By Alex Miceli
Has fake news made its way into the golf media?
Chip Brewer, the chief executive of Callaway Golf, contends that the media have gotten it wrong about the demise of the golf industry, at least regarding his company.
At the recent 29th annual Roth Conference in Dana Point, Calif., Brewer told investment analysts that golf is in a good place for his company, even with the contraction of the number of golfers and suppliers.
The golf industry’s “Core Four” equipment manufacturers (Acushnet, Callaway, Ping and TaylorMade) control approximately 80 percent of the marketplace.
“It’s unquestionable that the Core Four have taken over the marketplace,” said Casey Alexander, senior vice president and research analyst at Compass Point. “You don’t see the secondary or tertiary in the retail channel.”
Since Brewer came onboard in 2012 from Adams Golf, Callaway has improved its financial health (from a loss of $1.96 per share to a gain of 33 cents per share) and market share (from 14 percent to 23 percent), according to company documents. This year, the Carlsbad, Calif., company is poised to post one of its best years, he told analysts.
“A lot of talk within the space in the golf industry, so the golf markets themselves have struggled over the last several years and that's been well heralded,” Brewer said.
“The decline in participation, from 25.7 (million) to 24.1 million golfers, and some of the struggles of our competitors during that time have caught a lot of interest by the press,” he said. “They talk about the decline of golf. What we see is something different. And we think the real story is there of a stabilization within the industry and improvement in the structure, a more rational structure that we think will be more beneficial to the strong brands, which we are clearly one of going forward.
“The core golfer is still very avid in the space, and that is really what we're most interested in. That's that committed golfer, if you would. And it can be anywhere from 6 (million) to 12 million golfers that we're really targeting most importantly, and then when you look at the structure of the space right now, you see an industry structure that is clearly consolidating. Roughly 80 percent of the share now is among four manufacturers, and that is continuing to consolidate.
“You see the exit of some competitors that have previously been in the space, that being Nike and some other smaller brands. You see consolidation among retailers. You see retailers carrying less brands. You see less promotional activity. You see that in our margins and our cash flows and other metrics. So, my argument is that we have a more stable and a structurally more desirable market going forward.”
Alex Miceli is the founder and publisher of Morning Read. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org; Twitter: @AlexMiceli