8 Wastes in the Golf Equipment Industry
The current state of the golf equipment manufacturing industry is a wasteland. As companies turn out more and more clubs into the marketplace, customers are hard-pressed to keep up with all of this 'innovation' and 'performance' flashing across their TV screens, golf magazines and laptop monitors. Sorry friends, but the golf equipment industry needs an enema.
Not entirely unlike the 'Seven Deadly Sins', there are 8 wastes found in industries across the globe: Transport, Inventory, Motion, Waiting, Over-production, Over-processing, Defects (Rework), and Skills (Human Intellect). Eliminating or reducing these wastes from the golf equipment industry would not only streamline processes and increase customer satisfaction, but it could very well save the industry itself.
Here are eight examples of each type of waste within the golf equipment industry as I see it.
Whenever you have an excessive amount of people, products or information moving around a process, you are dealing with waste. Think about all of the different places you can purchase a golf club. You've got brick & mortar major sporting dealers (Dick's, Sports Authority, etc.), golf-specific stores (Golf Galaxy, Golfsmith), second-hand sporting good shops, and this little thing called the Internet. The omni-channel model of combining multiple retail sources just compounds the issue.
If OEMs want to help solve the way their industry is perceived, they need to first limit the places their products are moving, not increase them. I know that sounds counter-intuitive, but less is more in this case.
This should be obvious. Anyone who has taken five minutes of an Economics class knows the concept of supply and demand. If you carry more inventory than what your customers need, you run the risk of your products expiring or cannibalizing themselves. That's waste in a nutshell, really.
All of those drivers and iron sets you see "priced to sell" that were once at full price only 4 months ago? That's excessive inventory, which costs money to store, and even more money to throw away. (See: Dick's Sporting Goods laying off all of their PGA pros.)
Similar to Transport, the waste of motion deals specifically with excessive moving parts within a process or task. Think about all the steps you -- personally -- have to go through in order to buy a new golf club. First you have to learn about the new product. Next, you have to find the product's price. Then you probably want to test it out at a store. You might need to also get fit for the club. If it's an adjustable driver, you'll also want to tinker with the loft, swing-weight and whatever else. All of that excessive motion needs to be done before you even buy the damn thing.
Want to cut down on all of that motion? Simplify golf club technology and increase accessibility of product testing. A one-stop shop is ideal.
Any time you have to wait for something to occur before another step can take place in a process, waste is growing. Admittedly, OEMs have done a pretty decent job with cutting down how long you have to wait before you get their product in your hands. There's always room for improvement, however.
The waste of Waiting can also be delayed (pun intended). Whenever a new golf club is announced by your favorite brand, you may be tempted to "wait" for prices to drop on "older" equipment. Every day that goes by before prices drop is a day where you -- the customer -- keep your wallet shut. Want to decrease excessive inventory while increasing sales? Lower prices a full month before the next product is announced.
Over-Production and Over-Processing
I'm grouping these two wastes together because they are very similar in most industries. Similar to Inventory, supply and demand dictates how bad these wastes can be for a product. A good analogy for Over-production is to compare McDonald's against a high-end restaurant. Mickey-D's makes a ton of hamburgers every morning in preparation for that day's customer volume (even though they really don't know how many people will walk through the door). At the end of the day, any burgers that aren't purchased get thrown away. Conversely, most restaurants are "made-to-order" and only make food at the time of order. Sound similar to golf clubs being pushed down your throat?
Over-processing is similar such that high-grade materials and features are being used when less fancy items would do just fine. I guarantee you that amateur golfers cannot tell the difference between a standard driver and an adjustable driver. Why do we need to move weights around and change our driver's center-of-gravity? Seems pretty wasteful to me. And expensive.
This is, in my opinion, one of the biggest wastes currently seen in the equipment industry. While golf clubs might not be defective in the truest sense of the word, there is a TON of rework that occurs every single time a new club is released.
Be honest with yourself: is there really that big a difference between the TaylorMade SLDR and TaylorMade JetSpeed? Sure, there are a few different moving parts here and there, but such small details are hardly reason enough to shell out another $400. The same can be said for almost every new iron, wedge, putter or wood that comes off the assembly line. Increase the time between product releases to allow for true innovation to breathe.
Skills (Human Intellect)
Last but certainly not least is the waste of Skills, also commonly known as the waste of Human Intellect. The concept of Hack Golf and crowdsourcing was started to combat this waste, which describes any time you aren't tapping into your people's (or customer's) knowledge base.
Golf OEMs are comprised of some very, very intelligent people. I've met many of them. I enjoy speaking to all of them. And, more often than not, all of them also play golf. It would be foolish for the golf equipment industry to ignore the pain points golfers feel when purchasing new clubs, and I suspect they are finally getting the message.