A look at golf equipment's future from someone who knows

True Temper shafts
Courtesy of True Temper
Shaftmaker True Temper CEO Scott Hennessy says people tend to buy more drivers and putters because they're always looking for "some magic in their hands."
PGA.com

Series: Golf Buzz

If you really want to know what's going on in the car business, you can ask the carmakers – or you can get a broader perspective by asking companies that supply them with parts and pieces.  The same goes in golf.

In that spirit, Terry McAndrew over at GolfBiz.net got a very interesting outlook on 2013 from Scott Hennessy, the CEO of True Temper, which holds a dominant position in the golf shaft business. As such, True Temper has benefited in recent years, first from the USGA's groove ruling prompting more sales of wedges in 2010 and, more recently, the sudden popularity of long putters juicing the sales of flat sticks.

"We don't anticipate that [kind of a boost generated by a specific club type] happening again in 2013," Hennessy told McAndrew. Even so, he doesn't expect the putter business to dip much this year.

"I don't think the category will be adversely affected even if the market softens," he predicted. "The two clubs out of the 14 in players' bags that have the most turnover are drivers and putters. Everyone is looking for some magic in their hands. Due to the price point and offerings in putters coming, I don't think the overall unit volume will change."

All in all, golf is "no longer a high-growth industry" and is "in a low churn towards upward growth," Hennessy said, adding that he's optimistic that the golf industry has seen the worst of its drop in course closures, equipment sales and rounds. Equipment makers must innovate to grow in this economic climate, he stressed, and offered some thoughts on what we'll see up ahead.

"I think you will see in 2013 and 2014 that no new product will be heavier. The move continues to be towards lighter as golf caters to aging baby boomers," he told McAndrew. "You will also see iron set make-ups evolve. The days of 3-PW [pitching wedge] are long gone, replaced by hybrids. … you will also see the number of wedges players carry increase."

McAndrew is one of the consistently best in his coverage of the golf industry. For more from him, visit www.GolfBiz.net.

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