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Dick’s Sporting Goods may close many of its Golf Galaxy stores

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Things seem to be going from bad to worse for the golf business at Dick’s Sporting Goods.

While the dust is still settling from the company’s massive layoffs of more than 500 PGA pros in July from all of its nearly 600 stores, Dick’s suggested during its second-quarter earnings report that it might close a substantial portion of its more than 80 Golf Galaxy stores over the next three years when leases end. In addition, the company will consider closing or not renewing leases for underperforming stores.

While same store sales for Dick’s Sporting Goods increased 4.1 percent, same store sales dropped a sizeable 9.3 percent at Golf Galaxy this past quarter.

The restructuring of its golf business cost Dick’s $20.4 million in the quarter, which ended on Aug. 2, including $3.7 million in severance charges due to the layoffs and the consolidation of Dick’s golf and Golf Galaxy corporate and administrative functions.

“We have eliminated specific staff in our golf area within our Dick’s Sporting Goods stores,” said Edward Stack, chairman and CEO, in a statement. “These changes are necessitated by the current and expected trends in golf. We will invest these cost savings into other aspects of our store operations and into the growth areas of our business.”

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John Lahtinen is a Connecticut-based writer with nearly 20 years of experience involving news, media, communications, higher education, PR and marketing. He has been playing golf forever and is still finding unique ways to ruin a good round. Adding to his confusion, he plays both right- and left-handed.

76 Comments

76 Comments

  1. chris

    Jan 4, 2015 at 1:09 pm

    There are several reasons these stores are losing money. They are too big. Too many clubs, too much inventory, crappy clothing designs, etc. They are paying big lease payments for square footage they don’t really need. They have too much staff, most of them are hitting balls in the simulator or at lunch or screwing around in back, not selling product or being productive at all. Nobody needs to go into a store and look at a huge wall of golf clubs, some that you can’t even see or reach. Taylormade comes out with a ridiculous amount of golf clubs, most if them are junk. Jetspeed ? Really. Superfast ? Rocketbladz ? Aeroburner ? These all came out in the last 2 years !!!! Thats not even half of their line. Callaway is just as bad. The prices on these clubs is a joke. The perceived value from the customer is very low. $400+ for a driver is stupid. The shafts are worth less than $100 RETAIL and that leaves the heads being valued at $300 ? No thanks. All you have to do is wait 6 months and you can get them at half price, or you can buy used for an even better price. Thats what people are doing now. Nobody buys new when it first comes out unless its an Xmas gift or it’s someone very wealthy and they don’t care. Its a select few. Slim down the stores and have the people that work there be real golf experts, not these dorks that stand around and act like they are a golf salesman. Stop releasing $400 drivers and $1000 sets of irons every 3 months, everybody in golf thinks its stupid and makes your company look like a joke. Titleist is the only one that have a clue, and their technology is a bit behind the times, yet their clubs hold their value better than anything.

  2. Kevin

    Aug 27, 2014 at 2:38 pm

    I bought my Ping clubs online and they were sent from Ping in AZ. I also sent some back a year later for work. They are not counterfeit clubs as Ping confirmed the S/N before I could send them for re-work.

    So even Ping clubs can be purchased on a discount online if you look. I saved $200 over any Golf Smith or Golf Galaxy. If Amazon sold them, I would buy from there before any store. That’s just the way it is today.

  3. BillyO

    Aug 27, 2014 at 2:08 pm

    I have bought plenty of clubs online mostly on ebay and have never got a fake. If you look at the sellers stats you will know if they are real. Many are pro shops. However I must add that the deals seem better but are really not much better and a driver will normally nor come with a headcover and the wrench and shipping. By the time you add it up it is about the same price. I have also bought clubs at Dick’s and they were great service and fixed any problems. When it comes to things like golf shoes you can not beat online they can be as much as 40% cheaper on name brands but buying new drivers or irons better off paying more at gold retail sites.

  4. FTWPhil

    Aug 26, 2014 at 2:11 pm

    Shop a Golf Headquarters near you!

  5. KM

    Aug 26, 2014 at 11:33 am

    My son is an avid golfer. He said that the comment by Bart Wallace is accurate. Many people buy clubs online and think they’re getting a killer deal. The clubs look like the real thing but the performance is nothing like the original. My son believes that counterfeit products are the main reason golf stores are struggling. The old adage still applies – if something is too good to be true… Check your serial numbers.

  6. Carl Paul

    Aug 25, 2014 at 10:22 am

    GolfWorks was once an independent company but acquired by Golf Galaxy. Then Dicks acquired Golf Galaxy. I wonder what will happen to GolfWorks. Originally a component company but of course that market declined precipitously. Wonder how Dicks can justify holding on to GolfWorks?

  7. Bart Wallace

    Aug 24, 2014 at 10:36 pm

    In regards to equipment pricing, if you are buying anything new or even year two of a product’s life, the pricing is regulated by the manufacturers and ALL retailers have to be at the same price or else they risk penalties from the manufacturer. So if you or your buddy got some great “deal” from an online retailer on these clubs, odds are it’s a fake so good luck with that as counterfeits are everywhere online and to the naked eye they look good too. The only true “deals” that exist are once a product is no longer made by the vendor and they want to clear out of their inventory, then stores can price it how they wish. This is where the industry has gotten in trouble recently, manufacturers have overproduced thinking that each next new club will be the new “IT” item, meanwhile, as each one fails to meet that lofty goal, they have to mark it down to move through it, thus creating too much inventory and lowering the profitability for all parties involved. Just think about how little a Ford dealer & manufacturer would make if they released 3 new Ford Escapes each year with no differences in engines, performance, or gas mileage, but rather just new colors and a few new custom options…

    • Fsu baseball

      Aug 26, 2014 at 11:30 pm

      Not entirely true. I’m in the business and ping is the only company that sets price restrictions and will suspend accounts for violations. Titleist strongly suggests but doesn’t enforce. Tmag,Callaway,Cleveland,mizuno,Adams etc. they all just want to pump up your volume and couldn’t care less what you discount it to.. Let’s all understand one thing. There is no money in clubs. After shipping most of us are lucky if we make $85 on a $400 driver or $140 on a $800 set of sticks. The online guys have no lease payments and very little payroll therefore they can afford to discount and make close to zippy on clubs cause it all adds up and all they have to do is ship them out. Example. SLDR irons are $799 for 8 steel set. Wholesale is $630. Online guys can go $699 and charge you for shipping and be happy with $70 profit where retail stores can’t or staff would not get paychecks and the lease would not get paid.

  8. Bobby

    Aug 24, 2014 at 10:52 am

    Stores need to be as competitive as online retailers with their prices. I personally don’t buy clubs online, but I can see why people do. When you can save $100-$200 on a set of new irons that cost $900+ online shopping has a huge advantage. Money talks

  9. Nash Carr

    Aug 24, 2014 at 9:18 am

    GG even sells the SAME products for less on their website which undercuts their own brick and mortar stores. Went GG went into having MORE clothes (higher profit margins) than actual golf equipment the signs were on the wall. It’s all about showing a higher margin. I know guys who work at GG and they are actually discouraged from custom ordering anything for people, they are trained to try and steer you to the off the rack stuff as it has a higher profit margin. Before Dick’s bought GG it was a cool store; after it has went downhill ever since. A year ago I called it that they would start closing stores and now they are.

  10. mike m

    Aug 24, 2014 at 12:56 am

    Paramus NJ GG—I agree, the old store had an unreal staff. I would go in every week looking for used clubs for over 5 years ( they always had really great prices and some real steals) Staff was super friendly and all called me by name.

    New Store, what a joke. So overbuilt, totally sterile, no comparison and the prices on used are ridiculous.

    Dick’s plan really blows–Lost me for good

  11. Jeff

    Aug 23, 2014 at 11:45 pm

    The GG closed in my neighborhood about 6 months ago. I am really down on the golf club market these days. Clubs haven’t really had any improvements worth the full retail investment of new clubs IMO. I think we need to see some pricing competition in the club market. The market is flooded with clubs and they are always at the same price point across the board.

  12. Tom

    Aug 23, 2014 at 11:07 pm

    Golf Galaxy hasn’t even profitable since 2002.

  13. John

    Aug 23, 2014 at 10:34 pm

    John:
    Maybe I missed it on the earnings report, but I did not see anything about closing stores. GG has closed at least 10-12 stores within the past few years due to underperforming stores and not renewing leases.

  14. Jeff

    Aug 23, 2014 at 10:26 pm

    Our local Dicks Sporting Goods here in Columbus GA has a good golf department. Sales are always great and the store Pro knows what he is doing. Balls are always on sale and the bargains are pretty decent. I’ve been shopping at the Columbus GA Dicks for golf equipment for about 8 years now and it’s been a good experience for the most part. The previous Pro was not friendly at all but the current guy is good. Bought a few nice marked down fairway woods at a real low price recently so I have no complaints. Also bought a seriously marked down Odyssey putter which is working great for me. No complaints with this Dicks golf department. Got a pair of Puma Golf shoes for $19.99 closeout. Beat that one.

  15. Rwj

    Aug 23, 2014 at 8:47 pm

    They are filled with clothing. Clothing that is priced so ridiculous you just shake your head. $75 for a pair of FJ shorts? $60 polos and $50 belts. The material cost + child labor cost in Indonesia does not warrant such high prices

    • Craig

      Aug 23, 2014 at 10:26 pm

      Try $95 TW polos and $79 UA polos. $60 is the “sale” price.

    • Fundy

      Aug 24, 2014 at 1:32 am

      RWJ,
      No, the slave labor costs do not justify the high prices, but US tariffs and marketing fees do cost and arm and a leg in the US, and the umbrellas for the CEOs and their retirement plans do too, as do gas prices…

    • Dreg Golf

      Aug 24, 2014 at 11:23 am

      I want to see golf clothing and shoes DIE as a market. $80 for a shirt….hahahahhahah. Get real. Back in then70s and 80s no one cared what you wore or played, it was how you played. I’d like to see golf get back to that instead of some worthless fashion show…where some 90s shooting hack parades around in his full getup cause he ain’t got no game, but acts the part.

  16. Seriously?

    Aug 23, 2014 at 7:42 pm

    Couple things to remember when we’re hating on GG.

    1. Lots of us go in to demo all of the clubs we want on the simulators, only to buy elsewhere, usually online.

    2. Why complain about pricing at GG? They have price matching services for 30 days after you buy something as long as it’s from an authorized retailer. You find it cheaper? Tell them and they’ll match it.

    Everybody complains about the price of the items but I wonder how many actually say anything or know the policies?

    And if you go in to the store to try things and you buy it elsewhere, you are exploiting someone’s sales model to your benefit. The local shops are great, but many don’t have the resources to offer full launch monitor fittings, nor are some of the sales people at these shops up to speed on the new stuff. And while they might come down on certain clubs, plenty of them are breaking the rules from Titleist and PING when they go below the price set by those.

    I believe a few online retailers even got their accounts pulled for doing this.

    Like anything in retail, people make the experience good or bad.

    • Don

      Sep 2, 2014 at 4:02 pm

      Agreed. Besides how do buy a custom fit club on line?

      • David

        Oct 14, 2014 at 9:23 am

        Easy:
        1. Go get fit at a local retailer.
        2. Order custom clubs through Golfsmith or The Golf Warehouse. I’m sure other online retailers offer customization as well.
        or
        2. Search ebay/classifieds for used clubs with your specs.

  17. randywildman

    Aug 23, 2014 at 7:16 pm

    I was in the Portland GG the day they found out it was being closed. The people who worked their were is total shock. The Dick’s news coming 8 months later is not a shock after seeing the people at GG having the rug pulled out from under them.

    I feel bad for the people who work in these mega golf shops, with so much overhead it’s hard to keep moving it, every 3 to six months when the new gear comes into replace the old.

    My kids did like the GG putting green though.

  18. BJ

    Aug 23, 2014 at 5:05 pm


    Where did it say this? I read the entire report and listen to about 80% of the conference call for investors. Didn’t hear store closings once. You may glean what you want from the report, but suggesting and confirming are two different things.

  19. Connor

    Aug 23, 2014 at 4:59 pm

    Golfsmith just opened up in my town. Beats the heck out of our Golf Galaxy. Better staff, better simulators, similar prices. GG is a ghost town now that GS has come to town.

    • Chuck

      Aug 23, 2014 at 11:02 pm

      I don’t think you have ever shopped or ordered anything from GS. What are you smoking? Demo clubs are demo clubs. Older models get tape on them when you hit them. Their website only ships out new equipment. I have never heard otherwise from a legit source,

      • Mcgraw

        Aug 24, 2014 at 8:20 am

        TJ,

        You must have had one bad deal, I would give them another try because they really are a very good company. I personally have bought a ridiculous amount of stuff there and never had a bad situation.

        • Gonzo

          Aug 24, 2014 at 9:26 pm

          Too bad Tj’s rediculously asinine comment got deleted!

  20. EJ

    Aug 23, 2014 at 1:45 pm

    In about a 3 mile stretch of Butterfield Road in Chicago’s western suburbs, there’s a Dick’s, PGA Superstore, GG, and Golfsmith. Too much supply for 7 or 8 months of demand.

    • Clark street

      Aug 23, 2014 at 7:34 pm

      Good for us. Bad for them

    • Chuck

      Aug 23, 2014 at 11:02 pm

      That is a real nice Golfsmith!!!

    • Tom

      Aug 23, 2014 at 11:04 pm

      That golf galaxy is 100% closing before the next calendar year. I know the GM and he was told 2 months ago. So that area will be a little less diluted

      • EJ

        Aug 24, 2014 at 4:48 pm

        I’m surprised that GG has stayed open as long as it has. That strip mall has terrible entrance/exit traffic patterns.

    • Don

      Sep 2, 2014 at 4:05 pm

      My old stomping grounds. I was back for a visit (from Vegas) and went in to the new PGA store. I wondered how long it would take before it put the other out of business.

  21. JM

    Aug 23, 2014 at 12:49 pm

    They already closed the 2 stores in the northwest. Portland recently, and Renton, south of Seattle was short lived, was only around for a year or two before becoming a Dick’s. Interestingly enough Dick’s is expanding out here even though those stores are dead in general, not just golf sales.

    • hdymnstr

      Aug 24, 2014 at 8:52 am

      Yes but we also have great local golf chains like Puetz’s and Pro Golf Discount.

  22. steve

    Aug 23, 2014 at 11:41 am

    Who cares if they close all of them. Golf is a niche sport, the Tiger effect is over. Golf will go back to where it was before Tiger. It is not the end of golf, the bubble has popped. And all the expansion done during the Tiger effect is collapsing. Economy 101 supply and demand. Too much supply, not enough demand. Bad business model.

    • Martin

      Aug 24, 2014 at 2:22 pm

      I agree, that plus the newer 8 month product life is killing it,

  23. Marc Duncan

    Aug 23, 2014 at 11:25 am

    Golf equipment is over saturated, and we all know what it’s really worth, especially with the short release cycles. I wish they would go back to 1-2year cycles on equipment.
    and get the big box stores out of the business, except for entry level stuff.

  24. enrique

    Aug 23, 2014 at 10:54 am

    Golf is dead. It’s going full circle. Back to the 70’s when it was your grandfathers sport.

    • Marc Duncan

      Aug 23, 2014 at 11:28 am

      Well, since I was born in 61, I am my grandfather! LOL
      And honestly, if we could get some of the decorum back, I’m ok with this.

  25. nikkyd

    Aug 23, 2014 at 10:15 am

    The one positive thing i can say about golf galaxy is that they at least use trackman for fittings.(the store i was at anyways) . Dicks uses some kind of hachikawa flightscope cheap assed thing and the balls they have are maxfli rock hards. Funny how basically the same company uses two different kinds of equipment

  26. Dan

    Aug 23, 2014 at 9:26 am

    I went to GC last weekend the prices for used clubs made Golfsmith look cheap.

  27. John Lahtinen

    Aug 23, 2014 at 9:21 am

    As always, you guys are making some great points. I wonder if you feel smaller, almost “boutique” style golf shops are the way of keeping the game personal? It seems as though the smaller shops where the pro knows you by first name and knows your game was once the way it was done. While I know there are still many, many of these great businesses across the country, it almost seems as though as some of you have commented, golf retail has gone the way of Amazon, Dick’s, etc. While each I’m sure offers benefits, they don’t seem to be able to provide that personal touch that a smaller shop can. It would seem the major way the big box stores like Dick’s and GG can keep people coming in is the same old reason, they can undercut the smaller guys on price. But, much like buying a car, if you are basing your decision solely on the lowest possible price, you might not be getting the best possible product each time.

    Wondering where you all prefer to spend your dollars and also would love to hear about some great local shops in your area that you have had great experiences at.

    Thanks for the great feedback and insight.

    • Tom

      Aug 23, 2014 at 1:41 pm

      I agree with you 100%. My friend went to golfsmith to buy a set of irons. He knew what club he wanted which was rocketbladze which were on sale. The sales rep at golfsmith was doing his job I guess by trying to sale him the new and the next best just came out te SLDR irons. He tried and told the rep he hated it. The rep than had an reaction that he punched him in the gut like this guy doesn’t know anything!

      The rep goes away and talks to he’s manager saying this guy aint buying anything I’m not paying attention to him and proceed to help others that clearly stated they are not looking to buy though my friend informed him he wants to buy a new set of irons.

      My friend was heated and told the managed I will not buy these irons if this guy that “helped” get any kind of commission. He didn’t do a damn thing to help him decide or give him any numbers to compare.

      I think it’s always the same if you go to any big box stores regardless of what they sale. My father own a small business and the only reason he has the same customers coming back is because he build the relationship and trust amongst his customers for them to come back again. Like you said he is very friendly and go beyond his duty to make sure they have a great experience just like many small business that are successful.

    • Hunterdog

      Aug 23, 2014 at 7:52 pm

      John – interesting issue and question. I always try to give my pro my business and am willing to pay a little more to do so. That being said, that business is mostly soft goods (shoes, gloves, balls, apparel, etc.). I don’t buy a lot of clubs and care about the manufacturers’ cycles. But when I do, I prefer to be fit a professional fitter with Trackman, outside facilities, and who is not wed to just a few brands. I have been willing to drive 3 or 4 hours for a fitting. My pro just can’t justify that expense. I am confident that he appreciates my business and I still spend a fair amount with him and I am open with him about my club purchases. In my boutique golf world there is nothing at Dick’s, Golf Galaxy, Golfsmith for me, except window shopping.

    • Don O'Brien

      Aug 27, 2014 at 3:58 pm

      I’m 64 and LH. No one at the local GG is even capable of fitting me – or because I don’t fit the floor models. Titleist and Ping custom ordered are my best option. After having an in-stock driver pushed at me, only ever going back for accessories. I have the top Titleist fitting center in WI nearby, and I have gotten great fittings to none of the standard sets, and even got pricing better than MSRP. Just have a hard time convincing friends that “My Clubs” work best for me – they still want Rory’s or Bubba’s driver. Cherokee also brought in the Titleist Tour Van, and those guys were magic fitting me for wedges.

  28. Joe

    Aug 23, 2014 at 8:46 am

    This isn’t surprising considering how terribly they’ve handled the launch of their new flagship store in Paramus, N.J. Their old store was personable, helpful and friendly. This new one is like shopping in a dick’s. They have 8 or 10 hitting bays, plus 4 manufacturers fitting bays and when I went in there at 11:30am on a Tuesday to work on my 3 wood search, only 1 bay was being used for a fitting and the rest were empty. Another gentleman and myself grabbed a club and stepped in to hit (the standard bays, not the manufacturer ones) the new Pro there came over, asked us if we were doing fittings and when we said no, he told us he needs us to move along then because these bays were only for fittings. So with 12 or 13 empty hitting bays, we couldn’t use two for a few minutes! The smaller staff in the old store was terrific and for that reason, I used to exclusively buy any of my off the rack stuff there. Now this superstore has really pushed me away from them. The staff at the PGA store across the street may be useless, but at least they don’t turn me away.

    • Docx

      Aug 23, 2014 at 4:17 pm

      Drive about 23 minutes to THE TAPPAN GOLF CENTER…. the pro shop there, NOVOGOLF is awesome. Full 300 yd range, all top shelf. Awesome new restaurant/tap room. Golf Heaven. Top 25 Pro Shops in America, Top 100 golf facility, Golf Mag AND Golf Digest top 100 Fitters, Top 25 Custom Shop, Master Builder and Fitter, IN HOUSE SST puring, State of the Art Putter Fitting, and every top shelf shaft in the world….Edel, Machine, SAM Puttlab, Epon, Miura, Callaway, Titleist, Ping, Exotics, etc. No Crap only the best staff and gear.

    • JC

      Aug 27, 2014 at 8:38 am

      Did you go in and ask for help or like everyone else just go in and bang balls for an hour like most? I know the staff there and the biggest problem going on there is all of freeloaders that come in to practice on their lunch breaks every day and don’t buy anything. The launch monitors cost serious money and people go in and get ” free” info and don’t always purchase there. It’s not a driving range for those who are to cheep to go buy a bucket of balls and work on their game. everyone wants something for free or thinks they are entitled to something for free. the staff there has more training then the rest of the GG stores combined, especially the PGA Professional there, go in and ask for help don’t just help yourself, trust me they are the best at what they do there!

  29. Double C

    Aug 23, 2014 at 8:00 am

    Worst store ever.

  30. Dave

    Aug 23, 2014 at 5:52 am

    Golf Galaxy feels like a clothes, accessory and apparel store that happens to sell clubs. They give you the worst value on trades and try to sell at MSRP on all clubs. It’s not rocket science why this model is failing for them especially during a time when being more competitive is imperative due to the decline in market demand. Perhaps they should rethink the model rather than blindly closing stores?

  31. Mat

    Aug 23, 2014 at 4:43 am

    Agreed with the thought of just stop selling stuff at Dicks other than balls.

    Golf Galaxy is the big ol Best Buys of the late 90’s. They are, by their design, going to offer a substandard experience in today’s much more custom environment. They need to take a look at what brings people in (demo selection), how to get them to buy (expedited custom ordering), and make them confident about those purchases (reasonable fitter quality).

    You can’t do that in warehouse sized stores.

  32. A

    Aug 23, 2014 at 3:07 am

    Amazon should buy Dick’s and store it all

  33. RG

    Aug 23, 2014 at 1:45 am

    People are still buying golf equipment from a store? Hmmm. I wonder if these people still have cords on there telephones?

    • JH

      Aug 23, 2014 at 4:08 am

      Good luck buying equipment online when you have no idea what fits you or what performs the best for you.

      • Larry Ness

        Aug 24, 2014 at 6:40 am

        I managed a GG for many years. Folks would come in and spend all day hitting the “new clubs” want a free fitting, then go buy it on line because they could save a few bucks. You people all talk about wanting personal service, but have no loyalty what so ever when you receive it. Good luck when all the stores close and all you will be able to do is find clubs on line.

        • Dreg Golf

          Aug 24, 2014 at 11:18 am

          Like it would matter to z99.9% of the hacks out there anyway! Hahahahhahah hit some balls, read /watch some instruction…take a lesson. The rest is feel good fluff. I say if a place allows you to hit it and then you can find a better deal…then to for it. If GG or Dicks can’t make em an equivalent deal, then tough….they ought to go it of business!

      • JC

        Aug 27, 2014 at 8:43 am

        Couldn’t agree with you more, I know GG charges $50 for the fitting and they wave it if you buy from them, can’t get fit online. I would pay the $50 anyway just for the expertise and time, , I tipped the fitter there the $50 for his time after my fitting, quality experience.

    • Alex

      Aug 23, 2014 at 6:20 am

      Well, if you’re experienced enough,when it comes to golf equipment you always try before you buy

    • Darius cabaddy

      Aug 23, 2014 at 6:46 am

      I stopped into a local Golf Galaxy just yesterday to search the pre-owned bin (I’m wireless by the way). You could drive a Mini Cooper through the entire store and not hit a display or clothing rack. They still had plenty of product, but you could really see how much they used to jam into the store.

      It will be interesting to see how retailers adapt to consumer buying preferences because this is happening throughout all brick and mortar retail businesses.

  34. Chuck

    Aug 22, 2014 at 11:57 pm

    Good riddance

  35. storm319

    Aug 22, 2014 at 10:37 pm

    Not a bad business decision to close low performing stores that are not profitable. Would not be surprised if they are trying position GG to be sold (which may not end up being a bad thing).

  36. Billy Joe

    Aug 22, 2014 at 10:27 pm

    Went into Dick’s to get some balls and the shelves barely had anything on them and many of the balls were in boxes that were taped shut! Place is garbage.

  37. Johnny E

    Aug 22, 2014 at 10:12 pm

    i agree, Dicks should get out of the golf business and leave that to Golf Galaxy, the one in Durham, NC is awesome.

  38. TW

    Aug 22, 2014 at 9:42 pm

    Price,Price,Price …….with the internet prices cutting the big box stores by sometimes 25% on the day a new item is released, its almost impossible for stores to compete for golfers who spend money each season. Most of these golfers will demo the item, check the numbers and either order direct from the manufacture if custom or go online and get the stock setup at a big discount…. It is easy to find and verify the authenticity, just follow the “if its too good to be true” logic and youll be fine. I think in todays economic times the key word is discount and the Dicks is always the last store to give those out.
    Plus there is little to negotiating prices with Dicks. The only reason I might shop at Dicks is for a Titleist glove and some tour balls, nothing more

  39. Joseph

    Aug 22, 2014 at 9:10 pm

    Not really surprised. Many of the Galaxy stores have the same layout and shopping experience that they had 10 years ago. They literally do nothing other than restock the shelves every year with the new stuff. Business today changes so quickly. If you’re not in tune with your customers, you’re dead. The small local shops are better at relationships and understanding what customers are really interested in. You don’t need 10-15,000 square feet to accomplish that. The industry is due for a shake up.

    • Jeremy

      Aug 23, 2014 at 12:44 am

      Agreed. Roger Dunn in West LA is probably the best retail experience I know of. Knowledgable staff, fantastic return policy, great used selection, 5 simulator stations, and honest prices. I once broke a club and while they sent it away for warranty service they gave me a comparable gap wedge from the used clubs to play with until mine was repaired. I have long drive contests with the staff without buying a thing sometimes. Basically, it’s a nice place to spend an hour.

      Yes, like everything nowadays their prices are higher than what I can find online. But the experience is better, and worth the extra cost. I won’t buy many things in retails stores anymore, but golf gear will always get me into the building. It’s a business model that should be able to survive, but maybe not on the scale of a sporting goods megastore like Dick’s/Golf Galaxy.

  40. Danny

    Aug 22, 2014 at 9:07 pm

    Love PGA Superstore!

  41. Ken

    Aug 22, 2014 at 8:42 pm

    I have generally bypassed Dick’s to head to any other store. It always seemed they were tepidly in the golf biz.

  42. Bert

    Aug 22, 2014 at 7:10 pm

    Went into Dick’s in Pensacola yesterday to purchase a golf bag. They didn’t have the one I wanted or anything similar. Also the retail clerk was rude and lacked a desire to answer my questions. Really sad to think Dick’s may believe they should be in business. I’ll shop elsewhere! Also perhaps Disk’s should remove 90% of their golf merchandise and keep Golf Galaxy open?

    • Robin

      Aug 22, 2014 at 8:27 pm

      While Dicks Sporting Goods is the leader in most sporting goods sales, Golf Galaxy has the experienced and most knowledgable staff, especially their PGA Professinonals who give lessons, fit equipment, and consistently show their professionalism to the customers. I love my PGA Pro at the Devon store. If I need golf equipment, I prefer Golf Galaxy. If I need other sports equipment, I go to Dicks.

  43. Sully

    Aug 22, 2014 at 6:43 pm

    It is unfortunate. But retail in all areas, not just golf..Must evolve as internet sales increase…

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GolfWRX takes a behind-the-scenes look at the Callaway ball plant

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In Chicopee, Massachusetts, there is an unassuming red brick building that predates the existence of every modern golf OEM. From the outside, it could be confused for any other American manufacturing facility if not for the proudly displayed Callaway sign. Inside, there are over 400 hard-working people producing the highest quality golf balls using state-of-the art manufacturing techniques and tools — this red brick building is the Callaway golf ball plant.

To understand what you see when you first enter the ball plant, it’s best to first understand why it is here in the first place. When I initially asked this question to one of my tour guides, Vincent Simonds, the Senior Director of Global Golf Ball Operations, his answer started with a story that predated cars…it was at this point I knew that these guys mean business.

The modern history, however, starts in 2003 when Callaway purchased Top-Flite brand and subsidiaries, and with it purchased the entire Top-Flite manufacturing facility. In its it heyday, Top-Flite/Spaulding was producing its full line of clubs and balls out of this building, and that included equipment made for Bobby Jones. Chicopee, Massachusetts, was essentially the center of the golf club technology universe.

Part of the original Spaulding golf club factory

Letter from Bobby Jones discussing the advantage of the newly designed ball

Page 2 of the Letter from Bobby Jones

When its comes to balls, most modern golfers don’t equate Top-Flite with premium equipment or breakthroughs, but during this time period the ball plant in Chicopee was responsible for just as many technology and scientific breakthroughs as its modern Callaway self.

One Example is Bob Molitor. In 1972, Molitor developed the first two-piece golf ball with a Surlyn cover by combining the right amounts of various ionomers. This allowed golf balls to have much greater durability and along with it improved distance. This development is part of the reason the USGA had to establish the “One Ball Rule” because players would switch out depending on the hole since there was a huge distance advantage to this Solid Core Surlyn Cover design. Imagine that – the USGA having to change rules to accommodate a new technology, seems to me our current daily discussions about bifurcation aren’t something so new after all.

There were a lot of other great innovations over the years that lead to new technology making its way into the bags of players all over the world, one of which caused a revolution that we still benefit from today. In the 90s Top-Flite, under the Strata brand, cracked the code of merging the soft, high-spin “tour ball” performance with the lower-spinning, longer-flying, and more durable “distance ball”, this three-piece ball was like two balls in one. Strata’s design team accomplished this feat by placing a soft polyurethane cover on a Top-Flite distance ball, and then added a thin layer between the cover and the core that encased the ball’s already large and solid rubber core. In short, the modern golf ball was born. 

This brings us back to the modern day Callaway ball plant, a facility where the average employee tenure exceeds 20 years, and where every single premium Callaway Ball on the planet is made. The thing I quickly realized upon entering the plant for the first time is the pride every person has for their role in making world class golf balls. This sense of pride, and a friendly, yet hard-working environment is something I witnessed before at Callaway’s Carlsbad facility too — a testament to the company’s corporate leadership and the culture that they promote everyday. The “Victory Flag,” as they call it, was flying high thanks to Xander Schauffele’s win just a few days before my visit. 

The start of production begins with materials formulation

I was able to observe a pre-shift meeting, and you would think that based on the discussion of machine tolerances, quality control, & equipment inspections this plant is making parts for a yet-to-be-seen shuttle being sent into space, but they’re talking golf balls. Speaking to the tolerances the plant works within, the in-house machine shop had some amazing equipment, including some things I unfortunately could not share through pictures. This equipment works with the tolerances of less than the 1/30th the thickness of a Post-It Note. For example, each single side to a cover mold for the Chrome Soft line takes more than 30 hours of machine time to complete — an amount of time which might seem excessive, but when you think of the speed and forces impacting a golf ball from first driver strike and along its parabolic trajectory, we really are talking space shuttle physics.

Some of the most impressive equipment has nothing to do with the performance of the balls but rather how they look. I’m talking here about the Truvis patterned balls. What was perceived by many golfers at first as a gimmick (and something than even some Callaway management believed would be a fad) has proven to be an absolute slam dunk. The pentagon pattern provides a tangible benefit by creating an optical illusion that makes the ball look bigger (and easier to hit) especially out of the rough, and also gives visual feedback for short game shots and putting.

Let’s just say that what started as a toe dip with one machine has turned into an area of the plant with more than a dozen machines,  and Callaway is also producing Truvis balls with custom colors and logos — they’re not just printing pentagons anymore.

GolfWRX Truvis

For actual production, every ball starts as raw materials, and compounds are precisely mixed in house, allowing Callaway to control the entire production process. The amount of materials engineering and chemistry I witnessed was way beyond what I was expecting, and to be frank, I went in with already high expectations. After initial mixing each batch is tested and sent to the next step.

Mixing Station

Pre cut core “slugs” ready for baking

Ever wonder why the cores of various golf balls from a single OEM are so bright and differently colored? It’s actually done to make each material identifiable in the process and give production staff another way to make sure materials get to the right manufacturing line. Of all the questions I asked, this one had the most simple answer.

Callaway ERC ( Left ) vs. Chrome Soft ( Right )

The next step is the “cooking” process of the inner core. Each oven press is precisely controlled for pressure and temperature along multiple areas of each unit, this ensures a core that comes from the outer part of the press is formed and “cooked” to the exact same spec as one from the middle. The same process is used for both parts of the dual core.  

Hydraulic press “oven” for producing cores

 

Cores post-pressing and still hot

Callaway utilized a proprietary manufacturing and molding technique to ensure exact specifications are met for centering the core and achieving correct cover thickness. Once the covers are in place, we officially have a golf ball, but we’re not done yet. There are still more quality control checks done by machine as well and humans to once again ensure each ball that leaves the plant is built to the highest quality standards and will perform just like the one before it.

Chrome Softs just after the cover process – Still very warm to the touch as the urethane cools

Even the final paint and clear coat are highly engineered to resist staining, sheering, and stay on during deformation. To quote of one my tour guides, “The force applied to the cover and paint on the ball by a wedge would be like taking a hatchet to the paint on the side of your house.” It might seem like a simple process, but to ensure full coverage of sphere requires some pretty unique tools to get the job done.

This brings us to the new Triple Track Alignment system and how it was developed to help golfers play better. The new system helps improve alignment on putts from all lengths and it also happens to be on Callaway’s longest ball to date: the ERC Soft.

The alignment aid wraps 160 degrees around the ball and offers three parallel lines with high contrast (no more need to try and draw that long Sharpie line around your ball).  For those who choose to putt without the Triple Track alignment, Callaway considered you too, since the other 200 degrees around the ball unsure that you won’t see those lines from address.

Triple Track Alignment visible vs hidden

Every shot taken means something to someone, whether it be a golfer trying to break 100 for the first time, or a tour professional lining up a putt on Sunday afternoon of a major championship. The golf ball is the one piece of equipment a golfer will use on every shot, and each person at the Callaway ball plant in Chicopee, Massachusetts, is proud to put their name behind it, even if you don’t see those names on the box.

 

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Phil phires a 60 | Lowry leads in Abu Dhabi | Bernhard the bricklayer’s son

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By Ben Alberstadt (ben.alberstadt@golfwrx.com)

January 18, 2019

Good Friday morning, golf fans.
1.  Desert Classic
A “rusty” Mickelson leads with nothing less than a 12-under 60…
Golf Channel’s Ryan Lavner…”If this is his idea of rusty, it could be another special year for Phil Mickelson…Before heading out to begin his 28th year on the PGA Tour, Lefty alerted his 250,000-plus Twitter followers that he was “excited” and “fresh” and “ready to get started,” but also, um, “rusty,” which is a golfer’s subtle way of suggesting that expectations should be lowered. Mickelson even told his playing partner, Aaron Wise, the reigning Rookie of the Year, as much before the round: “I’m rusty, so don’t expect much.”
  • “But Mickelson has been doing the improbable for nearly three decades now, and so maybe it shouldn’t have been such a complete surprise that in his first round of 2019, at 48 years of age, with no expectations, he carded his lowest score in relation to par in his long and decorated Tour career – a 12-under 60, to take the lead Thursday at the Desert Classic.”
  • “It was kind of a lucky day in the sense that I did not feel sharp heading in,” Mickelson said afterward. “Sometimes it’s just one of those days when it clicks.”
2. Meanwhile, on the LPGA Tour…
AP Report…”Nearly three months after Lewis became a mother, and six months after she last played on tour, she opened with seven birdies on Thursday for a 5-under 66 that left her one shot behind Brooke Henderson and Eun-Hee Ji at the Diamond Resorts Tournament of Champions.”
  • ”Pleasantly surprised,” Lewis said. ”Had pretty low expectations going into the day. Just really made a lot of putts. I had some weird shots, which I knew was going to happen having not played in a while. I don’t know where it came from, but I’m going to take it.”
  • “Henderson overcame a slow start with a bogey on the second hole and a par save on No. 3 at the Tranquilo Golf Club at Four Seasons. She birdied five of her last eight holes for a 65 to tie Ji, who had a bogey-free round.”
  • “The tournament – the first season-opener in Florida for the LPGA since 2015 – is only for LPGA winners each of the last two years.”
3. European Tour
A report from The National...”Shane Lowry has a three-shot advantage to take into Saturday’s final round of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship presented by EGA.”
  • “A birdie at the 18th gave him a round of 67 to leave him on -17, three ahead of South African Richard Sterne.”
  • “An eagle on the final hole from Ian Poulter lifted the Englishman to -12 and gives him hope he can prevail on Saturday.”
  • “Pablo Larrazabal will start the final round on -11 ahead of a quartet of Maximilian Kiefer, Thomas Pieters, Soren Kjeldsen and Scott Jamieson.”
4. The bricklayer’s son
Bernhard Langer’s “My Shot” runs in Golf Digest this month.
A few morsels…
  • “My father built our house. When I was a boy, he would call on me to help him lay bricks. I would shovel the material for the mortar into a small mixing machine, then join him in laying the bricks, setting them carefully, one by one, using string to make sure everything was straight. I consider it a miracle to have come this far.”
  • “WE CADDIES were given four hand-me-down clubs to share. There was a 2-wood, 3-iron and 7-iron, all with bamboo shafts, and a putter with a shaft bent like an archer’s bow. By the time I was 12, I saved enough money to buy a new set of Kroydon irons. They weren’t top of the line, but they were shiny, new and all mine. I added a Blue Goose model putter that had a small indentation in the head. It was a magical putter, and I quickly became the best putter at the course, Golfclub Augsburg, and possibly all of Germany. One day the putter went missing. I frantically went through the members’ bags, and sure enough, found my Blue Goose with the indentation. But I was in a terrible situation. I couldn’t confront the member-he surely would deny everything, and I would be fired. So I kept it to myself. I never did get the Blue Goose back. I’ve spent the past 50 years looking for a putter that suits me as well.”
5. Latin American Am
AP Report…“Alvaro Ortiz of Mexico had an ideal start Thursday in hopes of turning his fortunes in the Latin American Amateur Championship, opening with a 6-under 66 to build a three-shot lead after the opening round.”
  • “Ortiz has been runner-up in the Latin American Amateur the last two years. He finished five shots behind Joaquin Niemann of Chile last year, and he lost in a three-man playoff to Toto Gana the previous year.”
  • “The winner earns a spot in the Masters in April, and is exempt into the final stage of qualifying for the U.S. Open and British Open.”
6. Pins in at Augusta National? Maybe…
Golf Channel’s Nick Menta…”Will players really be allowed to putt with the pins in during at the Masters?”
  • “Asked that question Thursday at the Latin America Amateur Championship, Augusta National chairman Fred Ridley didn’t say no.”
  • “Under the new Rules of Golf, which went into effect on Jan. 1, players are now allowed to leave the flagstick in while on the greens, as Bryson DeChambeau so eagerly demonstrated.”
  • “Addressing the possibility of Augusta National going against the Rules of Golf during Masters week, Ridley first thanked the USGA’s Mike Davis and R&A’s Martin Slumbers for their work, then preached a message of “consistency” at the game’s highest levels.”
  • “We will, as we always do, collaborate with the governing bodies. We will talk about those local rules and conditions that will be implemented,” Ridley said.”
  • “We think it’s important that there be some consistency in top championship golf, and so you should expect that the Masters Tournament, from a rules perspective, will look very much, if not the same, as what you’re seeing in the major championships and the professional tours.”
7. The weirdest lies in golf history
Great stuff here from Coleman Bentley rounding up some of the most absurd lies (and resultant shots) in golf history (although it’s hard to believe there’s any way his list could be comprehensive, but hey, headlines, and you have to admire the effort)
  • “Golf is a game of minutely controlled chaos. Atoms crashing into atoms. Weight swooping into inertia. A ballet of bounces, spins, kicks, and ricochets that goes wrong just as often as it goes right. The beauty of a such an unpredictable game-one of inches, not yards-however, is that when it goes right it’s spectacular and when it goes wrong, well, it’s equally spectacular. Beg to differ? Well, keep on begging, because as the weirdest, wildest lies in golf’s weird, wild history prove, chaos is a beautiful thing indeed.”
  • “Shane Lowry – 2018 Abu Dhabi Championship…Before Shane Lowry could tie the course record at the 2018 Abu Dhabi Championship, he first had to conquer Trash Heap Corner. P.S. If no one’s taking that couch, we might know a guy who’s interested.”
  • “Phil Mickelson – 2014 Barclays Championship…The Leave: Just to the left of Big Jeff’s Hotdog Haus. One day Phil Mickelson will save par from the surface of the moon. We’re sure of it. Until then, his walkabout at the 2014 Barclays Championship will have to suffice.”
8. Kang & McNealy
A couple of Las Vegas-based golf pros are a couple!
Golf Channel’s Randall Mell...”Danielle Kang watched Maverick McNealy with special interest when he was mic’d up on Golf Channel’s telecast of the Web.com Tour event in the Bahamas earlier this week.”
  • “They are dating.”
  • “Kang wasn’t sure whether to reveal McNealy is her boyfriend, but she couldn’t help herself.”
  • “He’s a dork,” she cracked when asked to review his running dialogue on Golf Channel. “But he’s my dork.”
  • “She was applying the Kang needle. Both she and McNealy live in Las Vegas. She said they met at a golf course there, The Summit Club.”
  • “He’s a sweetheart,” Kang said. “I have so much respect for him and vice versa.”
  • Aww!
9. Back in black!
Titleist 718 AP2 Black and AP3 Black released in limited quantities. Previously only available in a traditional chrome finish, the new Titleist 718 AP2 Black and Titleist 718 AP3 Black irons are finished with a sleek, high polish black PVD coating. The irons feature True Temper AMT Onyx shafts stock.
  • Titleist has unveiled new 718 AP2 Black and 718 AP3 Black irons in limited black finish that will be available to purchase from March 1.
  • Previously only available in a traditional chrome finish, the new Titleist 718 AP2 Black and Titleist 718 AP3 Black irons are finished with a sleek, high polish black PVD coating. The irons feature True Temper AMT Onyx shafts stock. The shafts’ powder coat matte black finish aims to minimize glare (in addition to looking cool). An all-black Golf Pride Tour Velvet 360 grip is standard as well.
  • Speaking on the move to release the irons in black, Josh Talge, Vice President, Golf Club Marketing said
  • “One request we heard from both tour players and amateurs, particularly those who have gravitated toward our Jet Black Vokey SM7 wedges, was if they could have these same irons in a darker finish. Our team spent a lot of time making sure the aesthetics were done just right. It’s a look that you just have to see.”
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Equipment

Brooks Koepka with Mizuno JPX 919 irons, TaylorMade M5 driver in the bag at Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship

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Brooks-Koepka-Mizuno-JPX919

Brooks Koepka is in action this week at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship equipped with a new driver and set of irons.

Golf.com’s Jonathan Wall broke the news, via Twitter, that Kopeka has TaylorMade’s new M5 Driver in his bag this week, as well as Mizuno’s JPX 919 Tour Irons.

The three-time major champ used TaylorMade’s M3 460 Driver and Mizuno’s JPX 900 Tour irons throughout 2018, and it appears as if Koepka is happy to make the transition to both manufacturers latest additions of those series of clubs right from the get-go in 2019.

Brooks-Koepka-Mizuno-JPX-919

Koepka is currently T13 after two rounds of play at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship and sits five shots off the lead.

 

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