Chris Taylor is part of the TGI Golf Partnership’s experienced Retail Consultancy team, which offers free advice and assistance to TGI Golf Partners across the UK and Ireland. Here he discusses how retailers can boost their custom-fitting business by educating golfers on the importance of playing the right shafts
For years, PGA professionals and those involved in the custom fitting process have recognised how important the shaft is in ensuring the golfer has the perfect club to suit their swing.
Those in the know recognise that it is a key component in the construction of the golf club, but it is probably something that the consumer thinks least about when choosing clubs – after all, it’s not something that is displayed as a single component in many shops. You don’t see racks of shafts and you very rarely see features on shafts in the golf media.
So while many club-fitters focus on loft and lie angles, which are obviously still important, many manufacturers and some fitters neglect to hammer home the importance of the shaft, and the influence the shaft will have both loft and lie when the clubface strikes the ball.
Therefore, it is imperative that the PGA professional, as the expert in golf equipment, takes it upon him or herself to educate the consumer in the importance of having the right shaft for their swing.
For a start, there are many golfers out there in their latter years who, I’d be willing to bet, are still using the same shafts in the clubs they’ve had for years, even though they are no longer generating the power they used to, and so therefore they are losing shot distance.
However, with the expertise of a trusted PGA professional, these golfers could be fitted with the correct shafts that will generate more distance and give the golfer a whole new lease of golfing life. The right shafts could result in lower scores, and thereby increase golfers’ enjoyment and ultimately, extend their years on the golf course.
Shaft fitting is certainly an area that can be quite lucrative for the pro shop, as shafts can generate healthy gross margins for the retailer. They also require upgrading as time goes on – particularly steel shafts – as they begin to lose flexibility.
Have the right tools
Having the right equipment to conduct effective custom fitting is vital, and also enhances the overall experience for the consumer. Investing in a launch monitor may be expensive initially but it will soon start driving revenue.
If you are serious about custom fitting you should invest in the technology. It gives a far more accurate reading than you can with the naked eye, and more importantly, it displays all the data in an easy to read format you can share with your customer. This enhances their confidence in you and their trust in your ability to improve their game.
I appreciate it can be expensive to invest in the right equipment, but by doing so you are offering a high level of service with fantastic margins that will allow you to recoup the costs. With a straightforward plan, a launch monitor will eventually pay for itself.
While we often see promotions centred around custom fitting as a whole, perhaps a more direct approach relating to shafts would work well.
Target those older members of your golf club, letting them know that the wrong shaft could be costing them distance, and perhaps offer them a free shaft checking service (but beware: you must be careful how this is worded!)
Promoting custom fit options is vitally important, especially if you’ve invested a large amount of money to get them up and running.
I visit some pro shops and I could be there for a while talking to pros before they eventually drop into conversation what they can offer golfers through custom fit facilities, and I think: ‘Why have I not seen that promoted around the shop?’
The hardware section of a pro shop is the perfect place to promote a custom-fit service, as it’s relevant and it is where customers spend a lot of time. Place some posters above the drivers and the racks of clubs and don’t forget some point of sale material too.
There is a great opportunity with shaft fitting as a separate entity to general custom fitting, and there is a market that can be tapped into to benefit your business. It’s just a case of seeing the opportunity, formulating a plan and putting it into action.
For further details on the TGI Golf Partnership and its free Retail Consultancy team visit www.tgigolf.com, follow @TGI_Golf on Twitter, like on Facebook at /TGIGolfPartnership or visit www.tgigolfblog.com for valuable industry insight.