For this group on the Top 32 list, the Pro Shops are profiled for The University of Texas Golf Club in Austin, Texas; Cattail Creek Country Club in Glenwood, Md.; Bonita Bay Club in Bonita Springs, Fla.; BallenIsles Country Club in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.; and The Landings Club in Savannah, Ga.
Club + Resort Business has released its list of Top Ranked Pro Shops (including golf shops, tennis shops and other retail shops at club and golf course properties) for 2021.
The table below shows the rankings of club and resort properties that submitted entries, as judged independently by a panel of industry professionals.
The rankings reflect the judges’ scoring of data provided on shop square footage; annual sales revenues; number of stockkeeping units (SKUs); percent of revenues from hard-goods and soft-goods sales, and from online sales; whether clubfitting service is provided; the number of vendor demo days held; and shop ownership.
Entries also included descriptions submitted by the club and resort properties on why their pro shops should be top ranked, and a full complement of supporting photos. The judges weighted the data and material provided to score all entries.
In addition to the profiles of the Top 5 ranked properties below, details about all of the Top Ranked Pro Shops are available HERE and will be profiled across our social-media platforms.
The iconic Longhorn logo of the University of Texas is internationally recognized—and The UT Golf Club brings an element of luxury to the brand.
The club’s golf shop carries upscale, high-quality products for the avid golfer—from classic drivers and stitched leather belts to sterling Longhorn wine glasses and Christmas ornaments, it is a one-stop shop for golf and gift needs.
The UT Golf Club has built on its shop’s on-site success by enjoying an explosion of growth in online sales, with each year breaking the previous year’s record. Online sales now account for nearly a quarter of the shop’s nearly $1 million in annual revenues—an unprecedented statistic for a private golf club.
In an interview published in the November 2020 issue of Club + Resort Business, Kayli Lopez, who also manages UT Golf Club’s on-site casita lodging operation in addition to directing the shop’s online sales efforts, provided these insights into how that part of the shop’s business was boosted out of necessity during the pandemic, and has continued to grow ever since:
How were sales at the UT Golf Club impacted in the immediate wake of the pandemic?
As in-person sales declined, our online sales increased. We saw around a 20% increase of online visitors in March 2020 when stores were forced to shut down, and then about a 30% increase in May. The number of visits to our site continued to rise each month, as an option for safe shopping from home.
How did you initially address the decline of in-person traffic?
We promoted to our members the option of shopping online in conjunction with curbside pick-up, as the safest options.
Online sales are still fairly uncommon in the club industry; what’s been your thought process in emphasizing them?
As the University of Texas has alumni all over the U.S., we knew we had to promote online to garner the attention of our nationwide network. And with the pandemic, you had no choice but to reach your audience through online promotion.
What are the most effective ways to increase online traffic?
We are in a new age where information travels faster than wildfire. On top of increasing our digital presence, we also have great members who are out there representing and promoting our brand by word of mouth. We have also established a presence on social media, through which we enjoy sharing our content with all of our followers and fans. They get to keep up with what’s new, along with restocks as soon as they drop. We send a weekly newsletter and e-blast to our members with any and all updates, to ensure our network base is most informed. You can follow us on @shop.utgolfclub & @utgolfclub.
Do you offer online exclusives?
While we do have a few items that we carry both in-store and online, we offer exclusives in both realms from time to time, favoring both types of clientele.
How are you striving to increase in-person traffic?
We continuously update our pro shop with fresh merchandise, so our members always have new items to pick up. On top of this, our golf tournament and club events tend to draw the social members to the club. Everyone knows where to get the hot gifts!
What other advice would you offer to clubs looking to bolster their pro shop sales?
Listen to your crowd and keep your eyes peeled for what’s new to come. It’s best to be ahead of the curve if you want to build your network and increase traffic.
The Cattail Creek Country Club pro shop has now reached $1,000,000 in sales for five consecutive years, and has also been named the #1 Green Grass account for TaylorMade over that same period. Corporate-order revenue has increased by 50% over each of the last four years.
The club offers an award-winning Mill River program for its membership and has earned top 100 Pro Shop status from the Association of Golf Merchandisers.
The Cattail Creek shop features lifestyle brands not typically found in most pro shops, including loungewear, apparel and blankets from Barefoot Dreams, and fragrances, candles, lotions, soaps and other products from Thymes.
Overall the shop maintains a wide variety of 1,500 SKUs that are well-balanced between hard (55%) and soft (45%) goods.
The shop also features a private, club-branded bourbon label from Woodford Reserve.
The Bonita Bay Club is recognized as a leader in the industry for customer service, amenities, programs and a forward-thinking approach. These attributes remain consistent within the club’s retail operations, which also include a separate shop (ranked #21) in its Sports Center complex.
Bonita Bay Club’s golf shop carries a wide array of apparel brands, accessories, and lifestyle offerings year-round. Regular trunk shows, promotions, and ever-changing dynamic displays keep members excited about returning to the golf shop on a recurring basis to see what’s new.
Three to four times a week, the golf staff’s clubfitters are set up on the club’s driving range to market and fit the latest equipment using TrackMan, GC Quad, and Toptracer technology. On other days, private clubfittings are available by appointment.
The club’s overriding retail philosophy is “Our members should never need to leave the property to purchase apparel and equipment”—and its shops’ performance prove it is more than a motto; it is reality.
Both the tennis and golf shops at BallenIsles CC are operated with the pride of consistently delivering exceptional customer service and satisfaction through all facets of the golf and tennis operations. Whether it’s the day-to-day operation in the shop, trunk shows, or fitting and demo days, the shops’ staffs continually strive for five-star service for members and guests, 365 days a year.
The Pro Shop Concierge provides warm, friendly, and personalized service customized to each member’s personality, needs and budget. The merchandise team offers “personalized shopping consultations” and assistance for gift-giving ideas for special occasions and holidays. The special-order business in the Golf Shop alone represents close to 20% of total revenue, highlighting a year-round dedication to personalized shopping.
The assortment of merchandise carried in the BallenIsles shops caters to what its membership likes, while also featuring what is new, exciting, and current. Most recently, the shops have introduced “lifestyle” lines that have proved to be very successful, including in-demand brands such as Lululemon, Lilly Pulitzer, Alashan Cashmere, Peter Millar and Lucky in Love.
The offering of golf club hard goods, with the newest and the most up-to-date technology, has put the club on the cutting edge for having several exceptional fitting/demo days. And the depth of the BallenIsles’ shops’ assortment and offerings—12 men’s lines, 15 ladies’ lines, 5 headwear vendors, and golf bags, balls, gloves, tennis rackets, stringing services, accessories and youth items—all contributed to doing over $1 million in annual sales.
It all starts in the BallenIsles’ pro shops with a warm welcome, a customized five-star experience, and ends with a fond farewell.
The Landings Club’s retail operations are driven around the club’s strategic mission to “Attract, Retain, and Engage Members.” The focus is on retail being both an amenity and a service that enhances the lifestyle of the membership.
The Landings Club, one of the largest private clubs in the country with over 7,500 total members and 3,500 golf members. features four unique golf shops across six championship golf courses: Marshwood, Palmetto, Oakridge, and Deer Creek. With the size of the club, it is seen as important to focus on the membership’s retail needs that stretch beyond golf and into lifestyle, aesthetics, and home. The emphasis is on ensuring that the club’s retail operations are service- focused, providing desired products for many parts of life without a requirement to leave the club gates, thus also serving one of the club’s key goals, of member retention.
Member engagement is a key part of why people join a private club, and The Landings Club’s retail operations play a key role in pursuing this objective, through the creation of year-long retail social events and programming. Events are driven around the enhancement of not only the shopping experience, but the lifestyle for members. They range from fashion shows, with members as models, to classic demo days.
With four independent golf shops, creating a well-balanced vendor/partner matrix is also an important part of the club’s retail philosophy. This balanced matrix allows each shop to have its own unique identity and allows them to collectively attract, retain, and cater to the vast and varied preferences of such a large membership. Creating unique offerings and a unique DNA for each shop allows for deeper vendor partnering, while still providing a vast variety of brands, styles, and accessories across the club.
Service is a staple within all club operations, including retail operations. Focusing on special orders, proactive sales, and personalized touches are key in the fundamentals of retail operations and life at The Landings Club.