Gifts for Golfers Part II

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As in the previous installment, here a few gifts golfers (myself included) would like to see under the tree on Christmas morning. They have the distinction of meeting the criteria of, “If I like them so will lots of others.”

Shirts by Carl Spackler
Bill Murray’s portrayal of the spaced-out greenskeeper Carl Spackler in Caddyshack is classic and so is the apparel in his new line of William Murray Golf clothing. You won’t go wrong with one their polos styled in classic lines with modern, even a bit edgy, details. Murray, a lifelong Chicago Cubs fan, even came up with a pin stripe polo mimicking the World Series Champion’s uniform. Moisture wicking and wrinkle resistant, it sells for $75 at WilliamMurrayGolf.com.

Display Your Patriotismpatriot-victorystripe_150x330
Specially designed for the Birdies for the Brave and Navy Seals, the Patriot VS headcovers from Stitch Golf make a dashing statement as well as displaying your patriotism. Entirely made of leather in the U.S. they are water and stain resistant but best of all they really stay on the clubs, either carrying or carting. A set of three—driver, 3-wood and 5-wood—is $125 at StitchGolf.com.

kenrick_leather_belt_300x215Ditch the Clutter
Carrying a ball marker and divot repair tool is something we all do and are forever fishing in a pocket to find one or the other or both. A neat good looking solution is the belt from KenRick Golf that holds them at your fingertips at all times. The divot tool slips into the belt end and the marker is held by a magnet on the back. Lots of styles and colors available from $59 at KenRickGolf.com.

Play in the Coldae9305_zoom_f-200x345
Cooler weather tends to empty courses of players but golf can still be fun provided you are dressed for it properly. Take a look at the Climaheat Prime Quilted Zip Jacket ($150) from adidas. Filled with insulation made of hollow-core fibers that retain body heat yet dry quickly. The front and back panels are quilted, cuffs and bottom hem have elastic binding and the two front pockets are zippered. In a choice of three color combinations at adidasGolf.com.

Performance Socksmens-kw-pro-light-black-red-300x170
Kentwool socks for golf have to be worn to be believed. They are made here in the U.S. from wool blended with stretch nylon, Spandex and bamboo fabric and are long wearing. They are cool and wick perspiration away but best of all is they are comfortable. Period.  There’s a variety of lengths, colors and patterns but we especially like the basic Pro Light model which is priced at $20.95 per pair on Kenwool.com.

Gifts for Golfers Part I

There lots of gift guides for golfers but this year rather than the usual approach we thought it would be neat to show our list of items that the writer and a few of his friends that were consulted would like to have.

Our thought process was simple…heck, if we like them, other people will as well, so here is the first installment of gift ideas. Hopefully my family will read this and know just what’s on my wish list.

71tbxrjicwl-320x480Palmer’s Memories

A Life Well Played: My Stories by Arnold Palmer is 258 pages of anecdotes, stories and life insights by The King. Some you’ve heard before and some you haven’t but each is written in the straightforward honesty that characterized the man. Golfers and non-golfers have been enlistees in Arnie’s Army since the 1950s and this book is a fitting closure to a life well played. Online at Amazon and Barnes & Noble for $16.96 or in local book stores.

 

powerplane-_cmf_160727_300x145For Your Swing

One swing fault most of us struggle with at times is holding the head relatively steady so the swing can rotate around the proper axis. If you don’t know what that means or if from occasionally you slip into letting the head slip—move excessively from side to side–the PowerPlane can help. A bar laying on the ground senses head movement from a transmitter attached to your cap and signals whenever your head moves too much. More information and to buy go to powerplanegolf.net. The price is $189.

Comfortable Performance Shoes nbg1005bk-002-300x200

New Balance Golf Men’s Minimus NGB1005 are built like running shoes, are lightweight and have a waterproof upper. Support for the foot is great, comfortable and the last promotes staying on balance throughout the swing. Minimus weighs 8.6 oz. and there’s a choice of White/Blue, Grey/Green, Grey/Orange and Black for $119.95 at NewBalance.com.

hoofer_12_black_charcoal_red-copy-300x290Easy to Carry

The Ping Hoofer is at the top of the list for carry bags and makes a perfect gift. It weighs only five pounds including the bag stand but has more than enough pockets to stow away all your gear with a full length apparel pocket. There are even special slip in pockets for a range finder and water bottle plus a cart-strap channel if used on a buggy. Comes with a rain hood for $215. To purchase or find more information go to PingGolf.com.

PGA Show – Looking for Answers

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At this writing we are just over two months to the opening of the 2017 PGA Merchandise Show—in fact we are within 75 days. Open only to members of the golf industry it is the most important annual meeting in the business. Next year it runs from January 24th with a Demo Day held at the Orange County National Golf Center and ends on January 27th after three days of exhibits in Orlando’s Orange County Convention Center.

In particular those making and selling golf equipment will be looking for answers to the direction that part of the industry is taking.

Changes to the equipment OEMs and retailers have been coming at a rapid pace.

Dick’s Sporting Goods (NYSE:DKS) owner of Golf Galaxy has purchased bankrupt competitor Golfsmith and will leave just 30 of the Golfsmith locations open which clearly changes big-box retailing of equipment. At the same time aggressive competitors such as PGA Tour Superstore and Worldwide Golf Shops (owners of Roger Dunn Golf, Edwin Watts Golf, The Golf Mart, Golfers’ Warehouse, Van’s Golf and Unita Golf) are working hard to increase their share of the approximately $4.0 billion U.S. market.pga-merchandise-show-logo_2017

So one question is, how will the reduction in golf retail space with the closing of Golfsmith effect golf consumers, club OEM’s and the retailers themselves? Will the expansion in the number of locations by competitors compensate for Golfsmith’s loss and how will club pricing to golfers be affected?

Sales of clubs, balls, merchandise, greens fees, golf related travel and golf-front real estate values are all impacted by the number of golfers but with that number at best holding its own the business is not expanding.

Nike Golf’s exit from the club business has been projected to have minimal impact on the other OEMs but having said that Callaway Golf (NYSE:ELY) under CEO Chip Brewer has been very aggressive and is introducing attractive new products for the 2017 season. They reported a 6.9 percent increase in sales for the third quarter this year and project a substantial increase in earnings for the full year.

The other publically traded OEM Acushnet (NYSE:GOLF), makers of the best-selling Titleist golf balls, has just had its initial public offering of stock and said sales increased slightly (under 3 percent) in the quarter ending June 30 accompanied by increased profit. Acushnet also has a new line of drivers and fairway woods that are receiving good reviews.

The second largest OEM, after Acushnet, TaylorMade Golf is up for sale and has been for the past six months, evidentially with no takers. Owner adidas (OTC:ADDYY) said TMaG sales have been higher and for the first nine months of 2016 club and ball sales showed “double-digit increases” sales with higher profitability.

Other manufacturers such as Tour Edge Golf, Cobra Puma Golf and Srixon are also pressing to gain market share, albeit in a stagnant market, which means any increased sales will have to be at the expensive of another company rather than from market growth.

So the question is what will the future bring and the answer could be coming at the PGA Show. Not only will all of the new clubs and balls be available for evaluation but as significantly, industry insiders may be able to forecast which direction the market is moving. Millions of dollars ride on the decisions made.