In the history of humankind, civilization has seen it’s fair share of “David vs Goliath” scenarios. In fact, the stories from history are numerous. For example, during the Vietnam War in 1966 at the Battle of Long Tan 108 men (Australian Army) found themselves surrounded by over 2,500 Viet Cong forces. The Australian Army forced a retreat of the opposing force. In sports, it’s hard not to think about the UFC when it was “Open” with no weight classes. Brazilian Jiu Jitsu legend Royce Gracie faced a competitor Chad “Akebono” Rowan (the first foreign-born Yokozuna) that outweighed him by a mere 300 pounds. I remember watching this fight in 2004 and I thought little Royce would get destroyed. I would be mistaken as after being under Rowan for the entire fight Gracie found an opening and one shoulder lock later…Gracie submitted the big man. Golf has had a number of these scenarios unfold as well but the one that sticks out for me is Francis Ouimet who in 1913 won the U.S. Open after winning a three-way playoff involving the legendary Harry Vardon. It was a win for the ages… David beat Goliath. But what about Goliath vs Goliath?
Yes, we have seen many of those during history as well. Of course, there were the Allied and Axis forces of the World War’s. Who can forget the “Thrilla in Manila” between Smokin’ Joe Frazier and Muhammad Ali in 1975? Heck even Rocky Balboa and Ivan Drago in Rocky IV. As far as golf goes you can pick from dozens of Ryder Cup matches or many a Major tournament. But golf is on the cusp of a potential epic battle between two corporate “Goliath’s”.
For full dramatic effect you have to think of this next passage as if it were being called by a ring announcer.
Ladies and Gentlemen it’s time for the Main Event!
This “Goliath” saw third quarter revenues weigh-in at $332.35 million dollars. Wearing green trunks and fighting out of the green (grass) corner… Acushnet/Titleist.
The challenger. This “Goliath” saw third quarter revenues weighing in at an impressive $25.23 billion dollars. It’s the “King of the Samples”, the “Master of the Bulk” fighting out of the red (meat) corner wearing red trunks with Kirkland trim its Costco Wholesale Corporation.
I had no idea that this event was going to happen at the time that I wrote my Titleist 917 review. In the past, we have seen Acushnet (the parent company of Titleist) sue small independent golf ball company’s for patent infringement. In 2015 the golf giant gave several small company’s “cease and desist” orders. Back then Acushnet chased brands like Lightning Golf, Ariva Golf, 3 UP, Monsta Golf and others right out of the golf ball business. Either out of fear or a lack of finances these companies folded their tents and left the industry that they loved… behind. The reality is that Titleist seems to stand for everything that I personally don’t believe in. Titleist comes off as elitist and even a bully. In light of their previous actions I have gotten to the point where I almost feel guilty about feeling confident with their equipment in my hands and playing their equipment. They strong-armed all of those “smaller weaker children” and took their “lunch money” in the process. Now I will say that whether those company’s did their due diligence or not with the factory’s responsible for production I most certainly will never know. What I do know however, is that there were other balls that compared to the likes of Pro V1 and Pro V1x (for less) and they didn’t want their share of the pie to be taken. Which brings me to Costco.
If you follow golf and happened to live under a rock you may not have heard that Costco was selling golf balls in their warehouse stores under the name Kirkland Signature. The golf ball which is a 4-piece Urethane-covered specimen was received by the golfing public with glowing reviews which in turn led to Costco not being able to keep them in stock. The following of the Kirkland Signature golf balls grew to what was viewed as cult-like. People knew the balls were a hot commodity and you could find them on Ebay (marked up) and that was about it as the golf ball was entirely sold out. It’s no wonder why considering that you could get 2-dozen Tour balls for $30 (well below the wholesale cost of a dozen Pro V1 golf balls).
So Acushnet sends a letter to Costco stating that the Kirkland Signature golf ball violates 11 patent infringements and cites false advertising to Costco’s claim that the Kirkland Signature golf ball “meets or exceeds the quality standards of leading national brands.” Very brazen Costco… and I like it.Some of the patent infringements had to do with but were not limited to the cover hardness, core hardness and the percentage of dimples on the cover of the golf ball. In response, Costco filed a complaint against Acushnet looking for a judgement that they did not partake in any patent infringements nor are they guilty of false advertising. I applaud Costco for countering. Whether this case reaches court or not is going to be interesting to watch unfold. More often than not these sorts of cases do not make it to court and see some form of an out of court judgement. Other than the lawsuit in 2007 when Callaway Golf won a case against Acushnet when a jury ruled in their favor
Acushnet remember one thing. Sometimes a new kid, a bigger kid that’s tougher than you moves into town and goes to a new school which happens to be yours. Suddenly, you are no longer the “big kid” in the schoolyard that everyone “fears”. Now the hunter becomes the hunted. When that happens all of the other kids rally in the schoolyard and stand behind the “new kid”. Stay tuned folks.
Until The Next Tee!