Enough already! With the news of Nike exiting the golf hard-goods arena, the “demise of golf” is again mainstream news. Fortune, Bloomberg, and their buddies are all reporting the same story: Golf as a sport is “failing to draw new participants.” There is a “steep decline in participation rates”. And then there’s the go-to…
Blame Tiger Woods.
“Tiger Woods imploded in 2009 and the entire sport got stuck in the rough.” (Bloomberg, August 4, 2016) The idea of this “Tiger Effect” is, in our mind and to quote Randall Coates, Coates Golf COO, “Sophomoric”.
Have we forgotten what also happened in 2008 and 2009? An economic recession and the bursting of a real estate bubble that impacted thousands of businesses and households. But let’s connect those dots another day.
Another reason this Tiger analysis can’t possibly be reality is because then the state of the game today would hinge upon the professional performance of one golfer. If it is the end of Tiger on tour, then it must mean the end of golf…No wonder Nike is bailing and Adidas is looking to sell off Taylor Made. #ludicrous
We’re tired of it.
Most golfers golf because we love the game. Not always because Tiger, Rory, or Wie played a great round at a tour event. Give us a bit more credit for our motivations to play.
Here is where we think the equipment Goliaths in the golf industry have actually gone astray:
1…Stop with the gimmicks.
Those club head gadgets for fixing your slice scream, “Forget your teaching pro! You don’t need a lesson. Just turn this little dial and all will be fine.” Wait, what? No. Schedule a lesson. Play with equipment manufactured by a company that believes you can actually learn to play the game. #ahem
2… Releasing new equipment every Tuesday sends a mixed message.
Ok. We exaggerate. Not every Tuesday, but you get our point. Golfers deserve to have equipment that will grow with them. How can anyone feel good selling consumers a club as if it’s the magic pill for their game, then turn around in three months and say, “Just kidding. THIS will save your game. For now.” Technology is essential when it comes to equipment, but making a tweak and calling it “new” does not equal innovation.
3…Women’s golf isn’t on their radar.
That scene from Pretty Women when Julia Roberts is shopping on Rodeo Drive comes to mind. “Big mistake. Huge.” Anyone paying attention to the industry knows that the women’s side of the game is growing, as is the younger generation of golfers. More people under the age of 40 are playing, than over the age of 50. (National Golf Foundation)
4..Profits over passion.
Why is Nike really leaving the hard-goods scene? Profit. The USGA will only allow us club manufacturers to do some much to change the existing equipment, and that research and development, marketing, conformation testing, etc. is expensive. You know what isn’t strictly regulated by the USGA, can be tweaked and launched seasonally, and has a handsome profit margin? Apparel.
While others are stepping away from the equipment industry, our hearts are still truly in the game at Coates. We’re solely dedicated to women’s golf. It’s a bold business strategy, but there is something to be said for commitment to a niche and authenticity in a market place. #onamission