UK competition watchdog swings at golf brand Ping

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Ping Europe, an arm of US golf brand Ping, has been accused by Britain’s competition watchdog of breaching UK and EU competition law by banning the sale of its golf clubs online.

The UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has issued a statement of objections to Ping Europe over the ban but added that its findings are provisional and Ping has an opportunity to respond.

The rise of online retailers is posing competition to high street shops and golf clubs are no exception.

Explaining the move, Ann Pope, a senior director at the CMA, said that although “suppliers may be tempted” to introduce practices such as online sales bans, retailers should not be “unduly restricted”:

The internet is an increasingly important distribution channel and retailers’ ability to supply via this channel should not be unduly restricted. This drives competition among rival retailers because they compete to attract consumers who are using the internet to shop around for the best deals. Bans on internet trading can be a problem if they seek to prevent retailers reaching a significant proportion of customers.

Ping is a family-owned company founded in 1959. The name comes from the “pinging” sound that the putters created by founder Karsten Solheim, a former General Electric engineer, made when they struck a golf ball.

Pros who have contracts with the maker include the American multiple champion Bubba Watson. (Image above from Ping’s website)

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