Find the shopkeeper: how to curate your golf shop

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In days gone by, the game used this title for the person, likely the golf professional, who operated the golf shop. The shop was simpler decades ago: it had some apparel, balls, gloves, maybe a few clubs. There was probably a cash register or maybe just a cash box. The shopkeeper took the role very seriously, tending to the physical space and the needs of the golfer. Just as today however, the aim was the same: provide accurate expertise, product knowledge and friendly, personal service to every golfer. The speed of the day might have been different, but the focus of improving the game, the score, and the experience for every customer was the same.

No doubt the world has changed. In this digital age, the industry expects the phone or even the watch to handle much of the preparation for the day of golf. It certainly doesn’t feel the same. That shopkeeper knew the names, knew the games, and kept the shop in good working order each and every day. This post is about today, about keeping shop in the new world of work. It touches on the things done well 60 years ago that may still apply to the golf shop of today. Although today there is probably no single shopkeeper since staffing issues and people wearing multiple hats have changed the course of operations, I believe the tenets of that time can be applied to the modern experience. This highfives post is about taking the ethics and efforts of yesterday, and applying them to today:

  1. Stock the golf shop: although the old merchant had no internet to compete with, there were stores all around that aimed to take the sale. Develop a shop presentation that excites people, gets them to stop, touch and buy. Change the idea that the golf shop is only a pit stop.
  2. Keep the shop clean, fresh, and bright: spend the time each morning (or evening) to clean the shop, freshen the displays, restock the shelves, and give the shop that constant look of newness.
  3. Freshen the air: whether you use pinecones or other scents, have the shop smell as fresh and inviting as it looks. There is a reason Disney parks have the aroma of popcorn as you enter in the morning. It is all about creating the mood, warmth, and an atmosphere for the customer.
  4. Demonstrate: the shopkeeper helped the golfer learn more about how to play. Never get so busy that you and your team cannot spend time providing your golfers tips and ideas for a better game.
  5. Show genuine interest: your team should show real interest in your golfers, your merchandise, and the way to make it all work for your players. When your people are engaged and interested, sales will grow, rounds will grow, golfers will bring friends. To create loyalty work with your team, providing time, motivation and rewards for seeking out engagement, noticing buying signals and building relationships with the golfers that make your property a place for calm and comfort.

I knew a few of the old merchants. They loved their golf course, their golf shop, and the people who came to play. Yes, the game was simpler then, as was the business of golf. Know, however, that there was passion for the game then as there is today. It is in the bones of your golfers, as well as in the many who serve the game they love. Think about nurturing that love from the ground up. Develop ideas that will get your golfers and staff to engage on a level that goes back to the days of persimmon woods and balata balls. Be the all-in-one stop for a better game. Being a good shopkeeper is only the beginning, but a great way to show all that your team has knowledge and interest in all things golf. Target that one staffer to be your shopkeeper, then build the team all around that will make your shop the place to look, to buy, and the place to hang before they hit the 1st tee. Your golf shop can be so much more than a pit stop.

Jack Dillon writes the highfives series. Jack is an expert on purchasing, operations, and communications. Now part of Career Dividends, Jack can help you build a better golf shop, a better operation and a better team. Contact Jack at or call Jack at 407-973-6136. Jack lives in Orlando and on Zoom.

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