Summing It Up
|Los Lagos has leveraged CourseCo’s buying power to help fashion a sales approach that makes shoes fly out its door.|
The shoe fits quite well when it comes to merchandising golf footwear at Los Lagos Golf Club in San Jose, Calif. Even though he’s been intimately involved with the operation, Tom Isaak still can’t help but express some degree of amazement over the results.
“It’s really fairly remarkable,” says Isaak, President of CourseCo, which manages Los Lagos, a 5,400-yard municipal course.
Shoe sales in the pro shops of all 13 clubs managed by CourseCo are “outstanding” when benchmarked against industry norms for sales-per-square-foot or profit margins, Isaak says. But the Los Lagos shop’s footwear business, directed by its General Manager, PGA professional Scot Hathaway, clearly sets the pace for the group.
“Scot’s our ace shoe man and has charted the way for the rest of us,” says Isaak. “He’s sold over 1,500 pairs a year, and helped us earn all sorts of national recognition from suppliers like Footjoy and Titleist.”
What’s the secret? Not much more, apparently, than a little buying power combined with a lot of common sense.
“We can provide some leverage for all of our properties,” says Isaak, “but that’s only part of it. It’s also a matter of just having a good knack for knowing the brands that will suit people, being smart about pricing and staying on top of your turns so you don’t get too deep in inventory. When you know your customers well and buy smart, you can do all of those things and still keep retail prices low and margins high.We have some brands we sell for $50 and still make a 100 percent markup on.” Passions, and Instincts, Run Deep Like many course management company executives, Isaak adopts an easy, this isn’t-work tone when the talk turns to golf-related retailing and marketing. These are clearly the areas of the business where comfort levels are highest and the juices flow most strongly.
OB Sports, which began as the operator of an upscale retail clothing store at the same time it got into golf course management, is charged up enough, in fact, to have posted this ode on one of its Web site pages: “OB Sports is passionate about the benefits of golf shop merchandising. A beautiful golf shop can set the tone for the customer’s golf experience. And a well-presented, logoed shirt can serve as a walking billboard as your customers return to their respective communities.”
It seems that kind of excitement and interest makes it easy for management companies to help their properties come up with innovative approaches to selling the game of golf and its related accoutrements. Successful results seem to follow just as readily.
The “Wampum” redemption program at Troon’s Lake of Isles is proving to be money in the bank.
At Troon Golf-managed Lake of Isles in North Stonington, Conn., which is across the street from the Foxwoods casino (both properties are owned by the Mashantucket Pequot Indian nation), a “Wampum” redemption program has “pushed Lake of Isles per-player merchandise sales to twice our next best resort property’s performance,” reports Kristin Goulet, Troon’s Director of Retail.
The program allows members of the loyalty/frequency club to accumulate points for purchases made in the casino and the club (featured in C&RB, June 2005). The points can then be redeemed for greens fees or merchandise. A key to making the system work was the integration of POS systems, so sales data could be captured from both sides of the street, Goulet notes.
At another Troon property, the Westin Mission Hills Resort & Spa in Rancho Mirage, Calif., the presence of two separate golf shops led Troon to use the resort’s larger, Pete Dye shop to highlight a full selection of branded merchandise.
At the smaller, underperforming shop,“we decided to shift gears and partner with Nike to create full category representation under one brand,” Goulet reports. “The shop was completely fitted out at Nike’s expense—and sales have increased double-digits for the years it’s been in place.”
"Granddaddy" Reaches Out to Kids
The same innovative instincts are also easily evident when one goes looking for how management companies are helping properties find new ways to promote the game of golf and develop new devotees.
The granddaddy of all management firms, ClubCorp, is still out front in this arena, as seen by its recent announcement that it will stress “family-friendly golf ” in its development of the new Clubs of Kingwood facility in the Houston area. Kingwood will include a nine-hole course designed to be a “first-of-its-kind golf venue for children and beginners of any age, [so they can] hit the links in a stress free environment,” ClubCorp said.
The course, designed to be played in less than an hour and a half, features mesh fencing around all water hazards, no sand bunkers, and no roughs (everything is mowed to fairway height). Permanent tees have been designed for a beginning skill level, and each green includes two holes—one regulation and one oversized with a shorter flag. To make the course even less daunting, players will be given colorful and simple scorecards that provide yardage, but do not include a specific par at each hole.
ClubCorp will also promote use of the course to adult beginners, spouses of avid golfers who want to learn more about the game, and pairings of children with parents or grandparents.
Recognizing that a big thrill for children is being able to ride in, or even drive, the golf cart, ClubCorp has teamed with E-Z-GO to create a kid’s cart—more like an off-road vehicle than a traditional cart—with “driver’s ed”-type controls to allow supervising adults to operate it, if necessary.
Proving popular with women’s foursomes, ClubCorp has also introduced a four-seater family cart, which is equipped with a wine bucket holder. C&RB
GOLF PROGRAM IDEAS from Management Firms and their Properties
Worth more than a plaque on the wall…Because it knows the effort will pay off in more than just a pat on the back, Western Golf Properties has its corporate team immersed “in the prepara
Time is money—literally… Believing that “the driving range can be an additional source of revenue and a wonderful amenity to the [facility] as a whole,”
OB Sports properties abide by strict rules for their range operations. Fresh golf balls are set in a pyramid not only to maintain a cleaner appearance, but so customers “don’t have to carry annoying buckets or bags.” And customers are charged by the amount of time spent hitting balls, not by the quantity hit. “This process is well tested with great success,” OB reports, “All customers are able to hit more balls for the price yet move off the range quicker, enabling larger turnover and a better range operation.”