NGF TOP 100 BUSINESSES IN GOLF
David Maher, CEO
Mary Lou Bohn, President, Titleist Golf Balls
Steven Pelisek, President, Titleist Golf Clubs
Jay Duke, Jr., President, Titleist Golf Gear
Christopher Lindner, President, FootJoy
Brendan Gibbons, EVP, Chief Legal Officer and Corporate Secretary
Brendan Reidy, SVP, Chief Human Resources Officer
Tom Pacheco, SVP. Chief Accounting Officer
Acushnet Holdings Corp. is the high-performance golf products company driven by two of the most revered brands in the sport – Titleist and FootJoy – and also counts Vokey Design, Scotty Cameron, Pinnacle, KJUS, Links & Kings and PG Golf under its umbrella. Acushnet has enjoyed the longest running record of market leadership in the golf category, with Titleist being the #1 ball in professional golf since 1949 and FootJoy being the leading brand on the PGA Tour in golf shoes for over six decades and golf gloves for over three decades.
Founded in the Massachusetts town of the same name in the early 1900’s, Acushnet entered the golf ball business in 1932 and introduced the first Titleist golf ball in 1935.
The company, which went public in 2017 under the ticker symbol “GOLF,” owns and operates three state-of-the-art golf ball manufacturing facilities that collectively produce over 1 million balls per production day. Its Pro V1 and Pro V1x models are the game’s most popular – both as the top-selling ball on the market and the No. 1 golf ball played at every level of competitive golf, used by approximately 75% of all touring professionals worldwide.
Titleist allows members of Team Titleist – it’s community of avid golfers and brand fans – to tour Titleist Ball Plant 3 in New Bedford, Mass., and see firsthand how the Pro V1 and Pro V1x are made. In 2019, the brand further added to its offerings with the addition of high optic yellow models.
Led by the biggest equipment company in the game in Titleist, Acushnet listed more than $1.6 billion in sales in 2018. Golf balls and golf gloves collectively represented 39% of Acushnet’s net sales in 2018, and more durable products such as golf clubs, golf shoes, golf apparel and golf gear represented a total of 61% of net sales. The U.S. accounts for over 40% of Acushnet’s addressable golf market, followed by Japan and Korea at a combined 30%.
“The golf industry is structurally in a good place; the professional men’s and women’s game is
benefiting from a talented group of exciting players competing week to week; and the dedicated golfer
remains a vibrant and resilient market opportunity,” Acushnet President and Chief Executive Officer David Maher said. “The Titleist and FootJoy innovation engines are in high gear. Acushnet associates and our valued trade partners are working together to deliver exceptional products and experiences to golfers.”
Titleist’s deep roster of brand ambassadors and golf ball loyalists – who combine for hundreds of victories each year across the worldwide professional tours – includes likes of Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas, Patrick Cantlay, Henrik Stenson and Adam Scott.
The Titleist brand has roots that extend to 1930, when Phil Young – the owner of a precision molded rubber company on the south coast of Massachusetts – missed a putt in a match with his friend, who was the head of the x-ray department at a local hospital. Thinking he struck the putt well, Young was convinced the ball must be at fault. The two men went to the hospital, had the ball x-rayed and found that its core was indeed off-center. Young set out to develop the highest quality and best-performing ball in golf, one that would be consistent from ball to ball and make the game a more rewarding test of skill. The first Titleist golf ball was released after three years of painstaking research and development, and the lessons learned back then still apply 85 years later.
Every Titleist Pro V1 and Pro V1x is still x-rayed – the last of more than 90 product and process quality checks that are performed throughout Titleist’s manufacturing process. Indeed, Acushnet is able to exercise control over every step of its manufacturing process and supply chain operations — and thereby quality and consistency — by owning or controlling the design, sourcing, manufacturing, packaging or distribution of its products.
The Titleist golf ball R&D team is made up of chemists, physicists, mathematicians, computer scientists, engineers and technicians as well as PGA professionals. Today, the company owns more than 1,250 golf ball patents, the largest portfolio in the golf world.
Going by the worldwide ball count used by pros at tournaments, Titleist has almost seven times the usage of their nearest competitor. At most college, amateur and junior championships, where players are not able to receive compensation for the use or endorsement of any brand’s equipment, Titleist ball counts are even higher.
Titleist’s mission to develop products that deliver best-in-class performance and quality for dedicated golfers extends to its popular line of golf clubs, which are also widely used by tour professionals, club professionals and competitive amateurs around the world. Titleist remains focused on maximizing the performance experience for dedicated golfers through its skilled network of fitters who work with golfers to optimize club performance and fine-tune set composition.
Scotty Cameron and Vokey Design are major brands in their own right. Cameron models are among the most-played on the PGA Tour and immensely popular with collectors. Bob Vokey is the craftsman behind Vokey Design, which has had more wedges being used on the PGA Tour than any other company every year since 2004.
Titleist also offers a variety of golf gear and accessories – including golf bags, headwear, gloves, travel gear and head covers – that are designed to provide the performance and quality worthy of the Titleist brand name. Acushnet acquired Links & Kings and PG Golf in 2018, KJUS in 2019, and Maher said it will continue to evaluate strategic opportunities that can drive synergistic growth with a favorable return on investment.
Acushnet’s accounts consist of premium golf shops, which include on‑course golf shops and golf specialty retailers, as well as other qualified retailers that sell golf products to consumers worldwide. The company employs almost 390 sales representatives who service nearly 28,000 direct accounts globally.
Acushnet is best known as the parent company of Titleist, which is No. 1 in market share in the ball category and is perhaps the most recognizable consumer golf brand in the world. There may be no better example of regular Joes playing what the pros play, as Titleist’s Pro V1 and Pro V1x are almost ubiquitous on the professional tours.
When it comes to equipment, Titleist has demonstrated a steadfast focus on the one million to two million dedicated golfers at the upper end of the golf engagement pyramid, recognizing that those avid and skill-biased golfers prioritize performance and commit the time, effort and money to improve their game. Titleist has said that dedicated golfers are generally the most consistent and voluminous purchasers of golf products, the most discerning, and the most likely to invest in premium performance equipment and golf wear.
Over the past several decades, Titleist and FootJoy have also shown significant loyalty to the club professionals, with Titleist by far the No. 1 brand sold on course.
During an era of correction throughout the golf retail and industry, Titleist’s stability and strong appeal is carried on by the strength of its brands. Serious golfers know and respect the prominent names in the Acushnet stable: Titleist balls and clubs, FootJoy shoes and gloves, Vokey wedges and Scotty Cameron putters.