Image Credit: Tim Mowrer

Big Golf is Chasing its Tail

What golf brands are you loyal to? The golf industry has spent billions of dollars and thousands of years of research cycles to keep you loyal to your ProV1 balls, Taylor Made woods, Calloway irons and Scotty Cameron putters and FootJoy shoes. For years small companies have tried to break into the golf industry only to be shut down by Carlsbad’s big dollar budgets.

BUT, and its a big one.

The times, they are a changin’! A breeze is in the air and I like the way it smells, sort of the way a salty beach smells in the morning with the tide rolling out. It is the smell of renewal. Life, and dead crustaceans.

This breeze of renewal is unstoppable and will soon become a wind that could blow away Big Golf. Its OEMs, which include the Titleists’, the Cobra’s, the Calloways’ are all in deep trouble. They know it. The small direct-to-consumer (DTC) companies now eating their collective lunch know it. And now you should know it too before you spend another dollar on golf stuff.

Here is the symptom that tipped me off to the larger issue at play — there is no inventory or stock for anything but new releases!! Two year old stock of new clubs, putters, shoes does not exist. If you break a club, can you replace it minus a trip to eBay or 2nd Swing for something used and abused? Not likely.

Let me illustrate. Per my What’s in my Bag for 2020 post, I purchased a set of Cobra’s new Forged Tec irons. Then two of them broke because of whatever reason and Cobra was happy to replace them, but I had lost confidence in the state of that club. Standing over the ball, who knew? So instead of the Forged Tec’s Cobra’s customer service team replaced them with some black Forged Tec’s from the club’s previous iteration. And paid me the price difference once I noticed.

The problem was and is, there are no new 5-irons available in the black Forged Tec’s! In fact, there are only three of eight possible club choices left. The cupboard is bare. I’ve spent a year looking for a mint condition 5-iron on eBay. Nada. Cobra can’t tell me if there will ever be a 5-iron available.

“Dude, it’s probably not likely.”

So, I am done with Cobra. This time for good. My blacks are great, but I need a 5-iron. I need to know that there might be replacements in the odd event I break another head. But Cobra is lost. It can’t go backwards because it is too busy going forward and trying to imitate Apple. It is caught in a vicious product cycle launch loop.

The next launch of the next whatever series of balls, clubs, etc., is the only thing on the minds of the OEM’s, plus image management. Someone in the golf marketing world must have carbon copied the current plan for Big Golf, which looks like a poor rip off job from Apple. Apple’s mission is to launch new and delightful products. It’s product launches are, in fact, legendary. People camp out overnight for the new iPhone. That being said, Apple is a bit more. It services its older phone models. It even sells them!

That’s all because of Steve Jobs, who applied the following mentality to Apple’s entire customer life cycle, not just those in line for new products:

“When you’re a carpenter making a beautiful chest of drawers, you’re not going to use a piece of plywood on the back, even though it faces the wall and nobody will ever see it. You’ll know it’s there, so you’re going to use a beautiful piece of wood on the back. For you to sleep well at night, the aesthetic, the quality, has to be carried all the way through.”

The leaders in the golf industry are using plywood to finish the back side of the mahogany cabinet and assuming its customers won’t notice. It is a lazy and stupid and lazy plan implemented by bad leaders. And now as a result we will all watch consumer dollars shift to brands like Snell for our golf balls, Sub 70 and Ben Hogan for our golf clubs, Bettinardi for our putters, True Linkswear for our shoes and Linksoul for our outerwear.

Quality stuff crafted by local, small business owners who offer rabid customer service? I’m down for that! In fact, I’ve got a dramatic What’s in My Bag for 2021 to post soon so stay tuned!

I’ve taken on a challenge in 2020 to play minimalist golf, meaning I’m only allowed 8 clubs instead of 14. No rangefinders. Walking only. This is my journal.