Sticker Shock in the Past - and in the Future

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2005 PGA Merchandise ShowORLANDO, Fla. -- Ever looked at the price of a new set of clubs and thought: I could skip this months mortgage and sleep in the trunk of my car with my new irons?
 
Consumers interested in purchasing the latest in golf equipment in 2005 wont have to pay exorbitant prices to outfit themselves with new irons and a new driver ' at least in comparison to years past.
 
The price point of golf clubs has gone down over the last couple of years, said Dennis Blake, director of public relations for Top-Flite. Retail customers are bringing the prices down.
 
Sometimes we tend to forget that we as consumers have the ability to determine market prices based on what were willing to pay.

The market dictates the retail prices, said Jim Howell, director of sales for Tommy Armour.
 
We saw a point where ($)499 was a good introductory price (for a new driver). But that 499, in a very short period of time, was repositioned. It would go to 399 and then 299. In probably 3-7 months consumers could get that 499 driver for far less. So they waited.
 
Youll always see the leading-edge enthusiasts willing to pay premium prices right out of the gates. But many consumers are willing to wait.
 
By that logic, Howell says, companies have been setting initial target prices in a more desirable range.
 
In talking with several of the companies on hand at this weeks PGA Merchandise Show, many of the newest drivers on the market are starting in the $300-$400 range. A full set of irons can be had anywhere from $400-$600.
 
Companies with very good products, like Cobra and Cleveland ' especially Cleveland, with all of their tour support. They were really the first companies to sort of bring out premium performance drivers for around ($)299. Thats where ours are, said Mike Pai, vice president of marketing and advertising for Srixon.
 
Companies like Callaway and TaylorMade, theyre offering their new ones at 399, and in the case of the (TaylorMade) R7, 499. I think the R7 has done very well where it is, but I think there is going to be a point in time when it starts to go down.
 
I think prices are certainly in a swoon, if you will, in the last 18 months or so, Pai added. I think that people realized that there wasnt a need to spend ($)899 or 999 for a set of irons when you can get sets ' that have tour validation ' for much less.
 
TaylorMade and Callaway are still selling products at the higher price point. But where there might have been more than one or two (other) brands that are trying to do that, there arent any now.
 
Sticker shock may be a thing of the past, but, as the business cycle turns and technology advances, it will most likely return in the near future.
 
Last year, there really seemed to be a price ceiling on what people were willing to pay for a driver. And there wasnt a real huge differentiation in the industry between one model and another, said Todd Harmon, director of product marketing for Cleveland Golf.
 
Now were seeing some real exotic technology ' combinations of multi-materials like composites, adjustable weights. I think were going to see that price ceiling raised.
 
Related Links:
  • More on Drivers from the 2005 PGA Merchandise Show
  • Full Coverage - 2005 PGA Merchandise Show