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.
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.
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.