The National Golf Foundation recently found that most segments of the golf industry performed very well in the second half of 2020, despite the projected impact of the pandemic. This includes training aids and golf clothing.
Tour Striker’s PlaneMate
Martin Chuck is a household name for avid viewers of the Golf Channel. The longtime professional golfer and golf instructor runs an Arizona golf academy and has invented or marketed several popular training products.
With all of its previous successes, however, nothing has come close to its latest invention, the Tour Striker PlaneMate.
Invented with his friend and PGA golfer David Woods, the PlaneMates seem to be selling as soon as possible.
At the Tour Striker booth at the PGA Merchandise Show 2020 in January, I saw a large stack of empty PlaneMate boxes. Alanna Massey, the company’s public relations specialist, said that as a courtesy they took the items out of the big box when they were sold to make it easier for buyers to see other things at the show. The stack of empties was impressive just after noon on the first day, especially when you consider that the devices sell for $ 162.99 each.
At his booth, Chuck monitored personal demonstrations of the PlaneMate, interrupted by selfies with smiling club professionals. After putting a special belt on the Pro, Chuck attached a short piece of stretchy cord to the belt and to a golf club. He guided players through the desired swing sequence while explaining how the device promotes proper takeaway and rotation for an improved inside-out shot.
Most golfers seemed to get the hang of it in minutes. For some, it was obviously a very different approach to the golf swing than they had previously used.
Chuck talked constantly with sentences like “heel heel, toe”, “free the pelvis for the turn” and above all “the ligament tension has to be kept, you can’t go slack”.
Several protesters said that after a couple of blows, it was like the tension was there even without the band.
Chuck and I had a short chat. He said golfers need to be more aware of where the club is during the swing. The bands help create these sensations for self-analysis in combination with the video lessons.
The system comes with a series of videos describing a seven day protocol of learning the better swing – one for each day. Three different bands are included: a short band for partial oscillations, a longer green band for the regular full swing and a red band for increased resistance.
Massey said the product was really well received when multiple winner Rory McIlroy posted selfie videos using the PlaneMate. This kind of unpaid support is extremely valuable. It was definitely worth it for Chuck and his group.
The fact that the PlaneMate is suitable for a wide variety of golfers, not just touring professionals, is an even greater endorsement.
I enjoy seeing how well a golf company understands its customer base.
This is one reason I had a friendly chat with Alan Alison, Callaway Apparel Sales Representative of Strawn, Texas, during the 2020 PGA Merchandise Show. Alison has worked with the company for several years. He was friendly and accommodating when he showed samples of Callaway’s polos, sweaters, and golf pants.
“I think our track is mostly the 45-75 year old guy. Most of our shirts cost $ 55 to $ 75, and he’s fine with that. There may be a Peter Millar polo in his closet, but that’s about it, ”Alison said. “Our polos have a traditional cut and drape.”
Knowing your customers’ style and pricing preferences is key to long-term success. For this reason, Callaway Apparel is one of the leading golf apparel retailers.
We checked out the Swing Tech Gingham Polo, which is available for $ 65. Swing Tech means better freedom of movement when swinging. Alison said this 92 percent poly / 8 percent elastane model had its best year in 2019. Made from today’s typical moisture-wicking material, it also offers UV protection.
The 3-Color Yarn-Died Polo was the third best-selling model last year, according to Alison. It offers UPF 40 UV protection with Opti-Dri moisture management in a stretchy material made of 95 percent poly / 5 percent elastane. It sells for $ 65. Alison pointed to the small Callaway logo embroidered on the left sleeve.
When I said that other golf apparel manufacturers seemed to avoid solid colors, Alison said Callaway had adopted that design. He said the solids are consistently among their best-selling items, reiterating the core demographic they serve. He was specifically referring to the Micro-Hex Solid Polos, another technical fabric design that sells for $ 55.
However, there is still a place for shirts that are not solid fabrics. I was impressed with the Swing Tech Landscape Block Polos, which sell for $ 75. The 86 percent poly / 14 percent elastane design is light and stretchy, and the graphic in the golf motif on the chest looks particularly good on the white background version.