GOLF INDUSTRY EDITION
TO START THE NEW YEAR, SIGOLF+ CONVENED A PANEL OF INDUSTRY EXPERTS—MIKE CLINTON OF GOLFTEC; CHUCK GARBEDIAN, A GOLFSMITH MERCHANDISE MANAGER AND HOST OF A GOLF RADIO SHOW; JON LAST OF SPORTS & LEISURE RESEARCH GROUP; AND TOM STINE OF GOLF DATATECH; PLUS SI SENIOR WRITER GARY VAN SICKLE—TO ANSWER THOSE AND OTHER QUESTIONS
State of the Union
Van Sickle: We haven't seen a golf recession like this in our lifetime. Is this the end of golf as we know it?
Garbedian: No, it's the beginning of golf in a whole new dimension, especially with the Internet and social media and the way you can expose products, golfers and their personalities. Courses have an opportunity to reach customers in all kinds of new ways.
Stine: I agree. There's a direct connection between the economy going down and golf's decline. If the economy truly is going the other way now, I don't see any reason why golf won't rise with it.
Clinton: Things are improving. Besides, there was nowhere to go but up.
Last: We just finished a large study of golfers that shows they still want to play more. However, we see a pretty strong hangover of skepticism about how robustly the economy will bounce back.
Stine: I was in Carlsbad recently, and going into a new year everyone has a certain amount of optimism. Buying equipment has become more complex, with more choices, and I believe that the technological innovation and a big push toward custom club-fitting are going to create opportunities.
Garbedian: Look at the new adjustable drivers, like the Titleist 910 and the TaylorMade R11. You can dial them in to fit you. Just pop in a new shaft or adjust the hosel and the head configuration. So when a guy buys an adjustable driver, hits it well and tells his buddies about it, that becomes word-of-mouth buzz that spreads optimism.