Product enhancements are geared toward ergonomics, durability and aesthetics.
Golf equipment suppliers in China are incorporating more user-friendly features in their models as they shift upmarket. The target destinations include the US, the EU, Australia and the Middle East.
|Sunnany offers golf tees and 3-layer balls.|
In golf carts, efforts toward improving player safety and comfort have yielded units that stop automatically once the foot is taken off the accelerator. Instead of a pedal, such products employ an electronic sensor to trigger the brake system.
For greater convenience, domestically sourced or imported GPS devices are being offered as options in several designs.
At Zhuhai Tozhiny Vehicle Co. Ltd, enhancements include the incorporation of wider seats and more legroom. A plastic curtain has also been fitted in some carts to protect passengers from the rain and sun.
Targeting better performance-to-price ratios, the company is studying and testing components that can reduce costs without affecting functionality.
For golf clubs, many companies are releasing designs with carbon fiber or graphite shafts using materials from Japan. Compared with stainless steel versions, the products are generally lighter and feature better shock absorption, which reduces the stress on the user’s joints.
Sunnany Technology Co. Ltd is among the enterprises offering models with carbon fiber shafts. The products account for 70 to 80 percent of its golf club output.
For lighter constructions, some companies use titanium heads. The material has better strength-to-weight ratio than stainless steel and other traditional options.
Apart from offering better ergonomics, several suppliers are seeking to differentiate their models via aesthetics.
In the golf carts sector, streamlined constructions are on the rise. Models looking similar to cross-country vehicles are popular as well.
Shenzhen Rousing Enterprise Ltd has come up with irregularly shaped carts. For such units, the company employs fiberglass instead of ABS or PP to construct the bodies, saving on molding costs.
Zhuhai Tozhiny has improved its models’ corrosion resistance by having these go through acid washing and phosphorization before being coated with anti-rust paint.
Meanwhile, Richforth Ltd offers golf balls in various colors, including fluorescent types. LED-lit models are also among the company’s selection.
Expecting competition to intensify in coming years, golf equipment manufacturers are giving their R&D capability a boost to provide better ODM services and build in-house brands.
Such is the case for Sunnany. The company plans on improving its facility to meet the requirements of clients that come to it with only a product concept and target price.
Richforth consults professional designers during R&D. It also provides training for in-house personnel and communicates closely with buyers.
Zhuhai Tozhiny, meanwhile, will be improving its QC system. At present, the company’s entire output undergoes inspection and the acceptable quality limit is at 95 percent. Models meet CE requirements.
To differentiate itself further, the company will be participating in international trade shows, especially those targeting the US market.
Golf equipment can be sourced from more than 100 companies in China. Clubs, carts and balls are the leading exports.
Golf carts: Electric models dominate the category. These typically run on lead-acid batteries, although some high-end units employ lithium types.
Golf carts that can accommodate four or six people account for 70 to 80 percent of output. Units that can load two or eight persons make up the rest.
Quotes for 4-seaters range from $3,700 to $6,000. For this and other sizes, pricing is based on the batteries, motors, controllers and other components adopted. Midrange and high-end carts generally employ imported parts.
China’s exports of golf carts, snowmobiles and similar vehicles between January and May this year amounted to $144.5 million.
The five largest markets were the US, Canada, France, Germany and Russia, which together accounted for 46 percent of overseas revenue.
Golf balls: The line comprises models for promotional purposes, practice and competition. Prices start at $0.30 and increase depending on the ball’s construction and materials.
Designs not exceeding $0.45 are mostly premiums or promotional items in a 1-piece construction made of rubber. Upward to $0.80, the selection consists of 2-layer practice balls, which make up about 60 percent of China’s output.
Meanwhile, most 3-piece variants are available between $0.81 and $1. Higher-priced options are primarily 4 or 5-layer professional-use models.
Most overseas-bound golf balls go to the US. In the five-month period ending May 2011, the area accounted for $15.6 million or more than 50 percent of China’s export sales from the line.
Golf clubs: For this category, the selection includes irons, woods and putters, with the first accounting for the bulk of output.
Most irons are offered between $20 and $100, although more expensive designs are also available. Models at the lower end of the price range typically have stainless steel shafts, while midrange and upscale products employ carbon fiber versions.
China generated more than $290 million from exports of golf clubs during the first five months of 2011. The US was the largest market, contributing 38 percent to aggregate revenue. The UK, Japan, Canada, South Korea and the Netherlands were also key destinations.
Note: This article "Differentiation efforts of golf equipment makers in full swing" was originally published by Global Sources, a leading business-to-business media company and a primary facilitator of trade with China manufacturers and India suppliers, providing essential sourcing information to volume buyers through our e-magazines, trade shows and industry research.
All price quotes in this report are in US dollars unless otherwise specified. FOB prices were provided by the companies interviewed only as reference prices at the time of interview and may have changed.
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