NGF TOP 100 BUSINESSES IN GOLF
Cleveland Golf – Srixon
Kazuo Kinameri: President SRI Sports Business, Global
Matt Yasumoto: CEO North America
Mike Powell: President, North America
William Bird: Chief Financial Officer
Scott Carlyle: SVP Global Marketing
Cleveland Golf has been in business since 1979, but was most recently acquired by Sumitomo Rubber Industries in 2007. Cleveland-affiliated Srixon and XXIO are also housed in the SRI Sport Business brand portfolio that also includes the Dunlop brand globally in the sports category (Tennis, Squash, Badminton). SRI Sports Business itself is a unit of Sumitomo Rubber Industries, which in addition to golf and tennis equipment sales, includes business units in golf course management, golf and tennis schools, fitness facilities, and golf tournament management.
Cleveland Golf has been an industry leader in the wedge market for decades — most recently with its RTX wedges and historically with the 588 and CG series offerings. The 588 is one of the best-selling wedge lines in the game’s history. Cleveland also manufactures a full range of golf equipment, with the Launcher and HiBore among its most notable drivers. The company produces a full range of women’s offerings and has ventured into accessories and apparel as well.
Srixon also has a global presence in the equipment industry, with a full range of clubs, balls and accessories distributed in all major golf markets. Since Yasumoto took over as the company’s CEO in 2016, Srixon has made a more concerted effort to expand its retail presence in the United States with all three golf brands.
Capitalizing on the popularity of the leading brand in Japan since 2000, XXIO’s introduction into North America in recent years has been a success. The addition of the premium lightweight equipment to the market has accelerated sales and gained immediate traction with affluent, moderate swing speed players seeking easier distance.
Corey Pavin’s 1995 U.S. Open win playing Cleveland’s VAS woods and irons thrust the company into the national spotlight and jumpstarted club sales. Vijay Singh signed on in the late ‘90s, bringing the company further tour validation when he became a multiple major championship winner and number one in the world. Other major championships were won by David Toms and Keegan Bradley using Cleveland Golf equipment.
Srixon and Cleveland Golf remain a strong presence on the PGA Tour, with Hideki Matsuyama, Keegan Bradley, Graeme McDowell, Russell Knox, and J.B. Holmes as the most prominent players in the Cleveland/Srixon stable. Srixon golf balls have won over 500 global professional golf tournaments since the introduction of the Z-Series Golf Balls in 2008, second only to Titleist.
Jamie Sadlowski, a former two-time winner of the World Long Drive Championship and now a touring professional, recently signed with Cleveland golf as a Brand Ambassador. His interest and use of their driver has further validated their performance technology and commitment to continued growth in the woods and irons categories.
When Roger Cleveland first founded the company, the focus was on making replicas of classic golf clubs, leading to the original business name of Cleveland Classics. Yet it wasn’t long before Cleveland’s iconic wedges became widely popular. Roger Cleveland relinquished ownership of the company in 1990 when Rossignol, the world’s largest ski manufacturer, acquired Cleveland Golf.
The brand’s heralded status as a wedge maker continues today and is immediately apparent when visiting its website. In highlighting its latest new product, there’s an indication of the company’s future direction as well as a connection to its past: notable innovation within the wedge space.
Cleveland has also made a successful comeback to a full line brand after briefly transitioning away to focus solely on wedges and putters. With its game-improvement offerings, the brand appears to be primarily marketing to the technology-interested mid-to-high handicap golfer.