Where Will You Be 5 Years From Now?
What the future hold for equipment
Labels: Shoes, Iron Play, Shafts, Grips, Iron Grips, Fitting, Buyers Guide, Equipment, Balls, Wedges, Irons, Woods, Clubs, Putting, Drivers, Blades, Hybrids, Fairway Woods
1. What's your take on the state of the equipment industry right now?
Sean Toulon, TaylorMade executive vice president of Product Creation:
It's an exciting time. New innovations are coming online at a faster pace than ever before. The consumer has more opportunities now than ever to improve the performance of their equipment.
Greg Hopkins, CEO of Cleveland Golf/Srixon—USA:
It's an interesting time. We're seeing a big consolidation at the retail level. The big are getting bigger. The middle-tier customers are struggling or going away. And I think you can say the same thing about the OEM level. There are only five or six major companies still out there. You used to have Ram and Tommy Armour and Lynx and all these companies that have gone away or become house brands for some companies. So there's been a consolidation there, and combined with what's happening in participation, sales volumes and the economy, it's probably a good thing that these major companies are surviving. Participation is down in the last five years over 10 percent and might be pushing 15 percent. So you have a shrinking pie. Then throw in the weather problems we had in 2011, and people were playing less golf. So the industry is mirroring what's going on in the United States, with tough economic times. Companies are having to manage things properly to survive. The white driver was such a big success, allowing TaylorMade to pump up the industry numbers. But the market is down the past five years, volume-wise about $300 or $400 million, which is significant. The white driver is such a phenom that they were up. Had TaylorMade had a normal year, the industry would've been down considerably more. The success of that driver and all the white clubs that came out helped the market from dipping down more in sales volume. And that helped the retailers. So I think the market is probably a bit more anemic than maybe even the numbers suggest. Part of that will change in 2012, because I don't see the weather being as weird as it was in 2011. Barring that, I think we'll hit a reasonable sales level where it doesn't go up or down. It's survival of the fittest right now.
Chip Brewer, Adams Golf president and CEO:
Fortunately, the golf-equipment industry, like our economy as a whole, is recovering. We had a good year overall in 2011 and expect that 2012 should be even better. Consumers are increasingly looking to our new technologies—such as aerodynamics, adjustability and Velocity Slot Technology—to further improve performance and are willing to pay for it.
Rob Arluna, Nike Golf's global category business director for golf clubs:
Certainly the industry has been affected by the global recession, however we are very optimistic about the future. We're seeing business begin to pick up as consumer confidence strengthens, and people head back to the golf course. While the number of annual rounds played is a key driver for health across the industry, groundbreaking innovation also plays a major role. As an equipment manufacturer, we set out to move the market and grow the game by exciting golfers and by delivering an experience that makes them prioritize golf as their go-to sport. Our innovation plan and product performance across all categories, from clubs to balls to footwear to apparel, is powerful and will inspire people to play more golf.
Tom Preece, Cobra PUMA Golf vice president research and development:
The industry is competitive, but has lots of opportunity for a brand that dares to be different.
Luke Williams, Callaway Golf's senior global director of woods and irons:
It's an extremely competitive industry if you're an equipment manufacturer, which makes it a great time to be a golf consumer. Golf equipment is better today than ever and it will continue to get better because you have some very smart people spending all of their time trying to make better golf clubs and balls that make the game more enjoyable for more golfers. As a result, products continue to evolve and improve with the application and combination of new technologies.
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