The golf equipment sector is booming.
Following this year’s COVID-19 lockdown, the game of golf has experienced a phenomenal resurgence in popularity and, as a result, golf equipment sales have gone through the roof.
According to Golf Datatech, the industry’s leading independent market research firm, equipment sales in the UK for July were the highest they’ve been since the company started tracking data in 1997.
To better understand how equipment manufacturers are having to adapt to new ways of working, the challenges COVID has posed and how they have been able to cope with soaring levels of demand, we spoke to David Silvers, Managing Director of TaylorMade Golf for the EMEA region.
In what key areas has TaylorMade had to adapt over the past few months?
Everything has had to change. Everybody’s job and how they do it has changed since March. That relates to the marketing of products, how people can work remotely and forecasting future sales. But the biggest area of change has been in our club assembly lines.
We had to figure out a way of ensuring we could build clubs in a safe manner for both our staff and customers.
Introducing safe-working practices resulted in us having to double the size of our warehouse and custom club building spaces. We also had to continue to meet demand from other countries, like Sweden, that never went into a lockdown. Thankfully, we were able to start shipping product again on April 20.
Just how have busy have things been post-lockdown?
Our custom facility is maxed out. July, August, and September will be the three biggest months in our company’s history for custom club assembly in Europe. We have built 60% more custom clubs in this period compared to the same period last year.
In April, which is typically one of our busiest months, we were about 95% down against our sales forecast. We’re now in the fortunate position that we have basically made up for the lost income that was a result of lockdown.
Our sales have been remarkable. Over the past few months, our figures are up by about two to three times depending on what product category you’re looking at. September 1 was our biggest day for immediate business this year and it’s showing no signs of slowing down.
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What products are attracting the most interest?
We have such a strong product line-up that we are seeing huge demand across the board.
With so many more rounds being played, our golf balls are flying off the shelves and our new TP5/TP5x Pix models are proving to be very popular.
The SIM metalwoods have been very strong performers, with the SIM Max driver being an absolute powerhouse alongside our P•790 irons. Our MG2 wedges and Spider X putter are also finding their way into a lot of golfers’ bags.
It’s going great across the board but we have unleashed a monster with the launch of our new P•770 irons.
It’s gone a bit nuts. We are now flying in components as opposed to shipping them just to try and make sure we’re able to meet the demand for them. It’s proving tough but this is a specialist product that is forged and then injected with SpeedFoam, so we can’t just turn a tap on and have them flowing though rapidly.
Did you have any notion that there would be such high demand post-lockdown?
I was pretty optimistic about how we would recover and we had the advantage of seeing waves of demand from different regions around the world that were exiting lockdown at an earlier stage than the UK and Europe. That being said, it was hard to totally believe the huge scale of demand my counterparts were telling me we would see.
Although there have been major economic impacts as a result of COVID, golf has undoubtedly come out stronger. Working from home, furlough, travel restrictions and several other factors have meant rounds played are through the roof and a lot of people have either started playing or come back to the game.
That increase in popularity, coupled with golf playing a bigger role in peoples’ lives, has meant that they are looking to invest and treat themselves to new equipment.
It was the speed at which golf got out of the blocks post lockdown that was the big bonus for us and that’s thanks in large part to the great work done by the game’s governing bodies and all those who have worked tirelessly to make golf relevant again.
I firmly believe that the way golf has responded to the crisis has secured its long-term future.
How can TaylorMade capitalise on this momentum?
One of the things we have invested a lot of money in is experiential days. We massively increased our staff of fitters and will continue to grow that next year, as we want to ensure that golfers can easily get fitted for our products.
If you are parting with a lot of money for new golf clubs then you deserve to get the product that is perfect for you and that will allow you to play better golf.
Is TaylorMade in a stronger position now than it was prior to March?
We have had to make a lot of changes to the way we work, with some difficult decisions made but, without a doubt, I’d say that we, along with the rest of the industry and the game as a whole, is in a better place now than it was prior to COVID-19.