there, but hardly ever buy. I let the kids roll a few with the kid putters on the indoor putting green Everything always seems expensive, even the discounted gear. In 10 years, I’ve purchased a pair of golf shoes on clearance and an Adams hybrid on clearance and a couple of putter grips. That’s about it.

      Reply

      Steve Almo

      10 years ago

      GB…Walk thru a Japanese, Korean or Chinese retail shop (even in N. America) ………..Dick’s will look like they are giving the stuff away!

      Reply

      stevenhw8

      10 years ago

      LOL come take a look at golf shops in Germany :)

      1. They just change the currency. So what sells in the US for $300, sells here for EUR 300 (equivalent to $400)

      2. Their discounts are… well not really attractive… for example: Cobra AMP Cell driver is still selling for $200, TM JetSpeed $295, Callaway X-Hot driver (not even X2 Hot) for $270

      Steve is spot on… shopping for golf equipment in the US is a trip to paradise!

      Steve Almo

      10 years ago

      LOL! Yes Stevenhw8….customs and freight is murder for you guys!

      Golfer Burrnz

      10 years ago

      Laugh all you want… I live in the USA. Therefore my experience is with Dick’s in the USA. I was giving my personal experience. I have made the majority of my golf purchases over the past several years on ebay, for a fraction of the cost of what I would have spent at Dick’s. Why would I even consider what the prices are in Korea or Japan? Doesn’t make me feel any better about being gouged in the USA. The reason I posted anything at all was to give Dick’s a glimpse at someone who passes through their store but doesn’t necessarily buy. LOL

      sidvicius

      10 years ago

      Was the picture taken in Lombard,il ?

      Reply

      Tom Vorderer

      10 years ago

      I belong to a ‘golf training’ club that has a 9 hole course, a 9 hole short course (45-109 yds), a year round outdoor range (outside Boston!-heated bays in winter), plus a wedge range, trap practice area a gym, etc.

      My point is this. I am more prone to use this place as it allows me to work on parts of my game and gives my time for other things. I still play 18 every week or two. Maybe this should be the future of golf.

      Tom

      Reply

      Steve Almo

      10 years ago

      If not it should be Tom!

      Reply

      Jim K.

      10 years ago

      Great and very interesting commentary to read. I like the fact that much of it is devoid of emotion and focused on the facts at hand and historically how the golf equipment business model has evolved. I run an information and insight company for the golf industry (www.pellucidcorp.com) and we’ve been chronicling and quantifying the decline in the golf industry for over 10 yrs against the gale force winds of the industry trade associations and the existing power brokers who are simply interested in protecting “their kingdom.” Our biggest challenge today is the decline in the participant base (~30M golfers in ’02, ~23M golfers in ’13 by our survey account), it’s hard to lose 7M participants in the span of a decade and not feel the impact, PGA Pros in Dick’s or not. Our current thinking is that the short-term survival strategy for the industry will be to invigorate the remaining participant base and get them more engaged in the sport (that would be both playing and spending). That said, as someone pointed out, we’ve emphatically proven over the last 15 or so years that you can’t really “buy a a better game” (i.e. average golfer score, despite all the latest-and-greatest technology hasn’t change by more than +/- 1 stroke, really?). PGA Pros would be better employed getting them out in front of golfers and helping their game vs. “pushing equipment.” They’re better suited for it and it would have more of a positive industry impact if executed properly. Great blog, will send our newsletter and monthly digital magazine readers here for future reference. Will be interesting to see how this plays out but I agree, the 6-month new product cycle in golf equipment is going to come to a quick and violent death….

      Reply

      Bob Pegram

      10 years ago

      You can’t buy a better game with off-the-shelf clubs. You CAN buy a better game with custom fitted clubs. If clubs (or shafts in those clubs) don’t fit a golfer’s swing, his or her score is higher than is caused by his swing. For example, clubs that don’t contact the ground with the sole of the club level with the ground will twist when the ground is contacted. Crooked shots will result. In addition, flush contact is difficult to achieve when this angle (the lie of the club) is wrong, so shot distances vary depending on the quality of the contact.
      When shafts don’t fit, the face of the club can be off-line when the shaft twists/flutters going into impact. You can have two people with similar clubhead speeds at impact, the same shaft flex, same club length, etc, but different swing timing – backswing and downswing speeds – and one will do well with a certain shaft and the other one will have lots of problems with the same shaft. Often that is because the flex points and other flex characteristics of a shaft don’t mesh with the swing timing, but, instead, counteract it. With radar fitting – Flightscope in particular which shows shaft behavior – a golfer can be fitted with a shaft that complements his swing rather than fights it. The correct shaft doesn’t have to be expensive, just have the flex characteristics be correct.
      A good custom clubfitter has clubheads that are within a reasonable budget. They may not be a major name brand, but they will high quality. You won’t be paying for a big advertising budget included in the cost of the clubs.
      Stating the obvious: Improving swing skills will always help lower scores, especially if the clubs fits.

      Reply

      Steve Almo

      10 years ago

      You can also “buy a better game” by taking some lessons from a qualified teaching Professional. Learn a semblence of a repeating swing…practice and develop it and THEN go to a fitting professional.

      Bob Pegram

      10 years ago

      That has always been a dilemma for clubfitters. Fitting clubs to a poor swing is not a good idea, but fitting them properly won’t get good results until the swing is corrected. When I did some fitting when working for Leith I would give some swing advice if it was something easy for the client to fix, but more complex swing problems make fitting more difficult. At least clubs that fit well will reinforce good swing habits rather than hamper them.
      Name brand clubs do often have technical advantages, but getting a few extra yards isn’t the main difficulty for a high handicapper. If a golfer can afford the best, that is still the correct option though. Sometimes it is better to buy slightly used name brand clubs and get them fitted when a budget won’t allow new clubs.

      Steve Almo

      10 years ago

      Ditto Bob! With you, Leith and Eric working on that project……this could enhance club fitting dramatically.

      Mike Wade

      10 years ago

      Thanks for a great insightful article, how about the next one being the golf course mess

      Reply

      Golfzilla

      10 years ago

      Yes MikeB, the US government is murdering the middle class. Unless things change direction soon, golf for the 99% will be on welfare.

      Reply

      Vic

      10 years ago

      Golfzilla and MikeB are spot on. What politicians, business out sourcing their jobs and illegals lowering the income of American workers is all trickling down to effect even golf now. The weekend golfer can’t afford these ridiculous prices for clubs that after a season aren’t worth even 40% of what they paid for them. Just took a look at my clubs and yes the tags say Mexico and China except my Tour Edge woods.
      Spoke to the only golf salesperson left at Dick’s today and he was pissed when he told me how the pro there was let go without any notice a half hour before his shift was over. He also said that all this is going to go away soon as Dick’s has plans to use the Golf Galaxy name to build one big box store for golf equipment in the near future, at least here anyway. He pretty much confirmed the comments of the article posted here though he had not read it. So keep up the good work Tony and hopefully we’ll find a way to save the game.

      Reply

      Steve Almo

      10 years ago

      Tour Edge is also made overseas (China)….not to burst your bubble! Some Majors (mainly Cally on some product makes in Taiwan) but, what’s the difference. Mainland China or an Island off the coast of China..so what? You can throw a few other Asian countries into the mix…as well.

      MikeB

      10 years ago

      I know that golf demographics indicate that golfers are generally better off than the rest of society, but it is the middle class that fuel the industry. When it costs well over $3000.00 to get into the game seriously, then people re-evaluate their priorities and get out. It is very expensive to live today and most of us are earning less than before the recession in real dollars. Some of us are earning way less as well. When manufacturers put out $500.00 to $600.00 drivers and $300.00 to $400.00 fairway woods, there becomes an aversion to spending that kind of money on recreational products. People that are busy catching up on their mortgages or simply struggling to put food on the table are not inclined to make huge purchases. As more and more jobs are outsourced overseas, there is far less disposable income in the economy and non-essentials suffer. Also goverrnment policies of trickle down economics choke the income potential to the ones who need it the most! Golf equipment manufacturers are guilty of sending jobs to China and then wonder why no one is buying their mega-buck smoke and mirrors product that has little or nothing substansive to offer. I, for one, can no longer afford to get new equipment and very soon won’t be able to afford used gear as well. What will happen when the equipment I’m using is obsolete or gets broken? They won’t get replaced and I’ll probably stop golfing altogether! The golf companies have made their own bed, now they have to sleep in it.

      Reply

      Bob Pegram

      10 years ago

      The irony of the club cost figures you state is that a good custom clubfitter has heads at many cost levels and can work within most people’s budgets. Clubs that fit your swing are much better than off the shelf clubs at any cost – and can be less expensive. The clubfitter can even use your existing iron heads and often wood heads to reduce costs. You would be paying for the shafts, grips, and the most important part- a skilled fitting process.
      Even with new heads, they may not be big names you know, but they will be good quality heads, not knock-offs.

      Reply

      Alex

      10 years ago

      The biggest issue is the same it always has been for me: COST. My irons (Cleveland TA1’s) are at 15 years old and are due for a change, but I am NOT interested in spending $1100+tax on a set of irons (Callaway Apex Pro, Ping S55, or Mizuno MP-4). $700 or $800 for a set of irons would make more sense, but now that drivers are $400+ I cannot see a quality iron being under $1000 anymore.
      I replaced my driver (Mizuno T-Zoid Titanium) just last year with the Callaway Razr Fit-Extreme (on sale), my 3w with a XHot Pro (pre-owned), and my 3h (technically a strong 5w as I set it) last year so I will be out of that market probably another decade.
      Add to this that the price of golf is pretty much insane, golf balls seem to be made of gold given the price these days, and you have your answer as to why people aren’t buying…

      WE CANNOT AFFORD IT!

      I hope my irons continue to hold up as it looks like a couple more years before I can make the change… or I can go back to ice hockey for a couple years and save money (even in Southern California).

      Reply

      Custom Fitter

      10 years ago

      This article didn’t mention a few things…
      1. Some (not all) of the discount Taylormade product is a re-release with lower cost of components. The purpose of this was to attack the knock offs.

      Remember the mom/pop shops? The custom club makers with the Big Bursars, Large Marge, and Bomber? Those guys are gone because club manufacturers decided to compete at that price point. Whether if it was by flooding the market/dropping prices fast/or making lower cost clubs… the attack on the mom/pop played a role.

      You know who else played a role? GOLFERS!!! Nobody should ever buy new equipment on Ebay. Either it’s fake or it’s being sold by someone violating pricing policies. It’s being sold by someone that’s responsible for the firing of 600 PGA professionals. These golfers visit Dicks, spend 30 minutes with that PGA pro and then head home and buy a counterfeit from the scum of the earth to save $60 and 60 yards.

      Everyone is to blame, but mostly DICKS for not knowing how to order properly.

      Reply

      Steve Almo

      10 years ago

      Clubfitter: Where did that Taylor info come from? Ridiculous! And those ‘knock off’ people you speak about just evolved to the higher end performance component reseller. More importantly the ‘clone’ market is still alive and well. It is actually gaining speed….why? Price point product. And everything on E-Bay is NOT a counterfeit. Most of it is Grey Market product.

      Reply

      Jake

      10 years ago

      That’s a true statement about the discount TM product. Callaway and Cobra are doing it as well. Rocketbladez “HP”, X-Hot “N14”, Amp Cell “S” …. those are all re-release, made for big box stores products. They may not admit it, but they are using cheaper materials for these. (X-Hot N14 irons have no bore-thru….etc.) When the Burner 2.0 driver was released it had the Matrix Ozik shaft…… by the time it was selling for $149.99 it mysteriously had the RE-AX 4.8…… It begs the question…. Are these versions intentionally meant to deceive the casual player?

      Chris

      10 years ago

      Jake,
      Here’s one for you. Callaway had the Diablo irons. They were bendable.
      I bent one of the “cheaper” and I didn’t even get to 1/2 a degree and it snapped. My inside guy admitted they weren’t the same material. Notice the Rocktbladez HL, no speed pocket.

      Bob Pegram

      10 years ago

      Not true on new equipment on Ebay. When a shop closes there is still remaining inventory to sell. Ebay can serve that purpose. Granted, most of the new equipment will be models from prior years, but unused. If brand new models show up on Ebay, I tend to agree with you.
      I sell clubs on Ebay – both new and used – from a shop closing, but the new clubs are not current year models.
      Reasonably priced, properly fitted prior year(s) models will help a golfer much more than off-the-shelf current models no matter what they cost.

      Reply

      Steve P

      10 years ago

      Ebayers? Yeah, it’s not smart to try to sell something in the LARGEST MARKETPLACE IN THE WORLD. (sarcasm)
      Do fake clubs exist on ebay? Yeah I’ve stumbled upon listings for a few, but the EBAYers with large positive feedback numbers sell the real deal, and arguably HELP the entire industry by not demanding 35+ points for doing nothing but letting manufacturers run roughshod over them. And that’s more money in the pocket of golfers to spend on greens fees.

      Reply

      Jame D

      10 years ago

      Ho many of the On-Line shoppers have gone into a Golf Retail outlet Green Grass shop to ‘pick up, test drive or ask for advise” on golf clubs and then said the words I hate to hear most “well that gives me something to think about” before they go home and order online.
      You need to look at yourself in the mirror.
      It’s called “showcasing” when consumers do this and I feel it is like stealing. You take up our time, used the equipment that I have spent my hard earned money to purchase (AT GREAT RISK) ask lots of questions and compare clubs only to go home and order online. How is this ethical? Let me know where you work so I can come in and take up an hour of your time for nothing. Don’t worry you can stay late instead of going home to your family and make up the work you didn’t do because you were trying to help me purchase what you genuinely feel is best for me.
      I am trying to pay a mortgage, feed my family and keep my store open with shrinking margins.
      We will be in to see you some day to “give us something to think about”

      Chris

      10 years ago

      Amen to that Jame. What I have started doing is they can hit any club they like by themselves. If they would like to do a fitting, I charge them a fee ($25-$50 depending on how elaborate it is) but will credit the amount if they buy. It takes the guess work out of “are you serious about buying a club today” ?

      Steve Almo

      10 years ago

      Sorry for the spelling errors in my last post…I didn’t check it….I wish there was an edit button!

      Reply

      Steve Almo

      10 years ago

      In my perfect world the new model goes like this.
      I think all manufacturers should ban together and hire these PGA golf pros, install these guys at a golf courses or have them cover a small number of golf courses, have them on-site at these golf courses for free fittings and they can do intructions on the side. When the customer wants to buy, they buy direct from the manufacturer at much lower costs thru these Pros. They would kick-back some small % to golf course who does not have involvement with the process. Said Johnny T.

      Fist off…the companies cannot ban together as you say………..it’s against the law. Secondly, they have tried that program in manmy different ways concerning the PGA Pro…for the last 30 tears or more. It doesn’t work. Most have turned into shirt and sweater salesman. They are all about softgoods…not hardgoods. The only reason there are off-course shops is bevause the PGA Pro’s let it get away from them. That is a fact! How many golf salesmen today even call on green grass accounts on a regular basis? I go back 37 years in the golf biz and sales of $5,000 at a green grass account for the year was a big deal! Today, these so-called golf salesmen won’t walk across the street for a $10K order! Most never paid their dues to understand how important green grass accounts are. Which is another reason the PGA Pros went softgoods. In all fairness I know in the Mid-West (and other large driving territories) golf salesmen have to call on green grass accounts to make a living…..So, they dig in to those accounts. Today, with off-course and even green grass accounts…the biz is so bad…the buyers hide in the backroom when they see a salesman coming.

      Reply

      Steve Almo

      10 years ago

      Your much too kind, Leith. They may not know it…but, your one of the smartest guys in the golf industry! You just fly under the radar. I know you and Eric J. hooked up and are going to introduce something truly ‘game changing’. Good for you guys! You both deserve it.

      Reply

      Bob Pegram

      10 years ago

      I have seen Leith and Eric in action and what they are doing will revolutionize teaching. It speeds up swing corrections and better results from months to minutes or, at worst, days. Am I allowed to put Leith’s and Eric’s contact info. here?

      Reply

      Steve Almo

      10 years ago

      Go ahead Bob!

      Bob Pegram

      10 years ago

      I tried. It didn’t show up. I included a phone number and 2 websites. MGS may have an algorithm that blocks it which is OK. They probably don’t the blogs to turn into advertising lists.

      Jeff

      10 years ago

      Pls email the info to [email protected].
      Regards

      Leith Anderson

      10 years ago

      After reading the comments on this thread for the last hour the most amazing thing to me is the level of participation from guys in the industry whose names I know and who I think matter: Dan Sueltz and Steve Almo lead the pack. Comments high quality and worth reading. Overall, congratulations to MGS for creating a meaningful forum.

      Leith Anderson – Indianapolis, IN

      Reply

      Dan Sueltz

      10 years ago

      Thanks, Leith. Will give you a call next week. There is definitely a sea change going on in the golf industry and my personal choice is to go after value-added services/products to create and improve interest in the game. I learned long ago in the consulting business that your organization can compete on Price, Innovation and Quality but usually you will fail at one of them. Dick’s is failing on Innovation and potentially Quality while trying to compete on Price with everyone else. In the golf industry especially, you need to pick you focus and do it well.

      Reply

      Dan Sueltz

      10 years ago

      I agree totally with the fact that accelerated product life cycles are killing the golf retail industry because consumers have been patterned to wait for the next new product and by the old one at a steep discount. But, let’s not forget the other shoe that has been dropping on the mom and pop retailers: online retailers, eBay, Craig’s List and forums that offer swap meets for their subscribers are all fostering consumers that will have their own cycle. Buy it, Try it, Hate it, Sell it and then do it all over again until they find the right stuff. Heck, for some of us it is fun but for other serious golfers it is a pain in the neck. Most serious golfers, according to a Golf Datatech survey, would not buy in a retail store anyway, but are looking for better service and advice. So, my point is, the golf industry is not dead for those companies that want to provide a better service and advice (lessons, fitting, fitness) but the rest of the retail golf industry is in serious trouble.

      Reply

      Chris

      10 years ago

      Excellent coverage and analysis of this topic GolfSpy!!

      Reply

      Rob Samson

      10 years ago

      I agree with the above. “Sell me your head”. I can do the rest, it’s the heads I want. No pun intended…. I started building my own clubs 2 years ago Because of the big box industry. I learned by watching countless YouTube videos. I’ve made hundreds of trials with hundreds of errors. But that’s what was fun about it. I’ve bent heads till they broke, heated shafts till they split, cut shafts too short, etc.., It’s been an expensive hobby but their is something to be said when you dial in your own equipment. I know what works for me and what doesn’t.

      Lowes, Walmart, Home Depot, Best Buy. To all who read this, I urge you to shop local mom and pops instead of these places. Workers at Dick’s will never know your name. They don’t care about you and will sell you something that will sit in the garage a week later. The above mentioned have ruined communities on selling bulk crap cheaper. I’d rather spend a few bucks more on a mom and pop store than to sit in any line waiting to check out. It’s like we’re a herd of cattle waiting in line to get beefed. You never walk away smiling, moreover questioning why you spent that much on something you didn’t need.

      Reply

      Don

      10 years ago

      Tks. for the info. I haven’t bought new equip. for several yrs., because of the changes every 6 months. I’m still playing Taylor 2’o burner irons, which are several yrs old. Your article hit the nail on the head, but as a consumer this info. was already felt. I am sorry to heare that so many Pros lost their jobs they can sit on the side line like a lot of us. I have been out of work now for over 2 yrs.

      Reply

      Jeff

      10 years ago

      I remember reading an article earlier this year about the release cycles getting too quick. When the release cycles were longer, it took longer for the prices to drop on ebay (eg. 2 year old Ping or Titleist drivers still going for $230-$270). I am lucky to have been fit previously, and am the rare standard length, standard lie, customers (more rare than you’d think). I like Adams, and am pretty patient, being okay with testing a club then waiting a few months for the discounts to hit. This spring and summer, I bought Adams Speedline Super S irons new for $220, Super LS 3 wood (demo) for $60, and a new Super S driver for $80. $360 for 10 new clubs. Funny thing is, when I replace my wedges (gap, sand, and lob), it will likely cost me $300 or more for Titleist or Cleveland wedges (although I am tempted to try the Taylor Made ATVs which are dropping in price daily).

      As a consumer, I’m happy I can pick up deals like this, but I know that this is not sustainable. If someone can easily pick up 1 year old clubs at this price, who in their right mind would spend $300 for driver, $250 for 3 wood, and $700 for irons to buy these at release 1 year ago?

      Reply

      Cullen Davis

      10 years ago

      As a owner of a retail golf store Taylor Made has ruined the golf industry, a new driver ever 3 months, lets get real. Your buy a new taylor made driver for $399 and 3 months later is worth $60 trade in. My suggestion to every golfer is boycott taylor made, simple. Im a Bridgestone dealer and play all bridgestone, they have a 2 year cycle on clubs, makes more sence.

      Reply

      Largechris

      10 years ago

      I think the situation is fairly similar in the UK, our biggest chain retailer is American Golf, but even if they have good pros (my local one doesn’t) they are never going to be interested in fitting to the point of adjusting lie angles, swing weights etc.
      In a Wall Street driven dog eat dog world senior management wants increased margins, decreased stock, year on year, and faffing about for an hour bending clubs doesn’t fit into that.

      There is still a place and good business to be had, not so much just from custom fitting, but from a handful of examples where local courses and pros setup active junior sections, get new blood in the game, build great relationships with families, service, service, service. It’s not something the corporate retail world will ever want to do, because they live and breathe selling a factory gate cost 15 dollar driver for 400 dollars. And next year they want factory gate 14 dollars and sell at 425. I’ve got no sympathy for that model!

      I’m maybe in a slightly more fortunate position than most in this economy but I’m not going to pony up 4 bills on the newest club when 200 of that is going towards Rory / Tiger / Phil’s new Bugatti.

      Reply

      buckesofjoy

      10 years ago

      I am a member at our local muni course, and we are very fortunate to have a PGA professional on staff. I purchased all of my equipment through him (with the exception of my putter which I found marked with the wrong price at Academy) and I take regular lessons from him. Since becoming a member 3 years ago I’ve gone from the 110s to low 80s (77 today!). While most of that is due to playing a lot more, I know how much proper equipment fitting and lessons have done for my game. I’ve bought into him. A $10/hour Dick’s employee can’t provide that kind of service. Dick’s is cheaper most of the time, but our shop can usually get it pretty close.

      I don’t know who’s fault this is, but I didn’t know that pros did this kind of stuff until I bought a membership at our course. I feel like a lot of people are in that boat. I didn’t even know that Dick’s employed pro’s until I read this article, honestly. I would like to see PGA pros advertised more. Get connected with one and you’ll understand the difference they can make.

      Reply

      Fubbles

      10 years ago

      “Dick’s went all in with TaylorMade and they got busted.”

      I guess you could say, Dick’s went balls deep. :3

      In all seriousness though, this has been expected for a long long time. Did the big companies really think they could keep this retail-model up without it backfiring in their faces at some point?

      Reply

      Wldchld22

      10 years ago

      Wow. Was that a compliment for Nike?

      Reply

      Andy W

      10 years ago

      The golf equipment industry’s retail model is broken??? I am in the golf industry, and the same old clubs regurgitated year after year; well that is one retail model that never has a chance, and is exactly what we have had for 15 years. The retail model should be to make innovative, game improvement, and fun equipment. The last to do so were Callaway’s Great Big Bertha “trampoline-face” driver and the ProV ball; both about 15 years ago. Before that it was the PING’s Anser putter that parlayed into perimeter-weighted irons. Aww,…..history.

      I am about making history, not whiney-babying about some model thing that is perceived broken!

      Andrew J
      http://www.expertgreenreading.com

      Reply

      Steve

      10 years ago

      I just finished playing in one of the best local tournaments in Pennsylvania. I am still hitting Callaway Diablo Forged Irons and a Adams Speedline Fast 12LS Driver with a black-tie. I flew the green on number 9 (177yrd par 3 middle pin) with my 4 year old 7 iron. I also hit my 3 year old driver 25 yards past my competitors who were swinging Taylormade SLDR Drivers. Point being…

      In Myrtle Beach last week I tried a SLDR with 5 different shafts including the black-tie like in my Adams driver. I hit my Adams driver 9 yards farther on average hitting both on the same tee, same launch monitor, etc. The crazy thing is with the stock shaft offering in the SLDR I gave up 23 yards due to super high spin rates! Isn’t the SLDR head supposed to be high launch super low spin? Well it was when I put a Oban and a Black-Tie in it! Hmmmm…

      I love new equipment as much as the next guy, but it seems to have been maxed out for a few years now. I really think golfers should focus on SHAFT FITTING. From the tests I’ve done driver heads perform very similar but shafts make a HUGE difference. If you want more distance, better roll, more height, etc. spend your money on the right shaft. Just my 2 cents.

      Reply

      Regis

      10 years ago

      Couldn’t agree more and there’s the rub. People complain about the cost of golf (eg: :drivers) but check the back of your old golf magazines (I have some 30 years old). The cost of clubs has not increased substantially in 20 years. What has changed is the quality of the stock shaft. Twenty years ago , TM, Cobra and other drivers came with a real deal Aldila NV or a Fuji shaft. Perhaps not premium but a great overall shaft. Now the made for stock shafts are watered down premium shaft wannabees. But if you were to put a real deal Aldila, Tour Design (G series?) or Fuji in a new driver the cost would go above $500 and that would be a deal killer. Better we just let blog posters complain that this or that manufacturer’s entry is junk. Sell me your head and give me shaft options, but that is never going to happen in a big box store marketing environment.

      Reply

      PJ Johnson

      10 years ago

      I am truly sorry for the PGA Professionals that have lost their jobs. I know a couple of them personally. But another fact unpublished here is that most of the upper management of Golf Galaxy was cut or reassigned.

      Reply

      Adam

      10 years ago

      A lot of good comments but since I am in the golf blog world, I just want to address the small paragraph at the end regarding media and bloggers. I have long suspected (well at least for the past 18 months), that the dearth of golf blogs and review sites was due for a shake out. For the past number of years companies have thrown gear to just about anyone that asks. While I firmly believe MSG and sites like ours (Three Guys Golf) serve a valuable purpose for both companies and consumers, the budgetary constraints are going to force agencies and companies to make a shorter list of those who they are willing to send equipment to. Frankly, I think this a good thing as I believe the blog industry is best served when reviews are done in a professional manner rather than just banged.

      Reply

      Carl Strom

      10 years ago

      Great article and even better responses, especially Tony Sanguinetti!

      Reply

      Bill

      10 years ago

      The other gorilla in the corner occurred years ago…When guys could no longer write off golf memberships as a business expense, the private club model took a fatal hit. Used to be you’d see the whole family at the club. The wife taking lessons, dad playing with the regular group every weekend, the kids in the pool or on the tennis courts.
      Now the pool is closed permanently, the wives that love the game still play but the casual players haven’t touched their clubs in a couple years. The dining rooms are empty because business dinners are a thing of the past. The private club as a movers and shakers nirvana has ceased to exist.
      So you have clubs fighting just to stay open.
      It’s sad to see to an extent. I just like to play golf so I’ll still be out there. I will still pick up an occasional club but not at the clip I used to.
      This all leads to todays game. Fewer players with less time. Far fewer people trying to “buy” a game. New grips and a couple lessons and practice lead to better scores than buying the latest and greatest..When I DO buy, I look online first. Usually only balls or putters since I’d like to be fit for irons and drivers now. Dicks business model doesn’t fall into any of these scenarios. As others noted, golf was one department and most everything was shrink wrapped or soft goods. The one employee that would be working was usually overwhelmed trying to service customers, work on clubs and stocking.the floor so getting quality time for in depth analysis was never going to happen.

      Not that many years ago (10 or so) I remember reading articles that claimed golf courses couldn’t be built fast enough for future growth. Tiger mania was in full swing and many in the business thought the boom would go on for endlessly. Reality can be a bitch.

      Reply

      Vic

      10 years ago

      Just last year I started going to a Dick’s close to my work and looking over their inventory was surprised to see most clubs in stiff flex. So I asked the ‘pro’ why so many of the same items in the same flex? He said they didn’t order the clubs they were sent to the stores thus limiting selection. Made many trips there but never left with one club. Went to another Dick’s close to home and had a few clubs reshafted but the new shafts were bought from Hireko at a great price. This store did club work but the others around town didn’t. Usually I go to Golfsmith but it’s a drive around Indy to get there. Have noticed a big drop in used clubs at Golfsmith too though they just remolded the whole golf section about a year ago and they have all the expensive latest greatest thing on the shelf. I used to pick up Tour Edge clubs there but that inventory is way down as is the overall selection compared to recent years. As for Golf Galaxy I quit patronizing them here years ago as the service and pricing was pretty lame IMO.
      I buy a lot from Ebay, Callaway Used and Global Golf. My last purchase for a fairway wood on Ebay cost me $14.95 + $11.95 shipping and was brand spanking new. How do you beat that? Same club in the box store and on their website was on sale for $119. Seems a trend is coming here like the auto biz where everyone and anyone will under sell the other guy for $50. just to make a deal and the consumer will spend the time and money to drive across town for the “savings.”
      Just got in from playing 9 and was surprised to see new ‘Power something’ hybrids being demoed and sold for $35 and drivers for under $50. in the clubhouse. In this market with green fees, $50. balls and $65. logo shirts no one seemed to care who made the clubs they were selling but people were buying them. It’s fine to see the big boys using all the big names but not so realistic that the average amateur can drop $400 for a driver in this economy they’ll just quit playing and move on. And you can’t blame them.

      Reply

      David W

      10 years ago

      Vic, I agree with a lot of what you have said here. However, I want to point out something else that is hurting the industry that you are helping with your fairway purchase on ebay. If you bought a brand new named brand club for that price on ebay that sells for $119 in the store today then you more than likely have purchased a counterfeit club. Counterfeiting is killing the club market. They are so good today that some have to be cut open to see the difference. I also think that counterfeiting should be included in this article. Several times I have asked sellers on ebay a question to get them to contact me and then asked for a pic of the serial number or some other proof that the club is not counterfeit. The majority of the time (after answering my first question) I never hear from them again.

      Reply

      Dave Sanguinetti

      10 years ago

      OK lets start trying to really place the responsibility for this mess we have gotten in. By the way Tony- if you were “complacent” you would somehow be standing idly by watching the industry die, the word you were searching fot was “complicit”, I expect proper usage from a “media expert”, haha. Everyone in the industry from 1995 up until today has contributed to the shitstorm that is sweeping Golf. Freddy and Norman’s popularity coincided with an economy that spurred an expansion of facilities that far outpaced the real growth of golf participation, but the high end real estate venues sold well enough to fuel every penny-anny hustler to attempt to enter the race for the buck! Along came Tiger and the golf channel and soon the industry guru’s, the PGA of America, and those evil bastards at the USGA became solid believers in their own bullshit. Marketing became the game, “Hit it Longer” became the mantra, and much of the golfing public bought into it. Every part of the industry, and those who participate in golf is at least partly to blame. If one could truly make a weapon that could give you 8-10-13-17-25-33 more yards then everyone today with a 2014 Driver would be hitting it 220 to 575 yards farther than they did in 1995. Too many courses, too much real estate, far too expensive rounds at resorts, high end daily fee, and higher CClub buy-ins had escalating effect on even the most sensible of munis.. Then the cost of equipment, clothing, and accessories started to pace with the perceived demand for all things golf. Everyone wanted in, and many skipped earning their way in by hard work, good product and/or services, and “fair” prices, and just brought shlock to the marketplace. I was a 40 veteran in the retail, wholesale, manufacturing, and golf business(s), and I can count the great golf stores(individual stores, not chains) on my fingers– for example E Watts only had 2 good stores(Turkey Lake, and the franchise store in outlying Boston), Haggin Oaks in Sacramento, Strictly Golf in Naperville, Il., I could go on but you get my drift. A golf outlet isn’t good because it is 40000 sq. ft. or has a resident pro in it- but it is great if the people give great informed service, it has the right product at fair prices, and you feel that you exactly what you needed. GolfGalaxy, Golfsmith, Dicks, the old Vans, and all of the mid-size chains were or are TERRIBLE retail venues, most often run by management that aren’t retailers(kind of like having a plumber fly a Delta 777 huh). Then you have golf Mfr’s being headed by some of the slickest hucksters since Elmer Gantry and the Music Man, one individual in particular stands out as the “guy” who drove the industry nuts with the Wall Street model for destruction- keep doubling down!, buy it on the margin!, you’ve got the credit line!, you all know the man, the head of the “Wisconsin Mafia”, he’s not even in the business technically anymore, Maybe we should call him the “Wolf of Carlsbad”. But as bad as he was for the business everyone-except ( the Karstens, Wally U, and the evil Swoosh) followed suit. The USGA tries to fix the wrong things, the PGA is concerned about 550 lazy guys who took a short cut to Dick’s(never saw one who wasn’t hitting balls in the simulator instead of interacting with customers), Media is more focused of style, marketing, and “hot stories”, instead of calling out Tom O’Toole, Mike Davis, Mark King, Chip Brewer, Ted Bishop, and the 3G’s- Golf Channel, Golf Magazine, and Golf Magazine. I’ve been playing for 58 years and never been concerned that the game might go away. However, If the people and institutions listed above, with the help of Wally U., the Karstens, and others that have been less complicit in getting us to this point, don’t work together to solve the current dilemma we might just be on life support.

      Reply

      John muir

      10 years ago

      It’s interesting to note the demise of golf is global.
      I’ve never heard of Dicks but we have the same business models on a much smaller scale here in Scotland and they too are struggling.Why?
      The product cycle is problematic but surely driven by the decreasing numbers who play- the manufacturers have to make more repeat sales to the same buyers.
      I’m a Links ticket holder at St Andrews and played the Jubilee course on Wed – perfect weather, top tourist time & local holiday- we walked on – nobody in front- at 1.20- nobody.The New was similarly quiet.Nearly all local opens- and we’re talking world famous courses- Carnoustie,Scotscraig,Monifieth are struggling for numbers and in relative terms golf here is cheap- my links ticket for St Andrews is approx $800 pa for 7 courses including the Old as often as you can play- no extra charge.The list was opened last year for first time in yonks- in 1988 there were waiting times of 10 years to get in clubs , sometimes longer – now you can join ASAP with no joining fee.
      There are dozens of facts which show a worrying decline if we’re not careful we could end up like Curling or some other fringe specialist sport-Taylormade ain’t to blame for that.
      Fact is it’s got to get back to what it’s meant to be- fun( well sort of!)

      Reply

      markb

      10 years ago

      How bad is the state of Golf?

      You can WALK ON at St. Andrews!

      Nothing more needs be said.

      Reply

      Duncan Castles

      10 years ago

      It’s always been possible to walk on at St Andrews in one way or another. The courses are owned by the town and the system of allocating tee times is designed to favour residents, flexibility, and avoid it being permanently booked out by the most affluent golfers.

      Marc Kilgore

      10 years ago

      Wow – walk on at St Andrews. This is astounding.

      Nevin

      10 years ago

      It wasn’t that way when I was in St. Andrews earlier this month. Wall to wall golfers. I think the announcements of the death of the game of golf are greatly exaggerated.

      Nevin

      10 years ago

      Does this decision also include the PGA pros at Golf Galaxy too? I always thought that it was risky selling trying to sell higher golf equipment at a sporting good store. I always went to a GG to make a big purchase and have used their pro to get fit. It would never occur to me to go to a Dick’s for anything besides tees or balls.

      Reply

      David W

      10 years ago

      I feel the same way. I went with a buddy to Dick’s one day when he was looking at drivers. I told him to bring his own driver for comparison because they jack up the numbers on the machines in the store. The guy at Dick’s tried everything he could to keep my buddy from hitting his own driver. He came close to flat out telling him he couldn’t. I talked him into leaving. Golfsmith has never done that to me, they welcomed being able to fit a club against my current one.

      Reply

      Golfzilla

      10 years ago

      Sorry for the 500+ pros that will be outawork. I worry not for Dick’s as they are a big general purpose sporting goods store. I worry about big specialty golf stores like Golfsmith, PGA Superstore, Golf Galaxy, World Wide Golf, etc.

      A spanking new PGA Superstore opened up on in my area (NorCal) last year. Lovely, large store with loads of golf equipment. Yeah, they have PGA pros as well. However, from a customer participation, the place is dead. Huge employee turnover. They cannot last for long.

      Reply

      par4ing

      10 years ago

      Most of that discounted stuff on Ebay is counterfeit. As an avid golfer I just refuse to buy anymore $400 Drivers. I’ll buy from Hireko as they have quality but not the high prices.

      Reply

      Steve P

      10 years ago

      Spoken like a brick and mortar retailer. The OVERWHELMING majority of clubs sold on ebay are real. Feedback scores exist for a reason.
      Never buy a new club from anybody with less than 1000+ positive transactions and you will be fine.

      Reply

      Mark

      10 years ago

      I am an independent golf retailer with a 6,500 sq. ft retail store and an inventory level of approximately $600,000. Our primary competition in the market is Dick’s and Golf Galaxy. Although we can kill the big box guys on service and product knowledge, we can’t compete with their level of inventory. For us to carry every SKU (flex, loft, shaft, color variation) we would need to substantially increase our inventory levels, which we simply do not have the option of doing. So even though the guy that comes in and wants the 8.5 degree, senior flex Cobra driver in orange can special order it from us and we can usually have it in 5-7 days, he still runs over to Dicks because he wants it immediately. But the bigger challenge that we see is the fact that the manufacturers are going directly to the consumer and cutting out the middle man like us. If I was an equipment sales rep I would be worried too, because pretty soon they’re not going to need them either.
      It’s getting harder and harder to make a living in this business. I hope all your readers continue to support their local golf pro or independent golf retailer; we need their support and our ability to stay in business depends upon their continued loyalty. Thanks!

      Reply

      Pete

      10 years ago

      Interesting point, with no PGA professionals- will they lose the ability to carry Titleist and Ping?

      Reply

      Scott

      10 years ago

      I spent 15 years with Dick’s, I was there when PGA pros were 1st introduced. The big reason for hiring pros was to get the Titleists and PINGS of the world to sell to us. It gave Dick’s “credit ability ” where other big box sporting retailers I guess had none.

      Reply

      Robeli

      10 years ago

      but Dick’s never ever had even stock of Titleists or Pings….. so what was the point.

      Reply

      Jake

      10 years ago

      The top volume stores have Titleist….. about 250 have full lines of Ping. They were slowly moving those brands into every store…. I assume that will end after the in-stock product runs out. Can’t imagine those brands will have a presence there anymore.

      Steve Almo

      10 years ago

      Look….everyone feels sorry for the PGA Pro but in truth they have been logoed shirt and sweater salesmen for the past 25 years. Very few of them understand hardgoods. Why Dick’s hired them in the first place is beyond me…as someone on here also stated. It all really matters not anyway. The golf biz was heading in this direction for some time now.

      Reply

      Pete

      10 years ago

      I have often bought equipment from Dick’s upon determining what I wanted and needed by using other outlets (on range equipment demos, golfsmith, TGW, etc.).

      They have a very generous trade-in program with frequent- 50% additional value added and a rewards program that is convenient to take advantage of while buying other sporting goods and sportswear.

      Reply

      labillyboy

      10 years ago

      Most of the blame belongs in Washington DC not Carlsbad or Coraopolis.

      In case you haven’t noticed, the economy stinks. When the economy stinks, fewer people have the money to plunk down to even PLAY golf much less buy new gear every year. When given the choice of playing or buying a new driver, most of us choose green fees over the promised extra 5 yards. Equipment junkies will choose not to eat in order to have the latest golf gear, most golfers won’t.

      It’s interesting to note that the number of rounds played seems to decline only marginally if you look at NGF data, even though the economy is a disaster. It tells me people are spending the unemployment check on a round at the local muni using a chewed up golf ball and the bag of clubs they have been using for years.

      Golf manufacturers each make their own independent assessment of the market and set production and new product introductions accordingly. They cannot all get together and agree to lengthen product cycles, that would be illegal folks. What they do is to continually bring out new products that they believe will hold market share and sell enough units to overcome costs. One thing I don’t think people appreciate is how cheap it is to make a $400 driver… or a set of $600 irons… I think most of you would be very surprised.

      This brings back the memories of the Green Grass -vs- off course debates which was long ago won by the off course guys with all the money. As far as Dick’s strategy of hiring a “PGA Professional” to work in a mall to sell golf clubs… I can’t say that I would have ever sided with that being a good idea. The kids from the local HS golf team can probably do a good enough job for $10/hr and a discount on equipment. I worked in retail Sporting Goods for over 7 years, skis for the same and golf for a couple years…

      Reply

      markb

      10 years ago

      That bad economy excuse worked great — up to about 2012. It doesn’t work anymore.

      Look at the stock market, housing starts, unemployment rates or any other nationally recognized indicator and you’ll see that while we’re not exactly in the roaring twenties, the recession’s over. But golf isn’t recovering, in fact it is getting worse.

      Yesterday was a state holiday in Utah, one of the four days per year that our annual passes are NOT valid because of the big paying crowds the courses expect. So I went out to play anyway and NO ONE was at the course. I pulled my pass anyway and they didn’t even punch it, the kid just waved me on because he didn’t want to get up from his chair. It’s not that people are sitting home moping, they are doing other things. I’ve never seen more people at our local rodeo and the fireworks were bigger than ever. We are being passed by.

      Reply

      DDD

      10 years ago

      Wow if you think we are out of the recession you are truly out of touch. Unemployment numbers are based on unemployment CLAIMS. If you’ve used all your unemployment benefits and can’t claim it any longer you simply aren’t counted. Not to mention those who have simply stopped looking aren’t counted anywhere! Learn what U6 Unemployment is. The stock market is smoke and mirrors any more – means nothing to those without the resources to participate. Interest rates? Artificially manipulated. Inflation? In check? You think – start looking around. You are paying the same for products that are not slightly smaller in volume – cereal, potato chips, meals in many restaurants, toilet paper. But none of that matters because the official inflation rate is based on many things that are barely relevant today, thus, less of an accurate representation of life for the average Joe these days.

      andrew

      10 years ago

      agreed. add to this the fact that a large percentage of jobs “added” are low wage service type jobs- fast food, etc.

      Ben Lenczner

      10 years ago

      Your story is 100% accurate. I would buy some balls as maybe some clearance clothes but never considered buying equipment. I would go to Golf Galaxy or Nevada Bob’s or even some decent on course pro shops. Ducks was all Taylo Made. I play Mizuno irons and never saw those there. They were geared to the high handicapper or the wives and kids looking to buy dad a present. Wish they never bought Golf Galaxy.

      Reply

      Jeff

      10 years ago

      Same problem in New Zealand.Quite sad really for a club pro trying to make a living when you can buy from say Rockbottom,Global Golf etc .

      Reply

      Bill

      10 years ago

      Lets be honest the golf industry has no one to blame other than themselves, they have manipulated the market to their advantage for years.When I started to play you bought a set of clubs which consisted of 3 iron toSW, now its 5 iron to SW, but at a higher price, couple this with new “improved must have” club coming out every 6 months something had to give at some point. Its the old “you reap what you sow”.

      Reply

      Bullwinkle Moose

      10 years ago

      There are several valid points addressed here but it seems to me that everyone missed the obvious conclusion. Remember when Bill Clinton ran for President, his total focus was “The Economy”. A lot of smart guys here have pointed out problems in the golf industry, others point out the shrinking number of golfers, and while both are correct, the naked man in the room is that while the government fiddles with unemployment figures, you have to go back to the 1950’s to find fewer Americans employed. Manufacturing in the US is nonexistent, and these same golf companies are all partially to blame. Every golf club component is manufactured somewhere in Asia, but this is supposedly done to keep cost down. Our parents made products, and spent their income on products. Now, as a nation, we are a consumer nation that produces nothing but service related income and debt.

      This is also true to the auto industry, and many others. Fewer employed people with less disposable income, Odds are this is more the beginning of the problem, it certainly isn’t the end.

      Reply

      Ken

      10 years ago

      You make more sense than anyone posting on this site. We have exported so many jobs overseas to Asia ! This indeed is a huge problem that needs to be taken care of.

      Reply

      andrew

      10 years ago

      Bravo! and with little hope of anything improving (or a sense of everything steadily getting worse), young people will simply not go play a (too) expensive game that only “rich” people can afford. let the industry contract, but a mistake would be to let prices (fees, equipment, et al) climb to recoup lost revenue. for people to play, or for newcomers to start, prices really ought to come down to raise volume. think about it- the average American has effectively had pay cuts since at least the mid-seventies, yet equipment and fees have increased quite a bit. my local muni charges $2 more per nine than last year, yet i did not get $0.66 in raises (generously based on 3hr.s per nine).

      Reply

      Gary

      10 years ago

      I worked for a small golf retailer last winter in Florida and to surprise , the vast majority of our customers were buying discounted equipment. Some, with an unlimited budget, spent freely, most from other countries particularly from Canada. Yes, too many choices indeed and a lot more people are regripping too. The main killer,however, is the price given for used equipment. Unless you put out less new models and bolster used prices, this downward spiral in new clubs will continue.

      Reply

      Ol deadeye

      10 years ago

      I was in Dicks five days ago. Hit the Karsten irons which I intend to buy. When I asked the “pro” how I could tell which shafts to get he said I should just guess because there was no real way to tell. I told him that clubs are too expensive to guess. He replied they only carry R anyway, anything else would have to be ordered. He also told me I would lose distance if I got graphite. Said steel has more mass there fore more distance. Obviously no knowledge of club fitting. Also salesmanship. A low score does not a salesman make. Golfsmith does a much better job.

      Reply

      golfercraig

      10 years ago

      But yet has had 27 consecutive losing quarters. How exactly are they doing it better?

      Reply

      RobN

      10 years ago

      I would have never guessed that their was a PGA Pro at my local Dick’s. Reality is the only thing I ever bought there was grips when I needed one or two quickly (otherwise I ordered from Golfworks). I bought a pair of shoes there a few weeks ago, but returned them (Oakley Ripcords, they sucked!). Golfsmith is my go-to shop, even though it’s 60 miles away. Was always able to get a better deal, along with trade-ins, at GS. And they always have a HUGE used selection there too.

      Reply

      E.P.

      10 years ago

      These PGA pros were not “fired”, they were “laid-off” … there is a significant difference. They weren’t fired for poor performance, they were laid-off due to the business climate of the industry.

      Reply

      Tony Covey

      10 years ago

      You’re arguing semantics (and Rovell’s original article says “fired”). The definition of the word mentions nothing about performance, but if you want to talk general context…

      Laid-off generally suggests an intent to bring back if the situation changes. While you’re right, performance isn’t a question here, you can bet Dick’s has no intention of every bringing these guys back to work.

      Their positions have been eliminated…permanently.

      Reply

      Tony

      10 years ago

      Neither term means anything in “right to work” states. Your unemployed either way and it is not held against you, unless you are going into Federal employment as they will want to know why you left.

      KB33

      10 years ago

      I have been saying this for almost 2 years now…the role of the PGA Professional needs to evolve or it will become obsolete. This is the root of so many problems that plague golf (slow play…lack of value in fittings etc)

      There needs to be a complete overhaul in the way the game is taught to rebuild trust and purpose. Most amateur players “feel” they benefit more from going to Youtube rather than a pro because they don’t feel there is incentive for the pro to make them better.

      PGA professionals need to seen more as a mentor and champion of the game rather than a guy who gives you a band aid in 30 mins and sends you on your way never to be heard from again.

      When you go to a fitness trainer there is an accountability to make you better…they teach you nutrition…they build a strategy and plan for you to improve. This is missing from golf…it’s methods it’s swing fixes…it’s very rarely about what is best for the player. Naturally, this affects willingness to take lessons…which impacts personal growth…which impacts slow play because you shoot 100+ for 30 years.

      These guys need to diversify their role within the ecosystem or they will become obsolete and the game will continue to suffer.

      Reply

      Drew

      10 years ago

      Maybe this just the beginning of the end for the bog box store model. Circuit City, Best Buy, JCP, Block Buster, Sears etc are either defunct or limping along.

      Ever went into a Dick’s/Golf Galaxy to purchase a golf shirt? The CLEARANCE rack starts at $45! While I can get mucho high quality shirts from Amazon or Rock Bottom for $15-$25 a piece.

      Reply

      Tony

      10 years ago

      Great comment, so true. Very lucky to get a golf shirt off a clearance rack at Dicks for $24, unless it’s been there a while and has another 25% taken off, it is not the norm.

      Reply

      Steve Almo

      10 years ago

      First off, Dick’s is just one spoke in the wheel. The ‘dumping’ and intro’ing of ‘new’ product every 6 months or so was a short fix for the Major golf companies …it finally came back and bit them in the arse. Let’s face it…two main reasons why the golf biz sucks and it’s not just the golf biz. Other segments of sporting goods are just as bad off.

      We are losing the recreational golfer in the millions. And the majority that are left are only buying if they see it on the internet for a ‘gimme’ price. If you couple that with the present state of the economy…it’s bad news all around. We simply have to get back and attract those and new recreational golfers. I really do not see any end in sight at this time.

      http://www.geekgolf.com.

      Reply

      snowman

      10 years ago

      As far as I know I have never encountered a pro in the golf dept of dicks and i browse their often… They were invisible as far as I could tell. That said, sorry to see even more folks out of a job. I think the OEMS should sell more direct to consumer with more outdoor demo/fitting days and custom options.

      Reply

      Regis

      10 years ago

      First of all blaming TMAG of any other manufacturer for this makes no sense. The reason 60% of Dick’s inventory is TMAG is that is where the demand is. I think Dick’s/Golf Galaxy over saturated their market share at least for golf. I live on Long Island which has more golfers than most states.. We have numerous private clubs, some elite clubs, and of course a lot of munis… Most have pro shops and there are a fair number of established private golf shops with good fitters as well as two Golfsmith locations. Then of course for a golfer who knows what his or her needs are , there are those on line sites and for many-e-bay. There is one Golf Galaxy and 4 Dicks Sporting Goods Stores within 25 miles of my house, and like it or not for Dick’s Sporting Goods , golf is nothing more than a complimentary line .IMHO Dicks has a place in golf in less populated golf markets where “one stop” sporting goods stores serve a purpose but in golf saturated markets they are a distant option and always have been.

      Reply

      Russ

      10 years ago

      Compunding the issue is EBAY is home-ground for counterfeits of all ilks(as witnessed to by the latest GOLF channel reports). Don’t know how much that will help at this stage, but I’d tout myself as one of the only reputable outlets that remain.

      Reply

      markb

      10 years ago

      People like to point to ebay as the source of counterfeits, when in actuality very few counterfeits are found on ebay and it offers a host of protections, enforcement and money back guarantees if you happen to get one. Please note that the Jimmy Roberts “In Play” TV article did NOT buy its suspect clubs on Ebay, it bought them from “direct from China” pop-up websites. Honestly, if you are dumb enough to log on to a website called TOPBESTA1GOLF.com located in Shanghai and you think you’re buying legit clubs, you deserve the fakes you get. I also know a rabbit with a slightly used bridge in Brooklyn you may be interested in.

      Most of little vendors on ebay are individuals selling used stuff that they bought for themselves and didn’t like. The big resellers are mostly US folks like globalgolf and 3balls, who sell used or overstock “ARP” product that they buy back from TMag and other outlets, then dump for whatever they can get on Ebay condition allowing. TMag and the other mannies actually keep lists of the approved Ebay vendors that work with them, (often as outlets for overstock) and cooperatively agree keep their eyes open for fakes. The TMag list has about 30+ names on it, You could just stick to their lists and never run out of deeply discounted product that would satisfy all your personal golfing needs forever and you’d never come within shouting distance of MSRP at a Big Box store.

      Reply

      Steve P

      10 years ago

      Mark nailed it. Ebay for me!

      Johhn Thunders

      10 years ago

      Let’s see golf equipment manufacturers are in trouble. Check.
      Numbers of Golf courses declining. Check.
      Big Box retail chains in trouble. Check.
      Lots of PGA pros unemployed. Check
      People with any economic sense buy from ebay for at a very large reduction in price. Check.

      In my perfect world the new model goes like this.
      I think all manufacturers should ban together and hire these PGA golf pros, install these guys at a golf courses or have them cover a small number of golf courses, have them on-site at these golf courses for free fittings and they can do intructions on the side. When the customer wants to buy, they buy direct from the manufacturer at much lower costs thru these Pros. They would kick-back some small % to golf course who does not have involvement with the process.

      Now Callaway and Taylormade will probably never go for this so let them stay with their big-box model.

      I think the others might be interested.

      The current model is broken, so blow it up.

      Manaufacturers give a wide selection of FREE golf demo’s to Golf Courses. Pay them a small percentage if they sell something. Customer orders direct from manua

      Reply

      DDD

      10 years ago

      Wow, I like it. Unfortunately the manufacturers most guilty of the push strategy wouldn’t think of having their payroll expense go up. To your other points it would seem like maybe our economy is struggling? Really? Not according to Capital Hill. *Sarcasm Maybe, just maybe, that has had an impact on the golf industry, Ya think? Supply and demand is really a pretty simple concept. Way too many golf courses (supply) were built in the 1990s and 2000s for the demand that was available (or even anticipated). We were living in fantasy land as were the banking industry, Wall Street, and corporate America. Bam! Recession hits and magnifies all the lies and fantasies. It’s just time for a correction. Let it happen.

      Reply

      Bill

      10 years ago

      Wondered when the bottom would drop out of this overproduction of goods in the industry.
      Just opined on another thread by the overpriced, average quality goods in the golf industry.
      People aren’t fools. Rounds are down, yet prices for balls are nearing $50/dz for better balls.
      Drivers are automatically $400 for the premium lines.
      Irons are jumping in price every season and not by a little. The thing is, the average weekend warrior is hoping to keep his job in this lousy economy with nothing but doubt centered around our leadership. The pool of people willing to pay top dollar has shrunk dramatically. Club technology has not advanced nearly as much as manufacturers would have us believe. It’s 1/4 tech and 3/4 hyperbole with a 25% price increase.
      As the story says, rounds are down. Tournaments are scrambling for participants. Many of us are now working 6 days to make what we did in 5 not that long ago. There’s just not as much time to play and to be expected to pay ever increasing premiums at courses, for equipment and accessories is a foolhardy business model. Totally expect a big reduction in golf companies and offerings. Multi line conglomerates like Nike and Adidas will start pulling out I predict.

      Reply

      Drew

      10 years ago

      ie last year

      Reply

      Drew

      10 years ago

      So it begs the question: How is MGS contributing to this by pointing out, and often reviewing, every shiny object that comes out of the golf manufacturers? It is estimated that more than 400k people walked away from the game last yes. Yes, a round takes too long and may cost too much, but so does the equipment. They are viewing golf as some elitist activity that they can’t afford. And you only have o look at the review history here to find many, many examples of high priced eye candy: $400 putters, $40 gloves, $600 rain suits…$300 shoes, the list is endless.

      When was the last time you guys had a shootout of most wanted driver on the market now for <$150? Or a shootout of the best value rain gear? Never.

      Reply

      Tony Covey

      10 years ago

      Boy, I tell ya…this year’s driver test damn near hits your $150 requirement, and most of last year’s probably does.

      There’s almost no such thing as $150 driver (Tommy Armour maybe), but most everything else starts as a $300 or $400 driver and works its way down. Look at the component guys. With the possible exception of Hireko and one or two others, they’ve basically priced themselves right out of the game (see the Geek article from two days ago…one of many examples where we cover the little guys that almost nobody else does).

      I certainly don’t feel complacent complicit in any of this, if that’s what your asking. For better or worse, we cover the equipment industry as objectively (mostly) as possible. I mean it’s what we do. We’re not going to ignore Callaway’s Big Bertha Alpha, for example, because we think it’s overpriced. It’s equipment, and so it’s a story.

      The consumer decides whether or not something is appropriately priced.

      Yes…we do cover expensive stuff, but we cover inexpensive stuff too.

      We cover golf equipment.

      Reply

      Drew

      10 years ago

      Good points…appreciate the candid response.

      GreenDoor

      10 years ago

      I would argue that sites like MGS that do scientific method-based testing of clubs off one another have contributed to the decline in sales by sticking a big fat needle right in the heart of the marketing balloon. When a driver released nearly 2 years ago scores better than almost everything else, that sends a powerful message. You have fatally wounded my dream of buying a better game, but I am eternally grateful to you (big golf companies…maybe not so grateful). And don’t be fooled into thinking that only gear-heads read your work; newbies are just as hungry for science-based reviews, maybe more so. We are just looking for truth and if that truth is in the dirt, than those of us hungry enough to keep digging will savor the results that come from overcoming.

      DP

      10 years ago

      Several months ago, a conversation about the future of the golf equipment industry was on this site. My position was that the consumer was fed up with spending good money on clubs, etc., only to be “hit” with the best and greatest a few months later.
      I spent over seven years in the retail industry, and the formula for success remains the same. Give the consumer a quality product, good service, and stay away from change just for profiteering. It works for a while, but it will not work forever! I commend those companies that have resisted the temptation to get into the change game. They have at least maintained some creditability with their customers. Maybe, if this market shrinkage is large enough, and demand declines, we could possibly see clubs made in America again!

      Reply

      SWD

      10 years ago

      What nobody has mentioned, in either the article or the comments, is the condition of the economy. The cost of golfing period is tougher to deal with when folks are not making the money they used to. The Greatest Recession since the big one has had a major impact on ability to play and invest in new equipment. The less you play, the less you feel the urge to upgrade equipment. Courses are feeling pressure — we’ve lost three courses in my immediate area for a portion of the season over the last two years — because of lack of rounds and rising prices for water because unnecessary EPA regulations are driving the cost of water through the roof. Industry economic models may well need overhauling but in this kind of economy, consumer/golfers are not able to afford what they could five years ago.

      Reply

      Fozcycle

      10 years ago

      I anticipate the mfgs will revert back to the old business model of new designs every other year. This will take awhile to stabilize, but should eventually level out. No more will there be Large Golf Depts of Big Box Sports Stores. They will shrink back to a small corner department of the store. As this occurs, golfers will once again look to the green grass stores to purchase their wares.

      Reply

      J Franklin

      10 years ago

      well written article here……
      three points to think about (one conflicts with the above a bit)
      my opinion is that Dicks hired those pros to get access to “green grass” (golf industry term) product lines that would have been unavailable to them otherwise….5 years ago,certain manufacturers actually looked down their noses to “off course” retailers…Dicks positioned themselves as “green grass” because they employed PGA Pros…eventually/recently, manufacturers didnt care whether you were green grass or not, they needed points of distribution…so PGA pros became irrelevant to the strategy.

      Second, and trust me on this, I’ve been in retail for 25+ years…if those PGA pros have any sales ability, the GM of your local Dicks will hire them right back….not as a pro, but as a salesperson……what else were they there to do anyway?

      Finally, I’m a partner in a retail golf business….its been successful for 10 years already, thanks to our loyal customer base—-and we’ve never sold equipment. What we do offer is clothing, footwear, accessories, etc.—–THATS the LIFESTYLE part of this business….Dicks is going more to yoga…know why? because women wear yoga ALL DAY long, not just at yoga class. You spend 4-5 hours with your clubs…you spend 10-15 hours in your clothes…..if they happen to be clothes and accessories that translate to “off course”, THATS the lifestyle part of this sport….and the part that will be sustainable.
      in the meantime,, the equipment guys need to get lined up with price points and technology releases….think they could learn some lessons from Apple and Samsung in that regard.

      Reply

      Jake

      10 years ago

      The pros all had to sign a termination agreement of some sort….. They won’t be hired back as salespeople or any other position….. It wasn’t an option for any manager to make that decision from what I understand. Dicks shifted to part-time w/ no benefits workers when the Obamacare changes occurred….. Their golf departments didn’t have any full time positions except for the Pro….. with a few exceptions in bigger markets.

      Reply

      Tony

      10 years ago

      Golf Locker????

      Reply

      Bob Pegram

      10 years ago

      This process has been going on for years, but it is accellerating. The big golf equipment companies drove most of the little, high quality, manufacturers out of business years ago with their end of model discounting. The little guys couldn’t compete.
      True custom fitting will always be around although it is more difficult to keep a steady stream of customers coming in when they can buy stock clubs way cheaper at Dick’s or on Ebay. There is still a market for adjusting those clubs after the sale, but that ends up making the cost about what it would have been if they had gone to a custom fitter in the first place – and involves a lot of tweaking and sometimes shaft replacement.
      If the average golfer spent their golf money on lessons and club fitting instead of the newest gimmick clubs he/she would be a better golfer than he is. A good swing beats new equipment any day – especially with properly fitted clubs.

      Reply

      TopPakRat

      10 years ago

      I just went to the Adidas web site for a review of their first quarter financials. For those not aware Adidas is now the proud owner of the biggest horror in the industry Taylor Made Golf. Thanks to Taylor Made, Adidas reported a 27% decline in the Other Business Performace division. This includes a double digit increase from Reebock. With that said, my sources tell me T/M has accounted for a total revenue loss of over 34% in the first quarter. I am not shocked that this has happened. Dicks & Taylor Made have been in bed together for a number of years with T/M even developing exclusives lines just for Dicks. Both organizations are at fault in this situation. Taylor Made making to much to soon to fast with no regard for the consumer or it’s retailers. How would you as a consumer like to buy a T/M Driver for $399.99 in Janury to see it then sell for 299.99 in June and then $199.99 in December.How stupid did T/M think the consumer is???? Then Dicks for trying to take advantage of the newest and greatest at very high margins to sucker the consumer in on false hopes of improving your game every 3 months with a new product intro. Both are to blame and quite franklty do not be suprised if you see a new CEO at T/M in the next 12 months. For two organizations that are supposed to be so in touch with the consumer, the game and the economy they have totally failed!

      Reply

      Bill

      10 years ago

      yeah, the Taylor Made head is going to head the whold shabang!

      Jim wilson

      10 years ago

      Dick’s taught me an expensive lesson 2 months ago. Had a bad day on the course so I went down and tried out some clubs. Couldn’t believe I was flying a 6 iron 180 yards so I bought a new set of Callaway X2 Hot Pro irons, then a new Callaway Bertha Alpha as well as a 3 wood. Come to find out the monitor was set on driver at sea level. Needless to say an expensive lesson and I’m back with myTitleist AP 2’s and 913’s. Will never trust another salesman at Dick’s!

      Reply

      Bob Pegram

      10 years ago

      A true custom fitter will always start with the customer’s current set as a baseline. That way improvements due to any equipment changes will be obvious. At that point it is just a matter of finding the set up that produces the best results. Building a couple of test clubs with the new specs so the customer can try them on the course before the specs are finalized and the clubs assembled as also helpful. No big box store – or most golf pro shops – would allow that.

      Reply

      andrew

      10 years ago

      at sea level air is more dense, so balls will fly shorter. but i agree you should always bring your current club(s) for reference.

      Reply

      Michael Capozzi

      10 years ago

      Having a PGA pro involved can make a world of difference. The pro can look at your swing and adjust the equipment to optimize performance.

      People are led to believe that if they buy a 400 dollar driver, their crap swing will magically allow them to hit the ball 300 yards. Or they’ll spend 700 on a set of “distance irons”, when in actuality, the same benefit could be achieved by choking down a half inch and clubbing-up.

      Seriously, if people actually put the time into lessons and practice (what PGA pros are really good for), they could play their existing equipment until the grooves wear off. The last time I bought gear was because I wanted an adjustable driver with a really good shaft, or because I wanted groove conforming irons and wedges.

      Reply

      Chris

      10 years ago

      Hi Mike,

      You’ve made a point that that the pro can see your swing and adjust the equipment. One of the wrong assumptions is that just because you know the golf swing, you know how to fit equipment (some do). I feel this is one of the main reasons they let their pro’s go. The industry has been moving toward “fittings” and they need good monitors and fitters who know how to interpret the data. Take a look at the PGA Tour. You have guys like Phil Mickelson who is a tech geek and knows just as much about equipment as any fitter, but then you have guys like Fred Couples (whom I love) who made comment years ago that said. “hey, I don’t get into all the technical stuff, I just swing the club”. The point is, just because they’re a PGA pro, doesn’t mean they know how to fit you to the right equipment.

      Reply

      Joe

      10 years ago

      instant gratification equals disaster on the golf course.. You mean there are actual golfers who enjoy the pain the Golf course offers. Golfers keep buying size 7 golf shoes when they wear an size 11. Before long, they stop wearing golf shoes all together and you lost your customer base.

      Box stores should sell separate Heads . Then offer shafts and fitting you pay for. Takes Ebay out of the equation for drivers and irons.

      Reply

      Andy W

      10 years ago

      Thinking every one of the 500 Pros took the free money knowing it was a bonehead idea and never going to last. Am sure each of the 500 had another place all lined-up since had to know the end was coming, probably from the day they became a Dicks guy.

      Count me in as one that never had a clue Dicks had Pros. Last year in Boise, I dropped by a Dicks to buy Hank Haney’s “He-hate-Tiger” book, and the only guy there in the golf departement never identified himself as a Pro? Was he?

      Reply

      markb

      10 years ago

      You’re not being doomy and gloomy enough! 2014 is going to be a significantly worse year for golf than 2013 when all the data is in. And this year we have a growing economy and slightly better weather.

      I base my forecast on a couple of local barometers that you may think are meaningless to the big picture, but which are significant to us. 1) I play in or volunteer to marshal for a standard slate of local tournaments. In years past these tournaments were always full and had waiting lists. This year they either dropped them altogether or had to call for volunteers to fill the field. Our local “open” had 1/3 fewer competitors this year.This is a huge shrinkage of participation among dedicated golfers in one year. 2) Discounting of just released equipment did not start 3-5 months down the line, it started IMMEDIATELY. I bought a Jetspeed and a Big Bertha on ebay within a week of release paying 48% & 60% of list for each. I bought them from big US-based authorized retailers who were simply glutted by equipment. Anyone who walks into a store and pays MSRP is just a rube.

      Reply

      Dave D

      10 years ago

      Mark,
      I must unfortunately must suggest watching the most recent episode of ‘In Play with Jimmy Roberts’. Particularly the segment which addresses counterfeit golf equipment. It should come as no surprise that balls, bags, clubs and everything in between are counterfeited. Huge discounts imediately after launch dates from ‘authentic’ websites were the focus of the segment. Counterfeit clubs that look identical to their authentic counterparts appear to be the norm. Hell, some of the counterfeit clubs even performed nearly as well as the authentic clubs.

      Regards,
      Dave

      Reply

      Chal

      10 years ago

      I have been to Dick’s many times. I always go to the golf section and look around. That said, I have never made a purchase. I prefer my local pro or direct order right from the company website. Get it drop shipped right to me…

      Reply

      Tony

      10 years ago

      Very true. You just can’t beat the discounts you may find from an online retailer or local Golfsmith, Edwin Watts etc….. The only golf items I buy from Dicks is the occasional pair of past season golf shoes or clothes at a really great price or discounted big name golf balls such as TMag TPs that can be had for $19.00 a dozen. When I get my $10 rewards coupon from Dicks I usually spend that on Pro V1 X-Outs or practice balls. But I have never bought a golf club from Dicks. I can just get them cheaper elsewhere by waiting six months, if that long.

      Reply

      MrSinister

      10 years ago

      You hit the nail on the head with this one, I’ve talked to a few other club companies and they all agree this is the worst they have ever seen and believe the worst has yet to come. Now on a bright note this has to turn around at some point but it will take time and smart business models from the majors. A gentlemen by the name of Monte Scheinblum posted something on another forum that really summed up whats happening. He said
      “We are seeing a market correction after a massive over saturation due to over reaction to “supposed” golf boom.
      What happened over many years would be the equivalent of basing a business model of marketing a soccer product based on interest in the US during the World Cup.”
      Now lets just hope it balances out soon or your gonna see small companies like me disappear.

      Reply

      mygolfspy

      10 years ago

      We call it the “Golf Bubble”

      Reply

      DDD

      10 years ago

      I like the quote. Most people will tell you Tiger really grew the game. He didn’t. There are a ton more viewers on tv, many just to watch David beat Goliath, but was there a growth in the number of regular players? Nope. TW hit the tour in 1995. Kids 8-15 years old would be 27-34 year old today. Where are they? This is the toughest age group because this age group is pulled in all sorts of directions with their limited discretionary dollars. Ok so if you were already an adult when TW hit the tour and it got you all excited about golf, particularly as you approached retirement, where are you today? Again, TW provides viewers, not necessarily golfers. The boom everyone expected from TW and from baby boomers themselves never happened much less to the degree others were anticipating.

      Reply

      AWOL

      10 years ago

      Wow that’s a shame. Like we need anymore Americans without jobs and whos specialty offers little re-employment opportunities. We are going to now have a bunch of talented PGA pros working at Costco and Wal-Mart. But i guess we all could have seen this coming. Honestly after my first experience trying to get fitted at Dicks i would never go back. Usually i went to a privately owned business for fitting. I did try dicks once. My main concern was getting my lie right and the shaft. The fitter/pro at dicks didn’t even put me on the monitor he looked at me hit 5 balls and said oh just buy the standard off the rack and if you don’t like it bring it back. He claimed my hand position was inconsistent so any fitting wouldn’t be right. I was pissed. I have been golfing for 17yrs and trying irons that were longer than what im used to obviously im going to be a little inconsistent. We even had tape that showed i was consistently 2* flat. Which was no surprise because my last fit was also flat. But he still said to buy the standard off the shelf. I think it was because im left handed and they wanted to move some inventory. But if they were getting paid 50k for that then their job demise is the least surprising.

      Reply

      ChrisF

      10 years ago

      It’s sort of laughable that people think that PGA Professionals are highly skilled at anything.

      Many of them can’t even break 80 now that they’ve lowered the standards so much. In addition they have far less training and experience in fitting than a golf speciality store employee. Being a PGA Professional in retail means nothing unless you have years of experience on and off course to back it up and none of the guys at Dicks did.

      Honestly, most people who work in golf look down on PGA Professionals, it doesn’t take anything to get your card aside from being able to pay the money, they make terrible money when they start out (less than $20K a year sometimes) while working super long 60+ hour weeks, often 6 days a week and always on weekends.

      If they made that terrible choice to go in to that field it’s their own fault. Everyone who had even a little sense could have seen this downturn coming, anyone who thought a good lifelong career choice was being a PGA Pro at Dicks should be without a job. The entire rest of the industry have been laughing at them for years.

      Reply

      Kevin

      10 years ago

      Sounds like you or someone close to you was in the business because you have a lot of insight. I’m currently getting out of the business myself and I couldn’t agree with you more. I’ve been in the Golf business for 7 years and haven’t made over $30k in one year. I’ve work 6 days a week, every weekend and holiday (including Thanksgiving AND Christmas). I tried going to the route to become a PGA member but like you said, most of those guys can’t break 80 and just had money to spend so why not work in the golf business to get free golf for a long time.

      I always thought Dick’s having PGA Pro’s was kind of pointless. I do feel bad for all those guys (or ladies) that lost their jobs because that’s never good news. But that being said, why pay someone $50k a year when someone can do the same job for a low hourly rate? That’s not just Dick’s going down that road, that’s the golf business in general. I think it’s only a matter of time before having a PGA card isn’t going to do you much good in the job field.

      barbajo

      10 years ago

      Man, this is fascinating to watch. No doubt it sucks to go through for the people who lost their jobs, but it does represent Round 1…

      Dicks is no different from any other Big Box store, be it Lowe’s, Home Deport, BestBuy, Circuit City (oops)…they wield a disproportionate amount of power with their vendors. “Hey, we’ll buy a shit-ton of your stuff. Here’s what we’ll pay, here’s when we want them and here are the payment terms. Don’t like it? Send in the next vendor…” When you have that much of your production, R&D, inventory, staffing, etc committed to one or two major customers, you pretty much wind up with the tail wagging the dog.

      I firmly believe the 6 month product cycle isn’t so much TaylorMade or Callaway’s idea as it is Dick’s. I think you mentioned as much – the highest margin product is the latest and greatest, so Dick’s says “keep giving me stuff I can sell at high margin as soon as the sales start to droop of last products.” No matter the industry, it’s virtually impossible to cut your prices and make it up in volume, especially when the potential consumer pool appears to be dwindling.

      Gotta believe this might be the opening the OEM’s are looking for to find a way to aggressively sell direct to consumers and slow down the self-destructive product release cycle.

      Regardless of cause or affect, this will be fascinating to watch. Be interested to see how companies that don’t go through Dick’s/GG, such as SCOR (and the new Hogan initiative) and Hopkins view the new retail reality, and how they plan to work within it…

      Reply

      flaglfr

      10 years ago

      Barbajo
      I sot of agree and don’t. Did Dicks Get caught with their proverbial pants down? Absolutely. Is it horrible news for all those PGA members and their families? Absolutely. s the business model wrong? Absolutely; for the consumer. But the TMag, etc have just as bug a hand in the issue. They should be made to put their money where their product is. Maybe if they would have gone the route of equipment consignment, it would have changed things. But then again, what about us shmos that go out and plunk down cold hard cash for the latest and greatest to get another shot across our bow every 6 months.
      The big issue (IMHO) in the equipment industry is twofold.

      First, you have the marketing behemoths who could give a crap about any of us or the stores the fleece with product that is obsolete in 6 months. This leaves everybody with what can certainly be perceived as last years club shortly after we buy it. If they believe their club is so good, they should be willing to support it by standing behind the value of it. Is this a fairy tale moment? Yes. but dammit, they should not be able to have an i got mine now screw you and get away with it forever.

      Second, you have us. The shmos that go out and buy this stuff. Is it really so much better that we should move out of our current stuff and go buy new stuff? The testing that is done here I would argue is reason enough for some of the blame to be placed on our shoulders too. If we didn’t go out and buy the latest greatest delofted irons or supposed revolutionary drivers, they would not continue to foist this stuff on us. I say we ought to let them eat their bloated inventory. I really have trouble with the current model. Let them eat their overrated equipment. Let them really justify to us why we should plunk down over $1000 for a new set of irons. Near $600 for a new driver. $500 for a putter.

      I have to say that MGS saved me from going out and plunking down a car load of money for a new alpha. BOY am I happy about THAT right now! #@%*^ $100 reductions AND $50 credit if they can get you to buy the damn thing. It’s time for us all to say we are mad as hell and we aren’t going to take it anymore.

      Reply

      a-bomb

      10 years ago

      Hopefully my local GG remains unchanged. The Pro is fantastic and the staff is great. Hate to see any more people get fired.
      On the plus side, maybe in shrinking the golf section, big discounts @ Dicks???

      Reply

      a-bomb

      10 years ago

      Hopefully my local GG will remain mostly unchanged. The Pro is terrific and I’d hate to see more people get fired.

      Reply

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