Why I am bullish on golf

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By Joe Assell

Hundreds of PGA Golf Professionals lost their jobs recently as a major national retailer, Dick’s Sporting Goods, informed its PGA Pros their positions were being eliminated. As a company which was founded by PGA Members, we at GolfTEC — the largest single employer of golf professionals in the world — were saddened to see our profession as collateral damage in the sudden strategy shifts that can occur in this new economy. Some would blame the decision on a declining interest in golf, but I don’t see it that way.

While I cannot speak to the reasons for another company’s decisions, I am compelled to speak up for the golf industry, for PGA Members and for GolfTEC.

PGA Pros have propelled a 100 percent increase in our company’s revenues during the last five years. During that time, we gave millions of lessons to hundreds of thousands of golfers who visited a GolfTEC Coach at one of our 190 locations. In fact, outstanding work by PGA Professionals at our improvement centers has GolfTEC poised for an exceptional 2014. This will include record highs in our revenues, number of lessons given and the number of GolfTEC locations.

 We are so bullish on the future of our business specifically, and opportunities within golf generally, that we plan to hire up to 100 PGA Professionals over the next six months.

This is a practical approach. It recognizes PGA Professionals are the world’s best instructors, and that the success of GolfTEC is built on making better golfers. When people shoot lower scores they play more often and enjoy the game more. Golf needs this now, because it’s the fuel that will help our industry grow across the board.

 That’s where the PGA of America, the LPGA and their affiliated golf professionals come in. Their training programs are state of the art. They produce skilled professionals with a passion for the game and an understanding of the business of golf. GolfTEC is the beneficiary and we plan further investments to add domestic and international locations. We believe we need to double our capacity to meet the demand right here in America and the global growth in popularity fueled in part by the Olympics presents great expansion opportunities abroad.

There are a number of people who appear to share my view that it is a good time to invest in golf. Donald Trump’s entry into golf course and resort ownership, Newcastle Investments’ recapitalization of American Golf, and the investments of Kohlberg & Co. and Great White Shark Enterprises in Troon Golf all point to an upside for our industry.

Location plays an important role in any retail business and you can bet more study will go into how to best position golf products and services to meet the new demands of golfers where they live and work. GolfTEC’s strategy has been to optimize the convenience and time allocation of our customers through smart siting of stores and extraordinary customer service.

While others reference macro trends and complain about long term declines, we focus on growing our business one golfer at a time. Here’s what I asked of our 600 GolfTEC Coaches this week:

  • Coordinate with your local team and assign someone to reach out to PGA Members who have lost their job. From one PGA Member to another the main message is to offer your support. If you have positions open, or will expect to in the near future, connect them with the hiring manager in your region. We’ve already seen a number of applicants come through.
  • Be an ambassador to the game. Just like how we have centers up and centers down, other businesses in the golf industry are experiencing varying results. Be PROUD to be GolfTEC and continue to operate with the highest level of excellence.
  • Continue to give great lessons and be the expert for your customers. In the end, consumers make buying decisions based on the value an organization provides. Businesses then evolve to meet those demands. Create value, create demand and we’ll continue to grow this business and the game.

The industry is changing and we are well-positioned to capitalize on these changes. Are you?  

 Joe Assell is CEO and Co-Founder for GolfTEC

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