Tips From 6 of America’s Top PGA Pros on How to Leave the PGA Show Ready to Deliver a Better Range Experience
In it’s 62nd year, the PGA Merchandise Show remains the biggest annual gathering of golf industry professionals. With more than 1,000 exhibiting companies, 400,000 square feet of space and 40,000-plus attendees, planning for the PGA Show is a big task. This month’s cover story is designed to make that task a little easier. Along with our advisory board – which includes two PGA Teachers of Year, a PGA of America executive and golf facility owners/operators from around the country – the Golf Range Association of America has identified six cornerstones that are pivotal to the range business:
We’ve commissioned PGA Professionals with expertise in each of these categories, and, respectively, asked them to provide tips on how to best utilize the PGA Show to improve a certain area of your range business.
Leave the Show a Better Teacher
Kathy Gildersleeve-Jensen, PGA 2014 PGA Teacher of the Year Director of Teaching & Coaching Indian Canyon Golf Course Spokane, Washington
For us teachers, the practice facility is our office. And like any good business professional, your office should reflect who you are. I love the science and technological components of teaching. So when I’m at the Show I look into mobile technology apps, software programs, cameras and launch monitors – companies like V1, TrackMan and FlightScope, and one that I use all the time called Coach Direct. The tech stuff excites me and I can translate that excitement to my students when I incorporate it into my teaching. My advice to you, find something among the treasure-trove of products at the PGA Show that excites you. If you believe in something, your students will too.
The PGA Show isn’t just about the products, it’s about the abundance of golf knowledge and experience gathered in one place. Connect with other teachers to share ideas and philosophies. Attend PGA Education seminars and events like this year’s Teaching & Coaching Summit. Because I’m so active on social media I’ve built relationships with teachers all over the world. Even though we’re on different sides of the country, Lou Guzzi (2013 PGA Teacher of the Year) and I communicate almost weekly on social. We’re utilizing the Show as a chance to meet face to face and share our experiences as PGA Teachers of the Year. I encourage you to use social and reach out to a pro that you want to meet, and use the Show as that meeting place.
Enhance Your Facility Offerings
Mike Small, PGA 3-time PGA Professional National Champion Golf Coach University of Illinois Champagne, Illinois
Any Division I coach will tell you that strong recruiting is what keeps you at the top. One way we’ve stayed relevant in an ultra-competitive climate is our commitment to developing first-class practice facilities. Over the last seven seasons we’ve put several million dollars into new indoor and outdoor complexes. It’s our commitment to practice and our players that’s helped us become the No. 1 team in the country right now. Many of the ideas and vendors we used to outfit our facilities were found at the PGA Merchandise Show – things like fully-synthetic indoor putting greens, high-speed cameras, launch monitors, the works. We use TrackMan more than any other tool, but we also utilize V1 and the K-VEST. The PGA Show is the only place to see all of these vendors at once.
Recruitment for me is a lot like marketing for any type of golf facility. I attract players, you attract customers, we both need something that sets us apart. The practice complex is that something for us, and it can be for you as well. It’s not about having millions to invest in upgrades, it’s about showing people that you’re committed to helping them practice better. That could mean additional targets so golfers can work on precise distance-control, enhancing your short game area or manning a launch monitor (if you have one) once a week and sharing swing data for free. These kinds of ideas, and the products needed to execute them, can all be found at the PGA Show.
Player Development and Professional Growth
Ralph Landrum, PGA 2014 PGA Player Development Award Winner PGA Head Professional the World of Golf Florence, Kentucky
I can confidently say that I wouldn’t be the 2014 PGA Player Development Award winner without the PGA Merchandise Show. It was about 5 years ago when our facility was named one of the Top 100 Play Golf America Facilities. Because of that, I attended a special luncheon at the PGA Show where I was seated at a table with Cathy Harbin, who was the director of Golf 20/20 at the time. She told me about a project called “Hip on Golf” where they identified people across the country who had interest in learning the game. By simply giving them my zip code, they were able to tell me the number of people within 15 miles of my facility who either wanted to learn golf or had played in the past and wanted to start playing again. The number was astoundingly high, and because of that we changed our entire business plan and started to focus on player development.
Fast forward 5 years and now I’m the national Player Development Award winner – all because of a lunch I attended at the PGA Show. I’m sure there are hundreds of professionals who can share similar stories. A simple conversation at the PGA Show can lead to growth of revenues and business for your facility, as well as personal and professional growth for you as a golf professional.
Launch Monitor Education
Allen Gobeski, PGA PGA General Manager Cool Clubs Phoenix, Arizona
Clubfitting has evolved greatly in past the 10 to 15 years. The amount of information we get from launch monitors is tremendous! I’m talking attack angle, path, dynamic loft, ball speed, smash factor and all the above. It’s our responsibility as clubfitters to interpret that data and understand how it translates to on-course performance for our customers.
About 5 years ago, I flew to Copenhagen, Denmark, and then took a train north to Ludvig where Trackman is headquartered. I spent four days with Fredrik Tuxen, the man behind the science of Trackman. I got a great education! But you don’t have to go to that extreme to get a better understanding of launch monitor data. For us clubfitters, the PGA Show is the best place to accomplish that. You can spend faceto-face time with company representatives, ask questions and have unprecedented access to people who live and breath this stuff. We have so many great tools at our disposal these days. The PGA Show is the place to gain the knowledge and education on how to properly utilize those tools to service our customers.
Strengthen Current Relationships and Forge New Ones
Mike Woods, PGA 2008 PGA Merchandiser of Year for Public Facilities PGA Director of Golf Haggin Oaks Golf Complex Sacramento, California
The practice facility is the central hub at Haggin Oaks. With over 100 lighted hitting bays and more than a dozen professionals on staff, it’s an essential part of our operation. We’re at the PGA Show every year looking to strengthen relationships with our current vendors and take advantage of special buys. Some of our current partners we’ll visit this year are Range Servant, Power Tee and Pinnacle. But as with any successful business operation, we’re never complacent. The Show is the best place to scout new vendors and see if they can deliver something that saves us money, creates a new revenue stream or separates us from our competition. For instance, after the 2010 PGA Show we installed an automated teeing system, Power Tee, on our range and they’ve really made an impression on golfers at Haggin Oaks.
This year, we’re looking to improve our range targets to further enhance our operation. I’m hoping to see some interactive targets at the Show. Although I don’t have a particular company in mind, I believe that moving or interactive targets can boost any golfer’s range experience.
Have Conversations In Person and Online
Phil Owenby, PGA PGA Director of Golf Kinloch Golf Club, Richmond, Virginia
It’s no coincidence that Kinloch Golf Club was voted the best new private course when we opened in 2001, or that we’ve had a perennial spot on best-of lists nationally and statewide. From the start we’ve dedicated ourselves to the service of our membership, which includes engaging them at every level – both online and in person. Attending the PGA Show provides us with an opportunity to locate items for tournament gifts/awards, as well as tools for enhancing communication with our membership. We work with a software company called Jonas, which we found at the PGA Show, to help us create new digital initiatives for marketing to our members beyond the customary email newsletter.
Our professional staff is always seeking ways to add to the experience for the members. For instance, we offer free monthly short game clinics where we make time to chat with each member about the current status of their game and equipment. Periodically, we host complementary one-hour fitting sessions. By doing these free sessions, we ensure that we get face time with the members – particularly those who aren’t taking individual lessons or rarely upgrade their equipment. Because our members look to us as golf equipment experts and we’re making recommendations for their bag, it’s critical that we utilize the PGA Show to learn everything we can about new offerings from equipment manufacturers. Beyond that, going to Demo Day gives us the opportunity to test the product so we can deliver real feedback to our golfers back home.