How a legendary Irish golf club successfully updated their pro shop and changed their merchandising methods.
Lahinch is one of the world’s most spectacular golf clubs, with visitors travelling from all over the world to enjoy its Irish charm. Sometimes referred to as the St Andrews of Ireland, it has two superb links courses. The Old Course was originally laid out in 1892, in the dunes above Liscannor Bay, under the eye of Old Tom Morris and then later remodelled by Dr Alister MacKenzie and Martin Hawtree. The more recent Castle Course was added in the 1970’s
In 2014, when long-term servant and club professional Robert McClavery retired, the club decided it was the right time to include the shop within the overall management of the club. It also seemed a good time to make improvements to the clubhouse, and that there might be an opportunity to move, and also improve, the pro shop at the same time. Not wanting to spend money without getting a return, the club carefully considered the possible move. Finally, it was decided that by incorporating the booking office within the shop, and also by investing in a shop that had a real wow factor, their investment would be one which would pay off.
General manager Paddy Keane recalled: “We knew we wanted to relocate the shop, and ideally to bring it inside the main clubhouse building, so we thought long and hard to make sure we were doing the best thing. We looked at several options, visited other clubs to see what they had done, and in the end we contacted Paul Sanders of the Millerbrown Group.
“Paul came over from the UK for two days and he spoke to all of our key people. We were very impressed by the way he went about his business, and in particular with his presentation. His ideas were first class, and his case studies convinced us that his company was the one that we should employ. Paul’s philosophy centres around the concept that ‘the less on show you more you sell’ and that everything has to be well displayed.
“What also impressed us was his ability to back up his statements, by reference to other projects, when discussing his layout ideas and concepts. Initially we were not certain about Paul’s ideas on minimal merchandising techniques, but he was able to back up his ideas with hard facts and figures – and in the end he was right. We discussed everything with him and between us we came up with a plan and drew up a blueprint.”
The project was all handled from the UK with Millerbrown’s installation team completing their work within five days and Paul Sanders remembers the project fondly. “Everyone we dealt with at Lahinch was so professional – and enthusiastic to do the right thing for the future. The golf opportunities at Lahinch are fantastic, but Lahinch is more than that, and when the whole mix of golf, food & beverage, retail and hospitality is right, you have a great business as well.”
When asked about how the club view the finished pro shop Paddy comments that, “We are very happy with the result. The pro shop is very flexible in its design and layout, and sales have been as good as we anticipated, if not better. It’s now been over two years and we haven’t changed a thing. The little things such as the club’s emblem being embossed on the hangars embrace our history and have made such a difference. Everything is bespoke to Lahinch and our visitors love it.
“Accessories such as hats, ball markers, bag tags, head covers and pitch mark repairers are prominently displayed – and sales have gone through the roof. Other clubs in Ireland have asked me about Millerbrown and I say that their experience, eye for detail and great level service make them the best in the business.”