Golf Street Journal // Week 20 - 2020

Under normal circumstances, this Fall would be the time Titleist/FootJoy parent Acushnet Company would unveil new drivers and a new line of Pro V1 balls. These times, however, are anything but normal, so much so that Acushnet Co., CEO David Maher said May 7 that some product launches scheduled for later this Fall – and perhaps even some scheduled for 2021 - could be pushed back because of the pandemic.

“Our intentions are to get a good read on the consumer and the market readiness over the course of the next four to six weeks and then make our decisions and circumstances will certainly vary by product category and thus so will our actions,’’ Maher said.

The Acushnet Co., reported Q1 sales of $408.7 million, down 5.8 percent. Earnings decreased 74.5 percent versus Q1 of 2019. Each of the those Q1 2020 numbers reflect the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Asia markets were impacted first by the crisis and are at varying stages of recovery, with Korea nearly fully recovered and other markets working their way towards recovery,’’ Maher said. “North America and Europe were affected in March, and, as one would expect, our businesses there have been significantly impacted over the past six weeks with most golf shops and retail stores temporarily closed. Many of our distribution centers and production facilities remain either closed or are operating at limited capacity due to imposed regulations which are expected to ease over the next month.”

The company reported golf ball sales in Q1 at $116 million, down more than 25 percent versus Q1 of 2019. Golf club sales, however, increased two percent to $93 million, most likely a reflection of early January sell-in.

“The primary impact on what you saw in golf balls was the slowdown at the end of the quarter,’’ Maher said.

Maher added the company is “bracing for increased promotional activity’’ in the coming months as green grass shops and retail stores re-open and the market recovers, meaning look for some good deals on Titleist balls, clubs and shoes.

Drive Shack has a name for its Urban Box entertainment experience concept – The Puttery. Drive Shack, which reported a Q1 2020 loss of $19 million on $61 million in revenue, says The Puttery will provide a “social and tech-enhanced’’ mini-golf experience with food and beverage.

Drive Shake CEO Hana Khouri said her company has a goal of opening Puttery venues in Dallas and Charlotte the first half of 2021.

“Obviously, there are a lot of variables to contend with right now,’’ Khouri said. “But we want to kind of get those open as soon as possible. It's something that we're really super excited about.

“We really do believe that Urban Box is going to be a real path of growth for us in this business.’’

When Drive Shack venues re-open post-Coronavirus, Khouri said each of the four locations (West Palm Beach, Orlando, Raleigh, N.C., and Richmond, Va., will require PPE and daily temperature screens of employees before they come back to work. Each venue also is going to require guests are temperature-screened when they arrive.

Khouri said she is aiming to begin opening some of the venues later this month, depending on Covid-19 guidelines.

Callaway Golf reported Q1 sales of $442 million vs. $516 million in Q1 2019. Earnings in Q1 of 2020 fell to $29 million vs. $49 million in Q1 of 2019. Each Q1 2020 number reflects impact of Covid-19 pandemic.

The company had year-over-year sales declines in its core golf clubs business (four percent), we well as golf balls (35 percent), apparel (20 percent) and gear/accessories (24 percent).

Callaway last week launched its highly-anticipated online store, Jack Wolfskin North America, the German-founded producer of outdoor apparel and gear.  It’s the first significant entry point for the Jack Wolfskin brand to the U.S. market. Callaway acquired Jack Wolfskin in early 2019.

The Tiger Vs. Phil II Match is set for May 24 at The Medalist Golf Club in Hobe Sound, Fla. NFL legends Tom Brady and Peyton Manning also will be involved in the made-for-TV match that will give $10 million for Covid-19 relief. Great players and a great cause. But you would think it could do better than Medalist, which while difficult, is not a very interesting course from a design standpoint.

Raleigh (N.C.) Country Club - the final golf course designed by legendary architect Donald Ross - is undergoing a major renovation. Golf course architect Kyle Franz will oversee the project, which is expected to be complete in October.

Raleigh CC is owned by McConnell Golf, which has a portfolio that includes a dozen 18-hole, private golf courses, one semi-private and one nine-hole course throughout the Carolinas and Tennessee.

Bridgestone Golf has debuted its Limited Edition e12 SOFT Patriot Pack supporting Tee It Up for the Troops.  The Patriot Pack features a dozen e12 SOFT white golf balls and a bonus sleeve of the popular e12 SOFT Matte Red, all housed in a red, white and blue themed package. A portion of proceeds from sales will benefit Tee It Up for the Troops.

Tee It Up for the Troops is a national non-profit organization that has donated more than $11 million to programs that deliver critical services to help veterans from all eras heal and transition from the battlefront to the home front.  Through its REUNION Outreach Program and other partnering veteran service organizations, Tee It Up for the Troops provides support for six critical areas of need for veterans and their families: Golf and Sports Rehabilitation, Suicide Prevention, PTSD and Traumatic Brain Injuries, Employment, Housing/Homelessness, and Family/Caregiver Support.

Bloodline Golf, which designs “stand alone’’ putters, is donating is donating 10 percent of its revenue from website sales in May to ClubsHELP,. a new charitable organization that is providing critical supplies for frontline workers fighting COVID-19 as well as establishing an enduring platform that can be called upon in times of need.

Based in Palm Beach Gardens, Fl., Bloodline Golf was co-founded by Brad Adams, whose father, the late Gary Adams, founded TaylorMade Golf, Founders Club and McHenry Metals. Brad Adams was senior vice president of Odyssey Golf back in the company’s fledgling days in the early 1990s.

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