The pandemic golf boom has been a boon to all retailers who stock clubs, apparel, and accessories necessary to hit the links but PGA Tour Superstore’s pace of sales growth has been lapping the field in the category.
Market research consultancy Golf Datatech reported 7% year-over-year sales growth industry wide in October and 4% in November. Meanwhile PGA Tour Superstore, owned by Home Depot co-founder and Atlanta Falcons owner Arthur Blank, saw 21% and 19% sales increases over the same periods.
Dick Sullivan, CEO of PGA Tour Superstore, attributes the chain’s outsized sales growth to never taking their foot off the gas. The company continued to play offense when the going got tough during the dregs of the pandemic by coming up with creative solutions to tackle a tangled supply chain.
Due to a rubber shortage, 15,000 Vokey wedges arrived in their stores looking half-baked without grips. But PGA Tour Superstore turned the short game bogey into an opportunity to show off the specialty retailer’s scrambling prowess.
“You want the grips on your wedges to match your irons, so we had customers pick up these wedges that had no grips on them, bring them to our repair shop and select whatever grip they wanted,” Sullivan says.
The relationship with the game’s top tour, courtesy of a 50-year licensing deal, certainly hasn’t hurt. PGA Tour Superstore sells products seen every weekend on T.V. on the backs and in the hands of the most recognizable players in the golf world with clicks on the ‘shop’ link on the tour’s official website directed to PGA Tour Superstore.
“We’re excited to be part of PGA Tour Superstore’s record growth and success,” Jay Monahan, the commissioner of the PGA Tour, said in a statement. “The golf industry continues to see unprecedented participation which filters into all areas of the business. PGA Tour Superstore provides a tremendous one-stop location for both experienced golfers and beginners to have all the latest equipment and apparel for the course.”
PGA Tour Superstores greet golfers with a massive putting green larger than the average three-bedroom apartment, along with a bevy of simulators and practice bays to test drive clubs, get fitted, or take a lesson. The chain’s 51st store just opened this past weekend in Tampa and eight more shops are scheduled to come online by year end including new market entries in Charlotte and Philadelphia.
The immersive elements tend to keep golfers lingering a lot longer in stores than they would while perusing sporting goods shops geared more to simply grabbing commodities and getting on your way.
“There are certain things in life that I think you need to actually physically experience and that’s why we have some of the largest putting greens on earth inside of our stores and that’s why we have practice bays all over America, so people can come in and practice,” Sullivan explains
The ability to tap into specialized equipment knowledge and guidance a store associate can provide, akin to home improvement tips offered at hardware stores, is another factor that differentiates them from generic big box stores.
“People come in all the time and they’ve Googled everything and they still want to know ‘why is this offset in these new Rogue irons important to me, and what’s the loft and where is my gapping that I’m going to need between my pitching wedge and my next wedge?’ Those are the sort of things you need to have that ‘doctor’ to talk to and that’s a big part of our company,” Sullivan explains.
For years Golf shops were thought as male centric retail bastions but as the sport’s demographics shift and more women enter the game that is quickly changing. In 2021 PGA Tour Superstores women’s apparel sales spiked 59% with footwear up 67% and one of their top five volume stores in the country now sells more women’s apparel than men’s.
Sullivan believes the current surge in interest in golf is not just transitory. He cites the secular trends of remote working and more flexible work arrangements that make squeezing in nine holes on a weekday more feasible, along with the increasing demand for outdoor recreation as drivers that will sustain the sport’s momentum.
“I think people more so than ever given this sick, sad disease want to be healthy and golf has been identified as a sport that provides fitness. People want to be outdoors and are tired of being inside,” Sullivan says.
“Our plans are for continued growth. We’re not going back, we are not giving up anything, even with 80% growth the last two years. Given where golf is, it is very possible that we can double the size of our company in the next four years,” he adds.