Course of Style: What's Selling (and Fashionable)

Course of Style: What’s Selling (and Fashionable)

Webb Simpson
Polo Ralph Lauren

Golf Datatech has been doing market research on the golf business — tracking the sales of drivers, putters, balls, and so on — since 1995 for clients like Nike, Callaway, Titleist, and TaylorMade as well as for the brokerage houses that cover them. Now for the first time, the company is turning its attention to golf apparel.

“The golf apparel sector is growing,” said Tom Stine, a co-founder of Golf Datatech. “There are a lot more apparel manufacturers than there are hard-good manufacturers. Apparel is an extremely important profit center and revenue generator for green-grass shops and off-course specialty shops.”

However, he added, there has been a void when it comes to market research about golf apparel, leaving both vendors and pro-shop owners dancing in the dark. “Heretofore it’s been strictly a guessing game,” Stine said. “We’ve been working on this for 18 months.” The company will roll out its new monthly golf apparel market reports, incorporating January sales numbers, in March.

In addition to working with the manufacturers, Golf Datatech maintains an exclusive database of  “serious” golfers, that is, golfers who play a minimum of sixteen rounds per year, and tracks sales figures from thousands of on- and off-course retailers. We asked Stine to give us a snapshot of what’s been going on in the industry.

First, the bad news: “There is no doubt that the economy hurt golf sales in 2009 and the latter part of 2008, due to reduced discretionary spending.”
Now, the good news: “The upside is rounds played stayed steady. We track that as well.” More than 4,000 golf courses send Golf Datatech numbers on rounds played every month. For 2009 (through November), the number of rounds played was very slightly down, 0.2 percent, compared to 2008.

Bottom line: “Golfers are still playing golf,” Stine said. “Maybe they’re not traveling as much.”

Simpson to Play Polo

Polo Ralph Lauren has signed young professional Webb Simpson to wear its Polo Golf clothing. Simpson was a four-time NCAA All-American at Wake Forest University and a member of the winning 2007 Walker Cup team. He turned pro in 2008. He joins tour players Tom Watson, Davis Love III, Luke Donald, Jonathan Byrd and Morgan Pressl, who wear Lauren on the links.


Puma to exhibit at PGA Show
In a last-minute announcement, the organizers of the PGA Merchandise Show say that Puma Golf North America will be exhibiting at next week’s show in Orlando, Florida. The company will showcase its golf apparel and footwear in a room off the main convention floor.