The Wave May Be Crashing, But We Won’t Be Sinking

    After riding the crest of a wave for the last two to three years there isn’t any doubt that 2023 will be seen as the reset year for golf retailing.

    Many of us could see it coming from a way off, we knew it would come, we knew that participation would remain high, but spending would slow right down, it had to, there was no way it would continue as good as it’s been.

    For those two Covid years people beat a path to our doors with pockets full of cash as well as the time to spend it.

    Now the pandemic has all but disappeared there was only so long that was still going to happen. Add that to a number of factors totally out of our control – such as wars, inflation and interest rate rises – and it was simply unsustainable.

    However, please don’t see that as a negative there is so much to be positive about. The number of new and returning golfers that we have retained means there is still a captive audience out there, we just have to work a little harder to make those sales now.

    If I revert back to the end of the last century – it was only 23 years ago, I’m not that old – the general feeling in golf was that PGA Professionals would be lucky to survive. One quote that sticks out in my mind from so called ‘experts’ back then was that ‘…in 20 years’ time there will be no PGA Professionals left.’

    We have been through some tough times, of that there is no doubt, but this last few years have been the best times for a PGA Professional for the last 50 years. Although it is slowing down we are still a very, very long way from the doldrums of the old days.

    When the online retail blew up people thought it was the death knell for the PGA Professional, but with technological advances making buying golf product a highly personal and technical experience the golf pro has everything available to provide that.

    Swing studios, launch monitors, fitting carts, you name it, it is available to the green grass retailer to satisfy all the customers’ needs.

    PGA Professionals are now better equipped than ever to serve the needs of the discerning golfer, thanks to the education they receive from The PGA from the outset and the continued support from groups like TGI Golf, Foremost etc.

    In the old days the vast majority of golf pros got their PGA qualification and then would go off and try to play on tour. After 10 years, they’d realise that they’re not going to make it and some golf club would look at them and say, “you’re a bit of a player, why don’t you come and be our pro.” Now, bear in mind that they haven’t worked in the industry for 10 years, and the industry changes quickly. They come in, have never been a retailer, never been a businessman, and they’re expected to be the club pro and the golf courses expect everything to be rosy, but they’ve brought on somebody that’s not qualified to do it.

    These days, a young assistant gets qualified and they know there’s no chance of getting to the tour unless they’re really exceptional, so they look to specialise in teaching or golf club management through Director of Golf qualifications, or they want to be a golf pro and they’re actually ready for it because they’ve gone into the job at 21 or 22 rather than 33 or 34 with no history of doing it.

    So while the sales of bigger ticket items may start to slow down, things are still better than they were before the pandemic.

    Don’t panic, ignore the white noise and continue to provide top quality products and high levels of customer service and stay floating on top of that wave as it glides back to earth. GR

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    As an avid golfer since the age of eleven Dan lives and breathes all things golf.  With a current handicap of eleven he gets out and plays as often as his work life (and girlfriend) allows. Dan confesses to still being like a kid at Christmas when it comes to seeing the latest golf equipment. Having served as GolfPunk’s Deputy Editor, and resident golf geek for the past 13 years and working for golf's oldest brand, John Letters Dan brings to GOLF RETAILING an excellent understanding of the sector.