golf industry

Retail golf businesses tee up for the green

By Rieva Lesonsky

If you know anything about golf (admittedly, I know very little), it’s not news that last year Tiger Woods made a major comeback after several years missing in action due to injuries. (I only know this because my significant other is a big Tiger fan.)

Tiger wasn’t the only one suffering during his absence. The U.S. golf retail business was in rough shape as well. But, according to The NPD Group, the golf industry is recovering nicely. Golf sales in the mass/sporting goods retail space generated $2.6 billion and grew by 8% in the 12 months ending in November 2018.

The industry’s troubles were “fueled by Golfsmith’s bankruptcy, major brands cutting back on their golf business, and courses closing,” says Matt Powell, vice president and senior industry advisor, Sports, The NPD Group. “But today, we’re starting to see normalization in the market as those deep holes are now being filled. Major sports retailers are now investing in golf to pick up some of the business, and brands are also placing emphasis on the category to spur innovation.”

NPD Group reports all golf products had a good year, including sales of golf clubs and golf gloves (each up 7%), golf balls (up 6%), golf accessories (up 21%), and golf training aids (up 13%).

If you sell (or want to sell) golf merchandise, Callaway Golf, Titleist, Wilson, Taylormade and Ping were the top five brands in 2018, NPD Group says.

And 2019 looks rosy as well: Powell says he expects “the golf business will be much better for the near term,” partly driven by retiring baby boomers flocking to golf courses.

Golf stock photo by Mikael Damkier/Shutterstock