Cobra Golf’s strength has fluctuated over the years, but the brand is on an upswing with its flashy staff players such as Camilo Villegas and Ian Poulter making emphatic statements on leaderboards of late.
So why would parent Acushnet Co. agree now, of all times, to sell Cobra to Puma AG?
Especially after investing in the brand for 14 years since its acquisition in 1996?
More than ever, Acushnet chief Wally Uihlein wants to focus on his signature assets: Titleist and FootJoy. In a tough economy and a stagnant golf market – where share gains come only at the expense of others – protecting these franchises clearly is job No. 1.
And the very definition of that mission reveals an underlying reason why it’s probably best to sell Cobra: It’ll always be No. 2.
Within Acushnet, Titleist and Cobra have operated autonomously. But with each striving to grow its respective market shares, it would become inevitable that they would try to expand beyond their respective niches. Though Cobra initially leaned more toward game-improvement products, its recent success with tour players helped make its gear resonate with better players as well. Meanwhile, Titleist, always associated with elite players, redesigned its irons to better accommodate a slightly broader audience, including “aspirational” golfers.
Avoiding the overlap has been a challenge – likely one that neither Titleist nor Cobra wants or needs.
A Cobra executive has indicated the brand’s staff is relishing the opportunity to be the lead – and only – equipment entity at Puma. Likewise, one can expect Titleist and FootJoy teams to focus singularly on maintaining their dominance in their respective product categories.
In today’s business climate, it’s a move that makes sense for both.