GOLF RETAILING spoke to Daniel Blesovsky, Woburn’s golf services manager, about how the installation of a Foresight Sports simulator transformed Woburn’s retail operation
Luther Blacklock, head professional at Woburn Golf Club, enjoyed such success with his Foresight Sports simulator, that Woburn made the decision to maximise its potential by building a full performance centre with a GC2 at its heart. In April 2012 it converted part of the locker room – that was only ever used for tournament play – and in the subsequent 20 months the club reports a substantial upturn in business.
Daniel Blesovsky, Woburn’s golf services manager, tells GOLF RETAILING: “The effect it’s had on the business means we have been ahead of budget for the last two years, and year on year. To date in 2013 we’ve used it for 207 fittings. What’s more, when people have been through the process we have a 90% conversion rate, with an average spend of £445.
“Primarily, until we installed the Foresight simulator, we were a retailer, and most of our sales would be apparel. Shirts and trousers accounted for probably 30-35% of our sales. Hardware was worth 11% of our sales before we installed the simulator, but that has now changed significantly.
“So far this year, hardware has accounted for 28% of sales and they are set to reach £200,000 by year end. We had a level of £55,000 in 2011 and none of that came through custom fitting. What’s more, the overall spend per head for the shop has increased by 25-30%. Three or four years ago, it was hovering around £7; it’s now about £10 per head across the year, which is fantastic.
“The big thing for us is that we can offer a much better service with our fitters and set-up than the high street retailers. I’m convinced we’ve had sales they would have had previously. Where would you rather be fitted? In a converted warehouse or at Woburn Golf Club where you can enjoy a cup of coffee with the pros? It’s not just members: any golfer can phone up, make an appointment and come in.”
He continued: “We had an ad-hoc system before with a vector launch monitor which we’d put up on the range if we had plenty of notice from customers, because, unlike the GC2, it took a while to set up and was very weather dependent. Now we can walk people in straight off the shop floor.
“The simulator paid for itself in around 16 months. Initially we had budgeted on a five-year return on investment but, looking at the figures, it’s three years ahead of schedule which means the money can be invested elsewhere.
“We’re also spending less on stock. In years gone by we’d have a decent show of irons from each of our manufacturers on the shop floor, when off-the-peg was more of the ‘done thing’. But with club-fitting being the way forward for both club and golfer, we have less on the shop floor. It doesn’t tie up so much money and we can transfer that into apparel, which is faster moving and with a greater margin.”
Former European Tour pro Gary Boyd, who is attached to Woburn, is currently playing on the Challenge Tour and he engaged a new caddie at the start of the season. They used the Performance Centre simulator to work out all his yardages with each club because they could rely on its accuracy. And teenage Solheim Cup hero Charley Hull is another regular user of the facility.
Club fitter Matt Straughan added: “The technology is fantastic as it works indoors. Radar monitors need to track the flight of the ball which they can’t do indoors – whereas the GC2 captures the data at impact from the front.
“It’s made a massive difference to our ability to fit and that’s reflected in the extra bookings and conversions. I worked with a previous piece of technology which was ‘on and off’ with its accuracy, which meant that sometimes while I was saying “this is the club for you”, I couldn’t be 100% certain of the accuracy of the readings. I don’t have to worry about that any more. It’s on the money – absolutely spot on – so I know I can stand by the figures it produces.
“As a fitter it’s made my life a lot easier, and a lot busier, which is exactly what we want.”
Contact Foresight Sports for further information:
T: 0845 644 3870