"The emergence of PXG and others is indicative of how golf and golfers have changed in the decade following the last U.S. recession."

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I was thinking that PXG’s driver price drop signaled a weakening of the high end club market, but as WSJ’s Brian Costa writes, Honma’s entry into the U.S. and other signs suggest an expansion. (Thanks reader JB for this.)

There was this from Mark King, ex-Taylor Made CEO:

“How do you justify these prices? How do you justify the price of a Lamborghini?” said Mark King, the former chief executive of TaylorMade who is now a consultant to Honma. “People don’t understand what’s under the hood, nor do they care. There is a certain status it represents.”

And yet…

U.S. retail sales of golf equipment grew 8% from November 2017 to November 2018, at $2.6 billion, according to market data compiled by NPD Group. Matt Powell, a sports industry analyst for the company, said that growth was largely driven by low-cost, entry-level gear.

Higher-end clubs were not included in NPD’s data because they are not sold through retailers. But Powell said the emergence of the category is comparable to that of ultra-premium bicycles that sell for $10,000 or more.

“I think all of this is being driven by the boom in baby boomers retiring,” Powell said. “You’ve got some who are saying, ‘I always wanted to have a custom-made bike or a really high-end set of golf clubs, and now that I’m no longer working, I’m going to splurge a little bit.’”

PXG was included in the piece and Costa included this intriguing predictions that revenues would rise on the lower driver price.

PXG still isn’t profitable. Parsons said it had revenues of around $80 million in 2018—roughly at break-even—and expects to grow by 50% or more this year by opening more stores and slightly reducing prices. But it has already gained wider appeal—including among an array of pro golfers—than many in the industry initially expected.

And as Costa notes, with the economic divide growing, so might the high-end market.