Is this the Cheat’s Guide to Golf Retail in 2023?

Phil Barnard, speaker and retail industry expert


The year is well underway and, while it might seem a little late for 2023 ‘predictions’, I have some thoughts for the year that I’d like to share. Afterall, in retail terms there is still over 90% of the year to go.

There are clear trends rippling through general retail that may have a big impact on golf businesses.

1 – An increased focus on omnichannel experiences.  Retailers will continue to prioritise omnichannel experiences that provide customers with seamless and consistent interactions across all channels, including brick-and-mortar stores, e-commerce, and mobile.

2 - Rise of subscription-based models: Subscription-based models, such as clothing rental and product replenishment services, will become increasingly popular as consumers seek more sustainable and cost-effective options.

3 - Growth of voice commerce: The use of voice-enabled devices for shopping, such as Amazon Echo and Google Home, will continue to grow and become a more significant part of the retail landscape.

4 - Focus on sustainability and social responsibility: Sustainability and social responsibility will become increasingly important for retailers, as consumers demand more environmentally friendly and ethically-sourced products.

5 - Increased use of data and artificial intelligence: Retailers will use data and artificial intelligence (AI) more extensively to personalise the customer experience and improve operational efficiency.

Great insights?  Undeniably, yes, and at this point I’m going to admit that I’ve cheated (a bit) and, like many students writing college assignments, I decided to let AI do some of the work.

ChatGPT is probably the most talked-about and accessible implementation of AI right now. You access it through a web page, ask a question, and ChatGPT will respond with some outstanding answers. For example, when I asked ChatGPT to describe itself – here’s what it came up with:


"I would describe ChatGPT as an artificial intelligence language model designed to simulate human conversation. It is powered by OpenAI's GPT (Generative Pre-trained Transformer) technology, which allows it to understand and respond to a wide range of text-based inputs in a human-like manner.

ChatGPT has been trained on a vast amount of text data from the internet, including books, articles, and online conversations, allowing it to understand and respond to a wide variety of topics and questions. It can engage in conversations on almost any subject, provide information, give advice, or simply chat."


Its creators have just done a huge deal, worth 10's of billions of dollars with Microsoft. It seems their plan is to take on Google and provide better search through an AI-powered Bing, amongst other things. As a result, interaction with AI, and this kind of advanced technology, will soon become more normalised.

Gmail creator on ChatGPT: "AI will eliminate the search engine..." - BusinessToday

(Image source Business Today)


While this is only one example of AI, it does show how the field is developing and how companies are implementing the technology to make it useful. In retail terms, you can see that a lot of content and information is being created using this tool.

Developing AI does have some limitations, the main one being the data it is fed. However, if we look at the ChatGPT’s response to my ‘retail predictions’ question, it’s done a very good job.  This is just the starting point and I think it represents that real change is coming.

Now, for the golf retailer who might be reading this, here’s some more context and further thoughts of my own.

6 – Due to the current financial challenges, consumers will become more focused on quality rather than quantity. With tighter purse strings, consumers will want to make sure they get value for their spend.

7 - With a never-ending list of options, consumer choice is becoming overwhelming. This year, shop customers will look to retailers that provide curated options that assist them through the product selection process.

8 - Expect Retail to come under some competitive pressure from the travel industry, which will try to grab a share of the wallet. Revenge travel has become a thing as consumers – having missed out during the pandemic - look to get out, and see things.

9 - Expect an improved performance for Apparel as customers look to improve their wardrobes. Brands have, hopefully, learned from last year’s challenges and will manage to get stock out to stores on time.

10 - In the hardware categories I think it will probably be a stronger year for Woods than Irons. Irons have been hot for a long time but, this year, launches planned in the Woods category seem to be catching a lot of attention.

Finally, I asked ChatGPT how it thought a new Carbon driver might help my golf game. This is what it said:

A new carbon driver could also potentially help improve your golf game in a few ways:

  • Lighter weight: Carbon fiber is a lighter material than titanium, so a carbon driver can potentially be designed with an even lighter clubhead, which can help increase swing speed and distance off the tee.

  • Reduced vibrations: Carbon drivers often have better vibration-dampening properties than titanium drivers. This means that a carbon driver can help reduce the harshness of impact and vibrations that can cause discomfort or affect accuracy.

  • Improved ball speed: A well-designed carbon driver can potentially provide better energy transfer from the clubhead to the ball, resulting in increased ball speed and distance.

  • Custom fitting: Like titanium drivers, many carbon drivers can also be custom-fitted to your individual swing characteristics and preferences, which can help optimize your driver for your unique swing.


Students, content writers, and business owners are just a few examples of people who will enjoy the advantages of using AI such as ChatGPT, but one should always err on the side of some caution.  ChatGPT is an incredible tool but must be used correctly and, as is the case with your new carbon driver, you should adapt your game to optimise its strengths. Similarly, this year, retailers would do well to actively search out new opportunities, embrace technology and utilise tools, like automation, to save time, make more money and grow the shop business.


Phil Barnard is Partner of Golf Datatech and Founder of Xpos, golf’s number one sales and stock management solution.  Follow Phil on LinkedIn and Twitter. Email