Driving the Market – a Pro’s view

Here is a quick look at what three PGA professionals in the UK are stocking this season in terms of drivers
Nick Duc - The Neville GC

Nick Duc – The Neville GC

“We are bringing Callaway back in this year – the X2 Hot range – and we are carrying on with 913 from Titleist, which is going into its second year. We also have the XP range from Yonex which was launched in October and has been fantastic, both for men and women. We have sold a lot of XP drivers to men. We took one member down to the range for him to test the XP head to head against the TaylorMade RBZ2, and the XP out-performed the RBZ2 by a long way.

“We are still doing a little bit with Ping and we have G25 in stock. Ping sales seem to have slowed for us over the past 12 months, while year on year, TaylorMade is our strongest selling brand for drivers. I also stock Benross, and we did some decent numbers with that last year, but that is very much a price point issue, for golfers who don’t want to go to £200 or more for a driver. They can buy Benross for £130 or £140.

“It would always be nice to make more margin on clubs. You can make better margin on brands like Benross, but then you are putting less money in the till, so you need to sell more units to match the profit you will get from selling a top driver with a margin of only 20 percent. It’s not great when you are selling a driver for £300 but only making £50 or £60 profit at best.”

Market data

SMS INC. consumer research found that ‘Ease of use’, ‘Feel off the clubface’ and ‘Distance’ are the three most important factors when purchasing a driver regardless of nationality. ‘Ease of use’ was top in UK. Price and pro recommendation is considerably more important to higher handicap golfers, with Category 1 and Category 2 golfers regarding technical aspects of the club more important – such as custom fitting, weight, adjustability and sound.

 

Greg Hughes - Petresfield GC

Greg Hughes – Petresfield GC

 

“We will be doing Ping G25 and i25, and some Cleveland, and Wilson, and we will bring in some Tour Edge clubs too.

“Every driver we sell will be custom fit. We have a practice ground here and we do our very best to ensure that every golfer who buys from us will come down to the practice ground with a member of staff, rather than just selling them a driver off the rack.

“Margins are not as good as they used to be, but by offering custom fitting we are staying in touch with our golfers and making sure we are seen as the golf specialists, providing a service that is not entirely price driven. For the golfer, buying a driver is the biggest single purchase they are going to make, in terms of expenditure on a single club, so we have got to make sure we get it right. If it flies long and straight they will be happy.”

 

Mark Rogers - York GC

Mark Rogers – York GC

 

“We are stocking Ping G25 and i25, and also G20, and from TaylorMade we have the Jet Speed and SLDR. Ping G20 will be at a lower price, and we will have some Adams clubs too, but they are not available yet.

“We always do fittings, and there is so mush adjustability and scope between those drivers, that from a small number of models you can fit just about every golfer, once you fit the shaft and loft.

“We are finding that golfers are not going for drivers at lower prices, and if golfers want a driver on a budget, they would rather buy a second-hand model from a top brand, as opposed to a brand new club from one of the mid-range brands.

“We also have a few TaylorMade RocketBallz drivers going at a discount, so anyone wanting to spend less can still have Ping G20 or RBZ2. We can fill that middle ground with those end-of-line clubs and some second hand-clubs. Those two companies, between them, dominate the driver market, and I would rather sell product that is popular and that I know is working for golfers, rather than trying to push people into other brands.”

Market data

SMS INC. consumer research shows the percentage of driver purchases online is increasing considerably, year on year. Drivers bought online in 2009 was 9%, and up to 16% in 2012.