What You Can Do About Golf Equipment Oversaturation

Golf-clubs.jpg

Much has been written recently about the current state of golf equipment on the market, and most of it hasn't been positive. Company lay-offs, store closures and plummeting prices among the biggest brand names in the business have drawn a critical eye to an industry once revered by fans and professionals alike. The future looks bleak, and some believe current trends are only the beginning. So instead of pointing out everything that's "wrong" with the current golf equipment market, I'd like to ask our readers another question:

What are you going to do about it?

Before we figure out what we can do to help this problem, we have to first examine our accountability for it in the first place.

Say what you want about big-name equipment manufacturers releasing multiple club upgrades every year; if people weren't likely to buy a new driver/iron set, companies wouldn't spend the money to put them on store shelves. Golfers do purchase club upgrades every time they are released -- albeit not at the rate companies would have hoped -- and sporting goods stores are too scared to not bring on the inventory. Economics 101 teaches us that opportunity cost can be a huge risk factor, especially in a sport like golf. Wasteful inventory can be, in most cases, an assumed and acceptable risk.

But our behavior is part of the problem. Well... at least to a point.

There is value for stores and pro shops to offer the latest and greatest. Every time a golfer passes on a previous equipment release, he or she instantly becomes a potential customer for the next. Sales experts would call them "warm leads," or potential customers who have either visited a store or checked a golf website. Those customers are untapped sales potential who are already interested in a product right now.

Furthermore, sports like golf offer customers the ability to test out golf equipment before buying it. Most golf stores these days have a hitting bay or driving range net available for you to test out demo clubs to your heart's content. These bays often have ball launch monitors to provide you instant feedback on how far you've hit one club compared to the next. Clubs with adjustable settings adds another layer to the mix. It can be incredibly addicting.

Testing areas provide customers more opportunity to "test drive" a product, which means they are in the store longer, which means there's a greater chance that customer will buy something. Every minute that ticks by is an opportunity to advertise product to customers, especially if those customers are willing to try out the product immediately.

None of this is new. To expand on the test drive analogy, car dealerships use the same methods. That's why there are multiple cars of multiple colors available from one car manufacturer. You even get to test drive any new car on the lot, literally in your own backyard. The benefit dealerships have, of course, is close-to-zero brand competition on their lots to distract your buying decision.

Wouldn't it be nice to have a Taylormade-, Callaway, or PING-only sporting goods store? I honestly think it would.

OK... So Now What?

Customers like you and I have the power to fix the equipment oversaturation problem. All we have to do is a lot less than what we've been doing for years.

Stop testing multiple golf clubs before making a purchase. If you are in the market for a new driver, for example, go into a store and find the one that feels best to you. Pay less attention to what a launch monitor says and more to how the club feels in your hands. This will eliminate the need to "tinker" with settings and lofts among multiple club options.

Be honest with yourself: how much will your game really improve because you hit one driver three yards further than the next? Most likely, not very much. In fact...

Stop worrying about numbers. Just stop it. Who gives a damn how far you hit a golf ball on your municipal course? You don't get extra "points" for driving it further than your playing partners. The same goes for an iron set or wedge that spins the ball more than another model. Buy a club that does the job and leave it at that.

Become more brand loyal. Or, in other words, stop worrying about what the other companies are offering. Stick with what you know works and play the damn game. All clubs basically do the same stuff nowadays, anyway. Less brand considerations means less confusion, and golf companies will eventually focus more on making one really good golf club instead of multiple average ones.