• Srixon releases 12th-generation SOFT FEEL and SOFT FEEL LADY low-compression golf balls
  • Srixon announces 30-percent market share growth for the first half of 2020
  • Parent company Dunlop Sports – a division of Sumitomo Rubber Industries – posts $27M net loss for the first half of 2020

Srixon is doing a bit a chest-thumping this week. Not only is the company releasing its updated SOFT FEEL golf ball but it’s also celebrating a couple of milestones and achievements.

The Srixon SOFT FEEL golf ball and its companion, the SOFT FEEL LADY, are the company’s two-piece, low-compression offerings. SOFT FEEL is now in its 12th generation and, as you’d expect, Srixon says it’s the longest SOFT FEEL yet.

We’ll get to the SOFT FEEL in just a moment because we don’t want to bury the two-pronged lede.

Srixon SOFT FEEL golf ball

COVID? What COVID?

To paraphrase Mark Twain, reports of the golf industry’s demise appear to be greatly exaggerated. Golf Datatech says golf equipment sales in the U.S. hit a record-shattering $388.6 million in July. That’s the single biggest month since Golf Datatech started keeping track in 1997.

The previous high was $368 million in June of 2007. And if you’re scoring at home, the U.K. also set a new monthly sales record in July.

Srixon, meanwhile, is reporting a 30-percent increase in its golf ball market share for the first half of 2020, compared to the first half of 2019. That sounds impressive, especially considering we didn’t have a pandemic last year.

Anyone who sells anything should rightfully jump for joy over a 30-percent market share jump. It’s definitely worth celebrating but since the jump is reported as market share and not actual sales dollars, it bears closer inspection.

Both Srixon and Bridgestone are fighting tooth and nail for position behind TaylorMade, Callaway and Titleist, and both are in the single digits in overall market share. Both offer incentives – usually week-long BOGOs – to move units and take a bite out of each other’s hide.

There are two problems with BOGOs. The first is obvious: it’s a temporary 50-percent price cut. You’re moving more units but for half the dollars. It’s calculated, of course, but it’s basically buying market share. The second is less obvious: that newly bought market share recedes when the BOGO ends. Once the dust settles, the hope is to hang on to as much of that new market share as possible.

Srixon SOFT FEEL golf ball

Still, a 30-percent market share jump is noteworthy, no matter how you got it. And Srixon’s BOGO ran for a relatively short time during the first half of the year, so the increase should have some staying power. But for a single-digit shareholder, it still represents a small ripple in overall market share. For example, going from a three-percent share to a four-percent share is, in fact, a 33-percent increase in market share.

The Second Lede

‘Tis the season for financial reports. Earlier this month, both Acushnet and Callaway posted big dropoffs in sales for the second quarter. The same is true for Srixon’s parent company, Dunlop Sports, and its parent company, Sumitomo Rubber Industries (the SRI in Srixon). As you’d expect, the first half of 2020 was no picnic.

Dunlop Sports is SRI’s sports division and its sales were down 45 percent in Q2 and 31 percent for the first half. The sports division includes golf, tennis, fitness clubs and golf/tennis schools. Overall sales for the first six months were $281 million, down from $405 million last year. The sports division also posted a $27-million net loss, compared to a $26-million dollar net profit last year.

The report does note signs of healthy recovery in June and July, especially in North America, where golf and tennis equipment are its only businesses.

In case you were wondering, Sumitomo’s overall sales last year were more than $3 billion.

Oh, Yeah, Srixon SOFT FEEL Golf Balls

Let’s not forget this week’s launch of the updated Srixon SOFT FEEL golf balls. As we mentioned, this is the 12th generation of SOFT FEEL. As the name suggests, this is Srixon’s entry in the soft feeling (60 compression) two-piece, $20- to $22-per-dozen end of the business.

The most notable tech in the new Srixon SOFT FEEL golf ball line is an updated, softer-than-ever FastLayer Core. Srixon – like its rubber-tech brother Bridgestone – is very good at making cores that are soft in the middle and get gradually firmer towards the outside. This gives you the benefit of a softer feel while still retaining a certain level of firmness for distance.

Srixon says the new FastLayer Core is its softest yet and reduces long-game spin. For the target golfer, that could mean the right rough instead of the right forest. The Srixon SOFT FEEL, as well as the SOFT FEEL LADY, also features a 338 Speed Dimple pattern which Srixon says reduces drag for better overall distance. It also has a soft, thin cover for enhanced green-side spin. It’s a two-piece ionomer-covered ball, though. Enhanced green-side spin is, uh, relative.

Besides color, the SOFT FEEL Lady has a slightly thinner cover (and slightly larger core) than the SOFT FEEL. It’s also slightly softer (58 compared to 60).

The Srixon SOFT FEEL golf balls, as well as the SOFT FEEL LADY, are available now for $21.99 per dozen. SOFT FEEL is available in Soft White and Tour Yellow while SOFT FEEL LADY is available in Soft White and Passion Pink.

In addition, the new Srixon SOFT FEEL BRITE golf balls are available now. They come in three matte colors: BRITE Orange, BRITE Green and BRITE Red.

For more information, visit www.Srixon.com.