Since there is nothing going on right now, I thought I would make some predictions for 2005…..
The Industry in 2005
2004 was not a real banner year for the golf industry. Consumer confidence was at an all time low because of constant changes in technology. Why would someone buy a $600 driver one week when they know it will be $300 the next? It used to be that new stuff came out in the spring, it sold well all summer and then you could get it on clearance in the fall. It is starting to look like we will see this trend again. It may not all happen in one year but I think it is safe to say that 2005 will be a turning point. Sales will start to increase but it will take a long time for the industry to completely turn around.
Nike Buying Callaway
I have talked to a lot of industry people who think this will be the big news story for 2005. I have written about this rumor in the past and there is mounting evidence that it could happen. Instead of sitting on the fence and not saying any more, I think I will go out on a limb and say that it will happen in 2005. I really hope it doesn’t and I am prepared to eat some crow if I am wrong! While we are talking about manufacturers, we should probably mention the troubled Tommy Armour Golf. It really doesn’t look good for Armour but they should get one last shot in 2005. They need to come out with a trim, traditional line in 2005 and play to the traditionalists. They just don’t have the technology or resources to compete with the big boys.
Equipment Trends in 2005
Well I think it is safe to say that drivers will not get much bigger. I think we will continue to see the use of composite materials in both drivers and irons. There will be a trend towards bigger, “chunkier” game improvement irons a la the Big Bertha. The majority of “players” clubs will be forged combo sets and the blade will continue to die off. I don’t see a lot of brand new technologies in 2005 but instead a R&D slow down. Manufacturers will start to learn that people don’t need a new club every week. Manufacturers will continue to jockey for position in the mid-range price category as golfers begin to see that there are some real quality clubs at affordable prices. Golf shoe manufacturers will continue to develop running and casual shoe styles while fashion will continue toward younger, more casual looks.
2005 on the PGA Tour
There will be a Tiger and Vijay war in 2005. Woods should continue his late season tear and Vijay will be up for the challenge. I think each one will win a Major (Tiger the Masters and Vijay the PGA). Europeans should make a big splash on the tour with Sergio Garcia winning the U.S. Open and Darren Clarke taking the Open Championship at St. Andrews. I think Nike Golf and Callaway Golf will scoop up a few more big names (probably TaylorMade players) and watch for Titleist to find a big name to take Phil Mickelson’s place ( I am still hearing Mike Weir there).
Best Selling Equipment of 2005
Game Improvement Irons – The Nike NDS irons should take this one. There was a lot of hype around these things before they even came out and I think Nike Golf has a real winner here. They are good, they are cheap, and they have a swoosh on them….. sounds like a winner to me. The Callaway X-18’s should be a close second.
Players Irons – I think next year will be a two horse race in this category. Watch for Cleveland and TaylorMade to battle here. The TP line from TaylorMade should be the most popular choice for the better player but don’t be surprised if Cleveland launches something big in the spring. Callaway could enter the mix here if the X-Tour ever comes to market.
Hybrid Clubs – The Callaway Heavenwood should win this pretty easily. Callaway has the reputation and the technology to power this club. Don’t be surprised if the Heavenwood shows up on the PGA tour quite a bit too. If you are looking for a dark horse here you may want to consider Sonartec. These guys have made really quality equipment for a while and are only now starting to get recognized by the golfing community.
Drivers – Watch for the Callaway Big Bertha 454 to sell great next year. I have talked to people that have already hit it and they say it is amazing. The mid-range price won’t scare away the average hacker and it’s performance will not disappoint. I think the Cleveland Sport driver may sell too. It is a decent club at a good price. If the Titleist 905 is half as good as it’s hype, it should be pretty successful too!
Putters – The mallet craze will continue. I think the Odyssey 2-Ball White Steel will continue to sell well and the new series of Cobra Inner Mallet putters will get some attention. Heavy Putter will make it’s official debut at the Orlando show in January and it could be the hot new putter company.
SIRSHANKSALOT.COM in 2005
It should be an exciting year for us. We have already started to look ahead and there are some pretty cool things coming. The Orlando show in January should keep us busy through the first few months. We are also going to do some “Old Skool” reviews… clubs that we think helped shape the equipment we see today. We are also planning to focus on a few smaller equipment companies and do some interviews with some of the people that make these companies work. The summer will be busy and the News and Rumors section will really start to bulk up. To celebrate our first birthday, SirPuttsAlot and myself are planning a trip to the 2005 Merchandise show in Las Vegas at the end of September. Watch for daily updates and plenty of stories from the show. Things that are also in the works include a section devoted to players on the tour and the equipment they use, a Buying Golf Clubs 101 section where industry people like us tell you how to buy the best clubs for you at the best price, and more Great Club Comparisons (I promise to make the updates faster this time!). You folks visit us so we want to repay you in new and exciting information. Oh ya…. don’t be surprised if there is a giveaway or two!
So there are a few predictions from me but don’t start sending me emails when something doesn’t happen!
Expect to see some more updates before Christmas and then again before New Years. We are working on some more club reviews and they should be up soon. I also want to correct something I reported on a while ago. I have learned that Vijay Singh’s deal with Cleveland includes a driver and this is why he has started to use a Launcher COMP. I have heard that the version he is using may be closer to 400CC. Originally I had said that his deal was driver optional but it sounds like they have him for almost everything.
Oh ya… congrats to my San Diego Chargers on making it to the playoffs! I think we are too young and inexperienced to actually make some noise in the postseason but it is great to be there! GO SUPERCHARGERS!