Earlier this week TaylorMade adidas Golf (TMAG) announced that they are restructuring and closing the Plano, Texas headquarters for Adams Golf, which they purchased in 2012. Our friends at mygolfspy.com broke the story. Adams Golf currently employs about 180 people in Plano. In all, TMAG will reportedly cut about 15% of its global golf workforce. This is just another blow for TMAG, who is having a year to remember in a negative way. Golf sales are down over 25% this year, and the bumpy ride isn’t over yet, as adidas Group is predicting a double digit decline in golf sales for the rest of the year.
Perhaps finally acknowledging the failures of their over-aggressive marketing strategy, adidas Group CEO Herbert Hainer said this last week: “At TaylorMade-adidas Golf, given the inventory that is still in the market, we will carefully look at new launching introduction timings… Our innovation pipeline is full and we are set to go, whenever we feel the market is ready.” Although his message is vague, perhaps he’s giving us a clue as to what’s in store (or not going to be in stores) for TMAG in the coming months.
This announcement comes on the heels of their biggest retail partner Dick’s Sporting Goods announcing the layoff of over 500 PGA professionals due to declining equipment sales. As I stated then, this move was at least partly blamed on TMAG’s aggressive marketing plan and product release cycle that the market simply couldn’t sustain. Consumers were often angered to find that the spiffy new TaylorMade driver they spent $400 on a few months ago is now selling for $199 to make way for yet another new model.
So will this be the legacy that former CEO Mark King and his Chief Marketing Officer Bob Maggiore leave behind? Both men conveniently left TMAG in April. King is now the President of adidas Group North America. Predictably, it seems that King’s pet project – Hack Golf – has also been abandoned according to Geoff Shackelford. King promoted Hack Golf as an initiative to come up with new ways to grow the game and attract new players. In reality I think his involvement (and TaylorMade’s very conspicuous sponsorship) was simply another marketing gimmick to sell more clubs.
That tweet pretty much sums up the whole situation. Let’s hope the golf industry has learned a lesson here. That lesson is that the golf consumer doesn’t need a new driver every 3 months, and we’re tired of the bully marketing tactics. Hopefully we can get past this by returning to normal inventory levels and rebuilding consumer confidence. Stay tuned…