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Are The Dick's Layoffs A Statement About The Health Of Golf?

It's been a brutal week for golf industry news and while I'm saddened for the PGA pros losing their jobs at Dick's Sporting Goods, the lede from Darren Rovell's story says the move was made because the retailer was "faced with a decline in the golf equipment industry." 

And while certain sectors of the business are undoubtedly flat or down, the story eventually suggests that the layoffs were in part related to the actions of a company that has since admitted in its own reporting a serious mistake was made:

Dick's said it sold only 2 percent fewer drivers in the first quarter this year compared to the first quarter of 2013 but that the average price of those drivers was down 16 percent. On average, the golf business accounts for about 15 percent of Dick's overall revenues.

As TaylorMade's largest retailer, Dick's was hit hard after it bought all four models of the driver TaylorMade released last year. The glut of merchandise forced Dick's to sell at under the suggested retail price.

Four drivers in one year.

Reckless speculation here, but I'm going out on a limb that Old Tom Morris didn't tell his customers the Long Spoon they bought was outdated just three months after they picked it up at the shop.

Anyway, the PGA of America is taking the news seriously and this is a letter forwarded to me (with name cropped out) of one of the laid off employees of Dick's:

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Reader Comments (102)

I commend Bishop for the letter and any support PGA of America can give its members.
In my opinion golf industry (equipment, annual rounds played, pro event coverage, etc.) demand may be diminishing. Therefore, the move by Dick's does not surprise me.
07.24.2014 | Unregistered Commentergov. lepetomane
Why is no one lashing out at TaylorMade over this mess?
07.24.2014 | Unregistered CommenterLong Jim Barnes
There are some really great PGA teaching pros, we have one right now at my club. HOWEVER, there are a lot of pros that phone it in. Like everything else in life, there are a few that are really dedicated and a good number that are not. Raise your hand if you know a pro that avoids lessons and hides on the course or in the back room for much of the day. My family actually tried to use the local Dick's to buy clubs a while back. The pro could not be bothered to make time for a fitting, even though it was the middle of winter in a cold state. Just like public school teachers - there are some that love it and work hard, but there are a lot of them that pursued that life because it is possible to do very little and still get by. I feel terrible for any hard worker that lost her or his job in the layoff (or in this economy in general). I have no sympathy for the lay-abouts.

Fire away.

How about a Fresca?
On one hand, the industry has been pushing custom fitting. On the other they want everyone to keep buying new stuff. But why would you buy new stuff after spending the money to get stuff that works perfectly?
07.24.2014 | Unregistered CommenterLouis Friend
Interesting story here that just happened recently. Our head pro had a huge shipment of Taylor Made stuff arrive earlier this spring. Only one problem - he didn't order it. He contacted the sales rep and confirmed that the order wasn't delivered to the wrong place, but found out that the sales rep sent him new stuff to put in his shop without the head pro's approval. Of course - they got the bill for it too about a month later, AFTER the head pro informed the rep to come to his facility and pick it all up.

It took a couple of months, but it all got sorted out. And there is no longer an account with Taylor Made.

What happened to the TM CEO? They promoted him.
07.24.2014 | Unregistered CommenterPA PLAYA
Why should anyone lash out at TaylorMade because Dick's needed to cut its losses? TM didn't force Dick's to buy the inventory. TM will be judged by the market and will face it's own day of reckoning if it is making poor business decisions (which I suspect they are).

The outlook for the golf industry in the US is not one of growth and security Everyone interested in golf knows that. All participants int eh industry need to be personally responsible for theie career choices on a continuing basis.
07.24.2014 | Unregistered CommenterBrianB
Lol @night putting

I half expected a rant in there about food stamps.

Being as though I know a lot of pga pro's (none of which worked at Dick's), I can tell you that sure like any other job if there's 30,000 members, some aren't great at what they do. But let me tell you who most of the pro's that chose to work at Dick's are: Trying to have a normal 9-5 life so they can be there for their family. If you work at private club goodbye to your family. Dick's, GolfTec, others allow for a Pro to attempt to have a family life.

The danger of working for a public company is that your job and thousands of others are dependent upon just a few basis points of a stock price from going away. Does any sane person really think this is a way to run a company? It's a system that rewards short term executive board members, and routinely damages the lives of the employees that actually produce or sell the product.
07.24.2014 | Unregistered CommenterChicago John
ps Make certain you continue to pay your dues and pay $8g for your GPTP
to stay up to date and able to find another job for 8-9 dollars an hour!

pps I will be out of the office next week trying to radically increase revenues for the
PGA Championship and upcoming Ryder Cup. We're falling behind the USGA 'nest egg"

Best Wishes,
07.24.2014 | Unregistered CommenterOffered
the chase for quarterly earnings makes normally smart people insane.
07.24.2014 | Unregistered CommenterChip Gaskins
Edwin Watts is bank -o. Dick's golf is going down the tubes. They also own Golf Galaxy. Wonder what is coming down the pike?

Now is the time to kiss the box store, cookie cut discounters that sold last year's close out models and support your green-grass PGA Professionals that don't "mail it in".

Otherwise go back to Dick's and have the guy that sells fly rods and shot guns fit you for that new driver.

I hope these 400+ PGA brothers find peace and jobs.

The industry is not healthy.
"Why is no one lashing out at TaylorMade over this mess?"

Probably because Mark King (TM) and Ted Bishop (PGA) are knee deep in the "alternative golf" initiative. Hard for Bishop to lash out at King, as he is part of their "grow the game" task force.

Also, I know quite a few club pro's that are aren't too fond of the Dick's pro' there are plenty of golfers that use the club pro to test out demo clubs and get some basic club fitting tips...then go out to Dick's and buy the same clubs to save $25.
07.24.2014 | Unregistered CommenterSteve
In the words of Alanis Morrisette, "Isn't it ironic". Ted Bishop jumps in bed with Taylor Made's CEO at the time, Mark King, supporting every word of nonsense out of the guys mouth, and now he's got 500 members of the PGA blaming TM for their job loss. I've talked to many PGA Professionals who have had it with TM and Teddy. Bishop still has his job and the corporate jet fueled up waiting to take him and his cronies to the next Ryder Cup media day or luncheon with Donald Trump. King got promoted out of the golf industry just in time. Really a tough situation for these guys who are now forced to find a job in an industry that has none--that's why they're at Dick's in the first place. And yes, this is a good indicator of the state of golf IMO. The "model" of these businesses, and other's in the "golf industry" were flawed. Good luck to the men and women of the PGA who were let go from Dick's.
07.24.2014 | Unregistered Commenterol Harv
@Dover Pro, +1.

Why pay retail when you can go to Dick's or GG, hit the latest and greatest on the launch monitor, then wait 3-4 months and get them in mint condition on eBay for 1/3 of the cost? Budget golfers aren't worried about getting fitted for clubs. If they have what they believe is the right shaft in the club, that's close enough for them.

Online sales is also putting a huge crunch on the big box store chain operations, especially eBay.
07.24.2014 | Unregistered CommenterPA PLAYA
What Ted needs to do is ask if any of the 500 guys who just lost their job want to replace any of the non pga pros that the pga of America have on staff at pga hq. Many would get double the pay! The pga employment consultants are worthless All they do is spend hours telling mom and pop golf courses that they need to employ a PGA pro because of this and that and the 100k they will spend will be paid back in spades. Likes dicks, the pga of America needs an overhaul and it can start with Ted, it is lucky he owns his course other wise I don't think there is enought vacation days to do what he does
07.24.2014 | Unregistered CommenterMark
I recall Titleist golf balls that said "sold in golf pro shops only." I'm not well-versed as to the reasoning behind that old retail philosophy, and know even less as to why it changed. Can anyone enlighten me on that? To this day, I still feel a twinge of wonder when I see premium stuff sold away from pro shops.
07.24.2014 | Unregistered CommenterCrusher
You can buy a brand new TM JetSpeed driver on eBay for $110 including shipping and no sales tax.
07.24.2014 | Unregistered CommenterReverse Eagle
@ Crusher, that was back when there were no online sales, eBay didn't exist, the big chains weren't around, and even the one or two small mom-and-pop's stores were all the way across town.

That's also when club memberships were much more popular. And last but not least, a dozen premium golf balls weren't costing half of a benjamin.

I can remember when the Titleist DT-Wound 2-pc was the ball of choice!
07.24.2014 | Unregistered CommenterPA PLAYA
The Business of Golf is sick. But so is most of everything else. The pro at my previous club (great guy, good teacher, apparently a good manager) in a previous life quit to go the a local Dick's because he was in his mid-30s with a family to support, but no fringe benefits. Nothing. No retirement, no health insurance, no paid sick leave. From what I understand, this situation is not that unusual. Ted Bishop might use some of his PGA Championship/RC loot to address this. At which time his expressions of concern might mean something. Or on the other hand, we could join the modern world and separate the provision of affordable, universal health care from employment, thus giving golf professionals and other artists the opportunity to pursue their vocations. Win, win, win.

Note added in proof: Where are these $100K jobs Mark speaks of? Somewhere Harvey Penick writes of the number of really good jobs for people like him. In his prime they probably numbered in the few hundreds. We might be up to a few thousand now. Maybe.
07.24.2014 | Unregistered CommenterKLG
Very good column, and some good comments also.
07.24.2014 | Unregistered CommenterBogey
Anyone think the buyers for Dicks should shoulder at least some of the blame ?
07.24.2014 | Unregistered CommenterPapitt
Number of very good jobs falling since Harvey Penick's time not increasing. This is a long term trend brought about by many forces. Golfers vote with their feet.
07.24.2014 | Unregistered CommenterPABoy
You'll start seeing this more and more in lots of industries as the baby boom generation ages and moves on. Companies will
have to resize after the boom. Golf has a triple bubble with the baby boomers plus the acceleration in technology and the perceived "Tiger boom." How many people are going to be buying Harleys, motor homes, retirement houses, etc? Right sizing is coming.

I know by me there is a Dicks, PGA superstore, Golf Galaxy, and Golfsmith within a mile. How is that sustainable?

Finally, these companies are shooting themselves with their model introduction cadence. Small example: about 6 weeks ago, Adidas intro-ed their Climachill polos. $80. 2 weeks later, I bought 2 for $45. I got an email today for them at $30. Why buy ANYTHING at intro. Just wait a month. At some point, these companies will have to slow down innovation and intros to save $$$. Again, unsustainable.
07.24.2014 | Unregistered CommenterBsoudi
The free market at work.
07.24.2014 | Unregistered Commenterv60golferrr
I have a second job at a Golfsmith and I can't believe the stories I am hearing. Our CEO was quietly let go a few weeks ago. Just the other day we got word a load of people on corporate we're let go, departments reorganized, and regions realigned. My stores lease is over at the end of the year and no one will give us a straight answer of what they're going to do with us. We have a golf galaxy 1 mile up the road, and then dicks is across the street from them. My stores GM actually thinks dicks will close the galaxy and that we will move in their spot, then again this is a guy who is paid salary and might work 28-30 hours per week so I don't put much faith in his word.

The company is also too cheap to fix our air conditioning/heating system. I'm not exaggerating when I say that it is over 80 degrees in the store on a hot summer day and under 60 in the middle of winter. We also have the same carpet in the checkout area that was installed 10 years ago. Just make sure you don't trip on the wrinkles. It's a total s*** show honestly.

TaylorMade is 100% responsible for a lot of the issues at retail. We have HUNDREDS of drivers, with the oldest model being less than a year old. The guy who wants a good deal is ignoring the SLDR and running for the JetSpeed. We lose a fortune on these drivers when we discount them.
07.24.2014 | Unregistered CommenterSjurob82
Tough economy. Tough game.

It took me 40 years to learn how to play it, and it took me 30 years to learn what type of equipment works for me. I must say, getting fit at Titleist's Manchester Lane facility was extremely helpful ( I switched to regular shafts in my irons and wedges), but the day before that I broke 80 at a pretty difficult course where I went to college, and rarely broke 80 while I was there, with equipment that I found through trial and error.

I think that the fallacy was that a PGA Pro could do a decent fitting indoors, with a launch monitor, in the middle of winter.

After being fit at a state of the art facility, outdoors, with state of the art equipment, I believe that a dick's fitting would be worthless.

I am sorry for all of the talented, and well intentioned PGA Pros who lost their jobs. Golf is a damn tough game, and unless you fall into the 2% with talent and can play pretty much stock stuff, good luck. But, that very challenge keeps a lot of us trying to improve.

I was talking to a long-time industry golf insider and club designer. He believes that newcomers and people that are challenged by distance, should be playing with 600 cc drivers with COR's way higher than .830. He thinks that a "super driver" and easy to hit irons (like the Ping Karstens), and a larger cup will attract more people to the game. Me? I think that "elite" golfers should use drivers less than 300 cc, maybe smaller, with a rolled-back ball, and we should play courses that are much shorter than we play today. We can only walk so fast - so why not play a shorter course so that we can play more shots in a shorter period of time.

Who knows where this game is going?

I'm just glad that I play both hickory and the modern game. Hickory is cool; if you get a driver that works, you keep it, because there is no new technology that will make it obsolete. It is a game driven by camaraderie, the thrill of a well-hit shot with less than great technology, and a desire to test oneself against a standard that does not change with technology.

Look at sailing. On the one hand, you have small boat sailors sailing class boats that must be measured and comply to rules - the Olympic boats are examples. If you sail a Laser, a Finn or a Star, your boat is theoretically the same as every other sailor's. Best sailor wins.

On the other hand, look at the America's Cup. If you want to play that game, it is going to cost billions, and you only have to beat a few other individuals/teams.

Personally, I prefer the competition where the equipment is limited; the individual uses his talent, cunning and dedication to gain the best results. I personally think that golf would be a great game with steel drivers measuring less than 300 cc, and balls that were reduced in length so that most of us would find a 5800 yard course a worthwhile test. If you walk a 5800 yard course, and you are young, you might do it again in the afternoon! I say, make the game simpler and harder, and use other means to get people to play - such as special events, team matches, playing for charities, club against club.

And, I believe that we need to explore the Scot's model of having golf clubs that are around, but not attached to public golf courses. Join a club, play at the public facility, and retreat to the club (bar) to talk score, competition and the like.
07.24.2014 | Unregistered CommenterGreg V
Greg V this is a blog not a publisher.

Dicks is not a commentary on the health of the game. Its just life.
07.24.2014 | Unregistered CommenterAmen Coroner
Greg V, nice post.
07.24.2014 | Unregistered CommenterKevin part deux
Went to get the lofts on my wedges checked at Dicks last year. Told the pro there I wanted my gap wedge at 52* and my lob wedge at 59*.

Came back a few hours later to get my clubs. The lofts hadn't changed but the lie had! Dude flattened my gap wedge to a lie of 52*!!! That's like 10 degrees flat. I started arguing with him and he put it on the lie board to show me that he did it right and that I was wrong. I was just dumbfounded.

Ended up taking both wedges to Edwin watts to get them fixed. Pro there said he's surprised they didn't snap. Not sure what any of this means other than the fact I don't trust them with my clubs at Dicks anymore.
Neil, good to see the PGA training on club making such a resounding success. Sorry that loser lost his job today, maybe Burger King is hiring.
07.24.2014 | Unregistered CommenterV60golfrrr
I never understood why Dick's even bothered having 'PGA Professionals' on staff. My personal experience is they just stand-around watching the Golf Channel on the big-screen monitors all day staving-off boredom. The two local stores I'm familiar-with lack any club-fitting or club-making facilities, no simulator, and no credible means of trying-out clubs -- just a small room with harsh-lighting and a hitting net. At-least at GolfGalaxy they have a simulator.

And frankly I just don't have much faith in the 'professional' competence or fitting skills of a bored-guy who spends his days sorting shoes and sweaters.

PGA's ox-got-gored since this represents nearly 2% of their membership.
It's no different here. The TM rep has shown me 8 new drivers this year! Customers are fed up getting ripped off and are not stupid enough to think that the new driver is going to give them another 20 yards or whatever. Those days are in the past and only could apply if your old driver is rubbish!! As a retailer I have had enough of TM so will only deal in future with such as Ping, Titleist and Adams who at least have some continuity!
07.25.2014 | Unregistered CommenterChico
@Chico.... Adams Golf is owned by Taylormade. Dealing with Adams is still dealing with Taylormade. :)
07.25.2014 | Unregistered CommenterOWGR Fan
OWGR - but so far they operate in a completely different fashion in the UK
07.25.2014 | Unregistered CommenterChico
Like any industry, the PGA has great professionals, good professionals, O.K. Professionals, and not so good Professionals.

I would ask that if you have a good or great PGA professional at your local course or club to give him every opportunity to serve you and your golf needs. Most of the brotherhood is very conscientious about doing what is right and are knowledgeable about the game.

I am amazed at how many people think they can get better prices at the Box Stores -- usually for last year or close-out models -- than they can at their own home club. A lot of clubs now own the Golf Shop therefore if you are a member you would want to support you own Golf Shop rather than spend money else where.

Give your local PGA home pro a chance. These guys work long hours. Yes, the industry is slipping. Not necessarily the fault of the PGA Professional. He is trying to make a living like everyone else. If you get better service elsewhere, understandable that you patronize elsewhere. But give them a chance at your home club. I think you will find the pricing is comparable. Or at least tell them "if you had XYZ brand at ABC price I would buy from you". Let them know what your needs are.

If they are making your tee time, try and support them by patronizing their golf shop. The game doesn't need to loose the great / good ones.
Dicks dealt allot with TM products, TM had a 4 drivers come out in 1 year. ABSURD! Now there CEO got moved and is leading the Hack golf concept. I just don't get it.

Personally I would never buy any golf equipment EVER at Dicks. But for TM to come out with FOUR different drivers in a 12 year period? Cmon now.

Grow the game without getting like DC.
07.25.2014 | Unregistered CommenterVKM

Years ago, I was looking for a new rain suit. I was at the local Nevada Bob's and they had one I liked, which was locally made. I didn't buy it right then as I wanted to support my club. I called the club and asked if they had that rain suit. The pro said he didn't have one in my size. Since I wanted it for that weekend, I said I'd just stop by NB's (the owner was a member at my club so it wasn't so bad). The Pro said he'd not only go by the factory and pick one up for me, but would match NB"s price.

I got to the club on Saturday and it was there with a bill that said, "25 cents cheaper than Nevada Bob's".

He got my business for new clubs later that year for that kind of service.
07.25.2014 | Unregistered CommenterAGolfingGuy
Keep in mind that the vast majority of US golfers are muni players/members. They're interested in value/cheap. I used to repair and grip clubs, but quickly realize there was no profit in it. Golfers would buy grips and components and ask me to assemble them with no idea how it would work other than they had "stolen" it on EBay. Same for professional club fitting for the masses I'd assume. The person with the desire and wherewithal for a truly professional club fitting and purchase is an extremely small target market. Dick's PGA pro in every store model was seriously flawed to start.
07.25.2014 | Unregistered CommenterAG
Bingo, AG.
07.25.2014 | Unregistered Commentermelting pot
Amen AG
07.25.2014 | Unregistered CommenterVKM

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