Adidas, the owners of TaylorMade-adidas Golf, have just completed a $70 million deal to by Adams Golf, as I tweeted a while back.
It has long been recognised that there are too many golf brands in the market and consolidation has been happening for a while with several historic names now owned by retail chains and marketed as own brand products such as Dunlop, Maxfli and Slazenger.
Adams Golf was founded by entrepreneur Barney Adams in 1997 from the remnants of Dave Pelz Golf and his invention of the upside down Tight Lies wood revolutionised the fairway wood and long iron replacement market.
The subsequent Idea hybrids are still regularly number one on the PGA and Champions Tours as they offer a great combination of shot making and forgiveness for better players.
TaylorMade Golf are no slouches in this area too as their iconic Rescue club re-defined and lent its name to a new category of golf club in the early 2000s. Adams seem stronger in the better player and senior player sectors, so could we see an age or swing speed related branding strategy?
This also plays out in irons as Adams tends to have more success sponsoring older golfers like Kenny Perry, Bernhard Langer and the evergreen Tom Watson, with the possible exception of Aaron 'Dresses' Baddeley.
TaylorMade-adidas have already moved towards ‘age-related’ brands with the acquisition of Ashworth and have quietly traded their 30-something golfers such as Justin Rose from the athletic look of adidas to the more relaxed styling of Ashworth.
Some longtime golf clothing industry experts lament the new materials that now adorn the Ashworth logo, but the style and image have been retained and this is looking like another good buy for TaylorMade-adidas as long as they maintain the brand values of Ashworth.
Making Adams the ‘senior’ club brand could be one avenue open to them. However it may also fuel more innovation in fairways as it can surely be no coincidence that TaylorMade’s RBZ Rocketballz fairway with the slot in the sole is now in the same stable as the forerunner of this style of club, the Adams Speedline F11, which was launched a year earlier.
The slot design brought distance gains as the COR of fairway woods could now reach the legal limits already hit by drivers despite the smaller heads. Could this be an area for further development in irons and rescues?
I think all of these are good reasons for TaylorMade-adidas Golf to buy Adams, but there is a hidden gem in the Adams brand portfolio that has been overlooked by a lot of people and that is Yes! putters.
Yes! is an established putter brand that uses the same groove principle that TaylorMade use in their line of putters, but which is probably better.
As Titleist / FootJoy and more latterly Srixon / Cleveland have shown having a portfolio of sub-brands for clubs, wedges, golf balls, shoes, bags, clothing and putters can give you more clout and also more credibility with golfers.
Ping, Nike and to a degree Callaway have managed to stretch their top level brand successfully, but in one category they either struggle for recognition in or just don't bother. So far TaylorMade golf balls and putters have yet to penetrate the market in the way they would like.
More marketing muscle behind the integration of a well known and successful putter brand such as Yes! could help TaylorMade to finally crack an area of the market where not even the magical white paint has seen them light up the greens away from the Tour.
All they would then need is a decent ball company and they will hold all the cards to go with the deep pockets and global marketing power of the adidas group.
The future golf forecast could be for a white-out.