Needless to say 2020 was an unprecedented year across the board, but nothing less than historic when it comes to the golf industry. I’m sure everyone is aware that golf experienced an unprecedented (and well needed) resurgence across all levels in 2020 with historic number of rounds played, balls purchased (and soon lost), equipment purchases, new club memberships, carry bag sales, pull-cart sales, shoe sales, glove sales, etc., etc., etc.
From a personal level, considering we were effectively closed for nearly 7 weeks during our normal prime-time (early spring) due to the initial pandemic outbreak, we still managed to have our best year ever. I try to look at the good amongst all the bad, and to see the many new and younger faces so excited to take up this wonderful game was refreshing to say the least.
Over the last 6 years our golf industry has experienced years of downward growth, yearly declining rounds played, yearly membership declines, escalating course closures – yet all of that quickly changed almost overnight.
Enough of all that – let’s talk about 2021. As most of you who bought new clubs last year frustratingly know, delays were rampant with anxious customers (golfers are notoriously impatient) having to wait upwards of 2-4 months to get their clubs. The delays were simple – Manufacturers pretty much sold out of everything. We went from $0 sales in early spring with expected plant downsizing, staff layoffs, and the forecasted ultimate demise of this great industry to unprecedented demand by early summer.
Very few of the manufacturers who retain the top talent in this industry saw this resurgence coming at the on-set and were able to quickly pivot and were much better prepared. Most others simply dropped the ball and now they are still paying for it. Imagine having the foresight back in the early spring to double down on your component orders and staffing due to expected higher demand, when most others were concentrating on downsizing and layoffs.
For now (2021) pretty much all of the manufacturers have taken steps to avoid the delays we experienced last year. All the new lines which typically would be introduced at the PGA trade show in late January (cancelled) to be released in the spring have all been fast forwarded to mid-January to meet demand. Pretty much all the manufactures also now have a 30-60 day “reserve” of their various new heads to avoid the delays experienced last year.
Now I don’t want to sugar-coat this as I fully expect to see continued delays (not as bad as last year) in 2021. Unfortunately most of the golf equipment components are still made overseas so we (and the manufacturers) will still have to deal with increased tariffs and shipping delays. Although a manufacturer may introduce a new line, the components (shafts & grips) are still obtained through other manufacturers. These are large scale industrial manufacturers who make many other things than just Steel Shafts or Rubber Grips and those manufacturers are still backlogged on orders across all product lines.
Long story short – if you have been patiently waiting to get fit into the latest 2021 custom clubs, I would book your fitting now to insure you will get those clubs the quickest. JANUARY IS THE NEW APRIL THIS YEAR FOLKS!
To put this in better perspective, please refer to the chart below from one of my best OEM iron lines to better understand current demand. The chart below reflects the number of iron orders placed through the first week of January 2021 in comparison to the same time period in 2020 and 2019. This vendor broke all-time record sales in 2020 and they have already received more orders in the first 7 days of this month in comparison to their entire month of January last year!