Sales of golf equipment have fallen noticeably in recent years, with the sport’s traditional markets of the US, Europe, and Japan particularly affected. Falling participation levels are driving a fall in equipment sales as people baulk at the price of golf and slow play issues make a sport for which many simply do not have time in a society that demands people spread themselves thinly hard to access. This has impacted manufacturers with TaylorMade-adidas in particular experiencing severe problems. A constant churn of new equipment has led to a need for heavy discounting to shift old stock and created an “I will wait until it’s reduced” mentality among consumers. It would therefore seem logical to conclude that introducing the most expensive clubs ever seen would be counter-productive. This is, however, exactly what these manufacturers have done.
TaylorMade’s new line of M drivers and Callaway’s Epic range are the most prominent examples. They undoubtedly include some impressive technology and are helping tour level players improve. Most consumers are not, however, anywhere close to tour level and will not derive anything like the same gains. This makes it very hard to justify a $500 outlay and therefore, the manufacturers are shooting themselves in the foot. It will necessitate further discounting, helping merely to cement already damaging consumer behavior.