In light of the cuts at TaylorMade-adidas Golf, don't blame it on the economy
Our economic woes didn’t start this fall; they just really came to light then. The same holds true for the golf industry, which has actually been in a recession for quite some time, at least relative compared to what it was 10 or 12 years ago.
So on the surface, when we learn that TaylorMade-adidas Golf is cutting 170 jobs right after it acquired troubled Ashworth for $28.1 million plus the assumption of $46.3 million of Ashworth’s debt, it’s easy to chalk it up to Wall Street. The truth is that golf equipment and apparel companies really never could live up to the false expectations set during the “Tiger Effect” of 1996-’98.
The golf business was so good back then that companies many of you have probably never heard of – or remember – were spending millions of dollars at the PGA Merchandise Show in Florida, promoting their brand. One year, Goldwin Golf (remember those guys?) had its own blimp hovering over Orlando, touting something I can’t remember. I’ll never forget the blimp, however, even though we couldn’t see it from inside the convention center.
I also remember TaylorMade doing a pretty nice job of schmoozing their accounts (and the media). TaylorMade (right before it was acquired by adidas) chartered about 10 buses to bring everybody out to Cape Canaveral. There were plenty of refreshments on the bus, and man, what a spread at the Kennedy Space Center when we got there. (The launch simulation was pretty really cool, especially after a few beers.)
Then-recent Masters champion Mark O’Meara was there, too, touting the latest generation of Burner Bubble clubs from TaylorMade, and that, combined with a few Heinekens, led to a lot of preorders that night.
Those were the good ole days, and they really didn’t last long. Just a couple years later, Titleist pulled out the PGA Show and others, like Ping, soon followed. They couldn’t see the point of spending millions to exhibit. But now even Titleist is back at the ‘09 PGA Show, albeit on a much smaller scale these days, after its near-decade absence. Everything really does come full circle, it seems.
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Clayton Garland, PGA, C.G.F.I.