GolfBags.com – Another one that got away!

Soon we’ll be approaching the time of year when men (some men anyway!) find themselves hunched over their computers late at night and frantically typing in words like “bags”, “Hermes”, “Dior”, “Gucci”, “Coach”. Then, upon seeing the eye-popping prices of some of these mysterious objects, they quickly add words like “cheap”, “discount”, “sale” and “vintage”. But if they’re golfers, it may not be too long before the keywords switch to “Callaway”, “TaylorMade”, “Ogio”, “Sun Mountain”. Or in my case, “Hogan”, “Ping”, “Dunlop”, “Slazenger”. That’s the trouble with being a golfer: to paraphrase the old Eurovision song by Dana, “All kinds of everything remind me of golf”.

Every month there are about 33,000 searches for the term “golf bags” on Google, and pay-per-click advertisers are paying roughly $1 per click to get these visitors through Google Adwords.  Although the average golf bag will probably cost between $100-$250, at these rates retailers have to be pretty sharp to convert those visitors into sales and make a profit. It helps that bags aren’t made to last anymore – I still have my old Dunlop golf bag from 1979, perfect apart from a couple of seized zips – but even so, margins must still be tight.

With that in mind, what would it be worth for an online retailer to own the top-of-the-tree domain name “GolfBags.com”? Well, one man knows the answer to that question now because the domain name is live and quietly going about its business selling golf bags and benefiting from free or almost free traffic while other advertisers who depend heavily on branding their own names have to pay a dollar a click for visitors.

Amazingly for such a premium domain name, it appears that GolfBags.com was not registered until May 1st, 2000, by which time the internet had matured sufficiently that people were already saying that all the good names were gone. Well, not this one, apparently. The domain is now in the hands of an entrepreneur called Lou Doctor, whose remarkable story I will elaborate on in a later post. As for the site itself, it is clean, uncluttered and responsive, and has a different feel altogether than many of the cookie-cutter websites that have been built on top of other category-killer domain names. It feels and looks every bit as professional as Golfsmith.com or The Golf Warehouse. Maybe that’s because GolfBags.com also has a bricks-and-mortar business in Portland, Oregon, and is manned by staff who apparently eat, sleep and breathe golf.

You may never have heard of GolfBags.com (yet) and may not have been aware that it is a live e-commerce site, but by all appearances it is a million-dollar business selling golf bags to the entire world while just being operated by a handful of employees. One thing you can be sure of is that as long as golfers use golf bags this is a business name that will exude credibility and authority because the product being sold advertises the site. How about that for a novel concept! Even the mere mention of golf bags in conversation reinforces the company “brand”!

All in all, there appears to be very little down-side and a lot of up-side to launching a business on a great domain name such as this. The domain name itself is probably worth 7 figures now that there’s a fully functioning website behind it. The cost of acquiring visitors is either zero (if they type the domain name in their browser) or certainly less than most of their competitors’ costs if they do pay-per-click advertising because the keywords in the domain name improve click-through rates and visitors will remember the name next time. And even if their retail business should ever fail, it seems to me that there are more than enough golf bag manufacturers and competitors in the retail sector who would jump at the chance to own the category-defining domain name for their industry.

Now that’s what you call a very sweet domain name and a business with bags of potential.

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