RIGHT THEN GOLF LOVERS what do the letters MOI stand for? No, neither did your Blogger. It stands for Moment of Inertia and is what excites golf club designers the world over, for the higher the MOI the greater stability and more forgiving a golf club is as there is less twist on impact. So now you know.
And what has this got to do with me you correctly ask? Well, golf club manufacturers have been having a pretty tough time of it; Adidas has cut 15% of its workforce and closed its Adams golf headquarters in Texas and consolidated its workforce at its TaylorMade head office in California. The majority of the Adams workforce has been laid off.
TaylorMade has seen a 34% drop in sales during the first quarter of this year whilst shares in Callaway, also based in California dropped by 9% in May. The company last reported an annual profit in 2008, which prompted its CEO to say, ‘We anticipate a heavy promotional environment while the industry works through excess inventory.’ In plain English this means, ‘We have a huge backlog of old stock that we can’t shift.’
Sinking popularity in golf amongst the young in the USA, with 200,000 players under the age of 35 abandoning the game last year, also means that sales in clubs, balls and golf clothing are being hit across the board.
Bloomberg News recently quoted Gerald Celente, publisher of Trends Journal in New York, as saying, ‘Everybody’s hooked up to their handhelds, so it’s social networking instead of sports. The motivation for wannabe executives to spend hours chasing small balls no longer exists.’
Facing a downturn in the market in both the USA and Europe it is interesting to see how the golf equipment giants have reacted. Strangely they seem to be flooding the market with ever more stock.
Callaway, over the last three years, has produced the following in drivers alone: in 2012 we could buy the RAZR, which was followed the following year by the X-Hot range, followed hot foot by a re-launch of the Big Bertha, the company’s original driver although this time modified into two models including the more highly priced Big Bertha Alpha.
Golfers have no sooner got used to those when, to another grand fanfare of techno-speak advertising, we have the new Big Bertha V series, with V standing, incidentally, for velocity. And, whilst boggling over how many new drivers we either need or can afford, just think of the poor golf professionals who buy the latest kit to sell to their members, and who are lumbered with out of date stock, worth less on the open market than the trade price they paid, each time a new all-singing product appears on the rack.
Callaway is not an exception in all this, as TaylorMade, Nike and Ping have all launched new clubs, but it does beggar belief how the marketing teams can be convinced that simply sending out a few more spurious adjectives will impress potential customers who have faced several years of recession and are being offered clubs that are not significantly different to last year’s range.
Indeed, Callaway, clearly became so desperate for something new to say in amongst the usual litany of buzz-words such as longer, distance, precision, accuracy, speed, stability, less spin, more spin and control that it was forced to make one up.
‘Ridonkulong’ was the word coined to describe the X2 Hot ‘hyper-speed, forged face’ rescue clubs that had replaced the ‘outrageous ball speed explosive distance’ of the X Hot rescue clubs. So not only are manufacturers running out of customers they are also running out of words.
STOP PRESS: For those golfers already wearying of their brand new Callaway V series driver the company will thoughtfully be marketing a new edition of the Big Bertha Alpha which will be coming on line in the next few weeks.