Shops with fresh design approaches and new strategies for maximizing merchandising effectiveness have exciting success stories to tell.
Pro shops are having a new moment. After decades of presenting typical “golf shop” profiles that built up to a crying need for a fresh look, club and resort properties are rethinking these spaces and focusing on ways to showcase seasonal merchandise, create eye-catching point-of-purchase displays, and ring up sales on everything from shoes to luxury gifts. And in many cases, they are breaking out specialty shops for their tennis and pool areas, or just for general merchandise, that are being given equal weight and prominence alongside golf-oriented shops.
The result in all cases are emporiums that quickly become member and guest destinations, because of their unique product mixes and appealing, friendly and personalized shopping experiences.
At the Royal Fox Country Club in St. Charles, Ill., providing members with ample space to peruse pro shop merchandise warranted a more generously sized layout. Under new ownership, management approved a clubhouse-wide renovation, including an updated shop that was unveiled last October.
Located just off the main putting green and 18th hole, the new shop is nearly double the size of the original footprint, expanding from 1,400 to 2,700 sq. ft. “All traffic walks through or by the pro shop to get to the staging area or putting green,” explains Head Golf Professional and Shop Owner Alex Mendez. Easy access from the men’s and women’s locker rooms facilitates visits from all member demographics.
To beckon passersby, a formal glass-faced entryway provides an unobstructed view into the store’s layout. Mendez characterizes the shop’s design as a “textured rustic look that takes our pro shop to a new level.”
Once inside, eyes are immediately drawn to a slat wall, which Mendez denotes as the “main attraction [that] allows us to constantly move product around to promote additional sales.” A medley of white and gray nesting tables showcases merchandise that can be updated as needed.
To streamline business operations, clubhouse locker rooms double as fitting rooms. Members can also practice putting using a specially designed green in the middle of the floor.
Since the reopening, Mendez has been pleased with the pro shop’s overall business and member feedback. “The happier the member, the more they come to use the club,” he says. “All the members are very impressed with how modern the pro shop looks now. That alone entices them to come in and shop.”
When plans for a brand-new sports center were hammered out at the Bonita Bay Club in March 2018, an expanded retail shop, designed to accommodate a recent surge in active-gear purchases, was added to the list.
“The sports center complex now serves as the focal point for our new pickleball facility, croquet lawn, pool and tennis,” explains Paula Scheb, Director of Sports at the Bonita Springs, Fla., facility. “As a result, we are able to offer more resort-style apparel and equipment for our growing list of sports.”
Overlooking the club’s eighteen tennis courts and situated near five pickleball and two croquet courts, the Bonita Bay sports center is often bustling with activity. On any given day, Scheb estimates, about 225 tennis players, 90 pickleball players and 20 croquet players are on the various courts, and 150 patrons frequent the pool and restaurant.
This translates, Scheb adds, into another 50 members browsing the aisles of the sports shop. Such high volume necessitated nearly doubling the shop’s size to 1,619 sq. ft. “With more floor space, we have expanded our merchandise and are now offering a wide selection of casual, resort, tennis, pickleball, gifts and accessories,” says Retail Manager Marlaine Silcox. The growth has tripled the number of retail SKUs on the sales floor.
Two main access points introduce shoppers to this retail venue: one from the parking lot and another from the tennis/pickleball courts. “We have complete line of sight, from the front door to the cash wrap/check-in counter,” notes Silcox. Decorative global fixtures highlight the front desk without detracting from the merchandise (see photo, pgs. 22-23).
Among the brand-new retail display units are three-tier nesting tables, which showcase new items and can be expanded as new merchandise comes in. Interchangeable wall fixtures with hanging rods and removeable front-mount shelves add flexibility that has lent itself well to seasonal displays. For the most recent Easter season, dresses were adorned with spring flowers on the top shelves and matching shoes on the bottom shelves. “Our two mannequins at the front entry were also dressed in Easter fashions,” Silcox adds. “This creates an impact at store entry.”
Since the opening of this full-fledged sports retail shop, sales have increased by a whopping 70 percent, Scheb reports.
Small But Mighty
A modest-sized pro shop at Pine Creek Golf Club in Colorado Springs, Colo., has benefitted from a recent facelift. In February 2017, the 708-sq.-ft. retail venue underwent an interior update, prompted by management’s goal in increasing revenue. With approximately 35,000 annual viewers passing through its doors, the shop was destined to appeal to an active membership.
Situated directly in front of the clubhouse, the shop maintained its original footprint, but improved its layout. “The overall design was implemented to allow shoppers to freely move about the space,” says General Manager Tony Principato. Natural light pours into the interior through large windows looking out to picturesque Pikes Peak and the golf course, while LED lights enhance the atmosphere.
The intimate space is anchored by a handcrafted natural pine counter, which Principato credits for “adding to the open-flow concept, [as] Its natural color complements the wood trim and beams” overhead. White painted walls offer a crisp backdrop for a variety of retail displays positioned throughout the sales floor.
“The fixtures throughout the shop are strategically placed to direct traffic, keeping the flow moving around featured merchandise,” says Principato. Those fixtures range from nesting tables in front of the cash register to customizable shelving and hanging apparel racks around the perimeter.
Creative merchandising techniques have resulted in consistent sales growth, Principato notes, with the club seeing shop revenue increase by 30 percent over the past two years.
Offering Two for One
To further elevate the resort experience for its guests, the JW Marriott Miami Turnberry Resort & Spa in Aventura, Fla., revamped its pro shop last December. By splitting the original shop into two separate venues, this facility has been able to fine-tune its design and redirect its business to encompass more high-end brands.
Formerly amassing 2,900 sq. ft., the now 2,200-sq. ft. space relinquished 700 square feet to create “Turnberry News,” a hotel gift and sundries boutique (see photo, above right). Separate yet distinct from the core venue, this cozy space has longer operating hours and other items not typically found in golf pro shops.
Sacrificing precious real estate in the pro shop was not a deterrent in establishing a revised layout. “Although the pro shop shrunk in size, we opened up sightlines with a new entrance, directly off the new lobby and check-in concierge area,” says Vice President of Design John Rawlins. The addition of a large window, formerly concealed by a closed stairwell, also helps to introduce more natural light into the shop.
While the space is more compact, the pro shop’s new design makes better use of the allocated real estate. “We devised much more efficient display fixtures, allowing for focused impact of product and thus, increased sales,” says General Manager of Retail Juan Cardona.
Golf equipment is showcased on a series of multilevel pedestals that can be rearranged as needed. Golf apparel outlines the perimeter of the shop, with a dedicated wall for shoes, belts and socks. A back corner is reserved for men’s, women’s and children’s swimwear.
To bolster both the gift boutique’s and pro shop’s upscale décor, the product selection reflects a more sophisticated array. “Aesthetically, both of the shops convey a casual yet modern elegance devoid of cliché or traditional golf-club motifs,” says Rawlins. “We looked to luxury retailers such as Hermes and Louis Vuitton for design inspiration, as opposed to high-end pro shops elsewhere.”
Other featured brands carried in-store include Ralph Lauren, Dunning Golf, Hudson Sutler and Oxford. Resort guests are finding favor with these offerings and the shop overall, as evidenced by a 20 percent sales increase since the redesign.
Building An E-Commerce Shop
To supplement brick-and-mortar retail stores, some club and resort properties are investing in online counterparts. Not only do these e-shops allow them to ship out of state and provide special offers that may not otherwise be available in-store, they enchance the properties’ ability to establish partnerships with vendors and suppliers.
Royal Fox Country Club was recently selected to have a trial account with FootJoy. Beginning in May, Royal Fox members will be able to purchase golf shoes, apparel, gloves and other gear directly through the shop’s account. “We can’t wait to try it and see how it works, and if it helps our online business,” says Head Pro Alex Mendez.
Summing It Up
> Utilizing a variety of customizable fixtures make it easier to update and freshen retail displays more frequently and as dictated by changing seasons and merchandise mixes.
> Adding member-friendly amenities like soft seating with TVs and fitting rooms further enhance the shopping experience.
> Employing creative merchandising can draw attention to seasonal items and special brands.