As I wrote about here, the macro environment for golf is pretty unpleasant. Courses are closing, brands are shuttering, retailers are going out of business, and young people are not adopting the game. These are all indications of a sport in decline.
With the recent release of The NPD Group’s tracking service for team sports equipment, we can see further evidence of this deterioration. Golf equipment sales for the full year of 2016 were down in the low single-digits. Club sales, an indicator of new players adopting the game, were down in the high single-digits. Golf balls, an indicator of rounds played, declined in the low single-digits. One bright spot was growth in the accessories and grips category.
It has been a mixed bag for the major equipment brands. Callaway equipment sales for 2016 grew in the mid-teens, while Taylor Made experienced a decline, as did Nike, which previously announced its intention to exit the golf equipment business. Cobra Puma Golf experienced a low-teens increase for the year. Wilson and Titleist sales declined, while FootJoy had a low single-digit increase. Nike Golf shoe sales grew in the low single-digits for the year, with Skechers sales tripling. Nike and Adidas golf shoes both grew as well, while FootJoy had a decline.
Golf apparel saw a low-teens increase for the year, driven by knit shirts. Knit shirts were paced by big increases from Greg Norman and Under Armour.
For 2017 to date, sales of golf equipment are down more than 20 percent, with club sales particularly soft. Golf shoe sales grew in the high teens, while apparel declined about 25 percent.
With sales struggling, the golf business is now a market share game. Brands and retailers can win, but they will do so only by taking share from others.
Source: The NPD Group, Inc. / Retail Tracking Service