Hello everyone and thanks for stopping by. It’s time for some 2006 predictions so let’s get right to it. I’ll do mine today and SirPutts will do his sometime this week.
The Golf Industry In 2006
2005 wasn’t all that bad but the business is not as strong as it once was. Consumers aren’t spending as much, companies are changing equipment on a very regular basis and consumer confidence isn’t really at an all-time high. 2006 should be another step in the right direction though. I’m not expecting sales to go crazy or anything but I do expect them to increase in 2006. The “Callaway Being Sold” rumors will probably stick around and I still think that someone is going to step up and purchase the company. Companies should continue to target the “value” market and manufacturers like TaylorMade, Cobra and Callaway should continue to do well in this lower price point. Watch for some of the smaller companies to make even more noise. Tour Edge and Nickent are two companies that developed a bit of a cult following in 2005 and now people are actually talking about other small companies. People are discovering that you don’t need a huge marketing budget to make a quality golf club.
The Composite Craze And Movable Weights
2005 will always be remembered as the year composite and movable weights took off. Most of the major companies dabbled in one (or both) of the technologies and customers seemed to really like the products that were produced. 2006 should be the year where composite dies down and movable weights continue to grow. We’ve already seen a bit of a slow down in composite technology… Cobra looks like they have stepped back from their COMP line, TaylorMade has said that they will not enter the market and Cleveland has used thinner titanium walls in their new clubs instead of using composite material. Callaway’s FT-3 driver has done fairly well but one has to wonder how much longer they will stay in the composite market before they develop a way to make thinner titanium walls. Composite was a neat idea but I don’t know that it presents a huge benefit anymore. Movable weights should stay. People like the idea, it seems to make a difference and it sells. TaylorMade is the leader here and they will continue to push the technology in 2006. Other companies have followed into the market and they should continue to make positive strides.
Other Equipment Trends
The “value market” is huge right now and it should continue to get bigger. Companies are finding ways to make decent products at good prices. Some of the hottest clubs this year… the Big Bertha 454, TaylorMade R5, Cobra SZ and Ping G2 didn’t carry monster price tags but provided great performance and value. There will always be the consumers that spend the huge bucks just to have the most expensive equipment but the average golfer looks for value… they want a brand name at a low price.
We should also see more emphasis on shaft choices as consumers learn more about what different shafts can do. Some of the “value” products are priced low enough that consumers can upgrade the shafts and still stay within a budget. As head size and COR limits are reached, companies may turn to different shaft technologies to give them a leg up on the competition.
I think we might also start to see some shrinkage in the game improvement iron department. Manufacturers are finding new ways to make clubs forgiving and decent looking at the same time. Some people really like the bulky irons because they inspire confidence but I think most would prefer something a bit smaller.
Oh ya… and if a company doesn’t have a “high spin” wedge already… they probably will by the end of 2006. The Vokey Spin Milled, TaylorMade TP and Adams Puglielli wedges have got the ball rolling and more additions are on the horizon.
2006 On The PGA Tour
I did pretty well here last year so let’s see if I can stay on a roll. You’d have to think that Tiger will win at least one Major so let’s give him the U.S. Open. I think someone like Vijay Singh will win the Masters. We’ll take my guy Darren Clarke in the Open Championship and I’m going to take an underdog like Sean O’Hair in the PGA Championship. We’ve already heard that Cobra Golf will be back on the PGA Tour next year so watch for them to grab a big name or two. Jim Furyk should be on his way to Srixon and a big name (maybe Padraig Harrington) could be with Callaway soon. It’s always fun watching who plays what and 2006 should be interesting.
Best Selling Equipment Of 2006
Game Improvement Irons – It’s tough to make predictions here because we haven’t seen everything yet but the TaylorMade R7 XD irons have really impressed me… and everyone that’s hit them. They are a great looking iron, they’re forgiving, they feel good and they should do well in 2006. Watch for the Ping G5 irons too.
Players Irons – Mizuno has this category figured out and I think their MP-60 will be tough clubs to beat. Callaway could make some waves here with their Callaway X-Tour irons and the possibility of a new TaylorMade TP blade has many excited. The 2006 Titleist line should be very strong and will feature a few options for players looking in this category.
Hybrid Clubs – I’d love to say that Nickent will clean up here but I don’t think most “average” golfers have much experience with the company. There are so many good hybrids out there and I really don’t know why someone would want to carry a longer iron anymore. The Callaway Heavenwood is a great club and I don’t see it’s popularity dying down anytime soon. Watch for Nike’s Slingshot hybrid to do very well here too.
Drivers and Fairway Woods – I think TaylorMade is going to have a great year. Their R7 460 driver and R7 stainless steel fairway woods should do really well. Most golfers really like the movable weight thing and these two clubs will really appeal to the average player. A sleeper to watch for might be the Tour Edge Exotics driver. The Titleist 905R should be a good one if/when it finally gets here.
Putters – I’ve talked a lot about “value” products and Odyssey’s Dual Force 2 line fits the bill perfectly. These have already done really, really well for us and customers love them. These are great putters and the price really can’t be beat. Expect them to have a huge year in 2006… as long as retailers can get stock. Hopefully Callaway learned their lesson last year (with the lack of Big Bertha 454 drivers) and there will be enough Dual Force 2 putters to go around.
SirShanksAlot.com In 2006
We’ve grown so much this year and it’s actually really hard to figure out what will happen next. SirPutts and I have had a lot of fun doing this and we expect 2006 to be a very exciting year. There are a few things that worked well in 2005 so we’ll bring them back again next year… the 2006 Golf Company Of The Year will be announced soon, the 24 In 24 Golf Club Review Marathon will be back in the spring, we’ll probably make a return trip to the PGA Fall Expo in Las Vegas and we hope to bring you a few more industry interviews along the way. I don’t think the site’s look will change… we really like the way it is and it’s easy to navigate. Other than that… who knows. We’ll keep writing if you keep coming back… maybe bring a few friends too.
That’s all for today. I’ve been a busy boy this weekend and sleep is probably a good idea. Thanks for all the email… we’ve had some good ones over the past few days. SirPutts is pretty much caught up so send him some more and keep him busy. And before I
go I must congratulate my San Diego Chargers on their HUGE win over the Colts. It was a great win and hopefully it helps us get into the playoffs. I’m off to bed… have a great day and we’ll talk to you soon.