Dick’s Sporting Goods has fired some 500 PGA Professionals, citing slow sales on golf products in their stores.
Hunting sales were similarly down, but there’s no word on whether they laid off 500 good ol’ boys.
There are a couple of interesting lines in the ESPN article:
the economy, the downturn in participation, the decline of Tiger Woods and too many products flooding the market cut into Dick’s bottom line so much that the company seems to be giving up on winning the golf equipment business.
Forget the economy, the downturn and Tiger, though. It’s likely really about the flood of products. That turns up later in the article:
As TaylorMade’s largest retailer, Dick’s was hit hard after it bought all four models of the driver TaylorMade released last year. The glut of merchandise forced Dick’s to sell at under the suggested retail price.
“We are selling drivers in our stores this spring for $99 that were approximately $299 20 months ago,” Dick’s CEO Ed Stack said after announcing earnings on May 20.
The whole story is being sold as more evidence of an existential “crisis” in golf. I think, however, that it is a crisis only for manufacturers and retailers who need to produce ever improving sales numbers to please stockholders.
Suppose that TaylorMade were to declare bankruptcy tomorrow. Would that prevent people from playing the game? Would it prevent weekenders from continuing to play with the clubs they already own? Would anyone miss the four-times-a-year product “upgrades?”
I played golf yesterday with a friend who wielded Ping Zing irons from 1991. Yes. That’s the last time be bought clubs. He plays local courses that cost a buck a hole. And in that, he is simultaneously the golf manufacturer and retailer’s problem and the game’s salvation. He doesn’t need or want the latest, or a high end course to enjoy the game.