SBD/July 23, 2014/Marketing and Sponsorship

Struggling Golf Merch Sales Lead Dick's Sporting Goods To Fire All In-Store PGA Pros

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Dick's Sporting Goods, the largest U.S. retailer of TaylorMade and Callaway products, yesterday "fired all the PGA professionals that it employed in the golf sections of its more than 560 stores," according to Darren Rovell of ESPN.com. More than 500 full-time pros "were let go." PGA of America President Ted Bishop in a letter to the impacted employees wrote, "I'm sincerely disappointed that the careers of so many PGA professionals have been hurt today." Rovell noted Dick's "aimed to have one PGA professional at every store to better differentiate the experience from online retailers that try to undercut brick-and-mortar stores." But the economy, the "downturn in participation ... and too many products flooding the market cut into Dick's bottom line so much that the company seems to be giving up on winning the golf equipment business." As TaylorMade's "largest retailer, Dick's was hit hard after it bought all four" driver models TaylorMade released last year, and the "glut of merchandise forced Dick's to sell at under the suggested retail price" (ESPN.com, 7/22). In Pittsburgh, Tim Schooley noted Dick's CEO Ed Stack in a Q1 earnings call in May "warned the company was considering cutting back on golf merchandise." Struggling sales of golf merch also were "evident within Dick’s Golf Galaxy specialty chain." The company "reported same-store sales fell by more than" 10% in Q1. Dick’s also "expects to scrutinize the leases for its Golf Galaxy stores, a number of which will be nearing the end of their term in the next few years" (BIZJOURNALS.com, 7/22).

TRYING TO GET BACK TO LEVEL PAR: HBO's Bryant Gumbel examined the state of golf and reported the sport's leaders are "trying desperate measures to cope with golf's surprising desperate times." An average of 130 golf courses in the U.S. "have closed every year for the last eight years." adidas Group North America President Mark King said, "Every macro indicator that we've been looking at for the past 20 years ... says that there are less people playing, and the ones who are playing are playing less frequently." He added, "I just don't like where the game looks like it’s going, and it's not in the right direction. ... It's shrinking to the point where you're only going to have traditional people play and it's going to become an elite game again." Gumbel noted just about "every sector of the business is in trouble." Gumbel: "Retail is off by double-digits for each of the last three years and TV ratings for some of the game's biggest tournaments have been in steady decline since 2012" ("Real Sports," HBO, 7/22).
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