The Good Golf Shop

February 17, 2012
By Jack Dillon
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With more than 14,000 golf courses in the US, most have some sort of place to sell golf gear.  Having spent a life in golf shops, I am here to offer a few thoughts on making your shop work a bit better.  Of course, I realize these 5 thoughts must work for the manager, the golfer, and the team responsible for operating the shop.

There are many types of spaces for the golf shop.  Some are large and pretty, with great lighting and lots of merchandise.  There are other shops that are rather dark, a bit dreary, small, and stock barely enough product to fill a golf bag.  The great news about the golf shop however is this: no matter how many golf stores are around your course, your golf shop can do well, very well.  Your advantage is you have the course, you are the destination.  Humans want to exert as little energy as possible before that first swing.  They therefore will bypass many deals to get to you.  With upwards of 4000 to 6000 unique golfers, you can grow a wonderful business.

Inventory management is a key to your success.  It is OK to be overstocked the day before  the season begins.  Plan your shipments in line with your rounds history.  Stockouts are however, about the worst sin for golf shops.  Determine your best skus (top 25) and never run out.  Determine the top 30% of your shoppers and know everything about them and then do anything for them.  They are your business!  Here are 5 other thoughts for a good golf shop:

  • Be disciplined about replenishment.  Work with your team to restock every week in season.  Make it a religion, and never rely on the speed of a vendor, plane, or truck to make up for local errors.  Replenishment as Ford says, is your job #1
  • Boomers and older folks play a lot of golf.  Have signs with large fonts and bright colors.  Work to make sure most goods are up, well off the ground.  Make it easy for people to buy, and they will.  Be mindful of poor sight and weak ears
  • Develop the most educated golf shop staff in the world.  Are you sick of going into large stores to spend lots of money only to be addressed by a group of uneducated "experts?"  Be fanatical with learning.  Teach every staff member as if they are lifelong employees.  From apparel to shoes, to club fitting, create the place where you would shop
  • Have the men's area look "lived in".  It is important to not have perfect apparel displays, perfect ball displays, and other areas that appear freshly made.  Men will not touch perfect displays, and therefore avoid them and their merchandise.  Make certain men want to touch, feel, buy
  • Take the shop outside.  The days of waiting for buyers are long gone.  Be proactive.  Use the range, the 1st tee, a par three, parking lot and the porch outside the shop to create a sidewalk sale feel.  When people see these approaches, they perceive bargains.  Try it, often.

The golf shop can be anything your imagination allows.  Use old props, use local themes for props, and create lots of events, sales, and promos.  Most of all, make it FUN cause someone shot and killed the FUN at most stores and malls.  One last point: love the woman golfer.  Work hard to make it a blast for man, woman, and junior! 

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