We caught up with Daniel Gathercole, Director of Marketing and Communications at American Golf to look a little more closely at this new direction for the nationwide retailer.
“We know that our customers want convenience when they shop so it makes perfect sense for us to be in the places where they play their golf,” explains Gathercole. “We have several different ways that we partner with golf facilities, but the key to them all is that by having a great equipment and fitting offer, you can engage existing customers, getting them to spend more time and money at your venue, and also bring new customers through the door.”
“At one end of the scale is our on course model,” continues Gathercole. “This is designed to help facilities who are either struggling to get retail right, or are not in a position to make the necessary investment.
“Every partnership is different, but we take on the costs and responsibilities for all aspects of retail, including the shop staff. We refit and stock the shop, provide staff education and even have a marketing package in place to promote the store opening to local golfers. We keep the pro in place to do the things that he is expert in – teaching and looking after his members – and remove the time burden that’s put on them as a result of running the shop. For the site owner we alleviate the financial burdens associated with staff costs and stock. For existing customers we make sure that they can get the products they want and the fitting technology to make the most out of them. And through making the venue a well-equipped, modern retail outlet we get new customers on to the site who are immediately potential new customers for the wider golf facility.”
One such venue to go into partnership with American Golf is La Grande Mare in Guernsey. The Channel Island course had always struggled to get its retail offer right, but was wary of the costs involved in getting it up to the standard of the rest of the facilities, as Chris Vermeulen, Managing Director of La Grande Mare explains. “We’re incredibly proud of La Grande Mare so we’re delighted that we can now offer the island’s golfers and its visitors a retail venue that is the equal of all the other facilities. From day one the team at American Golf has been completely focussed on providing the best experience for every golfer. We now have an unrivalled level of product choice and expertise, and it’s all delivered with a focus on the needs of our golfers. We really couldn’t be happier with how things have gone.
“The results are almost immediate for the venues that we partner with,” concludes Gathercole. “The owner has money to invest in the facility, the PGA pros are freed up to use their time for their own and their members’ benefit, and customers start spending money. Venues also see new golfers coming through the door, and as the site grows, so does the revenue and in turn the commission that we pay to the facility.”
At the other end of the scale is a brand new opportunity for all golf facilities that American Golf hopes will drive (pun intended) footfall and provide a great service for any size venue, whether they have a retail space or not. American Golf’s fleet of fitting vans are out on tour bringing an extended range and expert fitting to the U.K. & Ireland’s golfers. The focus for the vans has been on smaller American Golf venues where there are limited demo clubs available. But for 2018 the nationwide retailer is extending the opportunity for all golf venues to hold fitting events absolutely free of charge.
Gathercole picks up the story: “The fitting van is a perfect solution for facilities that don’t have a retail space or are very limited in what they are able to offer. In our smaller stores, the fitting van events have encouraged more visits from existing customers and brought new customers who love the game through the door. We know that with the service the van offers, it would have the same effect at any venue it visits.”
One venue that has first-hand experience of an American Golf fitting event is the award winning 3 Hammers Golf Complex in Wolverhampton. Owner, Ian Bonser, explains the benefits he experienced for existing and new customers: “We have a great retail area at 3 Hammers, but the guys from the American Golf fitting team bring an extra dimension to what we’re able to offer. Our last event gave golfers the chance to try out a huge selection of equipment. Our regular customers loved trying out all the clubs and talking to the experts about how the right equipment can help improve their game. But we also had new faces through the door who came along for the opportunity to really indulge themselves in the latest equipment and fitting technology. Even at a venue like 3 Hammers that has a great retail and fitting offer on site, the AG fitting event was engaging for our customers and brought new opportunities to our door.”
The fitting van events bring demo clubs bespoke to the needs of that venue along with Flightscope X2 elite club fitting technology, SAM putting lab technology for putter fittings and a team of experts to analyse and interpret the data from customers’ swings. Also on offer where required are hitting nets and a wide range of accessory displays, while access to the American Golf iPad ordering system allows customers to access the whole of the American Golf range.
Despite being one of the giants of the U.K. golf scene, American Golf is placing golf venues at the heart of its strategy of reaching more golfers and getting those golfers hitting more balls. From traditional golf clubs and short courses, through driving ranges and even adventure golf courses, the opportunities to partner with and benefit from the expertise of Europe’s largest golf retailer are many. So if your venue’s retail offer could use a new lease of life, with a guaranteed income, or if you’d like to try a free fitting event from one of American Golf’s expert fitting teams, then it would be well worth getting in touch.
For more information on partnership opportunities contact firstname.lastname@example.org