We are all watching the alarming headlines about product shortages and cost increases across pretty much everything us consumers want. It may just be part of human nature that we can see the headlines but don’t think much about them until we are directly affected by them, being surprised when we have to pay more for an item, or perhaps not even being able to find it.
It shouldn’t then be a surprise that those same issues are affecting the golf equipment that we want to buy, and yet we still do seem to be surprised when we walk into the golf shop and can’t buy that bag we wanted, or replace the balls that we lost in the rough, or worst of all, can’t quickly get those custom fitted clubs that we think will transform our game.
So exactly what is the situation for the different golf categories, and what is the outlook for 2022? We have talked to some of our retail partners, and golf brands to see what the situation is now, and what it is likely to be for the first half of 2022.
There are basically three main reasons why supply has been an issue across virtually all of the golf equipment categories:
1/ The pandemic wasn’t over! Issues with certain regions continuing to impose lockdowns through the rest of the year meant that supply was still being affected. The worst single occasion appeared to be when Vietnam went on to lockdown in the second half of this year. A number of the main brands manufacture their club heads in that region, and so when they went into total lockdown the supply was immediately cut off, but ongoing lockdowns have continued to affect supply.
2/ Supply shortages – The worldwide material shortages that have affected many other sectors have also hit golf equipment. Things such as steel, graphite and rubber shortages have all affected supplies, and that is on top of the logistics delays that have affected all goods being shipped around the world.
3/ Demand – There are now more than 2 million more people playing golf than there were before the pandemic. Whilst this is great for the game, the above issues have meant that the brands have not been able to ramp up production to meet that increased demand.
So what has happened by category:
In March/April 2021, when the golf clubs were able to reopen, the supply situation seemed very healthy. Most of the major brands were stating that they had ample stock, and that their supply chains were robust. Sadly, this was not the case.
The above issues have meant that some club orders have been delayed by up to six months. Many people who have ordered clubs have had a real test of patience, but of course these delays are beyond the control of the store they bought the clubs from, or even from the brands that are supplying them. As golfers we just need to bear with the delays and know that they will arrive, and will hopefully prove to be worth the wait.
So what is the outlook for 2022? Many of the club brands are launching new products at the beginning of 2022 and seem to have built up stock of the new products based on the higher demand they expect. This bodes well for the supply of them in the short term at least. Some brands are also simplifying their ranges to concentrate on increased production of a smaller range of hardware but expect significant price increases across the board. With increased costs of materials and shipping, expect to pay significantly more for those shiny new clubs.
The supply of golf balls has also suffered from the same issues as clubs, though perhaps not to the same degree. You may struggle to find some balls from this point though. Larger golf stores will probably have the capacity to have bought sufficient volumes to see them through the year, but smaller pro shops may struggle to keep in stock. Two of the three largest ball brands have announced that no new orders for balls can be supplied until the beginning of 2022!
In 2022 issues may continue with shortages of rubber, surlyn and urethane, which are essential for all golf balls. The shortages may even affect your local driving range as some of the main suppliers of range balls are restricting supply as they focus on supplying the more profitable branded balls.
As with all products, expect some significant price increases in 2022.
Supply of bags has been severely restricted in the second half of 2021, largely due to increased demand with the brands unable to quickly ramp up production. The supply of bags in 2022 is forecast to be healthy, but we are afraid that the price you will need to pay for them may make you feel less healthy. With the cost of shipping from the Far East massively increasing, any large items will be affected more dramatically. That increased container cost is easier to spread across a container full of clothing than it is with a container of large bags. Expect to see increases of as much as 20/25% for a similar bag next year.
Most of the accessory brands have managed to maintain stocks quite well, although of course we have seen some delay in supply. Main accessories such as tees/pitch markers etc have been in plentiful supply, once again though we can expect price increases next year.
There has been a huge shortage of trollies in the second half of this year due to all of the above reasons. At one point you would have been lucky to find an electric trolley anywhere! There is supply in many stores now, but we have already seen increases of around £50 a trolley. In 2022 we are likely to see further increases, even if supply manages to catch up with demand.
This is perhaps the one golf category which has managed to keep up supply well during the pandemic. Perhaps as there are so many clothing brands, and so much stock already held in the golf stores, we have not seen the shortages that we have seen in other golf categories.
The main brands seem to be increasing their factory orders aggressively for 2022. There is every reason to expect overall supply to remain quite healthy, even if you may not be able to order up a specific item from the brands the way your golf store used to be able to do for you. Whilst there appear to be some increases in costs coming in 2022, overall it doesn’t appear to be on the same level that we are seeing in other golf categories.
So there you have it! You may have been waiting a long time for your new clubs or have to dig deeper to get your golf kit next year (as we will probably have to do for everything!) but perhaps we have to focus on the good news that at least part of the issue has been caused by an influx of new players to golf, which is great for our sport.
Meanwhile, make sure that you get your golf kit on Santa’s list, so it can all be bought this year before the price increases come!!!