2009 Will Be A Year of Change
As a new year starts, I predict plenty of change for the following year and I am not just talking about the political landscape. I am sure a lot of people would like to put a fork in 2008 as few would have predicted the severity and swiftness of the economic meltdown toward the latter part of the year. But don’t worry! People will continue to play golf. Albeit they might play less golf (rounds) or take more trips to their local driving range to appease their golfing fix until things get better.
Love him or hate him, fellow golfers, golf publications and golf analysts on TV will be once again happy to see a healthy Tiger roaming the course again (maybe not his caddy though if your last name is Mickelson). Between stimulating the economy, commanding two wars and shooting hoops on the hard court, our newly elected president might play more golf in office (and left-handed to boot) than the one getting ready to leave. How will fan favorite John Daly handle his six month suspension from the tour? Who will take the leadership role after Annika retirement? While I cannot make predictions about those issues, I might be able regarding equipment.
Will you have to change your brand of ball? Golfer’s that have become accustomed to the Pro V1 as their ball de jour, will they like the new non-infringing revised version when it becomes available? After all the Pro V1 has been a franchise in itself with 3/4th of the pros on the Tour have used the ball. According to Titleist they have sold more than $1 billion of them since its introduction in 2000 and the Pro V1 has accounted for over 50% of the entire premium golf-ball market. Chances are golfers will continue with their brand loyalty.
Change may come in a different form. This might be the year that changing a shaft, face angle or lie of your driver to obtain a desired ball flight will become en vogue. While certain companies did manufacturer clubs that could exchange different shafts in 2008, the reception was lukewarm at the very best as they weren’t exactly flying off the shelf. Why? First they were grossly over priced and secondly, club repair shops could extract and install new shafts quickly and at less cost. However I don’t think that will happen this year. With Hireko’s Dynacraft Prophet ICT driver series leading the way, you will see other companies offer products that not only will be able to swap out different shafts but will have adjustable features like the Cobra LV5 and the Nike Dymo.
With the economy down, this might actually be good news for golfers. Public and even private courses will need to attract golfers by lowering fares, monthly dues or initiation fees. People will look toward value in their new club purchases. Even as the price of clubs will continue to rise to offset the cost of marketing and R&D, you will see more discounts leaving people with more, you guessed it, change in their pockets.
I will predict that in 2009 the following will happen:
• Several golfers will get a hole-in-one (although probably not me)
• Golf won’t be voted in as an Olympic sport
• One, maybe two long-time equipment manufacturers will not be in business
• Padraig Harrington won’t repeat as Player of the Year
• At year’s end, manufacturers will be swamped by inquiries whether their clubs conform because of the recent rule change on grooves by the USGA
• 2009 will end up a good year not only in golf but in general