The marriage of U.S. Open week and the Father’s Day weekend is always an important one for golf retailers, not to mention equipment, apparel and other golfer-focused companies.
Couple this crucial time of the year with the game’s surging popularity (particularly last year’s record for total rounds-played at U.S. courses) and it’s shaping up to be a strong midyear showing for many notable names in the game.
PGA Tour Superstore, golf’s biggest retailer with 53 locations, said this week will be the biggest, in terms of sales volume, in the company’s history.
Overall market share for PGA Tour Superstore is up more than 60% and sales volume is up more than 90% compared to the most recent pre-pandemic year (2019). And while all categories are trending ahead of last year, the apparel business has been particularly strong – fueled in part by the popularity of trends like prints and bright colors, shorter shorts, and the arrival of new novelty brands.
This year, PGA Tour Superstore has opened three more stores with an additional five still to come. Among them is a July opening in Rockville, Maryland, just down the road from the site of the upcoming KPMG Women’s PGA Championship at Congressional Country Club.
It’s little surprise TaylorMade CEO and President David Abeles calls golf’s peak season a “critical time of the year” for one of the game’s leading equipment manufacturers.
“The excitement surrounding major championship golf and the U.S. Open allows our game to shine bright on the biggest stage, and we make it a point lean into that excitement,” said Abeles. “As a father and a golfer, I know the gift of golf is an amazing thing to receive on dad’s special day.”
While clubs – like TaylorMade’s newest Stealth Carbonwood drivers and P-Series irons – are certainly popular, Abeles said the golf ball category is where the company is currently the most bullish and ambitious with its growth efforts, especially as it pushes the envelope on visual technology with products like the Tour Response Stripe. It probably makes sense that golf’s ultimate consumable — the ball — is typically the most popular Father’s Day gift of all when it comes to dads who play golf.
While golf’s big names are seeing continued strong demand, smaller equipment brands are experiencing eye-opening growth as well.
Take Stix Golf, which tripled revenue in its second year (2021) and is seeing similar momentum this year after closing a $10 million series of funding in May that provided for scaled-up inventory. The past two years have seen record engagement levels among beginners and returning players – almost 12 million in total in the U.S, according to the National Golf Foundation – and Stix has positioned itself to capture a share of these participants via its direct-to-consumer model and $999 price tag for a full set of 14 clubs, from driver to putter. Over one-third of Stix’s customers have played golf for less than two years, while a quarter of their customers play once a month or less.
No doubt many newer dads can relate to the challenge of trying to squeeze golf in around the demands of younger children and work.
“For golf to continue growing, younger and more casual golfers need to stay interested in golf. Our customers aren’t thinking about and playing golf 24/7, and don’t want to spend $2,000 on a set of clubs,” said Stix Chief Marketing Officer Aaron Ormond.
FootJoy, which currently has the highest market share models in both classic style (Premiere Series and Traditions) and athletic golf shoes (FJ Fuel), noted that this week is expected to be one of the biggest for its website, in terms of traffic volume, all year.
adidas, which sits No. 1 in golf apparel overall, said in the leadup to the U.S. Open and Father’s Day it saw 10% growth in its men’s apparel category compared to last month.
Just about halfway through the year — and in perhaps its most meaningful stretch — golf’s trajectory continues to show signs of positive momentum, particularly when it comes to golfer demand for new gear, and perhaps in turn, play. As the old maxim goes: look good, play good.