2000 Golf Equipment Sales Show Marked Improvement

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SURVEY SAYS: The Sporting Goods Manufacturers Association's report on 2000 predicts that once all the counting is done, golf manufacturers' wholesale domestic sales for that year will have been more than $2.8 billion. That's a definite improvement from the slump years of 1998 and 1999, when sales fell short of $2.7 billion. And unlike many observers within the golf industry itself, the SGMA projects nearly $3 billion in sales for 2001.
 
For the record, golf's $2.8 billion in 2000 was more than the whole outdoor category ($1.7 billion) and way more than baseball/softball ($430 million, on a steady rise from $390 million in 1996) and tennis ($245 million, up from $240 million in 1996 after a slide to $215 million in 1998).
 
The SGMA report admits that the net number of golfers in the United States didn't change much throughout the 1990s (they count 28.9 players as of the end of the decade, 28.2 when it opened). But the number of frequent players, those who tee it up 25 times or more per year, was up to 7.5 million in 1999 from 6.6 million in 1993, the report says.
 
The National Golf Foundation believes there's a pool of 40 million Americans who don't play golf but would like to; the SGMA relies on this data and others to predict solid sales in 2001. A lot of people in the industry hope the NGF is right. Remember one of the goals PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem stated at the Golf 20/20 conference in November? A billion rounds per year by the year 2020. Americans now play about 575 million rounds per year, says the NGF.
 
THIS IS A FIRST: It's also a demonstration of the lengths companies will go to associate themselves with golf. In the mail this morning, I received a can of beer. If I had known in college that you could do this, I might be in a different business now.
 
Seriously, though, the can was a promotion for Anheuser-Busch's Michelob brand. Selected cans of Michelob and Michelob Light will feature embossed golf ball decorations, and the cardboard case packaging on 18-packs will show famous golf holes, such as the island-green 17th at the TPC at Sawgrass.
 
The special cans will be on sale through Aug. 31. A portion of the proceeds from the sale will benefit PGA Tour charities.