Golf Datatech Introduces Headwear Reports As Sales Surge Across Golf Industry

New Tracking Category for Golf Datatech Provides In-Depth Analysis of Golf Headwear Sales and Trends; Headwear is the 2nd Largest Apparel Category Behind Men’s Shirts and the only Apparel Category Larger in On & Off Course Sales than Wedges or Putters

Kissimmee, Fla., August 31, 2021 – Golf Datatech, LLC (www.golfdatatech.com), the golf industry’s leading independent market research firm for retail sales and consumer trends, today introduced the Headwear Reports category, a new series of data providing in-depth analytical tools for understanding sales and retail trends.

“Headwear is a brand-new category that Golf Datatech is tracking, as we are finding retail sales are very significant when compared to many other apparel categories, and it’s even larger than some of those in equipment,” said John Krzynowek, Partner at Golf Datatech. “Tracking headwear sales is long overdue, as it is the largest apparel category other than men’s shirts. In fact, the headwear category is larger in total sales both on and off course than wedges or putters.”

The new headwear data, which is now available by month dating back to January of 2021, includes in-depth analysis of the category in either on or off course channels, as well as the on & off course channels combined, tracking: sales and market shares of headwear brands, types of headwear, pricing, unit sales, average selling price, total dollar value, and inventory status, among other key data points.

“As demand for golf apparel continues to surge in the U.S., adding data in categories like headwear provides industry stakeholders with a benchmark for determining trends in the market by price, style and brand, while also managing inventory levels by channel,” added Krzynowek. “Managing your apparel or headwear business without objective insights into the mechanics of the green grass and off course channels is like sailing a boat without a rudder.”

For more information on Golf Datatech’s Headwear Reports, contact tstine@golf-datatech.com.

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About Golf Datatech, LLC

Golf Datatech, LLC (www.golfdatatech.com) was established in 1995, and since that time it has become the industry’s gold standard for accurate and timely information on retail sales, inventory, pricing, and distribution of golf products through the on and off course channels.  In 1998, the Company extended its reach into consumer research, strategic sales, and marketing consulting.  In 2006, the Company expanded its retail and consumer research programs into the United Kingdom and in 2008 added markets in Europe.  Golf Datatech now produces the first-ever digitally driven golf retail sales reports for the US, UK, Sweden, France and Germany.

The History of Custom Fitting (and why it matters)

Part 2 of John Krzynowek’s in-depth look into this exciting category

the history of custom fitting

Golf Datatech recently released the eighth instalment of primary research investigating the Custom Fitting of golf equipment, covering 2 decades of change. As the author of all 8 volumes, along with 15+ years of experience in golf club product development and management, prior to joining Golf Datatech, I have a unique perspective on the evolution that became a revolution – as fitting changed from a niche play to massive accessibility and broad-based acceptance of premium brands. 

Golf Datatech’s first Custom Fitting Study was completed in 2001, 2 years before Trackman was invented, and 3 years before the TaylorMade r7 accelerated mainstream branded driver fittings by offering adjustable heads. Twenty years ago, clubs that were sold as “custom built” were either for elite tour level players or, more often, lower price point products, and were frequently knock-offs or special make up heads that were mass produced in Asia, assembled in a garage, basement or very small workshop, and usually did not feature any brand name components.

 No Power Required – The Early Days of Fitting

While the process of being fit has changed dramatically over the years, it is most important to note that the fitter themselves remains the most important part of the process. In the “old days” (pre digital data and interchangeable clubs), a fitter came armed with a lie board (essentially a piece of plywood or high impact plastic), a ruler (to get finger tip to floor measurements for length), some lie tape (or masking tape would do in a pinch), and perhaps a piece of face tape to highlight strike patterns. In addition, fitters would normally have a few different fully-assembled, non-adjustable clubs for the golfer to hit on the range or into a net.

Notably, none of these tools of the trade required electricity. A good fitting experience required substantial interface with the fitter, who would base their product recommendations upon information gathered from the interaction of the club, the ground, and the ball, upon various pieces of tape, combined with studying ball flight. While this methodology might seem uninspiring and pedestrian today, in the midst of the digital age, in its day, “dynamic fitting” (fitting while swinging) was cutting edge. Prior to being fit dynamically, fitting was done statically with measurements such as height, arm length, how hard the golfers swings, as the primary factors taken into account.

 Quantum Leaps in Club/Shaft Attachment & Digital Data Gathering

Toward the end of the first decade of the 21st century, manufacturers developed a means to easily change out shafts and heads while doing a fitting. Combined with advancing digital technology available to gather data, the process of fitting quickly changed. Initially, local fitters, who recognized the ability to improve results, started to use these technologies to create a better fitting experience. And the purchase process for golf clubs would never be the same.

Club assembly during the 1990’s was designed for cost efficiency, but did not allow for the nearly infinite number of tweaks necessary to meet the needs of the individual golfers swing.

Around 2010 the germ of a new business concept started to grow roots. Over time, Custom Fitting Specialists/Club Builders would became a significant force in the industry, initially selling primarily irons, but eventually fitting for more drivers as well.

Today, Golf Datatech estimates Custom Fit clubs account for over one-half of all new premium clubs sold in the market.

Mass Customization vs. True Customization

Custom fitting from the 1990’s would more likely be considered a form of “mass customization” today. Clubs were modified slightly to the golfer’s dynamic swing characteristics. However, compared to today’s offerings, it was more like a modification to stock than truly custom-built product. Typically, manufacturers offered 3 lie alternatives for their irons: +2 degrees, standard and -2 degrees. Usually these were made with traditional mass assembly practices of the day: with a line of operators assembling clubs, assuring they were within tolerance, but there wasn’t the same feeling like there is with today’s “custom” operations, where much greater care is taken to spec out and match each component.

Club assembly during the 1990’s was designed for cost efficiency, but did not allow for the nearly infinite number of tweaks necessary to meet the needs of the individual golfers swing.

 The Fitting Cart Era

A custom fitting session during the 90’s used to take 30-40 minutes, or less, and included hitting a few shots with your current club (driver or mid iron), followed by some shots with a head/shaft combo that the fitter had available (which were usually pretty limited).

Because the clubs were fully assembled and epoxied in place, there wasn’t the ability to adjust on the fly.

Often the major brands had “fitting carts” available for iron fitting, and these carts had a flat, stock and upright option for that year’s primary new model: perhaps in steel regular and stiff, maybe a graphite shaft option, but not usually multiple graphite shafts or anything in X or L flex, and certainly no length options.

Because the clubs were fully assembled and epoxied in place, there wasn’t the ability to adjust on the fly. A golfer could only try what they had in the cart, and the fitter would try to interpolate results to order the best possible product to fit the player. For example, if they fitter felt a stiff shaft was a little too flexible, they’d recommend the X, though the golfer never actually hit a shot with one.

Each brand had their own fitting cart which frequently carried numerous finished clubs, which meant significant expense for the manufacturers to build and maintain. For the fitters themselves, carrying multiple brands could be cumbersome and hard to deal with.

 Free Fitting? It used to be…not so much today

During the early days, custom fitting was usually free of charge – or there may have been an up front charge that was applied to the purchase price if the product was bought from the fitter. There were a few innovative custom fit/build operations starting to make waves, but the movement didn’t gain traction until the end of the first decade of the 2000’s.

Over time, as digital devices (with their significant costs) became the norm, fitters began to charge for their time, and the length of the sessions was extended to accommodate more options in heads and shafts, which became the norm once the head/shaft attachment mechanisms became easier to change with a few quick twists.

As the fitting business became more formalized, charging for fittings became more common. Some of the leading edge fitters began to assemble their own product: a move that was initially resisted by some manufacturers, who did not want the perceived quality of their product to be determined by anyone other than their own assembly teams.

 Premium Priced Clubs and Fitting Become One

Today, custom fitting has become a large part of the fabric of buying premium golf clubs. While the majority of total clubs sold in units are still “stock” or non customized product, usually second/third generation, close outs, or lower priced sets, the newer higher priced models in their first year of sales are primarily being fit in some manner.

It’s worth noting that the average consumers perspective on “what is custom fitting?” may vary from those within the industry. While a golfer will frequently consider hitting multiple shots in a net or on the range under the watchful eye of a golf professional or a fitter as “being fit”, manufacturers and custom fitting experts would prefer to see digital data guide the process, utilizing multiple heads and shafts, to maximize the benefits of the clubs purchased.

 My Unfiltered Opinions of the Current State of Custom Fitting

 The “Numbers” Drive the Process. The Fitter Makes it Work

Unquestionably, the custom fitter is a very critical part of the fitting process, and according to the research done by Golf Datatech over the years, it’s consistently perceived as the most important piece of the fitting puzzle. While each individual custom fitting operation can specify their own methodology and high tech analytic equipment, along with unique means for analysis and recommendations, so much of a successful fitting is directly associated with the technical abilities of the fitter, combined with a personal connection and the ability to communicate effectively.

 Custom Fitting Channels Continue to Evolve

I was recently asked, “Can the off course specialty channel bounce back? It used to be the leading channel for fitting, but now golfers are headed to Custom Fitting Specialists more frequently, will that momentum continue?”

There’s no doubt that the Custom Fitters/Builders have grown their share in the US, expanding locations and fitting more golfers every year. That said, there are still many first class fitting operations in golf shops (On Course and in Specialty Golf Retailers), however those tend to sell branded golf clubs that are assembled, and shipped, by the golf club brands and not assembled by their own operations. Typically, these locations do not feature exotic/premium priced shafts in the same manner as Club Fitters/Builders.

Off Course Specialty Retailers, who do a good job in fitting, usually have at least one member of the floor sales team focusing on custom fitting. In fact, it’s not unusual to have several in a large location. Being a good fitter requires a special set of skills that need to be compensated appropriately. Finding and training people for those roles needs to be a focus if they’re going to compete with Fitters/Builders who spend all day, every day, fitting golfers.

 Custom Fitting Works

My personal experience is that custom fitting definitely works, to a point. Ultimately, even the best-fit clubs are only as effective as the consistency of the player who swings them. While custom fit clubs can help lessen some of the negative outcomes associated with a poor swing/strike of the ball, it still comes down to the golfer. Becoming a better player usually requires some level of commitment to playing and practicing, which most golfers are not interested in.

When a golfer has been fit for a new driver where the best possible head is matched up with the best shaft and grip, they undoubtedly will see immediate improvements in their driving of the ball. And an increase in driving distance is easy to see, particularly for people who play one course frequently, as the golfer knows where they normally drive the ball, and with a new stick in hand, they can easily compare vs. their previous club.

Ultimately, even the best-fit clubs are only as effective as the consistency of the player who swings them.

Having an iron set that is fit to your specific swing characteristics should potentially provide a golfer with more meaningful results than a driver, however seeing those results in action is much more difficult to ascertain. While a driver is usually used less than 18 times a round (typically ranging from 10-14 times depending upon playing level and the course played), your irons are struck much more frequently over the course of 18 holes, and accuracy and precision (distance and deviation both) can markedly improve a golfer’s score, however seeing the benefit is much more difficult. The visual cues that are so easily seen in a new driver are more subtle and nuanced in irons. Over time, improved ball striking and accuracy due to custom irons should show up in lower scores and an improved handicap, however that can’t be guaranteed, because the golfer may have other issues that make improved scores elusive.

 Custom Fitting vs. Lessons. Which is Best? 

One of the arguments used against being custom fit is that “a golfer is better off just taking lessons to improve rather than throwing money at custom fit clubs.”

That may be the case, but it’s not necessarily true. Lessons and Fitting are not mutually exclusive. If a golfer truly wants to improve their game, lessons that focus on their areas of weakness can pay huge benefits, however most of the time those improvements only manifest themselves after putting in the time to practice and build the fundamentals into your game. That takes time and significant effort, and doesn’t necessarily meet the requirements of many golfers, who are looking for a “quick fix”.

However, if you are planning on making major swing changes in an effort to improve your game, you might be better off completing those adjustments and modifications prior to being fit/buying new clubs. Buying new custom clubs before changing your swing means you might be fit into product that no longer matches up with your new swing patterns. And, making a change to your golf swing is hard enough.

Golf Datatech is the world’s leading independent market research company focused on golf, golf equipment, golf retail, and golf operations. In July of 2021 Golf Datatech released the 8th edition of the Custom Fitting Study, which is an in depth analysis of the custom fitting business in America. For information about the study please email: info@golf-datatech.com.

 

Golf Datatech July 2021 Retail Sell Thru Data

We now have the retail sell thru data for July which confirms another interesting month for the golf industry. We have a short summary here:

  • Total On/Off Course dollar sales in July 2021 were just about level with 2020 levels (-0.6%), but still remain 57% ahead on a YTD basis and 43% ahead of 2019 (pre pandemic)
  • The categories with the most growth vs. 2020 were shoes (+8%), balls (+5%), putters (+5%), and bags (+4%)
  • Categories with largest declines were wedges (-15%) and irons (-7%)

While people might initially fear this slow down in growth / contraction is a “sign of the apocalypse” for golf equipment, there are some important data points to keep in mind:

  1.  Our primary month to compare against, July of 2020 ($398 million), was the largest sales month ever recorded by the golf equipment industry to that point in time – therefore, essentially matching that level in 2021 is quite a feat.
  2. YTD Total Equipment sales in 2021 are up 43% vs. 2019: a massive increase and, even in the short term, sales for the month of July 2021 were up 52% vs. the same month in 2019.There is no shortage of demand for golf equipment at the current time. Eventually it will slow, but it has yet to do so.
  3. The golf equipment industry, like many other American industries, continues to struggle with supply chain and manufacturing challenges, both in the US and abroad. Getting product from foreign factories into the US remains a very difficult task, and in the face of unprecedented demand, meeting trade and consumer requirements remains a serious test for all parties. This lack of inventory is causing lost sales for new premium products.

The Art of Successful Fitting

John Krzynowek, Partner Golf Datatech

I’ve been custom fitted for clubs over 50 times, with many of those fittings specifically related to working on Golf Datatech’s custom fitting study, which has been published 8 times since 2001. Because I don’t believe I could accurately author a report on custom fitting without experiencing it for myself, every 3 years, or so, I set up appointments to visit several fitting options – including pro shops, off course specialty retailers, custom fitting specialists and sporting goods stores. Some sessions happened out on the range while others were inside in a net. Today, virtually all appointments feature high tech digital equipment, but in the “early days”, it was a much more Spartan appointment.

To maintain anonymity, I get a time slot just, like anyone seeking to improve their game (in 2021 I primarily use online booking portals), pay for it just like a regular golfer and never identify myself as anything other than a passionate, serious player interested in being fit. Sometimes it’s for a new driver, other times for new irons, and I’ve even done full bag fittings. This year, it was a new driver.

 Full Bag Fittings are a Workout

Experience has taught me that full bag fittings (driver, fairways, hybrids, irons, wedges and putters in one session) are only for the very young and/or very fit. Spending 3-4 hours hitting shots with various heads and shafts can easily run to over a hundred full swings, and eventually all but the most fit players will see their swing speed slow and their mechanics suffer. For any golfer that wants to do a full bag fitting, I would suggest spreading that experience over multiple sessions if you can, your back and hands will thank you for it.

 2021 Fitting Experience

 While compiling and writing the new 2021 Custom Fitting Evolution in the United States report, I was fit 6 times: 3 times by custom fit/build operators, twice by custom fitting specialists/off course retailers that carried multiple brands, and once by a single brand operation. Five of the fittings took place indoors into a net, while one occurred outside at a range. All fitting sessions in 2021 were for a new driver, however in prior years I have been fit for irons, fairways, putters, wedges and golf balls.

For this discussion, I am not identifying any of the specific fitting locations visited, but overall it was a thorough exploration into the world of custom fitting.

 Custom Fitting is Expensive vs. Buying Stock

 Every fitting was booked and paid for just like an “average golfer” walking off the street. No fitter was made aware that I was from within the industry, though some fitters had obviously done their own online research. The costs for fitting ranged from $50 to $150 for a driver, and from 50-100 minutes in length. For many golfers, the $150 fee is enough to scare them off, but the growth within the custom fitting category indicates there is plenty of discretionary income available to buy premium priced clubs that have been fit specifically for one’s swing.

Caveat: Because the fitting process is unique and personal, it can vary widely from golfer to golfer and location to location, even within the same fitting operation/brand. Successful custom fitting requires the potential customer to hit several shots with a variety of club options, so being able to swing consistently is critical to reaching an optimal outcome. That said, the fitters I worked with and spoke to felt they could help the vast majority of golfers get the most out of their current swing/game if they would come in and get fitted, because they can digitally isolate their tendencies and suggest clubs to maximize performance and reduce negative outcomes.

Unfortunately, about a quarter of Serious Golfers don’t believe they’re good enough to be fitted, and never even consider a fitting to improve their play.

 The Fitter is Your Guide

 Not every fitting session begins in the same manner. As a golfer, my preference is to have my fitter try to understand the current state of my game: what are my tendencies, what am I trying to “fix”?

In my experiences, some fitters are far better at engaging with their clients than others. One operation stood above the rest this year when the fitter spent the first 10 minutes of the session taking my current specs and asking about my game, my experiences with my current equipment, and the all important, “what are you looking to get from a new driver?” He was knowledgeable, likeable, and appeared to really care about what he was doing.

On the flip side, one fitter didn’t even take the time to look at my current driver to get the specs, and rarely engaged in any conversation beyond suggesting a lesson might be preferred to a new driver. Not a great way to connect with your customer.

Every session had the same “warm up” time at the beginning, usually hitting as many balls as I wanted to loosen up and prepare for the driver. It’s obviously important to make enough swings to get loose, but too many swings during warm up will impact your ability later on during the session, when you may start to tire.

 Data is King

Most fitters were using either a Trackman or a Foresight digital launch monitor/simulator for capturing swing/club/ball data. Each fitter, depending upon who they worked for, used their own unique software/analysis package to display the data that they felt was most compelling. And the simulators varied widely in complexity and resolution: some sharing far more data than anyone but a data geek could comprehend, but others providing simplistic representations of the results.

Every fitter provided me with a written analysis after the session was complete (usually emailed), including a comparison and a recommendation on the best possible product.

Baseline data for ball speed, spin, launch angle and carry distance were determined by hitting my current “gamer” driver. Every fitter identified the exact same issue to be fixed with my current driver (too much spin that was causing the ball to “balloon”, leaving it with a steep angle of descent and minimizing roll and total distance), so the goal of every fitting was to find a new driver head that would decrease spin and slightly increase launch angle.

 Brand Preferences

Every fitter brought in the heads they felt would work best to meet my needs, and a few asked if I had any particular brand in mind to try. Only 2 specifically asked if I had a price in mind, which I felt was odd, particularly when evaluating exotic shafts which can cost $700+ on their own.

In almost every case, (except for the fitter who worked for a single brand), I was presented with low spin versions of 4 of the best selling drivers in golf. When asked if I had interest in any other brand, I would always ask for one not on the regular “brand menu” of top drivers, so I could test other options. In fact, when I asked for one brand outside the top four from a national fitting group, the fitter actually had to take the shrink wrap off the head for the very first time, as he said “you can see how much I use this one”.

Typically, each fitter initially selected what they believed would be an appropriate shaft to fit my game for the head evaluation, and we worked on finding the best driver head to meet my primary objectives (lower spin, higher launch). I hit anywhere from 3-8 shots with each, and sometimes it was easy to eliminate a head because it didn’t perform for my swing, or perhaps didn’t “look” right. Others required multiple shots under the watchful eye of the fitter, as well as the launch monitor, which captured the data and provided shot patterns from every shot. Eventually patterns would develop, and the fitter would guide me thru the data and alternative product options to find the magic bullet.

 For the best Fit Experience, Connect with the Fitter

 Part of the “Art of Fitting” lies with the expertise of the fitter, along with their ability to communicate and connect, during the process. While the data clearly helps forge the path toward the ultimate driver for your game, the fitter has substantial discretion in keeping or eliminating specific shots during the process. If the golfer makes an obvious poor swing, it is eliminated from the data, and normally only the best 2-3 shots are utilized when developing the profile of the “best” heads to match the golfers swing.

Explaining what they’re doing and why is an important first step in establishing trust between the fitter and the customer. Constantly probing for feedback on feel and how the player’s swing feels, along with the digital data, helps flesh out the total experience.

 Head first, Shaft Second

 After completing the data collection and making a recommendation on the preferred head, each fitter would experiment with alternative shafts. Once again, depending upon the fitter, the shaft options ranged from “stock” models offered by the manufacturers for little to no upcharge, to high-end, high performance exotic shafts that could cost as much or more than a stock finished driver.

Typically, the fitter already had 3-5 shaft options in mind, based upon their own knowledge and experience, combined with the data they’d seen during the head fitting part of the exercise. In addition, because shafts tend to be more technical and don’t have the same level of brand recognition/awareness/knowledge as club brands, the fitter is clearly in charge of what happens next as shafts rotate in and out of the chosen head.

Eventually, after several shots with a wide range of shaft options, results typically boil down to one or two potential “best fit” options. At that point the customer has options to consider, perhaps hit a few more shots to determine if one feels better than the other, or if there are any unique swing characteristics that make one perform better.

 Grips? What Grips?

 After selecting the shaft to best match the head from earlier in the fitting process, grips may or may not be the next step. In my experience, grips get lost or downplayed during the fitting process, and in fact no fitter suggested I try alternate grips, rather most would show an array of different grips and ask me to pick what interested me. I never tried alternate grip designs, materials or sizes. Perhaps it was because “standard” grips/grip size works for me, but given all the various options that are available within the grip category, it seems to be a missed opportunity not to involve grip selection in the fitting process.

 Final Outcome

 In the end, after all the fitting sessions were completed, no 2 driver recommendations were the same. In fact, each session ended with a different head selection, though Titleist drivers were the brand of choice twice, different heads were suggested (one a TSI 3, one a TSI 4). There was also a recommendation for a SIM2, a Ping G425 LST, a Callaway Epic Speed LS, and one suggested I might just want to keep my current driver because the differences between my “gamer” and the custom fit branded drivers were negligible and likely not worth the price differential. I truly admired and appreciated his honesty, he wasn’t there just to “sell me” on a new driver, regardless of the outcome.

Every fitter I worked with this year, took immense pride in what they were doing, and truly appeared to believe they were providing me with the best possible product options so I could make a decision which I would be happy with. Just like in the real world in every day life, you connect with some people better than others, and being fit is no exception to that rule. Some fitters could engage on a personal level better than others, but I never felt like I was being steered toward an inferior product or component, every fitter appeared to genuinely want me to leave that fitting satisfied with the outcome.

The costs of each of the “prescribed” drivers ranged from $550 to nearly $1,100, with the bulk of the differences in costs due to various exotic shaft selections and some additional features like Puring.

Depending upon what you want, and how much you want to spend, there are custom fit clubs available to fit your needs, and leave you a very satisfied golfer…at least for now. But at some point in the future, you’ll likely feel the need to get new clubs again, and if you’ve been custom fit for your most recent purchase, the odds are very good that you’ll be back for another fitting the next time.

Golf Datatech is the world’s leading independent market research company focused on golf, golf equipment, golf retail, and golf operations. In July of 2021 Golf Datatech released the 8th edition of the Custom Fitting Study, which is an in depth analysis of the custom fitting business in America. For more information about this study CLICK HERE

 

Golf Datatech Releases 2021 Mid-Year Report On U.S. Golf Retail Performance & Rounds Played

Exclusive Insights Indicate Retail Sales of Golf Equipment and Apparel are Strong, while Rounds Played May be Close to Peaking

Kissimmee, Fla., July 27, 2021 – Golf Datatech, LLC, the golf industry’s leading independent market research firm for retail sales, consumer and trade trends, today unveiled the 2021 Mid-Year U.S. Golf Retail Performance & Rounds Played Report, analyzing retail sales of golf equipment, golf apparel, and rounds played over the first six-months of 2021.

Due to the impacts of the pandemic on normal economic activity, making comparisons to 2020 doesn’t tell the whole story, so Golf Datatech’s analysis also compares the performance of the first six-months of 2021 with the same period in 2019, which was the last “normal” year prior to the worldwide impacts of
COVID-19.

Highlighting the report, Golf Datatech analysis indicates rounds played thru June 2021 were up nearly 23% vs. 2020 and high single digits vs. 2019.  During the same timeframe, golf equipment sales (balls, clubs, shoes, bags, gloves, distance devices) were up 78% compared to 2020 and 41% vs. 2019, while golf apparel is rebounding after a challenging 2020, up 68% vs. 2020 and 10% vs. 2019, reversing the negative trend it followed during the depths COVID-19.

“The question everyone was asking coming into 2021 was whether golf could continue to sustain its upward trajectory as the U.S. economy heated up and golfers had access to alternative activities,” said John Krzynowek, Partner at Golf Datatech. “However, through the first six-months of 2021 the results are very encouraging, as all segments of the golf economy continue to prosper, even in the face of supply issues, particularly for products made abroad. While manufacturers of golf balls, clubs, shoes, bags, have all struggled to meet demand and replenish drained product pipelines, much of the industry still remains in a hand-to-mouth struggle to ship product in a timely manner.”

Krzynowek adds, “Golf equipment sales had never reached $400 million in any single month prior to April of 2021, when retail sell-through totaled over $425 million, and now in June we’ve had the third consecutive month with sales above $400 million, so significant momentum continues in the equipment sector.”

In regard to apparel, COVID-19 was particularly hard on golf clothing manufacturers in 2020, as many Green Grass golf shops closed for extended periods of time, and once opened to the public they urged golfers not to linger, while dressing rooms were frequently closed, return policies were tightened (or not allowed at all), and people were encouraged not to touch/feel the merchandise. Additionally, many large resorts lost significant traffic from European and Asian visitors, and these customers would typically spend significantly on apparel.

As a result, coming off that difficult period, the bounce back in golf apparel sales through the first six months of the year has been particularly welcome news to battered apparel brands. After being mired in a negative position, the golf apparel category finally turned the corner during the first half of 2021, and the $552 million first half is the largest since Golf Datatech started tracking golf apparel sales, beating the previous high of $536 million from 2015.

Adds Krzynowek, “Combining equipment and apparel sales thru the on and off-course channels, total consumer demand in dollars for golf products were 66% higher than last year for the first six-months of 2021 and compared to 2019 sales are up 23%. At some point consumer demand for new products will have to slow down, however thus far it has held up very well to the pressures of the pandemic.”

2021 Mid-Year Rounds Played Analysis

In 1998, Golf Datatech undertook the task of creating the golf industry’s first monthly projections of rounds played by state and region around the country. The Company’s objective from day one was to provide accurate estimates of the health of golf by tracking rounds, which are the engine that drives almost every other aspect of the business. The company also receives support from the NGF (delivering course data) and WeatherTrends (weather data) in an effort to provide the industry with granular detail at the market level.

According to data compiled directly from golf course owners and operators, rounds of golf played through the first six-months of 2021, at public, private and resort courses nationwide, were up 23%, and compared to 2019 they remain up in the high single digits.   However, June 2021 data showed a very small improvement (+0.4%) in rounds vs. the same month last year, suggesting the tsunami in rounds might finally be slowing, and comparisons to 2020 will become increasingly hard to beat.  Tee time capacity at golf courses has not increased significantly, if at all, from a year ago, and 2020 was a summer of excellent weather with minimal precipitation and relatively mild temperatures across much of the nation, making for difficult comps.

“It will prove difficult for rounds to stay on pace with last year over the last six months of the year, but if we can stay within a few percentage points of the 2020 levels it would be a big win for the industry,” said Krzynowek.

 For more information on Golf Datatech, call 888-944-4116 or visit www.golfdatatech.com.

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About Golf Datatech, LLC

Golf Datatech, LLC (www.golfdatatech.com) was established in 1995, and since that time it has become the industry’s gold standard for accurate and timely information on retail sales, inventory, pricing, and distribution of golf products through the on and off course channels.  In 1998, the Company extended its reach into consumer research, strategic sales, and marketing consulting.  In 2006, the Company expanded its retail and consumer research programs into the United Kingdom and in 2008 added markets in Europe.  Golf Datatech now produces the first-ever digitally driven golf retail sales reports for the US, UK, Sweden, France and Germany. All golf courses are welcome to contribute to the monthly rounds played research and receive the reports by going to https://www.golfdatatech.com/course-search/.  Simply enter your course name to locate your facility then enter your previous month’s rounds along with your email address to ensure that you receive the latest results by email as soon as they are available.

Golf Datatech Introduces 8th Edition of Exclusive Report on the Evolution of Custom Fitting Golf Equipment in the United States

An in-depth look at all aspects of custom fitting, including a deep dive into the leading Custom

Fitting Specialists, Golfer Satisfaction with the Process, and How Shafts and Grips are Faring

 Kissimmee, Fla., July 6, 2021 – Golf Datatech, LLC (www.golfdatatech.com), the golf industry’s leading independent market research firm for retail sales and consumer trends, today introduced the 8th Edition of its exclusive report on the Evolution of Custom Fitting Golf Equipment in the United States.

“Golf Datatech started analyzing this category well before it developed into what it is today,” said John Krzynowek, Partner at Golf Datatech. “We took our first look at custom fitting in 2001, before digital data or interchangeable shafts/heads were even invented. Now in its 8th Edition, the report is the only independent chronicle of how the business has evolved and provides thorough insights into golfers perceptions of the category as it continues to surge in the US.”

The Evolution of Custom Fitting Golf Equipment in the United States takes an in-depth look at every aspect of fitting, including insights into perceptions of fittings in drivers, fairways, hybrids, wedges, irons, putters, and golf balls, as well as attitudes about various shaft and grip options.  This 200+ page report analyzes responses from close to 1,500 total respondents, of which 72% have been fit for at some point during their golfing lives.

Adds Krzynowek, “Custom fitting has changed significantly through the years, advancing from static measurement of physical attributes, to dynamic fitting where swing path and motion played a part in selecting the best possible combination, to the current focus on data driven analysis which advances the ability to offer multiple options quickly and easily. Trained fitters can now see “the numbers” in real time and adjust specifications on the spot to best fit the golfer’s swing and skill set.”

Beyond analyzing those that have been fit, the report also suggests that golfers who have never been fit have what could best be described as an “inferiority complex”, and frequently believe they are “not good enough” to benefit. However, good fitters indicate that these are often the golfers who could gain the most by playing the proper equipment that was fit to address their swing characteristics.

For the first time, the 2021 report dives into individual national fitting operations and their impact, looking at share of fitting and customer satisfaction with the experience. Generally speaking, golfer satisfaction with the custom fitting remains at stratospheric levels, and some of the larger fitting operations are particularly good at meeting expectations and keeping customers happy.

“While the overwhelming focus of fitting remains in drivers and irons, the data shows opportunities for fitting do exist in fairways, hybrids, wedges, putters and golf balls,” said Krzynowek. “However, thus far no one has been able to unlock these categories and drive fitting to significantly higher levels.”

For more information on Golf Datatech’s Evolution of Custom Fitting Golf Equipment in the United States report, visit: https://www.golfdatatech.com/research-products/syndicated-consumer-research/examination-of-custom-fitting-for-golf-equipment-in-the-united-states-2/.

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About Golf Datatech, LLC

Golf Datatech, LLC (www.golfdatatech.com) was established in 1995, and since that time it has become the industry’s gold standard for accurate and timely information on retail sales, inventory, pricing, and distribution of golf products through the on and off course channels.  In 1998, the Company extended its reach into consumer research, strategic sales, and marketing consulting.  In 2006, the Company expanded its retail and consumer research programs into the United Kingdom and in 2008 added markets in Europe.  Golf Datatech now produces the first-ever digitally driven golf retail sales reports for the US, UK, Sweden, France and Germany.

Golf Datatech & Atenga Insights To Host First-Annual “Predictive Pricing & Demand” Webinar For Golf Industry Executives on Thursday, July 15th

“Invite-Only” Virtual Event to Inform Golf Companies on Critical Product Pricing to Heighten Awareness for Optimal Pricing Levels

Kissimmee, Fla., June 15, 2021 – Golf Datatech, LLC, the golf industry’s leading independent market research firm for retail sales, consumer, and trade trends, and Atenga Insights, a Stockholm, Sweden-based leader in global pricing research, will host the First-Annual “Predictive Pricing & Demand” Webinar for golf industry executives on Thursday, July 15th at 2:00 pm (ET).

A FREE event, the 45-miniute webinar will provide insights into how critical product pricing can eliminate the guess work and give golf companies the confidence that their products are optimally priced for maximum revenue and profitability.

Anyone interested in participating in the virtual event can contact Golf Datatech at 888-944-4116, or email Suzanne Cagle at scagle@golf-datatech.com, to obtain a webinar entry code.

The webinar, which will be hosted by Golf Datatech Partner John Krzynowek and Atenga CEO Robert Tinterov, will illustrate several real-world examples from the golf industry on the benefits of predicative pricing analysis, and the importance of companies to identify price walls, which are key price points that when breached cause a steep dollar volume drop. Price Walls can cause a corresponding stall in unit volume when products are significantly underpriced.

“We are holding this important event as part of the rollout of Predictive Demand Analysis (PDA) Platform, in order to give companies all possible revenue advantages heading into the fall of 2021, and the uncertainty of the post-pandemic golf market,” said John Krzynowek, Partner, Golf Datatech. “We think it’s highly beneficial for golf companies to get the best fix possible on their product pricing parameters heading into 2022.”

Krzynowek adds, “The recent sea change in pricing research, spearheaded by our partner Atenga Insights, means Golf Datatech can now provide a predictive pricing product that will allow golf companies of all sizes to reduce the guess work and have a high level of confidence that their products or services are optimally priced for maximum sales and profit. We will use the webinar to discuss the analysis in detail and why this new platform is so important to the golf industry.”

The new Predictive Pricing & Demand Platform, powered by Atenga Insights provides golf companies, in both the U.S. and Internationally, with leading edge, AI-powered, proven predictive pricing research that can be completed within a matter of weeks. Through this platform, golf companies of all sizes, both domestically and internationally, can eliminate the guess work and have confidence that their products are optimally priced for maximum revenue and profitability.

Predictive pricing research is an essential resource for golf companies in today’s highly competitive marketplace, especially with online sales having a significant impact on many product categories. In fact, it is reported that just a 3% increase in price can boost a company’s bottom line by 30% or more.

For more information on Golf Datatech and the Predictive Pricing & Demand Platform, powered by Atenga Insights, or to register for the webinar, call 888-944-4116 or email Suzanne Cagle at scagle@golf-datatech.com to obtain a webinar entry code.

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About Atenga Insights

Atenga Insights is a data driven, AI-powered, predictive pricing platform that is quickly disrupting the staid billion dollar pricing consulting industry.  By coupling its own proprietary approach with newly available real time research tools, that enable highly relevant and precise panels, Atenga Insights is able to guarantee accurate pricing guidance in six weeks or less and for as little as $25,000.  The approach has already been proven in close to one thousand different client situations resulting in hundreds of millions of dollars in incremental profit.

Sales of golf gear in Japan still account for well more than $2 billion annually…

Ripple Effect: How Hideki Matsuyama’s Masters win could revive golf’s popularity in Japan

With the last decade seeing flat revenues and declining play in Japan, Matsuyama’s triumph at Augusta is an opportunity to inject new life in a nation waiting for a golf moment like this for more than half a century.

www.golfdigest.com

https://www.golfdigest.com/story/hideki-matsuyama-masters-win-japan-golf-popularity-participation-equipment-sales?utm_medium=email&utm_source=041521&utm_campaign=newstours&uuid=cd09afde1a9940f589f2593eea6c403d

Understanding the Online Market for Golf Equipment

New for 2021 from Golf Datatech, gain insights into the ever-evolving world of Online purchases of golf equipment.

The Online Market for Golf Equipment continues to evolve in 2021, after accelerating during the pandemic of 2020. In the early months of the pandemic, retail stores (including green grass pro shops) in many, if not most, of the United States were closed to retail traffic. Eventually some opened up as cases dropped, then others closed as cases mounted again, then re-opened, leaving much of the Brick & Mortar US retail business in disarray.

Through this wild ride, online retail sales became the primary means for getting golf equipment, before traditional channels reopened. Though the increase in online sales rose, then fell back as stores opened, they have remained at higher levels than pre-pandemic. This is not only true for golf, but for all retail sales.  In fact, the percentage of total US retail sales happening online in 2021 is the level most experts believed the country would not reach until 2025, but spurred on by the pandemic and closures, the landscape quickly reformed.

Golf Datatech (GDT) is creating a two-part Online Tracking System to offer you clarity on this blurry retail window. We’re going to do this in two formats, one for the Consumer, one for Retail.

Online Tracker Consumer (OTC)

Golf Datatech’s Consumer OTC will use GDT’s exclusive Serious Golfer database to track the timely online shopping and purchasing habits for Balls, Clubs, Bags, Shoes, Gloves and Distance Devices.

This report conducted twice per year (April and October) will help define the online purchases for Serious Golfers in the past six months.  It will segment:

  • Equipment product categories purchased over the past six months
  • Brands purchased/Consumer Market Shares by this channel
  • New or pre-owned clubs
  • Whether products were personalized or customized
  • Online sites where purchases were made
  • Price paid for purchases made online

Online Tracker – Retail (OTR)

The Retail OTR will utilize GDT’s Monthly retail sales data to create an Online Retail Sales Index for: Balls, Woods, Irons, Wedges, Putters, Shoes, Bags, Gloves and Distance Devices. The index tracks sales dollars through online golf specialty stores and is indexed to January 2020.

Each month GDT will release to subscribers the OTR by product category, along with a monthly trend line starting with January 2020 (pre-covid). This will be strictly a Category Index, no individual companies will be listed. It will give you a timeline perspective on the overall online golf retail value by category.

Annual Subscription Cost

Online Tracker – Consumer:  $6,000/year for 2x Consumer Studies, minimum of 1,000 total respondents/wave

Online Tracker – Retail:  $6.000/year for 12x Indices across nine product categories (All Equipment Categories:  Balls, Gloves, Shoes, Bags, Woods, Irons, Wedges, Putters, Distance Devices)

Combined Consumer & Retail OTC Package:  $9,000