Notes from the GM

Golf & Loyalty

How many retail store loyalty cards are in your wallet right now? I’m guessing more than 7. I see it every day, people sorting through a mountain of cards to find their membership card. Why do we do this? Do we feel like we get a deal for having it? The one getting the deal is the retailer. We spend our lives walking around with tiny little cardboard or plastic commitments to them in our pockets. They know we’re coming back.

Are those retailers committed to us?

Are those retailers carrying around little reminders of us?

When I was a kid there was a term in golf, it was “green grass.” There were great brands that dealt only through shops on a golf course. Elite brands like Ashworth, Cobra, Titleist, Slazenger, and Footjoy were the most notable. As the retail golf market expanded these fine brands sold out to big box retailers ( and I can’t blame them). Golf course pro shops were forced to shrink or disappear altogether. With the death of the “green grass” shop, came the death of personal service and relationships.

Here we are in 2012, at a time when it’s considered responsible to shop small independent, locally owned shops and we are still buying our golf gear from giant big box retailers. I don’t know about you, but when I go out for dinner I try to go to mom and pop restaurants. When I grab a beer with my buddies, I choose a local brew. I even know the people that own the grocery store where I shop. I don’t do this because I’m some earth loving hipster, I do this because the service is better, the quality is better, and I can see the dollars I spend at work in the community. Why would I buy products for my favorite hobby at a big box store? Doesn’t a personal connection to a business mean anything, shouldn’t loyalty be a two way street?

I got back into golf equipment retail for one reason, it’s good for the game. Trust me it’s not for the profit, the margins are horrible. I think having products available to touch and feel at the same place you play golf could be nothing but positive. I consider having goods available in the course pro shop an added value, or at least a convenience to my customers. I enjoy talking to golfers about the products, it gives me a chance to get to know them. When is the last time you walked in to a big box store and someone knew your name, or asked how your shoulder was feeling? That is the loyalty I speak of. I’m as invested in my customers as they are in me, and I’m sure I’m not alone. As you go to the small eateries, and independent shops you’ll see the same sentiment. They are loyal to their customers.

I don’t care if you buy from me, but I hope you know the person you buy from and they know you.

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