I regripped a couple of clubs today and in doing so used up the last of my Golfsmith grip solution. It is sort of the end of an era.
Golfsmith went out of business in 2016 and its assets were acquired by Dicks Sporting Goods for $69 million. The company began as a mail order business in the home of Carl Paul in 1967, and over the years expanded to incorporate 100 stores in 20 states.
For many years, I happily tinkered in my basement workshop during the winter months, building and repairing clubs built with components from Golfsmith and other companies such as Maltby Golf and Dynacraft. It was a heady time, with new designs and the latest technology coming out on a yearly basis. I could build a set of clubs with the latest tech for a fraction of what they would have cost from a name brand manufacturer. Golfsmith and the others were what tech companies call “smart followers,” letting others do the R&D and then creating original designs based on their results.
There came a time, though, when I found I could get last year’s clubs from name brand companies for less than I could make a new set from components. TaylorMade’s (and others’) overproduction and cheap Chinese manufacturing conspired to drive the secondary market to bargain basement prices. When a manufacturer is releasing new models every six (or fewer) months, they make home building clubs economically insensible. The rapid turnover in name brand clubs also meant that the discounted previous model would only be incrementally less capable than the newest version.
I occasionally think that I want to experiment with graphite shafts in my irons and even entertain the idea of swapping out the shafts on a set I already have. But then I look at the prices for new graphite shafts, factor in my time and reject the idea. I can probably find a cheaper set that is at worse two years old.
The end of an era. RIP Golfsmith.