WHILE the Covid-19 pandemic has brought untold suffering across the length and breadth of the globe there are some sectors that have actually grown in its midst.
At the time of writing, the World Health Organisation reported nearly two million deaths and more than 85million infections.
But despite the toll it has taken, the pandemic has somehow gotten more players out on to golf courses, almost everywhere the sport is played.
Much of this has to do with golf, by nature, being played over large areas with social distancing hardly an issue.
It is also a sport unlike many others that survived the chop when it came to suspensions because of Covid-19. With this, there have been reports of a steady increase in the number of new players coming into the game – those who might have retired or just given up golf, returning because of its appeal.
Add to that, golfers seeing the sport as the only (in many cases) way to get out of the house, the number of rounds played has also shot up.
Because of this, so too has there been an upward trend in golf’s retail sector since the sport was reopened after the initial lockdown.
In the United States, golf’s biggest market, there were reports of retail equipment sales breaking records last year.
In other parts of the world, likewise, retail equipment sales had positive results posted, including here in Malaysia.
In October, golfdigest.com reported that retail golf equipment sales (in the US) went past the US$1bil mark, making it the second-highest quarter in history. In the second quarter of 2008 it tipped the scales at US$1.013bil.
This information was garnered from Golf Datatech, the golf industry’s leading independent market research firm for retail sales, consumer and trade trends.
Using Golf Datatech numbers, thegolfwire.com reported in July 2020 that “US golf equipment sales reached the all-time greatest
single month retail sales total since the Company started tracking data in 1997.
“July’s total on and off course equipment sales of US$388.6mil bested the next two all-time highest sales months ever (June 2007 of US$368.1mil and June 2006 of $364mil)”.
It added that “four equipment categories – balls, irons, wedges and gloves also set all-time monthly sales records”.
Golf Datatech partner John Krzynowek was quoted as saying: “Golf is surging through the
Covid-19 pandemic, as it is a perfect outdoor social distancing recreational activity and the retail results confirm what a lot of retailers and PGA professionals have been feeling.”
Locally, similar sentiments were expressed when TeeUp sought comment from some of the leading retailers and golf equipment manufacturing companies.
Mark Teoh of RGT Golf said: “Since the lifting of the MCO (the initial movement control order) for golf, there are a lot of new players who have come into the game.
“The ban on international travel and a lack of other avenues
for entertainment also contribute to this.”
Looking ahead to what might be in store for 2021, Teoh added: “We are hoping it will be just as bright.
The golf courses and driving ranges have definitely seen a rise in numbers of new and former golfers, and that leads to higher retail sales.”
Some other stakeholders in the retail sector also shared their views with TeeUp:
Director, Transview Golf
We expected a slow start (after reopening) given the uncertainty of the pandemic and the confidence of the people. However, after the first few weeks we became encouraged by the sales at our outlets and we have not looked back since.
While we felt there was still some skepticism in the market, we took the opportunity to venture further into our online business by taking our products to those who wish to purchase from the comfort of their homes, in particular via our FB (Face Book) Live sessions.
Since the start-up of this in May, the response has been tremendously overwhelming and we can’t thank all our customers enough for their support.
We couldn’t have asked for a better 2020, not with this pandemic upon us.
As for 2021, we foresee golf businesses picking up further, as long as the golf courses remain open for play.
Chief Executive, MST Golf
It is fortunate golf is one of the activities that fit into the new norm and golf retail industry is one of the few trades that is not adversely affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.
In fact, it has driven more people to play golf, including new golfers coming into the game in good numbers. The pandemic certainly makes the running of a business more challenging – with the SOPs to keep our staff and customers safe.
The Coronavirus will not go away so soon and we will need to live in this new norm way into 2021. We believe the golf industry will continue to do well over the next couple of years, especially with the new breed of golfers and consumers.
It presents a window of opportunity for us to push ahead with our plans for growth in 2021, domestically as well as regionally.
We expanded our flagship store in Singapore’s Suntec City by 50% (area) with an elevated retail concept two weeks ago and will also open an Orchid Country Club pro shop (Singapore) this month. Progressively we will open new outlets and enhance existing stores for new brand distributorships.
Head of Golf, South-East Asia, Cobra Puma Golf
We were pleasantly surprised with the positive turn round from June/July after the ease of the lockdown restrictions. The increase in rounds of golf played from the pent up demand and new golfers (women and youth) picking up the game saw golf thrive amidst the pandemic – it is a safe, social distancing sport.
We faced immense challenges in 2020 but pushed through the chaos and uncertainty and ended the year well. And now, in 2021 I think we will see more opportunities for the golf industry to grow. More people – first-timers, younger players, lapsed (former) golfers are playing more often now and the sport should experience a boost after years of stagnation.
Also, retail sales for apparel, footwear, accessories and equipment should benefit from the increase in the new segment of golfers.
In 2020, we launched the popular RS-G and PWRADAPT footwear lines, introduced the CloudSpun technology, added a few Speedzone products and created a buzz around the
first-ever fully 3D printed golf club in our SuperSport-35 putter. Overall we are positive and optimistic about 2021 and look forward to the release of the new Cobra Radspeed family, Puma Fasten8 footwear and MATTR technology, and our Puma Tracks Collections.