Thursday, March 29, 2007

What is 2nd Swing Up to Now!!!

Like the Phoenix rising from the ashes, 2nd Swing is back in business. According to a feature story in my local paper Star Tribune, the new 2nd Swing has got one store open in Minneapolis and a second is slated to open in Minnetonka on April 2nd.

Before the internet, eBay and sites like, 2nd Swing had a lock on the used golf equipment market. But it didn’t last long. To keep ahead, 2nd Swing added new equipment to it offerings and expanded like mad until it had opened more than 50 stores. As quickly as it grew, it also added debt at an alarming rate. By the summer of 2006, the chain was gone. A victim of overzealous expansion and $10 million in debt.

According to the article, founder Simon Kallal is back in the saddle again as well as much of his original management "Kallal and a group of five other investors stepped in earlier this year and bought 2nd Swing's intellectual rights for $50,000. The purchase gave them the right to use 2nd Swing's name, logo, website, software and customer database consisting of more than 250,000 names."

As well as wash its hands of any misdeeds, missteps or screw ups by previous management.

I wrote a posting in early September that the company had been liquidated and 17,700 customers with credit balances got screwed. Well, things haven’t changed. If you check the website, they already have a disclaimer that says "If you are seeking information regarding the old 2nd Swing, including credit or gift card balance redemption, please seek claims through the bankruptcy court. All balances were handled through the closing of the company. Zero balances were transferred to the new 2nd Swing."

Let’s do some math. If we make the assumption that the average credit balance was only $50, then 2nd Swing was able to dump $885,000 worth of credits for only $50K ($50/customer X 17,700/customers = $885,000).

Meaning, tough luck Mr. Former Customer.

Although they have modest goals this time around, I don’t believe that the new 2nd Swing has any more chance of being successful as did the old one. The company is going back into the used golf equipment market when the market stinks. Real growth in golf equipment hasn’t occurred for six years and doesn’t look to do so very soon.

One of the chain’s former rivals, Golf Galaxy, was quoted in the Star Tribune article as saying "the pie isn't any bigger than it was a year ago," said Randy Zanatta, chief executive of Golf Galaxy. "It's all a market-share game, now. It's about how big of a slice you can get." Now owned by Dick’s Sporting Goods, in 2003 Golf Galaxy sold almost no used clubs. Now they represent 7 to 8 percent of the chain's overall business.

In addition, the threat of used equipment showing up on eBay and all over the Internet is very real. One online retailer I spoke with said that he buys directly from Titleist, TaylorMade and others and sees new equipment show up on eBay at retail for less than he pays for it at wholesale. Also, online websites like those operated by Callaway and others sell used or refurbished equipment, thereby competing with companies like 2nd Swing. When they first opened in 1996, none of these competitive factors existed. Today, all of them combine to make this a much different market than before.

For a paltry $50K, 2nd Swing gets to rise again and hopefully, not get themselves into the same mess as before. I remain a big skeptic.

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Friday, March 23, 2007

Minnesota Golfers Come Out of Hibernation, Squint Into the Sun and See….

...a new golf season.

Each year, Minnesota golfers, looking like speared white whales, waddle onto the first tee, take a few practice swings, and launch our best drives of the year….or maybe not.

If you like dodging snow patches, last year’s goose droppings, singed brown greens and dead grass fairways then Minnesota golf in March will be your cup of tee.

It’s March 23rd and snow is still on the ground, but Minnesota golf courses are starting to open. I know that folks in Florida, Texas or Arizona are reading this with a blank stare, but you have to understand how golfers in Minnesota suffer. We are forced to put our clubs on a shelf from around Thanksgiving until Easter.

While we wait out the winter season, we only get to dream of the warm summer days when we played 36 holes late into the evening or the 5 AM tee time when we were the only ones on the course. Our pain continues when we are forced to watch Tiger, Phil and VJ play wonderful courses in golf paradises like Hawaii, California and Florida, while the only club we get to play with is our shovel.

When we finally get our chance, we expect that we’re going to shoot our best round of the year right off the bat. Remember that 79? Well, we should be just as good today as we were last October. Our skills can’t have atrophied over the last five months because of all the perfect shots we dreamt about. Why hit the driving range or the simulator and work on our skills? What a waste of time. All we need to do is remember what we did in late August.

Minnesotans only have seven months to play the game we love while much of the rest of the golfing world can spend most of the year wearing short sleeves and playing the newest driver hot off the store shelf the day it comes out. Even if we get a new Callaway FT-i Driver for Christmas, we can only look at it, in all its $499 glory, and dream how it is going to feel when we smack that first drive on #1. Is there no wonder why we have one of the highest numbers of golf courses per capita?

We don’t have the luxury to wait two weeks to get on our favorite course in Minnesota. If we do, our season could be over.

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Monday, March 19, 2007

Golf Gear News #33: Golfer in Car Chase, Nike Recalls Drivers, the Golf Ball Launcher and Tricking Out Your Golf Cart

CLICK HERE to listen.

In Episode #33 of Golf Gear News, host Bruce Stasch reports at The Newstand that a PGA Player was in a High Speed Car Race, a Japanese Company that Reprimands Golfers and Nike Issues a Recall of Sumo Drivers.

The Guru Commentary uncovers An Equipment Spy that Finds Nike's Sumo2 Driver Illegal.

The Perfect Fit finds some odd Ralph Maltby Equipment Ideas and She Golfs Too learns about Colin Montgomery's New Charity.

Our Component Corner takes a look at the Golf Ball Launcher as well as listens to the Sounds of Today's Top 3 Selling Drivers.

In Can't We All Get Along Boo Weekly Learns a Lesson and in Golf Around the World we visit The Continent to play a New Golf Game Variation Called PowerPlay.

Finally, Golf of the Weird learns aboutTricking Out Your Golf Cart and a Couple That Gets Two Aces in New Zealand.

As always, our show is sponsored by

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Equipment Spy Finds Nike's Sumo2 Driver Illegal

Nike calls it a "voluntary product return", I'd call it overstepping, pushing the envelope, or a violation of the sacred rules of the USGA. No matter how you want to describe it, Nike Golf has gotten itself into, as the Brits would say, a sticky wicket.

How could this happen in the dog eat dog world of golf equipment?

They were ratted out by a competitor. Who? TaylorMade? Titleist? Cobra? I’m guessing Callaway. Not that I have any evidence to pin it on them, but who better to put the fear of "non-conformity" into the hearts of equipment buyers but the company that could gain the most from this year’s square driver competition but Callaway.

And how would they gain by this bit of corporate espionage? Take the wind out of a competitor's sales (nice play on words there I'd say) by tipping off the USGA that their competitor is trying to gain a market advantage by selling (unofficially mind you) a NON-CONFORMING driver. Callaway can look like the good guy by reporting Nike to the authorities, increase its sales at the expense of its competitor in the meantime, and cause Nike to spend money and time recalling thousands of bad drivers. Ouch!!

Based on what I hear and read, Callaway's FT-i Square Driver is kicking the Nike Sumo2's butt where it counts: retail sales. Reference the latest Golf Magazine and you'll see that they rate the TaylorMade r7 SuperQuad higher than the square drivers (Nike finished third). For whatever reason, even before this golf manufacturing "spy" committed corporate espionage, Nike’s product hasn’t been getting the same respect or publicity as Callaway. Even Tiger Woods doesn't have the new Sumo2 in his bag. How bad is it when your top spokesplayer snubs your product?

More evidence of getting caught red-handed is Nike’s own website Upon entry, a video pops up of president Bob Wood explaining that Nike is voluntarily complying with the USGA by removing and replacing these NON-CONFORMING drivers. If they weren’t guilty, my guess is a corporation as large and as savvy as Nike would drag out this thing in court, do like the White House and "out" the spy, then stall until the selling season for this driver is past (about six months). Also, Nike is only instituting this recall for 34 days (from March 26 to April 30) so they are not being very generous when it comes to returns for customers affected by this situation.

In the dog eat dog world of golf equipment, being the "hot" product for the season is golden and can mean a make or break year. It is also accepted that pushing the technological envelope is de rigueur. Being caught with the goods just might trash this year’s sales of the Nike Sumo2, as well as sully their hard fought reputation. An “unauthorized manufacturing variance” that Nike hoped wouldn’t be noticed looks like its going to cost them big time.

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Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Golfsmith Expands its Virtual Footprint

Golfsmith, the leading golf equipment retailer is now providing the underpinnings of the website. They will be the official golf and tennis supplier of and will provide all the marketing, sales, fulfillment and administrative support as well as 30,000 golf and tennis products to the site’s 18 million monthly visitors. This is part of an ongoing effort by to capture more of their site visitors’ retail spending.

What I found interesting was that Golfsmith, without the need to open a new bricks and mortar store, can expand its online footprint. Like, which provides content and infrastructure and fulfillment to other websites like and, Golfsmith is re-purposing its entire inventory to another audience, thus growing its incremental sales without having to make a huge investment. Likewise, can offer more "value", in this case an online retail store, to its site visitors with little financial investment.

According to, the site ranking website, is the 38th most visited site on the web, while is at 15,559th. In comparison, is 96,559th and Dick’s Sporting Goods leads the pack at 7,127th.

Generally, online deals of this nature have a payout to a site like of 10-20% of gross sales. This seems like a win-win for both players in a slow growth market and another arena that a Golf Galaxy or a Dick’s Sporting Good should be playing in.

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Monday, March 05, 2007

Golf Gear News #32: John Daly Hurt, Trump's New Course, Princess the New Golf Hottie, Alligator Attacks Diver and The Golf Jerk

CLICK HERE to listen.

In Episode #32 of Golf Gear News, host Bruce Stasch reports at The Newstand that The John Daly Circus Continues, Blindness Doesn't Stop Golfer and Trump to Build Course in Dominican Republic.

The Guru Commentary asks the question Why Can't There Be a Double Standard in Golf Equipment?

She Golfs Too introduces Princess Beatrice: A Hottie Royal Who Golfs.

Our Component Corner takes a Step Back Into "Retro" Clubs and Golf Around the World visits Marshall, Illinois.

In Can't We All Get Along a Fuzzy Zoeller Sues a Blogger and Golf of the Weird reports on Officers Honored for Saving Golf Club Wielding Nut and an Alligator that Attacks a Golf Ball Diver.

Our Website Spotlight is The Golf Jerk.

As always, our show is sponsored by

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