Despite challenges from online sales, these brands help to keep the
registers ringing for on-course retailers. BY KATIE THISDELL
In the face of declining sales of golf apparel,
green-grass golf shops are being forced to
become more innovative.
But it’s not just golf shops that are seeing a
decline. Shopping centers and stand-alone
stores across the country are trying to adapt to
e-commerce’s pull on revenue.
“Retail in general is down,” golf retail consul-
tant Craig Kirchner said. “Retail of every sort
is down, except retail on the internet. … All of
the same vendors that sell to green-grass pro
shops, you can buy [their products] online, just
without the logo.”
In 2016, apparel sales fell by an average of
5. 4 percent at green-grass golf shops, dropping
from $864.9 million to $818.3 million overall,
according to Golf Datatech, which tracks retail
apparel and equipment sales.
Almost every apparel category saw a
decrease. The exception was women’s tops,
which makes up such a small percentage of
total sales that the increase in that area had
That means on-course shops have to do
more to add value and motivate golfers and
club members to buy in-store. It’s a challenge
they haven’t faced in the past.
“It’s one of those things where consumers
continue to be given a lot of different choices
and a lot of distribution avenues,” retail consul-
tant Amy McClean-Ragsdale said. “The green-
grass shops really have to create an incentive to
purchase, which they haven’t had to do.”
For someone to spend their money in a shop
— on an item related to golf or fitness or on
club apparel — they have to see tremendous
value in the purchase, she said.
And that means shops have to really get to
know their customers, which takes time and
dedication. McClean-Ragsdale said few shops
have been able to pull it all together in an effective way.
Few of the apparel lines introduced at this
year’s PGA Merchandise Show excited con-
sultants, which potentially poses another chal-
lenge to green-grass shops. For the most part,
clothing manufacturers are continuing to focus
on the technology and breathability of their
fabrics instead of coming up with bold new
“People are going to have to be more cre-
ative and not just stock golf brands in the shop,”
McClean-Ragsdale said. “I think that’s the
other avenue savvy pro-shop buyers are going
down: viewing it as a retail shop rather than a
Kirchner said that means merchandise dis-
plays must make a bigger impact on buyers.
He said retailers can’t expect customers
to walk into a shop and say, ”Those are nice
shirts,” and buy one. They have to be wowed.”
Here’s a look at the best-performing apparel
lines at green-grass shops, based on Golf
Datatech’s research. Courses that participate in
the Golf Datatech surveys receive free monthly
market reports on apparel and equipment sales.