The Loop

Note to Twitter: golf business can't be summarized in 140 characters

April 23, 2015

It gets very easy to miss the point and overreact, and the golf industry seems more a victim of this in the media than maybe even Hillary Clinton.Once again, it seems too easy for some to rush to judgment.

Reports surfaced via Darren Rovell's Twitter feed that the golf business had suffered another bruise at the hands of the Sports & Fitness Industry Association. "Sales of golf clubs down a whopping 21% in 2014 vs a year before, says @TheSFIA," tweeted ESPN's sports business reporter this afternoon. (The SFIA is the trade association of sports and fitness brands, suppliers, and retailers.)

Now while it may be true that the sporting goods business, particularly sporting goods stores, saw a decline in golf sales last year, it isn't a complete picture of the golf business. A more accurate portrayal of the health of the golf business, which never will be confused with running shoe sales or basketball purchases, might be to focus on golf-specific retailers, which in most surveys are preferred three to one over sporting goods stores as the place where golfers are buying products.

In fact, a check of golf industry research firm Golf Datatech's sales figures for 2014 paint a slightly different interpretation. Sales in 2014 of just the core hard goods in golf (woods, irons, wedges and putters) were down, but only by 3 percent (2.97, actually). In fact, the $1.413 billion in sales of those four categories marked the seventh highest annual sales figure since Golf Datatech began tracking the golf business in 1995.

So sometimes, perhaps all the time, the true picture is larger than 140 characters.