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Is this the future of golf retail?

Th other day I was walking around PGA Tour Superstore when I came across this.

Now you will notice thats a bunch of ungripped Vokey wedges. When I first saw them I was super curious, then thought what an awesome idea that was. You could buy the grip of your choosing and they will install it for you same day. No more waiting on the club to arrive with the grip custom from Titleist. You could walk out same day with it. I also realized that it allowed you to do length changes same day without waiting on a custom order. As someone who plays their clubs a 1/4 in. short, thats a huge deal. If you play them long its a huge deal as well. I couldnt believe how smart Titleist and PGA Superstore were for doing this.

Last night I was sitting outside enjoying a bourbon and cigar when I was reading about someone who was having a long delay on their clubs. This is really common around the industry right now. Demand shot up. Factories closed and orders spiked. Everyone from PING, Titleist, Cobra, Srixon, and Taylormade have all had these 8-10 week lead times on custom product. We have seen these delays because of every component- heads, shafts, and GRIPS.

Thats when it dawned on me. Titleist must be having major delays from their stock grip manufacturer, Golf Pride. I have to give it up to Titleist and PGA Superstore. They found a problem, clubs didnt have grips and couldnt ship, and turned it into something that will turn the buying experience into a positive rather than the negative one a 3 week delay would be. PGA Superstore had to have approached Titleist and said I need these clubs and I have grips if thats all were waiting on, and to be honest I have to salute Titleist for even allowing it to be an option.

Are ungripped clubs the future of off the shelf golf retail? I sure hope so. Many of us in the industry advocate for getting fit. The problem a lot of golfers have with getting fit is waiting for the clubs. They see their fitting say a 1/4 in short and stock lie angle. They dont want to wait weeks at a time for 1/4 in. They grab the clubs off the shelf and go about their business. No wait, but an improper fit. Its something we have to combat as an industry. If instead of telling a guy its 3 weeks to get his new irons and its subject to delays what if every off the shelf iron set came at raw length and the fitter were to cut it down for you and throw on the grips. Tell the guy itll be 3 days instead of 3 weeks. This would honestly work for everyone. Smaller fitters would love to be able to still order the clubs for the customer yet the ability to really oversee the grip install and make sure the lengths are on spec. I have seen many clubs come in off spec from a manufacturer. They have tolerances and sometimes it doesnt work out for the customer and the fitter has to fix it. IF they can control that itll be great. It also allows them to work on lie angles and check everything at once. I bet more small time fitters would be willing to carry stock. For larger stores like PGA Superstore and Golf Galaxy the benefit would be the ability to get clubs cheaper. If they are not being cut down or having a grip installed that means more folks for them to hire but it means they could negotiate a better price. There is also the added benefit of a great customer experience. Finally the OEM’s may lose some money on direct orders but they will be able to save some money by not having as many people involved at the assemblers. It also brings some of the business away from overseas. One thing I heard a lot of people discussing with Covid-19 was us being too reliant on Asia and the golf industry could really move a lot away from Asia with this idea.

So do I think its the future? Honestly? No. I wish it was but it makes too much sense for it to actually work. It could cut into margins for OEMs and could require a bunch of additional work for big box stores. I do wish it was though!

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