Golf shop talk: dollars and sense

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The golf shop is the hub for social connection at the club.

Over the past several days, I have been thinking a great deal about the golf shop: your shop and the thousands of others across this land. All sorts of people view the shop as the place to sign in, to pay green fees, and to grab the urgent needs for the day: the golfers’ small convenience store. While all of this can be true, I see the golf shop very differently.

Over several decades of managing golf shops at driving ranges and golf courses, I have come to know this space well. There is a feel here like no other. There is an expectation the golfer has for this space that many people rarely consider as they prepare for the day. Although I have been responsible for the P & L of hundreds of these spaces, the golf shop is so much more than the accumulation of the days’ receipts. It is the “kitchen” of your property: that place where people hang to talk about their game, sports, and everything else that is important to the daily social fabric.

Over many decades of working with golfers and golf staff on building a better experience, I have also encountered leaders who cared little about this area, except to minimize any potential loss. Their only desire was to play defense: stock little merchandise, do minimal training, with no special events: experiences that incur added costs, including payroll. This highfives post is to show you another view of the golf shop, a view beyond the vision of the controller, the accountant, and the CFO. Here are my highfive thoughts for your review:

  1. The golf shop is the hub for social connection at the club: Treating it in this way means more visits, longer visits, more sales, bigger transactions
  2. Operate the golf shop with extraordinarily friendly people: Golfers are coming to play a game. Treat the day & each golfer with a light attitude and great personal attention
  3. Play offense with brands, product categories, and levels of product: Besides a golf course (and hotels and restaurants), how many retail destinations know not only how many people will be coming on any given day but know the names and contact detail too? This is great information for which to build a successful day in merchandise, and sales in your other service categories
  4. Recognize your golfers and surprise them often: People love to be recognized for their patronage. At the same time people love nice surprises and positive rewards, no matter the size. Better business begins with being nice, being friendly, being social. When your shop feels more like Grandma’s kitchen than a Nascar pitstop, golfers will spend more time, give your merchandise a fair shot, and provide your business with opportunity
  5. Reset the atmosphere: The golf shop will be what ownership/management makes it. If it is to be a pitstop, the shop will have a poor selection of merchandise, be staffed with less than excellent people, and develop a minimal service reputation. Lead with high expectations, measured training, and recognition through your fun staff that you treat well.

From personal experience, I know just like the late, great comedian Rodney Dangerfield, the golf shop gets little or no respect. It is however, the one place on property where people will gather, will spend time, and will spend money……when treated well. Poor service never results in a positive response from your golfers. Why not have a service, social, and merchandise plan for the men, women, and juniors playing at your place this season. When you get back to permitting outside outings at your property, you know these golfers are mostly pulling their golf gear out of storage, for a one day fling. They will need product for the day. Why not have the team change up some of the shop presentation in order to showcase not only necessities, but fun items, logo’d product that they will not otherwise notice. Bring the merchandise to the eyeballs, as once a year golfers rarely shop for items beyond balls, gloves and maybe a hat. When you change up the expectations, you change everything. Have a great season. Thank you.


Jack Dillon writes the highfive series. This series is now in it’s 11th year of posts. Jack is now offering a program to help golf shops and their teams. To learn more contact Jack at:407-973-6136 or at: Jack is a golf shop expert, a speaker, communications coach and consultant. To hear about real value with a low investment contact Jack today.

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