By Russ Evans
“This is going to be awesome” is the last thought I have as I lock my car door. Walking through the front doors, the first thing I see is a synthetic practice putting green 200 feet long from one side to the other, with upwards of 500 putters lining the perimeter. To my left are a half dozen hitting bays equipped with golf simulators, banners hanging overhead reading TaylorMade, PING, Titleist and Callaway. On the other side of the putting green are countless rows of irons, hybrids, fairway woods and drivers. To my right, gloves, golf balls, shoes, and sunglasses as far as the eye can see. I must be at the PGA Merchandise Show in Orlando, right? Wrong. I’m at the Grand Opening celebration event for the new PGA TOUR Superstore in Delray Beach. The facility is a 50,000 square foot behemoth of a structure, equipped with golf and tennis merchandise, as well as a bunch of extras.
Store manager Randy Ramsey, a veteran in the golf equipment world, perfectly described what I was about to encounter. “It’s not just a retail store, it’s all about the wow experience for customers. We want you to come in and hang out for the day. Try out the equipment, get a feel for the product, and enjoy the entire experience.”
The experience was just beginning for me, and already I was sold. 50,000 square feet is a lot of room to fill, and the PGA TOUR Superstore has it down to a science. The usual suspects are well represented: Titleist, Callaway, PING, Cobra, Adidas, Cleveland, FootJoy, Puma and Nike. But you can find most of those brands at your neighborhood Wal-Mart. With as much inventory as the Superstore has under one roof, it’s better equipped to offer some of the smaller niche brands like Tour Edge, Scratch Golf, J. Lindberg and Loudmouth clothing as well. The Superstore has 200 belly putters in stock, when most golf retailers typically only offer a few dozen. A dozen different brands of GPS devices are available, when most retailers typically only stock four or five. The PGA Superstore is revolutionizing golf retailing the way Home Depot did to home improvement decades ago, as the orange aprons took the reins from mom-and-pop hardware stores coast to coast.
The first PGA TOUR Superstore opened in Atlanta in 2003. The company is owned by Arthur Blank, the mastermind behind Home Depot. Blank has sewn up a 50-year licensing agreement with the PGA TOUR, making him the exclusive off-course/off-airport retail partner, and his goal is to double the number of stores nationwide to 24 within five years. The existing dozen stores are located in places like Phoenix, Dallas, Myrtle Beach and Naples on the west coast of Florida. The next location will open in Chicago in early 2012. One would assume locations are likely headed to Orlando and Tampa at some point very soon.
I mentioned the fitting simulators, right? One of them is completely dedicated to TaylorMade, dubbed the ‘TaylorMade Fitting Studio’. In fact TaylorMade is employing a staff member to be on hand at the store at all times to assist with fitting of the entire line of TaylorMade products. PING has installed its ‘In Flight’ technology, and Cleveland Golf has brought its industry leading loft and lie hydraulic machine that is able to bend cast irons by as much as 10-12 degrees. Vendors have these types of state-of-the-art technologies at their discretion, but it is usually available only to professionals or the very privileged. The Superstore is now bringing it to the golfing masses. The store is also staffed with multiple PGA teaching professionals, and offers lessons for juniors and adults.
The PGA TOUR Superstore aims to be the biggest golf merchandiser around, as well as an integral part of the community. Ralph Stokes, Director of Partnership Marketing for the Superstore, was on hand at the Delray grand opening to present the First Tee of the Palm Beaches with a giant $5,000 check. The company is highly involved with First Tee chapters in every market they are in. Each store dedicates an entire wall to the First Tee, posting pictures of First Tee children as well as listing each of the 9 core First Tee values. First Tee Executive Director Carl Mistretta later told me that he held his board of directors meeting at the store earlier that day. The Superstore offers up meeting rooms located in the back of the facility for private functions, and are available year round for reservation.
If you haven’t yet checked out the PGA TOUR Superstore, what are you waiting for? It’s located in the Delray Crossing Shopping Center next to Target at 1040 Linton Boulevard, east of I-95. For more information call the store at 561-214-7000 or visit www.pgatoursuperstore.com. Just make sure to allow yourself at least a few hours, better yet an entire day.
Listen to Russ Evans every Sunday morning at 8am on Golf Exchange presented by The Honda Classic on ESPN 760. You can email him at email@example.com.
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