Jason Eberle on the importance of transforming your pro shop into a hitting bay: Being at a golf course in an a part of the country where winter makes it much more difficult for people to play or practice golf, a couple years ago, I looked into how we could get more teaching revenue during the winter months. Because I’m at a public course with a pro shop that has a limited amount of square footage, I had to get creative, as building an indoor teaching center was not a feasible option. The decision I ended up making was to move the merchandise in our pro shop, get a hitting mat, and hang a large net from the ceiling. As a result, golfers now had a way of taking lessons or hitting balls when the weather refused to cooperate. With the exception of being able to hit a driver, we tried to make it as life-like as possible. What assisted in getting us to that point was purchasing a Flightscope. Investing in a good launch monitor is critical if you wanted to undertake something like this. If the golfer can’t see the flight of the ball, or where it ends up, having quantitative information to provide is a must so that the player is learning.
Jason Eberle on the business impact of turning your pro shop into a hitting bay: This has been a tremendous success for us ever since we made this available. When it’s cold outside and business is slow, having lessons to give inside allows us to use up some of the extra time the staff has available. And now that giving lessons is a viable option for us all year, rather than only during the warmer months, our lesson business has increased 30% over the past couple years. In addition, we have not seen any dip in our merchandise sales during the same amount of time. We have the same amount of merchandise, it just isn’t displayed. There is a benefit to that, which is when customers walk into the shop, there’s more of a “wow” factor. Rather than walking in and seeing your customary golf shop, the customer’s eyes are instead drawn to our hitting bay, ask about it, and might sign up for a lesson. This is especially true if it’s a month like March or November when the weather allows for a round of golf one day, and the next day it’s snowing and golf isn’t realistic. The only potential drawback can be that the pro shop gets more crowded than usual, but for a public facility seeking indoor golf lessons, this is an innovative and low-cost option to draw in lessons.