Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Podcast #25: China's Elite Golfers, Trump Wins, Tiny Tiger, Ping in Hot Water, Pasture Golf and Missing Fish Found

CLICK HERE to listen.

In Episode #25 of Golf Gear News, host Bruce Stasch reports at The Newstand that Chinese University is training socially elite golfers, a Fake Michael Jackson crashes a charity event, Trump finally wins at golf and Tiny Tiger is only six years old.

She Golfs Too talks about the promotion of Kelly Tilghman to play-by-play for PGA events and Ping finds itself in hot water with military discounts in our Component Corner.

We travel to the Delhi Golf Club in Golf Around the World and find that two men are beaten with golf clubs and a police chief steals a golf cart windshield (huh?).

Play some Pasture Golf in Golf of the Weird as well as learn about the missing fish found on a local course.

As always, our show is sponsored by

Check out our new Media Kit.

Okay we promise, we'll have an interview with Duffer McDoughall Johansen (if we can find him sober).

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Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Ping Finds Itself in Hot Water over Military Rebates

In late September, Karsten Manufacturing, maker of Ping golf clubs, has gotten itself into some hot water by forbidding retailers from offering a discount to active-duty and reserve members of the military.

The controversy exploded when Ping terminated its relationship with Bonaventure Discount Golf and Gordon Lakes Golf Course, both located in the Atlanta area, for selling Ping clubs at a 10% discount to military personnel.

Ping, well known for protecting the retail price of their premium golf products, had cut off these two golf retailers as well as another 60-plus military golf courses, for selling at a discount. Based on Ping’s actions, their pricing policy is sacred and a retailer that violates this policy, can, and often is, barred from selling Ping products.

Well, it appears that Ping had a mea culpa. On October 3rd, they relented and offered up their own, albeit lame, discount to military personnel. Ping would offer a mail-in rebate of $80 on a set of irons (retail price $749-1099) to these customers. Instead of getting the discount in-store, the military personnel customer will have to mail it in and wait 3-6 weeks for a check.

In a partial defense, according to Ping Chairman & CEO John Solheim, “For the last year, we’ve been looking for additional ways to support the troops,” Mr. Solheim said in a prepared statement. “On three occasions we’ve sent hundreds of free clubs for the troops to enjoy during their limited leisure time, but we wanted to provide them additional benefits.”

My take is that Ping got caught in a brewing PR fiasco that had to be quieted as soon as possible. Ping has had little interest in reducing their lofty pricing, but felt it was better to appease the media jackals than tell their retailers that they were wrong.

However, those retailers and military golf course pro shops that offered an unauthorized discount and had their accounts closed will not have them re-opened at this time according to a Ping spokesperson.

Wouldn’t it have been better for Ping just to say “We apologize and are sorry?”

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Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Podcast #24: Dream Endorser, Real Ryder Cup Loser, 2nd Swing Liquidates, World’s Dumbest Golf Product, Golf Bag Habitrail and the Golf Boy

CLICK HERE to listen.

In Episode #24 of Golf Gear News, host Bruce Stasch reports at The Newstand about Tiger Woods: Dream Endorser, Senate Awards Nelson a Medal, Bettor Loses Big on Ryder Cup, and 2nd Swing to Liquidate.

Perfect Fit looks at Moveable Weight Putters and The Guru Commentary rants about how the Mitchell Golf Program is Found Lacking.

In She Golfs Too we learn about the Top 10 Golf Injuries and the Component Corner announces the GolfWorld Top 100 Shop Contest and a Dumbest Golf Product Contender.

In Golf Around the World we travel to Egypt & Turkey and Golf of the Weird we hear about the Hamster Adventure.

To close out the show's Website Spotlight we play a song from The Golf Boy.

As always, our show is sponsored by

Check out our new Media Kit.

Next time don't miss the interview with Duffer McDoughall Johansen.

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Dynacraft Will No Longer Exist

Yesterday I was ordering golf components from Hireko Golf and found out that Dynacraft, the equipment company based in Ohio that Hireko purchased last year, is disappearing in the same way as the Passenger Pigeon or the Dodo: its becoming extinct.

According to an Ohio-based customer service person that took my order, "...Hireko is no longer shipping orders from its Ohio location. Now, all orders will be coming out of California." I asked if that meant they were closing the facility and the employee said that "...yes, as I understand it, only the tech support people will still be here."

Although the Dynacraft brand will still exist, it appears that the company that used to be Dyanacraft is history. If Hireko is closing the Ohio facility, then basically what they purchased was the customer list, the brand name and inventory.

It's a harsh reality in the golf equipment industry with the recent demise of Royal Precision shafts (bought by True Temper), 2nd Swing Golf (currently being liquidated) and the end of Dyanacraft as an independent company.

It is my guess that this is only the beginning of a downward trend for equipment manufacturers and retailers.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Mitchell Golf Equipment’s New Program Found Lacking

On October 1, 2006, Mitchell Golf Equipment Company, the clubbuilding industry's largest supplier of club building equipment, announced their Mitchell Partners Program. The company predicts that this will become the largest network of clubbuilders in the country. Although well-intentioned, this appears to me to be just a thinly veiled attempt to extract money from clubbuilders.

According to the terms of the program, if a clubbuilder pays $500 to sign up, he/she will receive a couple of window decals, a wall plaque and an in-store banner. Oh, and don't forget the 10% discount on Mitchell equipment (training classes excluded).

Oh the surface this might sound nice, but you already have to have made an investment in at least two Mitchell machines to bend irons & putters as well as a shaft frequency analysis machine.

If I were a clubbuilder, I can't figure out why I'd want to do this. I can go to Golfsmith's Golf Clubmakers of America (GCA), the Professional Clubbuilders' Society (PCS) or even to Mitchell Golf School and get training in clubbuilding. I don't think it takes a rocket scientist to figure out how to use a Mitchell piece of equipment. So what's in it for the clubbuilder?

I'm guessing that Mitchell is hoping to persuade a few hundred independent shops to pony up $500 (that's $100K with just 200 participants) to get a few signs, a couple of decals and permission to use the Mitchell logo. This isn't going to help a clubbuilder struggling to attract business. A customer doesn't care if their clubs are bent with a Mitchell shaft bender or in a simple vice. What they do care about the skill of the clubbuilder.

A better use of this $500 investment would be to help the independent shop with some new innovative ideas instead of just trying to get more of their money. Maybe Mitchell should consider offering some Marketing 101 or Customer Service 101 training. Perhaps a tutorial to help shops take advantage of new technology like the Internet, blogs or video podcasts. Even offering a class called "E-Mailing Golfers for Fun & Profit" would be more useful than a 10% equipment discount on stuff clubbuilders are already buying.

I fear that with the announcement of 2nd Swing's liquidation, True Temper's weak sales, Hireko's acquisition of Dynacraft and the endless malaise in the golf equipment industry, this program isn’t going to bring anything new to the table.