GOLF NEWS! – Cleveland Golf CEO Resigns

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Update: Cleveland Golf/Srixon announced they named Hideki Sano as Chairman of the company.  This will take effect on Jan. 1, 2013.

Full Disclosure:

(Written By: GolfSpy T) Full disclosure before I say anything else... MyGolfSpy does not have the best relationship with Clevleand Golf, and at the time of these keystrokes, Cleveland remains the only OEM of consequence that is unwilling to work with us in any capacity. Their representatives also happen to be the only ones from any golf company of any size to question my character and offend me on a personal level ( hard feelings...I'm over it), so some of what I write could be construed as coming from a place of bias.

Yesterday the golf equipment world breathed a sigh of nearly complete indifference as it was announced that Cleveland Golf CEO Greg Hopkins had resigned his position effective immediately. In less than 24 hours since the announcement was made, the news has already worked its way off the front page at both and As much as anything else, the almost total lack of response and commentary reflects the new reality of Cleveland Golf as it struggles to find an identity it what many would agree is a rapidly changing golf equipment landscape.

We can all be certain that if Mark King had stepped down at TaylorMade, or Chip Brewer were to leave his new post at Callaway, their news cycle would have Miranda Kerr long legs. Articles would be written...Panic would be induced. Where does TaylorMade go from here? What's next for Callaway?

But Cleveland isn't TaylorMade. They're not even Callaway. For the last several years, perhaps beginning with their acquisition by Japanese company SRI Sport, Cleveland simply hasn't been running with the big dogs.

Whether Mr.Hopkins stepped down of his own volition or did so at the behest of his employers is largely irrelevant. It was time to go.

For the last several years, Cleveland as a brand has been slowly losing its identity, and despite some pretty solid products, and perhaps the most appealing marketing plan I've ever seen from the consumer perspective, they're basically lost in the shuffle. You can only cling to a single product (the wedge) for so long. Ol' Roger has been gone for quite awhile now. A wedge can't sustain you if your goal is to be a competitive full line company. That's not to say Cleveland hasn't had some great products, but the legacy of Roger's wedge remains the thing.

Japanese companies are notorious for being difficult to work with, and no doubt equally as difficult to work for. Maybe Mr. Hopkins did everything he could with the resources he was given. While there were absolutely some bright years for Cleveland, the recent past, however, is at best checkered.

Looking at recent history:

  • The Classic Driver has made some positive noise with consumers. By nearly all accounts it's a fantastic driver in a unique package,  but it's doubtful it made enough noise in the marketplace to be considered a runaway success.
  • The partnership with Miyzazki has provided Cleveland with some of the best stock shafts on the market today, but those type of details remain lost on the average golfer.
  • Less than 2 years ago Cleveland revived the Never Compromise line. They turned a $30 bargain bin product into a class offering; one truly competitive with Cameron and Bettinardi. Less than a year later, the entire lineup was gone. Continuity matters.
  • With the possible exception of the Hi-Bore, Cleveland has released zero truly buzzworthy irons in recent memory. That's not to say they don't have a very good, even excellent product. It just means they have what one might call call quiet products. In today's marketplace, being good isn't enough. You have to figure out how to make a little noise.
  • The Mashie hybrid had potential (even if we hated it). Some loved it, but NOBODY makes any real noise with a hybrid.
  • You simply can't build a successful full-line company around a wedge. It can't be done - and that's the unfortunate situation Cleveland finds itself in right now (just my opinion). Quality lineup aside, the marketplace as a whole still views Cleveland as a wedge company first.
  • The trade-up program (buy irons now, trade them in for a new set at zero cost later) was brilliant. For my money it's the best incentive program ever offer to the golfing consumer, but...the sex appeal with the iron lineup wasn't there, which made the offer less appealing than it could have been.

As I was time.

So...What's Next?

So...what's next? We put in a call to Cleveland (not returned), but I'll speculate anyway.

As most every other high profile resignation, indications are Mr. Hopkins would like spend more time with his family, and pursue other interests.

“I’ve been with Cleveland for sixteen years and have seen tremendous growth for the company during that time,” Hopkins said. “Now I’m at a point in my life where I want to do some things and explore some ideas that I’ve always wanted to pursue".

So what could those other interests be? The cynical wise-ass in me wonders if he plans to enter the apparel market with his own line of argyle sweaters. Safe bet, that one isn't going to happen.

Perhaps worth a mention, Mr. Hopkins currently sits on the Board of Directors of the fledgling Back9 Network. If you've been paying attention, you may have noticed a good bit of talent (both pretty faces, and actual golf people) have been jumping whatever ship they're on, and trying to make the most out of the lofty titles being tossed around over at the upstart. It's entirely possible Greg Hopkins could assume a more active role in trying to get that project truly up and running as a real competitor to The Golf Channel instead of what it is today; just another golf media outlet that also serves as the semi-official Anna Rawson Twitter photo feed.

This is all exactly what I said it is; speculation, and nothing more. Time will tell.

About Tony Covey

Tony is the editor of mygolfspy. His coverage of golf equipment extends far beyond the facts as dictated by the companies that created them.

He believes in performance over hype. #PowerToThePlayer

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{ 33 comments… read them below or add one }

Rob Price April 21, 2015 at 3:42 pm

As a former R&D employee for Cleveland Golf from 1999 to 2003, there’s no doubt that Greg Hopkins is responsible for igniting the fuse that led to the company’s success in the early 2000’s. Greg would challenge the design team to create products that were unique to the industry. With Greg’s approval and with his vote of confidence the was R&D team were successful in creating new products that would help further launch the company. It was a learning experience watching Greg work a room of people. From fellow employees, to signed PGA Tour players, the man had a knack for instilling confidence into those he spoke with. He was engaging without being arrogant, helpful and suggestive without being demanding or unrealistic.

Industry insiders must remember that Cleveland Golf was gaining market share in the early 2000’s. But then the recession hit and it was brutal. Many people lost their jobs and, subsequently, their homes. Golf courses stopped opening up and equipment sales dipped. I find it unfortunate when industry insiders are quick to place blame or pass judgement. Golf is a fickle industry and has its own cycle. When the economy was strong, Cleveland Golf blossomed. When the economy fell into ruins, many companies suffered. I will never forget my time working for Greg at Cleveland Golf for it was the best time of my life. But all good things must come to an end; just like the end of a great round of golf.


AJ September 30, 2012 at 1:41 pm

What’s the chance that TM will purchase a wedge company like SCOR perhaps? They bought Adams for a reason.

Just a thought!


Yohanan September 29, 2012 at 8:58 pm

Maybe tmag can finally get a wedge line with another aquisition?
Oi Vey
Bagged CG11 wedges till i wore the groves off and then picked up CG16 for 2 rounds this last spring. Replaced tbe CG16 with Mizuno R12s and cant see switching to anything else.



Hybrid Edd September 28, 2012 at 7:21 am

I’ve been playing the HiBore hybrid iron sets for 4 years. I don’t swing fast and am 6’4. These are the easiest and longest “irons” I have ever played. I’m 58 and have been maintaining a 10 handicap yet only playing 1 to 4 times a month. What has confused me is the lack of publicity for this line of “irons”. For someone who is a “sweeper”, these irons are perfect. I would truly hate to see them disappear. The HB3’s are a wonderful club for someone looking for distance and accuracy, plus ease of play.

Keeping it long and in the short grass.


James September 28, 2012 at 4:31 am

I’m with AJ, I was never much of a Clevelands fan anyway. Interesting discussion though. Gotta love a bunch of passionate golfers!


kloyd0306 September 27, 2012 at 4:08 pm

Many comments here are attempting to extrapolate Hopkins’ resignation into Cleveland’s going out of business.

The market is crowded and shrinking. The pie is only so big and a shakeout is inevitable.

No company can be good at everything and no company will dominate for ever. Remember Macgregor, Spalding and Wilson? Two are dead and the third is on life support. Not that lomg ago it was all Callaway. Now it is all Taylor Made. In 10 years it will almost certainly be anotehr company – maybe Cobra?

Hopkins’ 16 years is pretty impressive but he sees the writing on the wall. He has done his best. Let’s see if someone can turn Cleveland around. History says no.


timlangler September 27, 2012 at 4:02 pm

To be honest, I think cleveland produces outstanding golf equipment. Howeevr, their top of the line stuff, which is pretty good, is aimed at the player wanting absolute classic looks, eg the CG1 blade. They did not offer enough in the way of mid to high handicap wanting to become single figure players. OK the cg16s came aboard, but that was years ago. Where is the upgrade on those?
I don’t think Cleveland ever had a strategic competitive advantage. Titleist has it with its balls and its tour list using the irons and drivers, Ping has it with its game improvement technology dating back to the original Ping eye clubs, Taylor made with Drivers, Callaway had a great start with its big bertha range, and to be honest, i do not think they have done much since that range, Mizuno with their pure forged irons. Cleveland are only reknowned for wedges, and guess what, everyone else make sick wedges too! To survive, you have to be able to sell something about your product that makes you different to your competitors… If you don’t have that, consumers will be sold the “insertion of tungsten weights creating larger sweet spots”, “titanium insert allowing muscle mass behind the ball and creating greater perimeter weighting combined with our unique forging process”, and the quotes go on. If you don’t have that “thing” that makes you different, and in turn convince people this is “GOLD”, you aint gonna sell clubs kids!

My 5 cents…


BR September 27, 2012 at 1:45 pm

Couple of thoughts. Anytime a CEO of a major OEM golf company resigns immediate, it should be news and spark conversation. Cleveland still makes good wedges. Their CG Black line up does not get the attention it deserves (those are a game changer for slower swing speed golfers, bet on it). Best stock premium shafts on the market. Company should be doing much better. I would check the advertising/marketing strategies and agressively get LPGA and Champions Tour sponsorships. Elevate grind options in the classic wedges along with multiple high end steel shaft options and get them in the hands of the PGA tour players. Again, good company that needs to invest in some new strategies in todays golf markets.


TwoSolitudes September 27, 2012 at 1:03 pm

I am not really sure that 90% of golfers would know or care about any of those CEOs. It’s a non story I guess, but really any CEO switch would be a non story for most.

Cleveland makes great drivers. The Classic and the Black should be huge hits, and would be under another brand. The irons they make are a bit lost I think, the hybrids are way too niche, and the wedges are riding a bit too much on past glory. They are all good clubs, but as you say, there is just something not right about they are presented and marketed.

The biggest surprise to me is the Classic driver, which would appear to have everything required to base an entire line. Why does it not have more buzz? Why is Cleveland not doing more with it to carve out a unique place in the market? Is it really al just about PR? I read the person who designed it already left the organization. If true I guess Cleveland needs to really question why it cant hang on to its talent.

And very sad to hear about the poor relationship between MGS and Cleveland. Hope that changes soon.


Johnnythunders September 27, 2012 at 11:29 am

The issue is one of too many products for a shrinking supply of consumers. The Baby Boomers were the buyers and they have stopped buying as they save for their impending reirement. Cars, houses, apprarell, and of course golf equipment. Combined with the steading decline of golfers per year do we really need all of these golf companies when there is little difference between most of them for the average golfer. Cleveland along with quite few of these other companies will continue to decline until they are either sold off or die a natural death.


Matt Harris September 27, 2012 at 9:46 am

What’s Cleveland? A company that bears the name of an amazing club designer who works for Callaway. Doesn’t EVERY person to come into golf learn that? I did:

“So what’s Taylormade like? Awesome drivers. Ping? Known for their irons. Cleveland? Well, they used to be known for wedges, but the guy that started the company sold it forever ago and now actually works making clubs for Callaway. How are Callaway clubs? Excellent all the way around.”

Mizuno has its niche. Titleist has its. Where does Cleveland fit in? Just this side of Wilson is my guess.


timlangler September 27, 2012 at 8:02 pm

Callaway excellent? Hmmm, not entirely sure on that. The X Prototype blades are pure, but apart from that, their clubs are “run of the mill” in my opinion. Too focused on mega chunk game improvers… That’s the perception i get anyway. I don’t really think they have made a decent “all ’round” pl;ayers style iron since the x forged irons. They were pretty popular on tour too!


GolfSpy T September 28, 2012 at 4:22 am

I think I agree with you to an extent. The issue isn’t the quality, but rather the lack of clear differentiation between the products. You’ve got the X forged musclebacks at the top, the RAZR XF at the bottom, but the lines are fairly blurry for the several models in between. It’s tough for the average guy to know where everything fits.


Gil B. September 27, 2012 at 9:17 am

Maybe part of the problem is their stable of pro players, which is small to promote their products, but I truly think the members of that stable are pretty darned good. Over the last several years they’ve performed pretty well, winning some notable tournaments, including a major or two, and in the Ryder Cup, which says that the clubs they’re playing are performing as they need. In my mind it gets to their marketing strategies, or lack there of. I don’t know if they are on a very limited or tight budget for advertising and marketing but they certainly aren’t out there in the public eye like the Callaway, Titleist, Nike, and TaylorMade lines. I’ve been playing Cleveland products for years and have been pleased with their performance and reliability. Because of their lack of presence in the marketplace as an independent I suspect they’ll be bought up by some big name company,retaining some of their own technology, tweaked a bit, and slowly re- advertised as the newest member of the elite lines of golf clubs that will help the average golfer while being a cost effective product. Under their present business model as a free standing, independent Cleveland company, I fear they have a short life span unless they can hire an extraordinary CEO to change their business strategies. I’ll continue to be a Cleveland promoter as long as the clubs perform. Love them.


Justin September 27, 2012 at 9:03 am

“In today’s marketplace, being good isn’t enough. You have to figure out how to make a little noise”. That’s a sad reality of today’s golf business, even though it’s complete bull$hit. There’s dozens of brands out there that are just as good (maybe even better) than those with the massive marketing machines and top-flight Tour sponsorships, but they don’t get the attention they deserve. What a joke.


Rev Kev September 27, 2012 at 9:18 am

This is most certainly true. It’s actually even becoming true of churches – we have to carve out our unique niche in the community or fade off into the distance.

I suppose the good news is that my congregation is understanding this – lots aren’t and it’s a shame.

You name the market and you better be able to say that you do the best at one particular aspect of it.


jpball September 27, 2012 at 8:39 am

I only sort of agree with GolfSpy T; every brand has an icon to which the market ascribes value, which value often “extends” to that brands’ other products. For TaylorMade, it’s their drivers, which begets irons but rarely wedges; for Titleist, it’s balls, then wedges and irons, and less often drivers.

IMO, Cleveland’s efforts to expand its wedge line actually had the adverse effect of confusing the consumer and confusion translates into reduced sales volume. Who can understand the personal value of CG14, 15, and 16 and how that might stack up against the 588? The problem is exacerbated by retailer’s tepid efforts to outguess consumers and provide limited inventory of any single model – often inadvertently signaling the demise of one model or another. In short, Cleveland somehow managed to squander the toe-hold it once held with their most popular product. Couple that mistake with a similar seeming unwillingness to put a stake in the ground regarding a principal iron configuration/model and you have what amounts to a brand that seemingly lacks direction, which responsibility falls to the CEO, going some distance perhaps in explaining the departure of Hopkins.


tiger168 September 27, 2012 at 8:33 am

It’s good for company to make its CEO accountable. It takes business integrity as we know within a company it’s like a family, it is always a hard decision to have someone leave the team.

Regardless, it is just news in a day’s life in the golf industry. I think the article blow it out of proportion by saying things, as it has disclaimed in the beginning, BIAS!

Brand name such as Odassey makes its name on Putter alone, Adams has done so with its hybrids; Scotty has done so with its putters; Callaway used to do it with its driver and woods; Nike has done it with no equipment, but, Tiger alone! Bottom line: everyone tries to capitalize and maximize their premier asset(s) to grow other lines.

Japanese has different culture, just as the Korean owns Titleist now, so as Puma and Cobra are own by Asia groups. Let’s not forget the Chinese OEM builds majority of the components. Given enough time, resource and bright CXO, in this global economy, everyone can be successful.

As far as I can interpret, you don’t have any facts, since you can’t get Cleveland to reply, therefore, this article has become very personal.

I am partial to the situation, IMHO, I just hope GOLFSPY, a brand and site that I respect, would report a better piece than just a personal opinion without facts. The reads deserve better.


Justin September 27, 2012 at 8:52 am

You beat me to the punch with the “Adams=hybrids, SC=putters” line! Good point, nonetheless.


GolfSpy T September 27, 2012 at 9:30 am

Scotty Cameron is a pretty lousy comparison actually. What I said is you can’t build a successful full line company around a wedge. Taking the wedge part out of it for a moment, Scotty isn’t a full line company, nor would he be where he is today if he didn’t reap the benefits of being under the Titleist umbrella. Odyssey, also not a full line company by itself, is a division of Callaway, so that comparison isn’t ideal either.

The Adams comparison basically supports my point. Brands are built around drivers and irons. Adams has an exceptional iron product, a damn good woods product, and yet, they must fight the perception that they’re mainly a hybrid company…just as Cleveland is up against the notion of being mostly a wedge company.

Though from a practicality standpoint, it’s nonsense, selling clubs…and selling a lot of them, starts with the driver. Everything trickles down from there. TaylorMade understands this better than anyone. Woods are the key to their business, and if they happen to sell a few wedges along the way, great, but they’re not the thing that drives the business…not even a little. You can use a driver to sell a wedge…it’s a lot harder to use a wedge to sell a driver.

Nike and Callaway are examples that also prove my point. Both are struggling a bit to find an identity; Nike in what really is the post-Tiger era from an equipment standpoint.

While the PR machines might not admit as much, outside of TaylorMade and PING, none of the big guys are really in a position to honestly say, “things are nearly 100% awesome…couldn’t be better”. Cobra…maybe, but they’re certainly a work in progress.

Call it bias if you like, but I thought I was relatively complimentary to Cleveland products. It’s not the products (it’s almost never the products anymore), it’s the sales and marketing strategy around them that hasn’t worked, which is why the are where they are today.


tiger168 September 27, 2012 at 11:16 am

Using your own criteria, there is NO successful full line company PERIOD!

IMHO, I do not think the Golf companies are marketing their strategy this way, at the least I do not see any evidence for such bold statement from you.

For example, I not think TaylorMade’s wedge has made its name, yet, as good wedges remains on the market for a long long time, and I really don’t see that with their wedges. Nor does their woods, before licensing/bought the Adams patent and using it. Before their ghost line (white) and thanks to DAvid Stockton, TM putters were/are not on anyone’s radar.

As for Ping, whom makes quality products, still do not have a decent forged irons in the US, if irons are their bread and butter. Because I don’t see major market share being allocated for their wood and hybrid nor wedges, either.

Reputation is a double edged sword, it might guarantee a driver revenue, but, it might pigeon-hole you in certain market as well. Hey, if that market is huge, then, there is nothing wrong with that. 20+ million golfers in US alone is a big piece of pie.

A company with full line, well, I think one major line within a company is, perhaps, feeding another none money making is probably the truth. As I read the 10Q for Callaway, Adidas, and other parent companies, no one really break down the revenue stream for each line.

I am sorry, I am a facts type of guy, there is just no evidences for a success full line golf company. BTW, if full line includes apparels and accessories, Nike is probably the only one that comes close to it, while Callaway is a close second, Ping probably third, because I don’t see TaylorMade making shoes any time soon, but, if you say Adidas, not TM, but, then Adidas is not a golf only company. The wise management at Adidas kept the two separated for very good reasons: you don’t need to be a full line company to be successful. You just need to be good at what you do!


GolfSpy T September 27, 2012 at 11:40 am

Tiger168, I don’t think you understand what it means to be a successful full line company. It doesn’t mean you’re #1 or #2 across all segments, it simply means your revenues are something close to what you hoped (success), while offering a complete lineup (full line) of clubs. For example, TaylorMade is a full line company, as is Cleveland. SCOR and Scratch are examples of non-full line golf companies.

Yes, TaylorMade would like to sell more wedges (putters and balls too), I’m sure, but my point is they’re not what moves the rest of the lineup. Drivers sell the rest of the bag to varying degree, wedges do not. TaylorMade is on top of the industry right now largely because of the trickle down effect of their woods.

Incidentally, while Adidas is the parent company, it’s the same Carlsbad-based TMaG team that handles both the equipment lineup and golf-related soft goods (footwear, apparel, eyewear). The two are not, as you believe, separate. That is a fact.

When I mentioned PING and TaylorMade my purpose was to illustrate two companies that would likely tell me – and would be 100% honest when they did so – that they’re content with their position in the market. PING is succeeding on its own terms, while TaylorMade is killing it with a marketing force that’s a cut above anyone else’s right now.

As for PING not having a successful forged iron? Really? Anser forged?

If you really think Nike is moving the needle at a level even remotely close to the Tiger days, I suggest you spend some time talking to the guys who work in and run proshops. There are clubs that have to be sold, and there are clubs that people come to buy. Cleveland is part of the former. People lined up at midnight to buy the RocketBallz fairway (This is also a fact).

Finally…Callaway? I don’t think it’s any secret that as a company they’re not where they want to be right now. They’re working on it…and I think they’ve got the right team in place to get there, and recent products have been nothing short of outstanding, but right now…ZERO chance they’re content with where they are.


John22615 September 28, 2012 at 12:58 pm

I think that you are overlooking the only full line company that is at the top of all aspects of the golf equipment and accessory markets. Titleist with its balls, woods, irons, Scotty cameron putters and footjoy shoes is at the top of the heap. Their clothing lines may not have the volumes of Nike and Addidas, but they are very profitable. No company comes close to it in the reputation and profitability of each segment of its market bag of products. Nike may sell more clothes, but its club, ball and golf shoe line in are not even in the ball park. I think that they pay Tiger more than they net from golf equipment (non-clothing) sales.


Westy September 27, 2012 at 4:21 am

Played both CG1 and CG2 irons, both were nice but a little lacking in bling; still carry my steel shafted Halo hybrid (adore it) and have recently put an FL fairway in the bag and it’s seriously outperforming the RBZ and Bridgestone before it. oh and have a classic putter hidden away which I might get out this winter.

They’ve made some rubbish as well though and sadly they are not in the slightest bit sexy to most normal folders – still makes for some great bargain bin finds. It’d be really sad to lose them though as we need competition in the market.


Pete September 26, 2012 at 9:48 pm

Why so negative about Cleveland Golf clubs..wait I know you’ve never played them!! 4 yrs ago I decided to buy a “big” head driver..tried all the big names and when I hit the Cleveland Hibore….it was love at first hit!! Long and can work it. Later switched my 3-5 woods to same and then decided to go back to forged muscle back blades and bought the CG1 s with graphite shafts off e bay …best irons ever hit..get exact distance and straight but can work the ball when needed..My previous clubs were Hogans Tour edge cavity backs.
Cleveland has the product…but maybe not th budget to bribe PGA players like the others? And FYI they have increased exposure the past 2 yrs with more bribing like the others lol


GolfSpy T September 27, 2012 at 4:47 am

Pete…I’ve hit my share of Cleveland clubs, but that’s not the point. The point I made in the article is that Cleveland has some very good products (including their irons), but for whatever reason, they’re just not generating any real buzz…and that’s extremely important in today’s equipment market.

Cleveland pays PGA pros same as everyone else (Veejay, Keegan). While it’s not on the level of TaylorMade, you can’t really make the valid argument that budgetary restrictions on the marketing side are to blame. They spend money (driver ads, “Year of the Wedge”, etc.).

The larger issue is that despite quality products (I’ll be the first to admit that 90% of what’s out there is mostly the same), the money spent isn’t helping to generate any real consumer buzz. As much as anything else, this reflects a shifting in the pyramid of influence (a topic for another day).

None of this is meant to suggest Cleveland doesn’t have a loyal consumer following. They have their fans, but it takes growth, and the majority consumer; those who are either new to the game, or don’t have any strong affinity to the Cleveland brand, are spending their money elsewhere.

When you look at similarly sized and even smaller golf companies, I’d argue that Mizuno, Adams, and even Bridgestone are outperforming (market, not club performance) them on a comparative scale.


Rev Kev September 27, 2012 at 6:33 am

I’d be very interested in a discussion on the pyramid of influence topic. As T writes 90 percent of the product out there is quite good. So why is it then that certain manufacturers seem to dominate the market place?

Cleveland’s equipment is very good and yet I have never have purchased any of it – I own a Never Comprimise putter but it was purchased when they were an it sort of company.

Seems to be that Taylor Made, Callaway, Ping and Nike do a great job with their Tour staff, Titleist is wonderful at getting club pros into the fold and the others are left to fend for themselves. Not so good in this current environment.

Maybe the reality is that the market place can only handle so many major golf manufacturers.

I’ll be an interesting spectator as this unfolds.


Rev Kev September 27, 2012 at 6:34 am

Meant to write interested – of course I always think I’m interesting. :)


RP Jacobs II September 28, 2012 at 5:45 am

Any market place can only handle so many competitors. What is that number? Depends on the market place, the size of the market and the economic landscape. As a rule, there is stability in being one of the top two competitors(Coke & Pepsi, Mercedes & BMW, McDonalds & Wendys). Though #3 through whatever may have great years, things get a little dicey when the economy turns and factors outside of your control come into play to influence the customer’s buying patterns.

In reality, quality has little to do with the final score. You can litterally have shafts snapping and driver heads falling off of shafts ala Adams(F11) and as long as they take care of the effected customers, they’re fine. Every market & industry segment has a paradigm. A company that is not in the top two has to change some part of that prardigm(differenciation) to seperate themselves and give the consumer a choice. Better(quality) is not different & doesn’t do anything except hasten their path to extinction.

Another critical mistake the senior corporate executives make is not accepting that perception is reality. I can talk & post till I’m dead on the floor about how great Staff was, is & will forever be, however if the perception is that they’re a “big box” company, well, I’m dead on the floor & they’re a big box company.

Also, horizontal integration doesn’t work for 96% of the companies short term & 99.9% long term. Cally is a prime example(and an actual grad school case study). Narrow & deep, not shallow and broad.

Focus, diffferentiation & perception is reality. Some get it, most don’t. Those laws are immtable, not negotiable.

Fairways & Greens 4ever


John22615 September 28, 2012 at 12:40 pm

In some ways I have to agree with GolfSpy in that many of Cleveland’s clubs are excellent products, but they can’t seem to become known today as more than a wood and wedge company. I am surprised that Cleveland won’t work with GolfSpy, since most of the folks on this blog are the very enthusiasts that keep the various golf manufacturers in business. Cleveland, you might remember started out with Roger Cleveland’s exceptional persimmon woods, his wedges came later. I have never played Cleveland irons because until the new 588 Forged irons came out, I never liked any of their offerings. Although my bag is now filled with Titleist products (695 blades, 910 woods, vokey wedges and a Scotty putter), I have played a Cleveland drivers and various wedges. The Comp driver was a fantastic, traditional looking driver, but offered no simple shaft interchangeability. When Titleist came out with the 910 D3 with the adjustable hozzle, I could easily try out various shafts in a traditional-looking head and personalize the face angle and loft. The ability to easily interchange shafts (the most important part of the equation) was the over-riding decision to go away from the Cleveland driver. and buy an equal, if not better, traditional looking Titleist driver.
I think that it is difficult for a small company like Cleveland to compete against the big boys like Titleist (the best), TaylorMade (probably the biggest by volume with quality), Ping (probably the best manufacturing tolerances in the market, but slow to join the adjustability competition) and Callaway (losing market share by lack of focus, direction and quality of top models). Mizuno, small in the golf business like Cleveland, produces the best irons along with Titleist, and will always be there due to its quality iron forgings (woods, though, are marginal at best). Adams now has the backing of its new owner Taylormade, which should allow it better access to technology, design skills and advertising dollars. And Muira, the smallest of the small, but the Ferrari of clubs (at a Ferrari price) will continue to flourish because of its unmatched quality for those who consider price irrelevant. I don’t see much from Bridgestone except balls and exceptionally good looking staff bags. Their clubs have never sold well, and I never see them at any club pro shop or specialty golf retailer.
There are other manufacturers, like Wilson, Srixon, etc that are fringe players that probably will not survive as the industry consolidates around the major players that have the volume and profitability to both maintain technical excellence and market awarness.


AJ September 26, 2012 at 6:30 pm

Who cares? I have never considered a Cleveland product before and I doubt that I will in the future.
Might be a bit cynical but to me they always came across as the Claytons brand. You know the beer you drink when you are not really drinking beer.


Don Gregory September 26, 2012 at 6:02 pm

This article was spot on from start to finish. And you’re right, the Hopkins resignation is almost a non story in itself. I would not be surprised to see SRI Sport sell off Cleveland Golf (maybe to Under Armour) or another competitor. The Cleveland Golf HQ’s is near my home and I occasionally run into CG staff testing products at my club. I’d love to get their take on what went down or could go down in the future with the company.


Christian Furu September 26, 2012 at 4:13 pm

I think it´s a healthy sign that the company is more important than the CEO. It shouldn´t be a big deal that someone leaves a company they´ve been with for 16 years.

As for Cleveland – they need to come up with some irons that fit into the AMP/RBZ category. CG16 and CG16 Tour didn´t sell. Put a better shaft in the next irons, the CG16 Tour with Nippon is pure golf magic :)

CG Black is a series that deserves more attention, especially from senior golfers. The Classic Black can be a hit, but it´s so hard to transfer this “classic look” to other clubs than driver and fw.

They have the best “budget” putters with the Classics. Excellent putters at a great price. So many good things going for them, but I think they´ll just be a small brand till the end. There just isn´t room for everyone who wants to be onboard.


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