By George Moore
SafeTees Pouch, Inc.
(Third in a Series)
Golf is in trouble, and we have the various segments of the golf industry to thank.
They continue to rely on outmoded and non-competitive business models, and they don’t seem to realize that the heydays of golf are over. Arnie’s Army marched off into the sunset long ago, and Tiger’s Troops aren’t filling the void.
Golf’s problems can be traced to the boardrooms of the companies that put their names on the equipment, to the shops at numerous golf courses throughout the world, and even to the inner sanctums of the United States Golf Association (USGA) and the Professional Golfers’ Association of America (PGA).
And let’s not leave out the millionaire golfers who play almost weekly from October to August. They’re part of the problem, too.
Playing golf today requires a fair amount of money, a lot of time, and incredible patience and dedication.
It also requires commitment to the game, and that, it seems, is in short supply these days. The Physical Activity Center keeps track of our recreation, and it finds that if you’re a senior citizen with the time for golf, you’re more likely to pursue bicycling, bird-watching, canoeing, camping, shooting, swimming, exercising and even stand-up paddling.
Little wonder, then, that the number of rounds played was down 4.8 percent from 2017 to 2018 and that nearly 200 golf courses closed in 2018. Golf is in trouble.
It doesn’t have to be that way, though, and there are steps the industry can take to reverse the trends and ensure that they and golf are alive and well for many more years.
Let’s take a look:
The Costs – Equipment
Anyone planning to take up golf will have to buy the equipment, and the price tag can leave a noticeable dent in the budget of a family with kids, a mortgage and a car payment or two.
Why is golf equipment so expensive?
Adam Beach and his Truth Digest/MYGOLFSPY, a golf consumer-oriented Website, tackled the question some years ago.
He noted that prices need to cover research and development, middlemen (sales outlets), advertising, and legal fees, etc., plus player endorsements.
That said, here were some actual production costs (in 2008 dollars):
- Titanium Driver, $27 to $65.
- Iron Sets, $40 to $95.
- Hybrids, $6 to $9.
- Wedges, $4.50 to $8.
- Putters, $7 to $65.
- Golf Bags, $18 to $35 ($55 for staff bag).
- Golf Gloves. $2.50 to $3.
Endorsements by the professional golfers are a big slice of the difference between production costs and the prices a golfer pays.
Take Tiger Woods, for example. Golf Digest in early 2014 estimated that 88 percent of what he made as a pro golfer — a total of $1.3 billion at that point — came from sponsorships. In 2013, for example, he made $71 million from endorsement deals, compared to $12 million on the golf course, the report said.
(Tiger’s business agent has said he negotiated endorsement deals worth hundreds of millions of dollars.)
Would golf be better off if star players weren’t paid so much for endorsements and if equipment prices were lower? Probably. More people could more easily afford golf stuff, and more people with golf stuff suggests that more people would play.
In a perfect world, the manufacturers and players would agree that the endorsement deals have gotten out of hand and are having a negative impact on the game.
But we don’t live in a perfect world.
Next Week: Golf Course Corrections.
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LET US HEAR FROM YOU: Nobody has all the answers. If you have a question or comment regarding anything golf-related, drop us a line at email@example.com, subject line “Comment.” Our goal is to encourage a conversation about the world’s greatest game.