The image of golf in Japan is that it is a sport for old men who play it for entertaining business partners. Golf, however, is now targeting women who are increasingly taking up the sport, according to weekly magazine Shukan Shincho (Dec 24).
“Some middle-aged women, who never played golf before, have recently started buying golf wear,” a sales clerk of a major department store tells the magazine. “It's not just for playing golf. Apparently, they want to dress the part to be in the gallery at professional golf tournaments to see teen golfer Ryo Ishikawa.”
According to Shukan Shincho, many women have become interested in the sport because of the emergence of young golfers such as Ishikawa, Momoko Ueda and Miho Koseki, who receive a lot of TV coverage.
The golf-related industry, such as clubs, clothing and other accessories, is worth 260 billion yen a year, analysts tell Shukan Shincho. The industry has been growing by 5% every year since 2004.
“The main target of the golf industry has been those who play golf for business, which has been closely linked to the economic situation. However, more than 60% of the 8.5 million golf population are now over 60, which is not directly influenced by the recession,” Shukan Shincho quotes a golf journalist.
A spokesperson for Niki Golf Corp, which posts annual sales of 25 billion yen, says, “We've seen sales increase by almost 10%. Women, especially in their 30s and 60s, are our main customers. While sales of golf clubs are decreasing, sales of golf wear and related goods are up."
Golf equipment makers are introducing new golf items, targeting women, Shukan Shinco says. Bridgestone Corp, for example, recently released golf balls featuring pictures of Sanrio Corp's “Hello Kitty.” The women's golf magazine Regina, which was launched in 2006, sells about 60,000 copies a year.
An editor of monthly magazine Golf Equipment World analyzes the current situation: “The competition in the golf market is now very tough because apparel companies, such as Onward -- which never bothered with golf wear -- sees big potential."© Japan Today