Japan golf industry looks to cash in on Matsuyama's Masters win

Nikkei -- Apr 16
Hideki Matsuyama made golf history on April 11, becoming the first Japanese to win a men's major and unleashing a frenzy by the country's golf industry eager to cash in on his success.

"Amateur golfers are always eager to know what gear pros are using," said a spokesperson for Sumitomo Rubber Industries, a major golf equipment maker whose gear Matsuyama used at the prestigious Masters Tournament. "His victory will have a positive impact on our business."

The company's golf and other sports-related business generated 84.7 billion yen ($773 million) in the year ended December 2019, accounting for nearly 10% of overall sales. Matsuyama uses Sumitomo Rubber's Srixon golf balls and clubs, including drivers.

Descente, an official supplier of Matsuyama's golf wear, has seen "an increased interest" in its products since his Masters victory. "We've received inquiries from dealers with whom we've never done business," said an official at the sportswear manufacturer.

Descente designs and markets Srixon-brand apparel under license from Sumitomo Rubber. Its Srixon polo shirt for the 2021 spring-summer season, which Matsuyama wore at the Masters, sells for about 8,000 yen.

An official at Bridgestone Sports said Matsuyama's victory "will greatly impact Japan's golf industry." Sports gear maker Mizuno also expects his success to boost sales.

Signage bearing the names of overseas brands is displayed at a Golf 5 retail outlet in suburban Tokyo.

The number of golfers hitting the links has picked up in Japan since last fall. The game is less affected by the coronavirus as it is played outdoors and players can maintain their distance from each other.

Tokyo golf course operator Pacific Golf Management said it has seen a 15% increase in the number of customers aged 39 or younger since last September. Among women in the same age bracket, the figure is 30% higher than a year earlier. - Nikkei