When Hadley Wood Golf Club made a conscious effort to target a different demographic they decided that their pro shop needed to be on par with their golf course and club house, so called in the team at Millerbrown to do a refit.
Alastair Archibald has been head pro at Hadley Wood for over three years but has actually been at the club for more than two decades, so has seen the growth and development of the club first-hand. With the course (designed by Alister MacKenzie in 1922) regularly voted in the top 100 in the country and the clubhouse a popular destination, the team felt that the pro shop wasn’t up to the same standard and so action was required. “We have a wonderful golf course and people really enjoying playing here and we have a great club house. We had to match those with the pro shop, which is why we did the refit with Millerbrown,” confirms Archibald.
The club decided to do the work in February, as that is the month that they traditionally see the lowest turnover in the shop and Archibald acted as project manager. While the shop needed updating, the main priority was improving the look and finish of the space. “The golf club has recently restructured to go looking at a higher-end market in regard to the demographic of the membership. The age of members has also changed, it has fallen massively over the last ten years, we are attracting a lot of people out from London who come to play with us,” says Archibald. “We very much decided to start stocking top-end goods like Galvin Green and J.Lindeberg and we do extensive club fitting as well with PING and Titleist so we decided to go down a quality merchandise route as opposed to budget.”
With that in mind, part of the refit involved opening up an old fireplace and buying a Victorian fireplace for it and also opening up the shop to give it more space and room to breathe. The shop is relatively small – approximately six by 15 metres – so the head pro wanted to ensure that members didn’t feel cramped in the area. One of the ways this was achieved, and which also ensured that all space was utilised, was to move the position of the heart of any pro shop: the counter.
“We moved our counter into an area that wasn’t productive previously – we had a central stanchion that was a chimney breast in the middle of the shop, so we moved the counter up to an area that is behind that. Now we have used the bottom area of the shop, which is the larger area, as the main showroom,” he says. “The area where the counter is now used to be an area where people never got to, it had stock there, but it wasn’t somewhere that people ventured but they have to now in order to do their transactions. This leaves the main showroom as more of an open and airy space for customers to wander around and not necessarily feel overlooked by staff, so the change in the layout has been very positive.”
Archibald has the facts to back him up when he says the change in the layout has been very positive: in the first year the shop’s turnover doubled and has continued to move in the right direction year after year. As well as improving the standard of finish and creating more space by moving the counter, the refit also enabled the club to create a club fitting area, something which has transformed their hardware sales.
“Club fitting was something that we weren’t really doing, so as part of the refit we put a simulator into the back of the shop which is a fantastic bit of kit with the GC2 HMT and a camera – this has led to us massively increasing club sales,” says the head pro. “We are one of PING’s best on-course fitters in the whole of the country over the last few sales, so the turnover on our club sales is just chalk and cheese compared to what it was.” Golf clubs are judged on all kinds of different areas, with the quality of the golf course being just one. As Hadley Wood illustrate, a refit of a pro shop can help to not only improve the overall standard of a facility but also bring in added revenue for the club and for the pro.