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Web Street Golf Daily Pulse


Tuesday, November 30, 2010

ANY IDEA WHO SAID THIS? “2010 is just weird, and so was '09. As I said to my group, the businesses that made it through 2009 and '10 . . . you came out of it smarter. And I think we came out of it smarter, too. We're much more of a customer-focused business today than we were two years ago."

ON THIS DAY: In 1969, Arnold Palmer won the first Heritage Classic on Hilton Head Island.

HOLIDAY RUSH: As the majority of the United States prepares for winter, golf often takes a back seat to those who enjoy regularly playing it. As the industry slows down on the surface, it isn’t exactly on vacation. For example, Golfsmith (GOLF: NASDAQ) through its 76 coast-to-coast locations reports that in November and December alone, it will sell more than four million golf tees, 80,000 golf shirts and 75,000 golf gloves along with millions of other items. According to the company, the number one holiday gift for golfers this year is golf balls and it expects to sell more than two million in the final two months of the year. Golfsmith said it anticipates selling 200,000 golf clubs of all makes and models over the holiday season along with 25,000 hats and 14,000 golf bags. Recreational play has shut down throughout the country other than in the sunbelt and the PGA Tour is counting down the days before it starts another season, but the retail side of the business still has some opportunities before closing out the books for another year.

Customer traffic on some days in Golfsmith stores and online, according to the company, can triple as shoppers hunt for gifts. In a process that began more than a year ago, Golfsmith’s merchandise buyers began examining purchasing trends, worked with various manufacturers in an effort to predict what might be in demand for gift giving. “We see a tremendous increase in shoppers visiting our stores and website this time of year,” said Marty Hanaka, Golfsmith President and CEO. “There are tens of millions of people who love the game of golf in our country and just as many gift givers,” Last year, Golfsmith sold more than 59,000 gift cards during November and December for those who didn’t know what to buy a golfer. To help shoppers, Golfsmith has a holiday gift center that provides ideas on what to buy a golfer: Golfsmith also offers the option to order a product online and to pick it up at one of the 76 stores.

PROOF IS IN THE PUDDING: New is an important ingredient to the golf world, especially when it comes to equipment. To some it may be understated, while others have a never-ending appetite towards it. The concept of new often arrives frequently when scattered over the many vendors that look to supply aspirational players with hope. However, validation is a critical element that equally can get overlooked. Titleist provided three more data points for its 910 driver with wins by Robert Karlsson at the season-ending Dubai World Championship, Michio Matsumura at the Casio World Open on the Japan Tour and Peter O’Malley at the 2010 NSW Open on the Australian PGA Tour. Karlsson choice was a 910D3 driver (9.5 degrees of loft and a D∙2 SFT setting). He also went with the 910F fairway metals (13.5, 19.0, D∙4 SFT setting) in Dubai.

Michio carried the 910D2 model (7.5 degrees, setting unknown) and a 910H hybrid (21.0, setting unknown). He also became the third player to win with the New Pro V1x prototype, following Padraig Harrington (Iskandor Johor Open) last month, and Steven Bowditch (Cellarbrations NSW PGA Championship) last week. O’Malley relied on the 910D2 driver (10.5 degrees, setting unknown) and a 910F fairway metal (loft and setting are unknown) in claiming his first PGA Tour of Australia title in five years.

The wins by Karlsson, Matsumura and O’Malley moved the 2010 Titleist victory count across the worldwide professional tours to 144, six times the nearest competitor with 24, according to the company. In 2009, Titleist accumulated 154 victories more than five times its nearest competitor with 26.

FAST FINISH: Thanks to increasing orders from TaylorMade, Advanced International Multitech Co., Taiwan’s leading golf gear maker is expected to ship golf products worth NT$600 million (US$18.75 million) in December, growing sizably by 20%, according to a published report.

THE COLOR OF MONEY: It was only a matter of time before someone tried to stake their claim to white club heads. TaylorMade filed a trademark application last week. Cobra Golf might have something to say about that as Ian Poulter was the first to put one in play and for that matter win using one. Consider it another data point of angst between companies as earlier this year TMaG prematurely announced Camilo Villegas (under contract with Cobra and Titleist) was joining the fray by the end of the year.

JUST WIN BABY: The Tiger Woods story is turning back towards what originally made him famous. Building on the theme that was published in the November 22nd issue of the Web Street Golf Report, EA Sports Chief Executive John Riccitiello said Woods needs to start winning. "This is no threat against Tiger," Ricitiello said at the Reuters Global Media Summit in New York. "We have no plans to move away from him, but it's a business relationship on the basis of we make the best golf game and he's the best golfer. He sort of stuck with us for a very long time and we made great business together and we're willing to give him the benefit of the doubt for a period of time." READ MORE>>>


A BRIGHT FUTURE: Italian teenager Matteo Manassero has won the European Tour's Rookie of the Year award following a record-breaking start to his professional career. "It is a big honor to win the rookie of the year award," Manassero said. "I never expected to win on tour so quickly and to win the rookie of the year award is a perfect way to end my first season as a professional.” READ MORE>>>

MORE WHERE THAT CAME FROM: Graeme McDowell has made quite a name for himself in the past year. While its often the time of year to reflect, the Irishman is already looking ahead. “Anything after this year is going to be a let down unless I win the Masters. So it’s important I readjust my focus and take the positives and confidence out of this year and pour it back into next season,” he said. Don’t take his words to suggest he is expecting less from himself. “It’s just being realistic about where I am in the world’s game. Every week I tee it up, I know I’ve got a chance to win but I think you’ve got to realize you can’t be 120 percent every week. And I’m not a guy who’s going to be happy with mediocrity… I’m 31 years old, feeling healthy and physically very good and I know I can get better. So, of course, I can be world no 1 at some point.” READ MORE>>>

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ANSWER: Mike Whan, commissioner of the Ladies Professional Golf Association.