Why golf is a good set of accounts at Adidas spoilt

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The Independent Online

A good walk spoilt? That is an increasingly popular take on golf across the Atlantic, which is very bad news for a certain German sportswear company that was counting on it to provide a hole in one.

Yes, Adidas is considering the future of its golf brands, which it had spent a small fortune building up only to see them casting a dark cloud over an otherwise well-received set of second-quarter results.

The reason? Uncle Sam is losing interest. The US boasts three of the sport’s four majors and accounts for half of the global golf market. Yet interest is declining, with the estimated 30 million players in 2000 falling to around 23 million today. Reflecting that, the number of courses has slipped for each of the past eight years.

That’s particularly bad news for Adidas, which is now battling against Under Armour for the number two sportswear slot, having been shown a clean pair of heels by Nike some time ago.

Changing tastes are part of the reason. Golf’s fans are ageing and a younger generation likes its sports faster, more fun, and less elitist. The flowering of interest that followed the emergence of the dynamic, multicultural Tiger Woods as the world’s best player has faded along with his career.

The sport’s authorities have been trying to find ways of enhancing its appeal (please keep winning, Jordan Spieth) and point to an increase in the number of rounds played. It hasn’t helped sales at Adidas.

So once again the company is scratching its head and trying to find answers, with barely any presence in, say, cycling, which is what 18-30s are excited about. And once again the critics have been teeing off with invective over the company’s failure to cotton on to the trend and to act quickly enough when it did. 

It’s been a big double bogey and that’s before we see the price for those smaller Adidas brands – such as Adams and Ashworth – most likely under the auctioneer’s hammer.

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