Matt Kuchar’s Teacher Headlines West Michigan Golf Show

Matt Kuchar’s Teacher Headlines West Michigan Golf Show

Kuchar’s Teacher, Chris O’Connell, Headlines West Michigan Golf Show on Feb. 8-10 (Grand Rapids, MI) … Read more.

The post Matt Kuchar’s Teacher Headlines West Michigan Golf Show appeared first on GolfBlogger Golf Blog.

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Overstock At Golf Show Signals Golf’s Weakness

Overstock At Golf Show Signals Golf’s Weakness
I had an epiphany this past weekend while wandering row after row of closeout and deep discount golf gear at the Michigan Golf Show: If the industry is suffering, it is partly because manufacturers have flooded the market with product. Everywhere I looked, there were bins of last year’s clubs, racks of clothing and piles of shoe boxes. It seems that vast majority of these were left over from last season or two.

So much product. So few buyers.

The industry’s solution was inadvisable. Instead of paring back to meet demand, it seems that manufacturers simply accelerated the product release cycle in hopes of making money off the gullible nincompoops who simply must have the latest and greatest. They’re to the golf industry what the “whales” are to casinos.

It hasn’t worked. TaylorMade, whose CEO was sounding the clarion call of impending golf doom, suffered a 28% drop in sales in 2014. I lost track of the number of new clubs they released that year.

Manufacturers ship, and golf gear piles up. Unsold merchandise has to be sold at discount to avoid a total loss.

I counted at least four large “outlets” at the Michigan Golf Show that I would say have a “national presences.” The shops either have prominent websites, or travel extensively to these golf shows. One sales staffer I spoke to said his company did eight to ten of these shows over the winter and spring months. In addition, there were several more regional shops, and a few local ones.

The business model of these outlets is easy to see. When the new clubs hit the shelves, they buy up as many as they can of the old clubs at a steep discount. Presumably warehouses and course retailers are happy to get rid of them, recouping at least some money while making way for new, higher margin products.

What golfers learn from this cycle is that you don’t need to pay full price—ever. If you are just willing to wait six months—or at worse, a season—you will find the club you wanted at a discount that makes the wait worthwhile. And therein lies the problem for manufacturers and first run retailers.  They have large stocks of new clubs, but too many people are waiting for the price to come down.

The overstock and discount cycle has got to be killing manufacturers and retailers.

It occurs to me that golf manufacturers might be better off enforcing a sort of artificial scarcity for their best products. They could both reduce the amount of gear they make and also extend the product release cycle. Players would then be willing to pay more for a new release and have the feeling that they should jump on the purchase because they might not be able to get one in six months.

I caught a glimpse of this when I recently took my Subaru in for a tuneup at the dealership. While waiting, I struck up a conversation with the gentleman who has sold our family several Subaru cars over the years. He told me that if I was thinking about a new one this year, I should put my name on the waiting list NOW because there are not enough new cars to fill all the dealership lots. At that point, he said, the dealership had only two new ones ready to go. Further, he noted, the dealership doesn’t even offer discounts at this point. People are more than willing to pay full price.

Some of that had to be a sales pitch, as he wants to get people lined up for new cars. Our salesman knows, however, that in the past we have bought our cars with a significant Subaru VIP discount that lies outside normal negotiations. We have been immune to negotiating tactics and pressure sales.

Even if it was entirely a sales pitch, however, the perception is still valid. No one worries about being able to find a Ford, so there is lots of room for negotiation. The same thinking does not apply to Subaru.

TaylorMade Drivers (just to pick on the most prominent name) are like a Fords. You don’t have to worry about finding one, and there are so many that you are insane if you pay full price. Worse, Ford generally only releases new products on a yearly basis. Golf manufacturers might release several drivers in the same year.

Based on the amount of overstock I saw at the show, the situation might be even worse in the golf apparel industry. There were literally piles of boxes full of last year’s shirts. Even THIS year’s shirts were at fifty percent off.

The only rationale I can think of for the vast supplies of unsold golf gear is that the margins on new clubs are so high that the sale of a single driver covers the cost of three unsold ones. But if that’s the case, TaylorMade could offset the 28% sales loss by lowering its initial prices across the board. A $150 dollar driver would sell much faster than a $400 one.

Below are more photos of golf show overstock:

Golf Blogger

The PGA Show: Then vs. Now

The PGA Show: Then vs. Now

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Written By: Jay Baker

Last week I made my annual trek to Orlando to attend the PGA Show. Many golfers would consider the event the Mecca of golf retail.

I have attended every PGA Show over the last 20 years, some good and some bad. I have experienced it from both sides, as a buyer and as an exhibitor. As you might guess, the show has changed significantly since the mid 1990s when I began attending.

Depending on your age and perspective, this article will either come across as nostalgic or as though it was written by a bitter old curmudgeon.

Things inside the walls of the Orlando Convention Center’s West Concourse aren’t what they used to be. The good old days, right? Regardless, life goes on and so does the PGA Show.

Here’s a look at how the annual PGA Show has changed over the last 20 years.

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The Show has become a good barometer of the golf industry

Back when I first began attending the PGA Show in the mid-1990s, everybody appeared to be successful. The floor was so crowded it looked like every company was writing more orders than they could possibly handle.

If you had asked a random attendee about the golf business, he would have told you that golf’s future was brighter than the oil industry’s. There was always plenty of posturing, despite the fact that you wouldn’t see the same companies from one year to the next (that still happens today). Business always looked good, even when it wasn’t.

Back then it was difficult to get a good read on how the industry or any given company was doing. The show is different now. There is an overall attitude on the floor that permeates throughout the show. You can practically sense the health of the industry.

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Last year’s show didn’t have a positive vibe, and lo and behold, it wasn’t a very good year for the golf industry. This year, the vibe was much more positive for just about every facet of the industry, except hard goods (anything with a grip).

Equipment companies seemed almost indifferent. Nothing exciting is happening, but the sky isn’t falling either. One very large equipment booth did remind me a bit of the Titanic. The ship might be sinking, but the band played on. Despite being humbled by the economic realities surrounding the game, posturing never suffers.

The reason I think the PGA Show has become a good barometer of the golf industry is because there is more truth and transparency in the golf business as a whole.

Sounds crazy, right?

20 years ago we didn’t have the widespread availability of information that we have today. You also had a lot more people attending the show, which made it tough to gauge business. The industry was better able to shield some of its struggles from the consumer. This is not the case today.

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Not many orders are written

There is an element of subjectivity to this. The truth is that tons of orders are written at the PGA Show. It’s a convention for crying out loud! Social media…and media coverage in general make it easy to forget that the actual purpose of the PGA Show is to showcase product and write orders.

That said, companies don’t write orders like they did 20 years ago. Release cycles have changed dramatically…from big box retail to smaller green grass accounts, nearly everyone has already pre-booked their spring orders. It’s the end of January. Who hasn’t already ordered his Pro V1s?

Practically nobody. That’s who.

Retailers have better access to brand reps today (both corporate and independent). Those reps don’t drive nearly as many miles as they used to because there are fewer courses, and they can just as easily leverage the Internet and email to do the bulk of their business. Heck, some golf companies do the majority of business through online portals and have all but eliminated the need for local reps. Obviously not all companies can do this.

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20 years ago, it wasn’t uncommon to have buyers that did 100% of their buying at the PGA Show. Today, I doubt you could find one buyer who still does anywhere close to 100% of their ordering at the show.

In the 1990s I remember being pitched anything and everything. John Solheim condemned insert putters like the Odyssey Dual Force. An engineer from Titleist told me that his company would never make a solid core tour performance golf ball.

Memories…

Companies did whatever it took to sell and write orders. My fondest memory is of a man, so inebriated he could barely speak, telling me how he could fix Tiger Woods’ putting stroke with his educational putting videos and gadgets. That was in 1998. Maybe Tiger found him the next year, but I doubt it.

Booth reps are not as pushy as they once were. Most of the big guys are not looking to write orders. I wouldn’t be surprised if some of the bigger OEMs didn’t write a single equipment order at the show. Sure, there might be some fill-ins or change orders but the main stuff is long since done. The cost of the booth is no longer paid for by the orders placed at the show.

I know of one medium-sized company who was already at full manufacturing capacity prior to the start of the show. Why come to the show when you can’t take on additional orders?

The Show is A Marketing Frenzy

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In some cases the booths matter more than the products. The PGA Show has become all about marketing and networking. It barely qualifies as a sales convention anymore. Titleist, Ping, Mizuno and others don’t come to write orders. They come to shake hands and kiss babies. Titleist, for example, organizes workshops for pros looking to learn and network.

I’m not saying that zero orders are taken. With their shorter lifecycles, Taylormade and Callaway are likely booking some business at the show. The same is true for apparel lines – although by late January most are already booking fall orders.

The after show booth parties of yesterday have migrated to Howl at the Moon and Señor Frog’s. Some companies will even rent out entire spaces for private parties. The Peabody, errr… Hyatt Regency, or whatever they are going to call it next year is packed more than ever and it’s not the only hot spot. Today you have networking events that make it all the way to places like Rocco’s Taco and Seasons 52. Current trends suggest we’re only a year or two away from a meet and greet at the World’s Largest Entertainment McDonald’s on West Sand Lake Rd.

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There’s no time to go back to your hotel and process orders at today’s PGA Show. You have to get out on I-Drive and network, but make sure to watch your back because…

People come to steal

Back in the 1990s and even in the early 2000s, the people who attended the show were there to do business. Somewhere along the line, stealing became a business. I’m not just talking about guys stealing products from the booth, although that happens quite a bit more than you’d probably think.

When I used to work the show as an exhibitor, we’d inevitably have a golf club, shirt, or accessory that went missing by the end of the show.

Reed Exhibitions would provide neon stickers with the PGA Merchandise logo to the exhibitors to help identify which products were sold and which ones were stolen. Stickers be damned though, there were always plenty of people walking around with undocumented merchandise. Security did little or nothing about it. Frankly, this has been a problem for as long as I can remember.

In recent years a new type of theft has emerged.

At the show this year, it was as if Alibaba sent a crew of spies to take pictures of literally everything. While I’m guessing many of the exhibitors didn’t even notice, I’m fairly certainly that counterfeit versions of their products will be available by the end of the week.

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What can anybody do? A patent doesn’t mean much when Asian countries enforce their laws with the same fervor as a DMV receptionist.

As MyGolfSpy has covered before, theft in this industry isn’t above anyone’s pay grade. The big boys don’t have to be as concerned at the show because most of their stuff gets copied at the factory or at the back door anyway. What a relief!

The modern counterfeiter tends to gravitate towards tech items and accessories; items that are easily cloned.

Another trend is suppliers stealing business. Technically, solicitation is not allowed at the show, but that doesn’t stop several manufacturing and supply companies from trying to drum up a little business. Most of the larger companies shoo these guys away like the mosquitoes they are, so most will focus their efforts on small to medium-sized companies.

While these are the current trends, at one time or another every company has had a PGA Merchandise mole roaming the floor. The action used to be a lot more clandestine. Modern day James Bond, these guys are not.

The Show is BIGGER, or is it?

UST-Booth

I could provide links to several articles that prove the PGA Show is bigger now than it was in the late 1990s, and I’m sure that Reed Exhibitions would love to quote me some statistics that show their success since they partnered with the PGA in 1998.

The Orange County West Convention Center has been the same size since it expanded to 1.1 million square feet in 1996. Growth clearly isn’t measured by the square foot. So how exactly is that growth measured? Attendance? Auxiliary events? Or is it the most important factor, dollar bills?

The PGA Show has an $81 million impact on the Orange County area for the week. 40,000+ people from over 80 countries attend each day to see products from more than a 1,000 different companies.

But let’s not focus totally on those numbers. As Sam Clemens once said, “facts are stubborn things, but statistics are pliable”, and we all know that can certainly be the case in the golf industry. So let’s have a look at where the numbers bend.

In 1996 (my first year at the show), my father and I arrived in Orlando late Wednesday night after the 6 hour drive from Atlanta. Banking on availability close to the convention center, Dad had neglected to book a hotel in advance.

Some of you old-timers will remember 1996 as a time before things like Google Maps, Hotwire, or Expedia. To find a hotel room you either used the yellow pages, or you drove from one hotel to the next looking for a vacancy.

We stopped at every hotel or motel starting at the convention center moving south towards Kissimmee. We didn’t find anything until we were inside the Kissimmee city limits; 30 minutes away from the convention center.

Granted, Orlando and Kissimmee have grown since then. There are certainly more hotels today than in 1996. However, getting a last minute room close to the convention center is much easier. The need for lodging is not as not as great as it once was.

The show floor used to be packed, so much so that the aisles weren’t nearly big enough to accommodate all of the attendees. The public wasn’t allowed into the PGA Show, not even on the last day. Booth owners were free to do business without John Q. Public looking over their shoulders.

Want to hit some clubs in the indoor range? Forget it, there wasn’t one in the 90s, the space was too valuable. In fact, the indoor range was created to fill the empty floor space that Titleist and Ping (among others) left behind when, from 2003 to 2008, they stopped exhibiting.

It’s Not the Same Show

adams-tailgate

Today, the big boys are back, but the show isn’t what it was in the late 1990s. As we all know, there are fewer rounds being played and fewer courses to play on. Ultimately this leads to few buyers and fewer exhibitors. And while allowing the public to attend the show does help boost the attendance numbers but it doesn’t bring back that business buzz that used to fill the convention center.

The demo day on Tuesday has been a good addition, especially with regards to the public. It gives people the chance to look, touch, feel, and hit the new products. To the benefit of exhibitors, a lot of buzz gets generated on the range. Demo day also makes the show a day longer, which makes the show feel bigger.

demo-day

While the PGA Show is still more meaningful than an Ian Poulter tweet, it has shuffled out of step with the cadence of the industry – at least where the big manufacturers are concerned. For up-and-comers or the inventor betting his life savings on the next great invention (his), however; the show remains as relevant as ever.

In the big picture, the modern PGA Show is no better or worse than it was in the past. It’s just different.

Golf Forum – Golf Blog (MyGolfSpy.com)

Brian Manzella, One of Golf Digest’s “Innvoators” Set For West Michigan Golf Show

Brian Manzella, One of Golf Digest’s “Innvoators” Set For West Michigan Golf Show
Brian Manzella, who recently was named by Golf Digest as one of golf’s “Disruptors, Innovators and Risk Takers”  ill be a headliner at the 27th…

Golf Blogger

Live from the 2015 PGA Show

Live from the 2015 PGA Show

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What is the hottest golf product of 2015?

Chances are it’s somewhere at the 2015 PGA Show.

Follow along as out team searches the show floor to bring you the hottest, oddest, and can’t miss new products for 2015. As we always do, we’ll also take you inside the booths of the biggest names in golf, bring you new product releases, and anything else we think is just kinda cool.

Live Coverage

Golf Forum – Golf Blog (MyGolfSpy.com)

Live from the 2015 PGA Show Demo Day

Live from the 2015 PGA Show Demo Day

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The annual PGA Merchandise show kicks off today with the Demo Day event at Orange County National Golf Course. For those of you who can’t be here, our team will be onsite to bring to full experience to you live as we check out what’s new, exciting, and just plain weird.

Live Coverage

Golf Forum – Golf Blog (MyGolfSpy.com)

2014 Golf’s Most Wanted Driver – Show Me The Data!

2014 Golf’s Most Wanted Driver – Show Me The Data!

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As you know, we collect mountains of data during each and every one of our club tests. When it comes to winners, and I suppose losers too, that data is the judge, jury, and on occasion, executioner. Data is what drives our process. Data is the thing that separates us. Data is part of what makes us who we are.

We are datacratic.

We don’t convene panels to decide what technology is actually innovative.

The data tells us what’s real and what isn’t.
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Note: There is a poll embedded within this post, please visit the site to participate in this post’s poll.
We don’t have retail experts to tell us what consumers will be buying.

We already have a pretty good idea what’s going to sell.

We look past all of the marketing, and the buzzwords. We’re not influenced by cartoons, or puppets, or anything else the manufacturers come up with to try and sell you their latest club…the one that’s sooooo much better than the one they released 6 months ago.

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We don’t reward noise. We reward performance.

We have our data, and because we think the process should be transparent, you have our data too.

Here it is.

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We give you several key metrics for each of our testers and all 23 clubs in our test. Distance, ball speed, launch angle, spin rates…here it is for you and anyone else to see. Sort it, filter it. Dig deep…or don’t. It’s totally up to you.

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This is Barely the Beginning

Our approach is not without its critics. Some of what we’ve heard is fair and reasoned, and we appreciate that. Some of it is little more than the misinformed and misguided ramblings of overzealous fanboys. And we appreciate that too (who doesn’t love a good laugh?).

All of it (the good, the bad, and the we’re-loosing-faith-in-humanity ugly) drives to take what we’ve done and make it better. It doesn’t matter if you love our process, or hate it, I promise you this is barely the beginning of what we have planned.

Wait until you see what we have in store for 2015.

Full 2014 Most Wanted Driver Coverage

:: Coming Soon – MyGolfSpy’s 2014 Most Wanted Driver Test
:: 2014 Golf’s Most Wanted Driver – It’s Go Time
:: 2014 Most Wanted Driver – Distance Awards
:: 2014 Most Wanted Driver – Accuracy Awards
:: 2014 Most Wanted Driver – Overall Winners
:: 2014 Most Wanted Driver – Tester’s Pick
:: 2014 Most Wanted Driver – Beyond the Data
:: 2014 Most Wanted Driver – The Data 

Golf Forum – Golf Blog (MyGolfSpy.com)