Is The Golf Industry Finally Learning About Golfers?

Two of the biggest problems with the golf industry in general, I’ve always thought, are simply what is marketed and to whom.  For the most part, everything golf related has been advertised either specifically on The Golf Channel or during golf tournaments – as if every golfer only watches these particular things on television.  Well, when the economy tanked several years ago, the golf industry (which was already slightly on the decline) took a pretty good hit.  All of a sudden spending $80 on a round or $10,000 on a membership didn’t quite look so appealing anymore.  Nor did that $400 driver.  Now, a few years later, enter reality.

Recently, I’ve started to notice more golf-related television advertisements popping up on other channels and during sporting events outside of golf.  For instance, in watching some of the NCAA Tournament games over the past week, I’ve seen advertisements for Golfsmith and Callaway.  Finally, maybe some of the industry marketing heads are realizing that there are more golfers other than the few who live and breathe the sport.  Take me for instance.  I love to play golf.  Don’t really care to watch it.  Almost never turn on The Golf Channel.  But guess what I do – I purchase golf equipment and accessories.  But no one advertises to me…or any of the other millions of other golfers like me who play the game for fun but nothing else.  Well, maybe that’s finally changing.

However, the problem still lies in what is being advertised.  I mean, they are finally putting products on channels outside of golf, but what they continue to push is the high-end, expensive stuff that most of us hacks are not going to purchase.  It’s great that Callaway is advertising during the Elite 8, but they’re still pushing the $400-$500 driver.  I mean, really?  That’s like if Mercedes was to only advertise the S-class and never put an add out for any of the less expensive models in their lineup.  Or more realistically for most of us…if Chevrolet was only advertising a $60,000 Corvette, but never advertised the $17,000 Cruze, which is the 10th most popular selling car in the United States.  Any salesman is taught to upsell.  You don’t get people in the door by showing the most expensive product all the time.  You get people in the door by showing a good value, and upselling from there.  It’s Salesman 101!

But at least they are on the right track.  People other that the hardcore golfers need to know what’s available.  After all, there are millions more weekend hacks like me out on the course than there are scratch golfers.  We are willing to spend our hard-earned money also.  We may not be in the market for a $500 driver, but that doesn’t mean we’re not willing to plunk down two or three bills at a time.  And guess what….the first company that advertises something realistic to me has the best chance of getting my business.

Swing ’til you’re happy!


  1. This is very interesting. I am the son of an obsessive golfer, I spend time around professional golfers, and I have played competitively, so I have experienced the obsessive behavior that golf can provoke in a person. I think the reason golf equipment retail has survived is because of that obsessive behavior. It is great to see these companies advertising to the average person, but the way that they’ve created their brands, is to be the luxury item that even the average skill golfer will buy. Their strategy is to make it seem like the average golfer will become great if they have the best equipment. Totally different strategy than up-selling. It’s similar to the way fashion markets.

    If you ask me if I agree with this strategy or if I think marketing value products and then up-selling is better, I couldn’t answer. The people who market for the big brands know a lot more than I do.

    Thanks for the insightful post!
    Alex Maurer
    Tulane Business Student

    • I agree with Alex Maurer, in several ways:
      1) Great article by Chris Chirico — very good insight about advertising that should be good advice to anyone, in any industry, that makes advertising/marketing decisions.
      2) Golf has been advertising all wrong, as Chirico points, and banking on the obsessive golfer rather than reaching out to casual golfers.
      This is not just a problem among equipment manufacturers, but also local golf courses and clubs. These clubs focus almost 100% on selling annual memberships, but forget about finding ways to get new people excited about golf, offer low-cost, low-risk ways for new players to try out the game for the first time and have amenities for family members who choose not to golf.
      Alex claims to not know as much about advertising as the big brands do — but big brands need to take notice of what Alex and Chris say: Hey big golf corporations, we’re not obsessive, twice-a-week golfers, we’re not huge spenders, but we still have money and if you talk to us we’ll give you some of that money!!

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