Michigan Golf Show 2016 — Warning Signs of Disaster

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Deeply discounted clubs at The Michigan Golf Show

This past weekend I made my annual trip to the Michigan Golf Show in Novi, Michigan.

A better name for the event may be “The Michigan Golf Overstock and Travel Show.” Although I have never been to the famous PGA Merchandise Show in Orlando, I imagine that the Michigan Golf show is its polar opposite. Whereas the PGA Show showcases the latest and greatest, the Michigan show sports bins of the overproduced and unwanted.

Floorspace that was not occupied by overstock clubs, balls and apparel was largely consumed by golf facilities from around the country doing their best to attract players — and especially travel groups — for the upcoming season. Nearly all of these offered a chance at a free round of golf, or a free trip in exchange for your name and email address.

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Racks of overstock golf apparel at the Michigan Golf Show

A very small number of booths were selling unique golf products, such as Tee Bagz, Golf Dotz, Martini Tees, Birdie Balls, Musty Putters, Royal Golf Tees, and a handful of game improvement gadgets. There also were several places offering software services, such as Golf League Management, tee time reservation websites and course management systems such as food ordering apps.

The remainder were selling unrelated products such as chiropractic services, food products (especially fudge, nuts and meat sticks), home improvement,  cheap sunglasses, magic magnetic bracelets and the like. The same people show up at the boat shows, home improvement shows, gun and knife shows, motorcycle shows, carnivals and county fairs.  They make their living as hucksters.

While I enjoyed wandering up and down the aisles (I walked a total of about four miles according to my Microsoft Band), I found the entire scene a bit disturbing. The vast piles of overstock gear indicate to me that golf manufacturers are producing far more product than the market can absorb. The show’s fifty bins of last year’s drivers speak to a serious problem in golf manufacturers’ business model.

Bins of overstock golf drivers.
Bins of overstock golf drivers.

I cannot for the life of me fathom how the manufacturers can continue to produce so much material that must be sold at the end of each season for pennies on the dollar. The multiple releases each season must produce short-term revenue boosts that please investors, but it has to be a sign of impending long-term doom. Wouldn’t it make much more sense for a company to slightly underproduce, create demand for its products and grow anticipation for the next release. After a few cycles of underproduction, avid golfers would be more willing to queue up for the new releases to ensure they get the items the want. As it is now, savvy golfers know that all you have to do is to wait six months and you’ll be able to get the last cycle’s clubs at deep discount.


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3 thoughts on “Michigan Golf Show 2016 — Warning Signs of Disaster”

  1. I too was underwhelmed by the Golf Show. While I have long considered the show to be the kick off of each new season, I am re-thinking my annual trek to Novi. Maybe it is just the mild winter talking.

  2. We have a similar, but probably smaller show here. Basically the golf shops dump all their old junk for pennies on the dollar. This is a great quote: “The vast piles of overstock gear indicate to me that golf manufacturers are producing far more product than the market can absorb.”
    True. You might notice a few brands are more popular in those bargain bins than others, my guess would be TaylorMade and Callaway with a few other smaller brands. Companies like Titleist and Mizuno don’t have that massive product release cycle. Most of the time those companies release new clubs on a two-year pattern and guess what? Those clubs retain their value more. Oh, they also are GOOD clubs, which helps.

  3. TaylorMade, Callaway, Cleveland, Nike and Cobra clubs were in abundance. Quite a few Mizuno irons, but the game improvement ones. I don’t recall seeing very many Titleist. If I had, I might have picked up a set. I’ve never had the opportunity to play TItleist clubs and have long been curious.


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