Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Supply side economics favor the golfer

     In a recent presentation at the PGA Merchandise Show, Jim Koppenhaver of Pellucid Corp. gave his analysis of the golf business. Each year his presentations are sold out because so many in the golf industry value his opinions.

    There is a wealth of data which he bases his findings on, but the message his simple and to the point: There continues to be too many golf courses and not enough golfers to fill them. According to Koppenhaver there were 518 million rounds played in 2000 compared to 451 million rounds played in 2014. That is a 13 percent decrease. The total number of golfers is currently around 23 million compared to nearly 30 million in 2000. That is a 24 percent decrease.

    On the supply side the number of courses has dropped each year since 2006. Since 2011 an average of 137 courses have closed each year. That number may sound considerable, but Koppenhaver says another 700 courses need to close to reach a state of equilibrium on the supply/demand graph.

    This is bad news for the supply side: course owners and operators continue to struggle to capture a piece of the declining playing population. However, this is good news for the demand side: golfers looking for a good deal. Golf rates probably haven't been this low since the 1990's at public and semi-private courses. Many private clubs have waived initiation fees in order to attract new members.

      These low rates should continue for at least the next five years until the gap between the number of courses and players to fill them closes. If you are a golf enthusiast I would say now is the time to take advantage of the low rates and great deals. Or as Old Tom Morrison says. "Go Play!"

Monday, February 16, 2015

Beware of counterfeit clubs

  The import of counterfeit golf equipment, generally from China, has become a huge business. U.S. Customs and Border Protection says it has seized over half a million dollars’ worth of illegal clubs so far this year – that does not include the items they did not catch.

      In a press release the U.S. Customs Department said, “Seizures of counterfeit golf clubs has increased by 37 percent from 2012 to 2014.” Many counterfeit clubs look very similar to the real thing but that is only on the surface. They don’t perform at all and generally break or crack because of the inferior materials and craftsmanship.

       People buying clubs online are at a disadvantage. As an authorized retailer I can compare a club with others to help determine whether it’s the real thing. At Golf Rx during the past five years I have had dozens of counterfeit drivers and iron sets brought in. The customers said the clubs were not performing as they thought they should. After carefully inspecting the clubs, or sometimes checking the serial numbers I had to give them the unfortunate news that they had been scammed.      

Here are some steps I recommend to avoid being scammed and losing hundreds of dollars.

1.     Purchase from authorized retailers and dealers. You can visit a brands website for a list of authorized dealers.

2.      Be wary of any internet retailer that offers what is claimed to be a “new” product that is exceptionally lower than the normal retail price for that product. If it is too good to be true it generally is.

3.      Be wary of internet sites that fail to provide reasonable contact information, or that ship product from a faraway location.

4.      Carefully research the money-back policies, and return policies if not satisfied with the product.
5.      Request references. Any legitimate retailer will be happy to oblige.

6.      Counterfeiters often use the trick of displaying a photo of a genuine product on their website, but ship buyers something entirely different. The only way to avoid these traps is to buy from an authorized retailer.

7.      If you purchased what you later determine to be a counterfeit product make sure to report the seller to the appropriate authorities.