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January 12, 2017

Jon Gates: Use the PGA Merchandise Show to Keep Up With Industry Standards

Jon Gates, past president of the Michigan PGA Section, is the PGA head professional at Detroit Golf Club in Detroit, Michigan, and is a three-time Section Merchandiser of the Year for Private Facilities.

Jon Gates on the importance of using the PGA Merchandise Show to keep up with industry standards:
So I’m at Demo Day at the PGA Merchandise Show three years ago and hear this loud sound coming from the Cobra Puma Golf booth. Intrigued, I walked over and saw that it was a DJ spinning tracks! I come from Detroit Golf Club, which has been in existence since 1899; to say we’re traditional is an understatement. So needless to say, I walked away from that booth thinking, “Wow, maybe we need to change things around our place to attract younger people in the post-recession environment.” That soon expanded out to changes to our dress code: we now allow mock turtlenecks. Additionally shorts and skorts for women now reflect industry standards after we realized our previous rules unfairly impacted tall women. Leggings and tights are OK and so is music, as long as it’s not so loud as to disrupt others. We then disseminated those changes via signage, our golf activities book, email blasts and our website. Our new rule: with the exception of fitness apparel, if we sell it in the professional shop, then it’s OK to have at our facility and wear on the golf course.

Jon Gates on the business impact of using the PGA Merchandise Show to keep up with industry standards:
In a post-recession economy that has especially hit the Detroit-metropolitan area hard, our rounds played are holding consistent with membership numbers, which is a win in today’s marketplace. It’s also satisfied our customer base who can now, for example, wear industry standard apparel on a super-hot summer day and not be worried about potential scorn for breaking the dress code. We renovated our fitness center, which has become the hub of our club in the offseason as we’ve seen an influx of young professionals in the 25-32 year old age range joining us as members, adding another revenue stream to the Professional Shop: fitness wear sales. And what we see at the PGA Merchandise Show every year has allowed us to keep our club, for lack of a better term, “up to date,” especially at a time where we desperately needed to adapt. So as you finish up your buying plans for the year, keep your eyes and ears open. What sounds unusual may in fact be the changes your club needs to make.

If you would like to email the author of this Best Practice directly, please email jongates@pga.com