Golf Equipment Sales Finally On The Upswing — What's Behind The Comeback?

Golf is back, and that's not a reference to the 2019 PGA Tour.

After years of doom and gloom in the industry, golf has received some of the best news it has in a while short of Tiger Woods' resurgence last year.

After facing declines in the previous year, the U.S. golf retail business grew 8 percent in the 12 months ending in November 2018 to $2.6 billion, according to a new report from NPD Group.

“The macro environment for golf has been in a turbulent state, fueled by Golfsmith’s bankruptcy, major brands cutting back on their golf business and courses closing. But today, we’re starting to see normalization in the market as those deep holes are now being filled,” said Matt Powell, NPD's vice president and senior sports industry advisor.

“Major sports retailers are now investing in golf to pick up some of the business, and brands are also placing emphasis on the category to spur innovation.”

What’s Behind The Comeback?

TaylorMade CEO David Abeles told Benzinga his company is benefiting from the uptick in golf — and much of the negative sentiment that clouded the industry for years was not factual.

“A lot of the pessimism regarding golf was not fact-based. There is not doubt there were golf course and retail closures and the industry went through a reset, as it was overbuilt relative to to its participation size," Abeles said.

"Over the course of the several years it has reset, and we have a strong footing foundationally. We are optimistic about the continued growth of the industry."

Nearly every category of golf products had higher comps over the prior year, the CEO said, with the equipment category leading the pack.

"Golfers are adopting new technologies and benefiting from them."

The Celebrity Factor

It's not only technological advances that are leading golf’s comeback, Ables said. His company signed Woods to an equipment endorsement deal in late 2017.

The PGA of America’s growth initiatives from years ago are starting to bear fruit, Abeles said, adding that the PGA Tour is an incredible media asset.

“There has been a groundswell of excitement with the PGA Tour ...Tiger Woods coming back certainly accelerated that, [and] the game is being played at some the highest levels that it has ever been played at,” he said.

With Discovery Communications Inc. DISCA prepping for the streaming service Golf TV — dubbed the "Netflix of Golf" — and Tiger Woods set to make his 2019 PGA Tour debut next week at the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines, a venue where he's won eight times, the golf industry is arguably in the best position it's been in years.

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Photo courtesy of TaylorMade.

Posted In: David AbelesMatt PowellPGA of AmericaPGA TourTiger WoodsTorrey PinesRetail SalesSportsTop StoriesExclusivesInterviewGeneral