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Costco “K Sig” golf ball buyers, don’t forget who you’re hurting

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In today’s world of e-commerce, purchasing golf items online has become the most convenient way to shop. The thing that people don’t realize, however, is how much that purchasing tactic effects your local golf facility and the people who operate it.

Case in point, the Kirkland Signature golf balls from Costco. Sure, they are a 4-piece urethane golf ball at a price that no local golf shop will be able to match with a comparable golf ball, but by purchasing these golf balls you are directly effecting your local golf facility. Of course, every golfer wants the best product at the cheapest price, but public golfers and country club members also want a fully stocked pro shop with the latest and greatest equipment, and for the same retail prices they see at Dicks Sporting Goods, PGA Tour Superstore, and Martins.

Anytime you purchase something online to save a few dollars you are taking money away from your golf facility. Every golf facility in the world — public or especially private — needs financial support from their golfers. If you want your bunkers to look pristine, your greens to be cut and rolled, your food and beverage operation to succeed, then you must support the golf operations. Sure, Pro V1’s might be $5 more at your golf facility than online, but you are supporting your facility. Costco has carved a niche in the golf industry by selling a premium golf ball at an extremely discounted price. But imagine if everyone at your facility bought all of their products online, never ate in the restaurant and walked every time they played their golf course? At a private facility your caddie program would be gone faster than Gordon Hayward’s 2017 NBA season, and at a public facility they would have to raise their rates even more and offer less discounted options.

Admittedly, the “K Sig” is a good golf ball at an unbelievably discounted price. However, if you want your golf operation to succeed you must support it financially. The best golf clubs in the world have members who come into their golf shops and blindly purchase merchandise. Now, it is not fair to compare members of Seminole, Augusta, and Oakmont to the daily fee players at your local municipal golf course, but I can guarantee you these golf operations rely on their golfers purchasing things on site.

What does this all mean?

Next time you go to buy something golf-related online, at least consider how much this effects your local golf club and local golf professionals. If the golf course, food or staff is not up to your standards, what are you doing to help the operation? If everything you buy is online and you eat off premises, can you really justify complaining about the operation? More and more golf courses are either opening their doors to the public or closing their doors permanently because of financial reasons. Everyone wants a top-notch facility to play at with great service. This can only happen with financial support from their golfers. If you love Kirkland golf balls that much, buy a few online but do not forget to support your golf club in other ways.

Buy your glove and tees at the Pro Shop, indulge in a hot dog at the turn, tip the cart girl, and sleep easy knowing you did your part in supporting your local golf operation.

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Steven Westphal is the Assistant Professional at Westlake Golf and Country Club in New Jersey, where he was born and raised. Before that, he was the Asst. Professional at Tchefuncta C.C. in Louisiana under James Lietz, a Golf Digest top-50 instructor. Westphal attended the University of Maryland Eastern Shore, where he studied Professional Golf Management.

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144 Comments

144 Comments

  1. Paul

    Nov 20, 2017 at 11:19 am

    I tried to read with an open-mind, but ultimately concluded that this piece is REALLY dumb and extremely short-sighted. This is how business works. The marketplace is dynamic, and it’s the business operator’s responsibility to adapt to those changing dynamics, not the consumers’.

    Golf is already too expensive for most people, and exorbitant golf ball prices don’t help. I am all for cheaper alternatives.

  2. meh!

    Nov 18, 2017 at 5:24 pm

    Trolling 101. if you don’t have anything nice to say then make up something and write about it and see the internet burns.

  3. Woody

    Nov 15, 2017 at 7:45 am

    Here’s a thought..I buy cheap online equipment so I can afford to play the game more…maybe..just maybe if these companies charge a little less I’d buy in the store.

  4. Mr_Birdie

    Nov 14, 2017 at 12:40 am

    Steven Westphal maybe your attention should remain focused on professional teaching/instructing because as an amateur journalist you lack credibility, insight, trustworthiness, soundness and most of all an insult to logical thinking. Next time you buy from Amazon think about the brick & mortar stores you are displacing e.g. Circuit City, Montgomery Wards local hardware stores!

  5. Dave

    Nov 12, 2017 at 7:07 am

    Golfers who buy ANYTHING except 3 for $1 fishbowl balls from their “pro shop” are just plain throwing money away.

  6. Britt

    Nov 11, 2017 at 3:08 pm

    I came to talk trash about this dumb article written by disconnected member of some private club that can afford a new set of AP1s each season and never loses a ProV1…
    But looks like the majority of the previous commentators took car of trashing this jerk that gets upset when hes behind a group of hackers, or even worse the day employees are allowed on the private course!!! Gasp

    Steven you’re the reason golf is dying.

  7. Dave R

    Nov 11, 2017 at 1:17 pm

    Seriously. Greed hurts buddy.

  8. Jimmy

    Nov 8, 2017 at 2:12 pm

    If we buy more balls from the pro shop, does that mean your wage will go up and you’ll stop writing? If that’s the case then you have a deal!

  9. J.R.

    Nov 7, 2017 at 4:18 pm

    This has to be a troll….

  10. Scott Schwarting

    Nov 6, 2017 at 2:56 pm

    Agreed. And stop reading articles that you get for free on golf websites on the internet. Don’t you know how much that hurts your struggling printed golf publications? Why would you read a golf article for free when you can pay to read articles in a magazine. Sheesh.

  11. G

    Nov 6, 2017 at 2:46 pm

    I’m sorry, but I like to spend my money wisely. Seeing that I work at a high end resort that over charges for everything from water to golf equipment, I say to bad. I know that sounds harsh but the golf business is very cut throat and most employees don’t make much over minimum wage. I love golf, but the business itself, I don’t have a lot of respect for and I’m in the PGA. Figure out a different way to make money. As the landscape of retail is changing the way we buy, the golf course’s will need to learn to adjust the way they sell equipment. Via internet, fitting etc…

  12. The Infidel

    Nov 6, 2017 at 7:28 am

    This is #1 for stupidest article GWRX have ever posted. You’ve really dropped the editorial bar pretty low here.

    Re: The K-Sig – welcome to an open market economy, did you miss that day at school?

    • alexdub

      Nov 9, 2017 at 4:49 pm

      Amen. This article has to be click bait to get their counts up.

  13. Joe

    Oct 30, 2017 at 7:36 pm

    Support the local Pro shops that over charge on everything or look after my wallet?
    Not sure if this article was published in jest or not.

  14. Larry

    Oct 30, 2017 at 4:15 pm

    I can’t speak for anyone else, but as an occasional player who loses plenty of balls I want the best deal I can get. People join Costco for a reason, and if they offer an equal quality product for less that is what they will but.

  15. In Like Flynn

    Oct 30, 2017 at 3:21 pm

    I’ll tell you who I’m not hurting…my wallet

  16. What did he just a say

    Oct 30, 2017 at 1:09 pm

    I wonder if you or your wife have a Costco membership? Are they good enough for other products but just not golf balls?

  17. Jacked_Loft

    Oct 29, 2017 at 6:41 am

    Sorry but after paying that expensive greenfee I’m going to tee up my online purchased TP5X balls on tees which the proshop dosen’t stock, and swing my E-Bay bought clubs which I reshafted with those GolfWorks delivered shafts. After the round I’ll go in the bar and have 1 cold beer before I get in my American built Mustang and drive home to my condo which I bought when the real estate market collapsed. Why? I don’t give away my hard earned money because I can add, subtract, multiply and divide. My business model is named survival and I’m not a member of the top 10% who don’t have to think before they buy.

    • Jacked_Loft

      Oct 29, 2017 at 6:56 am

      Forgot this part: I pay an expensive greenfee because THAT represents the value of the course conditions. If the course starts to fall apart than I guess somebody didn’t calculate correctly, and the whole thing was doomed from the start. If you haven’t realized that proshop returns have been receding since about 2004 then I guess you got caught with your pants down.

    • ahw74

      Nov 8, 2017 at 9:44 am

      good stuff!

  18. TinCup

    Oct 29, 2017 at 5:29 am

    Affects*

  19. Ham and Eggs

    Oct 28, 2017 at 10:08 pm

    What about the employees at CostCo??? Where is their article???

  20. GLS

    Oct 27, 2017 at 8:23 am

    So help me understand….. its the customers responsibility to make the business profitable , and not the business’s ? Actually own a business and tell me how that works for you. Having owned 4, its about being competitive in your market and doing a lot of the work yourself. How many PGA club pro’s or owners have you ever seen mowing the greens? Golf itself is a pastime not a necessity much like the NFL is now finding out. Be competitive and you will make money

  21. Mad-Mex

    Oct 26, 2017 at 10:10 pm

    OK Steven after reading this, I did the following during my last round. I played what is considered an OK Casino Golf Course,,,
    Green Fees: $65 x 2 (wife plays) $130
    Footjoy Weathersoft Golf Glove: $15 (did not buy one, saw price)
    Tees: $1.50 for 25 (same as glove, price on bag.
    2 Cold Hot Dog: $15 (No mustard, No relish, she did have Mayo packets!!)
    Warm Diet Coke and Sprite, 3 ice cubes: $7.00
    Cart girl tip : $3.00 (smirked and said with an attitude “Need change”when I gave her a $20 and a $5) she did make me laugh when she started the gasoline beverage cart on this guys backswing and he flipped her off!!
    What did I get in return? A golf cart with some sticky residue on the floor which started running out of juice after 6 holes (but thanks to slow play and lack of marshal, we were able to make the turn and got a cart in same condition as first), had to wait on three occasions for the grounds worker to get off green and two to get off fairway, divot riddled tee boxes, soaking wet and dry fairways (couple of times on same fairway). Round “only” took 5.5 hours tho,,,, but I slept easy knowing I was supporting my local golf operation

  22. Shanks Happen

    Oct 26, 2017 at 2:45 pm

    Right, Steve?

    The nerve of some peasants. Always “saving money” on this and that. And now they want more of the lower caste to play our sport? HA!

    Everytime I think of their dirty, proletariat hands touching the same grass as I… Ugh, I shudder so hard I nearly drop my monocle.

  23. Brandon B

    Oct 25, 2017 at 2:35 pm

    You’ve convinced me to buy the K-Sig ball. Costco thanks you for my business.

  24. Sam Price

    Oct 24, 2017 at 1:45 pm

    If people want K-Sig balls and the pricing to go with it, the the local golf course should be buying those balls and offering them at the pro shop. K-Sig has shown golfers that golf balls do not have to be expensive, and the pro-shops need to be more adaptable to modern trends.

  25. Skip

    Oct 24, 2017 at 11:59 am

    “effected” VS. “affected” know the difference.

  26. Atlantagolf

    Oct 24, 2017 at 11:18 am

    I do support my proshop — within reason. I would definitely buy at the proshop if it is within 5% of locally offered products.

  27. surewin73

    Oct 24, 2017 at 10:32 am

    I love how the authors of these articles and opinion piece lecture us, but never show up in the comment section to defend their argument.

  28. Paul

    Oct 24, 2017 at 1:33 am

    Come on. If you can’t compete, then quit. Don’t beg for our money. Almost 1200 shanks. Wow. Must be a dumb article.

  29. HI

    Oct 23, 2017 at 8:02 pm

    I’ve never understood why golf courses need to charge the added costs on equipment, balls, golf gear. If the idea of a pro shop is to outfit golfers for their round to be played or future rounds, why wouldn’t pro shops sell equipment/gear at cheaper prices than market prices? I assume the equipment/balls are being purchased at cost/bulk. If this is so, I would think more people would flock to their local golf course to purchase equipment/balls if that was the case and sales would increase. For example, if say Pro V1’s are commonly priced at $47/dz…….instead of selling a box at $52 in the Pro Shop, I’m sure Pro Shops could sell it for $42 without being hurt too much and increase sales.

    As it is now, I feel every Pro Shop is a last resort option if you need (emergency)/forgot something/run out of balls, not a first option. A pro shop is nothing more than a display room to a vast majority of golfers. MAKE IT A REASON FOR GOLFERS TO SHOP AT A PRO SHOP!

    • david

      Oct 24, 2017 at 6:05 pm

      Agreed. If I were running a store with no rent and no labor (assuming assts are paid by the club), I’d be undercutting everyone else and making it up on volume. The members/customers would like me and want to support me. Everyone wins.

    • Jack

      Oct 25, 2017 at 5:54 am

      Exactly. This is perfect. Pro shops are like galleries LOL. They can’t even sell stuff at a regular price. They gotta go and mark it up even more. People have options, and it’s not usually to pay more unless there’s no other choice. I think an ice cold beer and hot food falls into that category, but balls (unless you forget to bring enough or any) and clothes etc don’t. If you can’t support the course raise the prices but don’t try to make it seem like a badly run pro shop is the solution.

      Also, rent really basically is free. There’s nothing else that would open there. I mean maybe if you open it up to retail shops? That would not be kosher with most members though. Pro shops do so little sales that they can’t make money. Seriously they have one of the best avenues to sell golf equipment and have been squandering it for so long it’s not even funny.

  30. JB

    Oct 23, 2017 at 3:14 pm

    LMAO, I’ll let you know the next time I go to the golf course with a pro-shop….Have you been to a public course, or non-private course? Most do NOT have a pro-shop. They sell balls and gloves sure, and essentials you may need while on the course for that day, but they are not fully stocked pro-shops with the latest equipment. My local muni sells Pinnacle Golds because it is cheap, lol. Those are far from latest and greatest.

  31. HAHAHA

    Oct 23, 2017 at 1:21 pm

    Then go write articles for a local newspaper instead of an ONLINE community.

  32. iShankEveryArticle

    Oct 23, 2017 at 11:10 am

    This has to be the worst thing I’ve ever read on this website.

  33. Dunce

    Oct 23, 2017 at 9:47 am

    Western countries are having a gigantic public health crisis regarding obesity and you’re making a negative comment about people walking when they play golf .Bad taste my dude, bad taste.

    • Scott

      Oct 23, 2017 at 3:33 pm

      +1. This guy is the reason why I buy my balls online.

  34. ibogeyalot

    Oct 23, 2017 at 9:42 am

    so how much did titliest pay you to write this article?

  35. Uhit

    Oct 23, 2017 at 6:38 am

    Why not mention lake balls, or discounted, previous generation balls?
    Why not prohibit collecting lost balls, to save your local pro shop?

    The Ksig was probably the best, that happened to golf, since Tiger Woods…
    …because it helped to open the mind of a lot of golfers to pay more attention to what ball they really need, and that it has not to be that expensive.
    What makes golf a more affordable (and therefore more attractive) sport – for everyone!

    To choose the Ksig, as an example of what hurts the local Pro Shop is at least “unlucky”…

  36. Mad-Mex

    Oct 22, 2017 at 10:34 pm

    Hey Steven Westphal, there is a request for you to answer some questions in the K-Sig thread,,,, 948 shanks !!!!!!!!!!

  37. henry

    Oct 22, 2017 at 10:08 pm

    never allow this guy to post an article on wrx again. where are the editors???

  38. Zipper

    Oct 22, 2017 at 9:15 pm

    “The best golf clubs in the world have members who come into their golf shops and blindly purchase merchandise”

    This is maybe the most stupid comment I have ever read on this site. Perhaps what the author meant was:

    The MOST PROFITABLE golf clubs in the world have members who come into their golf shops and IGNORANTLY purchase merchandise.

    • henry

      Oct 22, 2017 at 10:07 pm

      i laughed out loud when after I read the “blindly purchase merchandise”. what a joke.

    • Scott

      Oct 23, 2017 at 3:35 pm

      The best clubs in the world have people with more money than brains when it comes to golf.

      • Jon

        Oct 23, 2017 at 5:16 pm

        That’s no joke. A club my buddy used to work at had a couple of members who would buy a dozen Pro-V1’s to hit on the driving range and the actual range balls were Pro-V1’s. Who does that? I guess the “PRACTICE” stamped on the side of the balls made them inferior.

        • henry

          Oct 24, 2017 at 3:32 pm

          its just funny that an asst. pro would openly say that they basically can’t survive without people coming in and making dumb purchases. quite an interesting way to sell yourself.

        • Scott

          Oct 25, 2017 at 10:05 am

          Jon, wow. just wow. Where is this club? I would like to be the range picker.

          • Jon

            Oct 26, 2017 at 5:14 pm

            Scott it was at Silverleaf in Scottsdale. He told me it was pretty easy to pick through the balls, since the ones bought in the pro shop had the club logo on them.

  39. MM

    Oct 22, 2017 at 8:35 pm

    Adapt and change or get left behind. Simple as that.

  40. Sherwin

    Oct 22, 2017 at 6:32 pm

    I will purchase whatever I want, where ever I want. If you sold your overpriced merchandise at reasonable rates, I would. But you don’t, so no. I will buy online or at a discounter.

    Not going to support your lifestyle by paying full suggested retail price, if I don’t have too.

    Geez! Does GolfWRX have an editor or reviewer?

    Ridiculous!

  41. Mad-Mex

    Oct 22, 2017 at 6:05 pm

    Is this “article” in the running for THE MOST SHANKS?

  42. Ardbeggar

    Oct 22, 2017 at 5:49 pm

    No sympathy from me. The pro shops should go to the various vendors and moan about their ball sales if they’re getting hurt by these high performance value balls (Snell, Vice, K Sig…)
    I’m going to buy what I want to play before I get to the course.

  43. Laggerdagg

    Oct 22, 2017 at 5:14 pm

    This is without doubt the worst article ever published on this website. Awful, awful stuff. Dear me.

  44. Andrew

    Oct 22, 2017 at 3:40 pm

    So they don’t teach basic economics in professional golf management? Get your money back, Steve. Here’s a free lesson. Anybody can write anything as a “suggested retail price” on a box. But if the market won’t pay it, who cares? As a vendor, you charge what the market will pay and make adjustments up or down based on the number of widgets you sell or can sell. THAT is how a market works. This sob-story lecture approach means I will certainly not be buying from Westlake. You might try lobbying your representatives to mandate that I buy golf clubs from you on pain of taxation. Oh wait. That sounds like health insurance now. Does that sound fair to you, Steve? Sounds like theft to the rest of us.

  45. Tommy

    Oct 22, 2017 at 12:47 pm

    It’s all moot again anyway. They’re all sold out again…already.

  46. George

    Oct 22, 2017 at 10:21 am

    It is called CAPITALISM. Cry me a river.

  47. Morgan

    Oct 22, 2017 at 9:03 am

    Does a golf course need a pro-shop? Sure, it’s fun for souvenirs or maybe you arrive and notice your bag is a little light on balls. I buy based on quality and price, and I have a personal method for evaluating the balance between the two. We all have a method for evaluating price vs quality.

    But if this line of thinking by the author signals the end of many pro-shops, fine. No problem for me. I can pay for my golf online, check-in with a computer and head to the first tee at my convenience.

    Also, when it comes to balls in shops. The author completely ignores that some shops are brand specific. Titleist owns many golfshops, offering better prices if the club does not carry other brands. I get that your local pro-shop isn’t going to be a golftown or Dick’s, but like others have commented, if you don’t offer something unique, all a pro-shop is doing is supplying convenience. Adapt or die.

    • TR1PTIK

      Oct 23, 2017 at 1:19 am

      Not all pro shops are the same. I work part-time at a muni course and the city gets its cut from green fees, cart fees, and range fees. ALL of the merchandise in the pro shop (from peanuts to golf clubs) is managed by the club pro and goes to supplement his income (which is typically low when factoring in the hours that course pros & supers put in so that we can play a game). So, when you buy a few snacks at the turn or a box of golf balls at our course, you’re helping him provide for his family. Nothing wrong with that in my mind considering how much effort he’s putting into the course and satisfaction of his customers. Granted, not all courses (muni or otherwise) are going to be like this, but it’s something to think about. I don’t believe you have to buy everything from the pro shop, but show a little support once a month or something – buy a glove, some golf balls or a new hat every once in a while.

      • Thomas A

        Oct 23, 2017 at 10:39 am

        And the pro should show a little support for his muni customers who won’t overpay for golf balls. If Dick’s can make a profit selling Pro V1’s for $47.99 a box, then there’s no need for a muni pro to sell them for $53. Or better yet, offer the Callaway Chrome Soft for $40 or Wilson Duo U. for $38. Then we’ll talk.

        • Mark

          Oct 23, 2017 at 6:40 pm

          Actually, the Pro can’t buy at the volume Dicks does.. So he pays more than 37 dollars a dozen for the Pro V1’s that Dicks and others pay. I get it, I do. I work at a retail establishment. I don’t think the author comes off very credible with his arguments. There is a balance I am sure that we can all come to. It would suck to have to buy equipment over the internet because all the golf shops go under. And even Dicks can go under, or just decide not to have pga pro’s or knowledgeable fitters work for them. Some times you reap what you sow.

  48. 8thehardway

    Oct 22, 2017 at 5:18 am

    Attention members
    We are amending our local rules; henceforth only balls bearing our Club’s logo can be lifted cleaned and placed and the search time for lost, non-logo’ed balls is reduced to 1 minute. Also note that caddy fees are doubled when required to transport any equipment not purchased from our pro shop.

    As always, thank you for your support.

    J. Worthington-Smythe, President

  49. Steve Cantwell

    Oct 22, 2017 at 1:06 am

    Maybe I could get this guy to speak to my boss about getting me a raise. That would definitely improve the quality of my life. Maybe I could even use some of the extra money at the golf course.

    This guy is a complete clown for thinking this way

  50. david

    Oct 22, 2017 at 12:18 am

    I actually love this article because maybe the overwhelming response (shank) will hit home with a few pro shop operators. The only reason to buy anything from the shop (balls, bags, clubs) at their prices is pity or guilt or it has the club logo on it. If you have to keep telling people how they’re going to miss you when you’re gone, maybe you’re overestimating your importance. I mean, we seem to manage to get our own milk. Lower your prices, sell more stuff, make more money.

  51. Tommy

    Oct 22, 2017 at 12:03 am

    I hate to say it, I really do, but there is a serious glut of “golf pros” trying to make a living at a sport whose audience is rapidly shrinking. Since the equipment thing is gone for them, they’re now selling instruction and club fitting. Both are good things, no doubt, but more than anything, imho, just a way to wave a little money in their direction. It wouldn’t hurt to thin out the herd a little. I’m very sorry to say that but it’s the law of the jungle out there. It’s happened to me twice in forty years and I had to find a completely new way to make a living, not just inventing new products in the same industry. Golf is hard way to make a living at every level.

  52. Joe

    Oct 21, 2017 at 10:52 pm

    Why single out Kirkland/Costco and not balls from Snell, Cut, Vice, Oncore, etc that aren’t sold in most pro shops? I’m not sure if you’re a Titleist shill or just really out of touch with your consumers.

  53. DN

    Oct 21, 2017 at 5:26 pm

    I’m all for free speech but can this article please be taken down? It’s extremely out-of-touch and an uneducated perspective on economics (of golf and the world).

    • gunmetal

      Oct 22, 2017 at 12:14 am

      It really is. It seems like nothing more than a socialist opining about the druthers of competition.

      Imagine the fire Costco has lit under Titleist. Maybe now they’ll be forced to innovate rather than simply forking out the pay for play dollars to remain “The #1 ball in golf, blah blah blah.”

      And FWIW, just like air travel shrunk the world, the internet has done so even more. I do feel like I’m supporting my “Local” economy when I buy something from Carls, Budget, TGW, Morton, or even Golf Galaxy and have it shipped to my home.

  54. Konnor

    Oct 21, 2017 at 5:18 pm

    I work at a private facility so grain of salt here but we charge market retail for all products and will price match a large number of big box retailers (GG, TGW, GolfSmith, Dicks). This is 100% true on discounted clubs by the way, when 2016 XR dropped to $299.99 we charge that same price, all you have to do is ask sometimes. If we did not do these things the shop would not be a profitable operation. Regardless of how wealthy the member or guest may be, he or she is not going to spend 35% more just to support the club.

    We are not looking for support in terms of players paying additional $$$ compared to another location, we simply want members and guests to spend the fixed costs of playing the game (tees, balls, hats, gloves, LESSONS, anything with the Club logo is a premium and on the shop if it turns into a sunk cost) here in the golf shop. Tipping the food and beverage/cart/bag staff is just the right thing to do regardless of the golf shop or course condition.

    The days of charging $70 for a box of ProV1s are gone and should never have been a thing to begin with if we’re being honest. That being said, if you’re going to buy them for $55 at Dicks buy them here for $55.

    Lastly, if you play at a facility where they still charge significantly more than most retailers that is on them. The places facilities look for profit should not be to stick an extra 35% to those wishing to make small purchases.

  55. JP

    Oct 21, 2017 at 5:01 pm

    Just keep it in the back of your heads what happens when you can’t get fit for clubs because all the small, knowledgeable, golf shops are out of business. There’s a value to knowledge.

  56. Ryan

    Oct 21, 2017 at 4:40 pm

    Steve, my loyalty is with my family. I have a wife and kids, and any money I can save on MY hobby, I can give them to spend on their hobbies. Welcome to the real world, pal.

    • AB

      Oct 22, 2017 at 1:53 pm

      Lol, what a moronic article. I bet Steve never brought anything online.

  57. bjb

    Oct 21, 2017 at 1:21 pm

    If I’m not buying K-sigs, I’m buying from used golf ball websites. Anyone buying boxes of balls from a pro shop is insane…the prices are ridiculous.

  58. SV

    Oct 21, 2017 at 10:37 am

    I would like to support my local shop, however there is a limit to how much I would overpay. Recently I looked at replacing my stand bag. At the shop I could choose from a Titleist bag for $170 or a Callaway for $180. I bought a comparable Ogio for $120 on sale at Dick’s Sporting Goods. The difference is two rounds at the senior rate. I buy used/refinished balls online for $10-$12 per dozen versus new for $40+. Again, I would like to support the local shop, but there is a limit.

  59. D Louis

    Oct 21, 2017 at 10:08 am

    It says Stephen studied Pro Golf Mgmt at the Univ of Maryland….he must have been out playing golf and missed the business courses of that program.

    • Bob Chipeska

      Oct 21, 2017 at 12:41 pm

      No wonder he has to mark balls up in his shop. Gotta pay back that $100,000 student loan.

  60. Paul

    Oct 21, 2017 at 8:36 am

    As a person who was formerly working, and let go, in a pro shop I have seen some of the effects of golfers saving $5-10 on their golf balls has, combine that with the cut price hardware internet sales that forcing club shop to match or beat and the result is awful.
    The first thing that happens is cost cutting of wages to be able cut prices to match the sale. That $5-10 lost by 10 players in a day is wages for an employee which can no longer be afforded. In one shop I worked in, over a 18 month period, we went from a 7 person staff level to 3 with our overall sales actually increasing by $5k a month at but gross profit dropping from 23% to 14%. Our wage bill was typically 40% of our profit, add in benefits that figure rises to 55% which leaves 45% to pay suppliers and up grade facilities in the shop. Here is how that breaks down.
    Sales $30,000 p/m – GP $6,900 = $3,795 in wages/benefits
    Sales $35,000 p/m – GP $4,900 = $2,695 in wages/benefits
    As you can see $1,100 a month less to spend on staff means people lose their jobs. These are very basic sums but it is typical of how a pro shop will run. The old saying of “you get what you pay for” is true in this case, pay for your products elsewhere watch the service decline and your favourite employees disappear. But this is your right as a consumer just don’t complain when you miss you favourite tee time because your call wasn’t answered as your the one who helped fire the person who would have been there to answer your call.

    • Brian

      Oct 21, 2017 at 9:22 am

      The $5-10 that same player saves on balls today is $5-10 of goods and services he can put into the economy in other areas. This is how “free” markets work. Business models either adapt with the market’s changes or they die and are replaced by a business that is able to adapt. Pro Shop jobs are lost, but Costco jobs are gained. Which is a better job, a $10 per hour at a pro shop with no benefits or a $10 per hour Costco job with medical, dental, and 401k?

      • Bryan

        Oct 23, 2017 at 10:35 pm

        As long as you don’t mind your favorite golf course shutting down permanently, I guess it will end up being the costco job???

        • surewin73

          Oct 24, 2017 at 10:28 am

          The golf course should strategically plan it’s operational budget so that a downturn in pro shop sales would not shut the course down. The first stream of revenue should be greens fee, then concessions followed by range balls and then the pro shop. Add banquet services for wedding and other outings. The course should be good. If not, that’s just bad management in my opinion.

  61. ETERNAL1906

    Oct 21, 2017 at 8:06 am

    This article shows how completely out of touch the average club pro is with the membership. The markup at the average private club for balls, tees, shoes, etc. is well above 35%. Why would you expect members who already pay initiation cost, annual dues, food and beverage minimums & miscellaneous fees for locker rental, club storage and range balls to also pay a 35% up-charge for items in the pro shop when they can purchase them online for much less?

    • Cory

      Oct 22, 2017 at 1:40 am

      The margins on golf balls for retailers are nowhere near 35%, the illusion that golf shops are raking in money is hilarious to anyone that has actually worked at one. You don’t have to shop there but don’t also expect demos, fully sticked shops and helpful people either.

    • PD

      Nov 8, 2017 at 10:09 pm

      I hate to break it to you, proshop profit margins on balls is more around 15%, NOT 35%. Please do your homework before throwing out unfounded numbers.

  62. Coffee in the morning

    Oct 20, 2017 at 11:57 pm

    The real question is why the manufacturers who produce the ball and clubs in Thailand, China and Vietnam charge so much. Titleist and others have moved out side the USA but still raise prices. They do not promote American jobs but want you to believe they are American companies. Prov1 are manufactured in Thailand at plant 4 chonburi . Tp5 is Korean Costco is Korean why the major price difference. It is not the golf shop it is the manufacturers who put pressure on the shops. Like Titleist says stock this and stock that. Then they go to the consumer to buy custom fit. How do you stock custom fit? Right dead inventory. This article is off base it should be asking questions of the manufacture.

  63. Mad-Mex

    Oct 20, 2017 at 11:46 pm

    OK Steven Westphal, why didn’t you say something about the big guns in the golf industry? I am talking about Titleist, Cobra,PING,Taylormade,etc,etc,etc,,,, and their prices?
    Do you still have the so called “pro lsheet” equipment price list? Back in the late 80’s I worked at a golf resort in Arizona, when Wilson came out with the JP forged lob wedge, I saw the packing list, the resort paid $19.90 and they put them on the floor for $39.00, the head pro gave one of the members a deal , charged him $30 for the wedge,,,, when we asked the pro what our price would be, he said, order them and pay 10% over cost and we will call it even, see, the resort and the head pro split the profits of any golf equipment sold over the “pro sheet” listing, so, why should I pay $40 for a dozen golf balls?

    • Bryan

      Oct 23, 2017 at 10:36 pm

      That’s not how it works genius boy… Markup on golf balls isn’t even CLOSE to the markup on clothing and clubs…

      • Mad-Mex

        Oct 25, 2017 at 10:56 pm

        READ AGAIN, your saying the SAME thing I said “genius boy”,,,, so tell me how it works “Bryan”,,, let me guess your in the “business”? Or do you know someone who is married to someone who knows a guy ?

  64. alanp

    Oct 20, 2017 at 9:36 pm

    wow. dont these articles have to be vetted before they are published on the site? waste of server space.

  65. Ryan B

    Oct 20, 2017 at 9:13 pm

    I appreciate the time it takes to write an article but as other have said this point of view is EXTREMELY out of touch. (High End ) Private club members buy from their pro usually because these are the people that are in a socio-economic background that I am not familiar with and find value in I need / want that now vs the time taken to go find the value in the market. Everyone else on the other hand prefers to find value in saving a bit of money, even if that means buying online.

    Golf is a LUXURY SPORT!!! lets not forget that. Sure its very accessible for many people but like I said its a luxury. Golf balls are a disposable product, and if someone finds a way to disrupt the market to offer customers value them good for the market. Look at TESLA. Nobody wanted to make electric vehicles then someone came along and said “screw it” we NEED to change and so he vowed to make electric cars and not have dealerships. Now look at the market years later dealerships are either going very big and working together of going bye bye and every car company is converting slowly to electric.

    Marketing has ruled the golf market for so long that something like the K-sig was bound to happen. I realize that this is not just about the ball but all the fringe aspects of spending money at the course but from a public golf perspective most public tracks offer very little as far as food and Bev and stocked proshops. When I play I usually pack a few beers and some snacks because $7 for a short can of domestic beer is CRAZY, i dont care if its delivered on a golf cart.

    Once again this mind set is the EXACT reason so many big box stores are going out of business, its because they arent changing with the times. I know golf shops that do HUGE sales numbers because they adapt, custom fit and carry what people want. Not TELL their customers how they should shop. If this is how you plan on running a business you wont be in business long

  66. gioreeko

    Oct 20, 2017 at 9:12 pm

    Maybe the dumbest article ever written for Golfwrx? Who buys there balls at a pro shop anyway? And there’s no law that says that they can’t buy some Ksigs and sell them at the same markup they do other balls. Businesses buy stuff in bulk at Costco and re-sell them all the time, it’s called capitalism.

  67. The dude

    Oct 20, 2017 at 8:32 pm

    K Sig….for the guy that has that “club scrubber bottle” dangling from his Pleather Wilson bag

    • Scrubby

      Oct 20, 2017 at 10:05 pm

      That’s me! I love my club scrubber. And I’d totally play a KSig.

    • Simms

      Oct 21, 2017 at 1:32 pm

      Yea that “club scrubber bottle” guy, that was our D player (26 handicap) with the ripped up bag, irons that were made in 1980, a wood head 5 wood, no driver and a putter that did not say Walmart but you know they sell them..75 years old made everything on the greens no matter how far and won our team $2,000 each in a two day scramble…must of been that new Top Flite ball the tournament gave us in the goody bag…

  68. M. Vegas

    Oct 20, 2017 at 8:13 pm

    Kirkland Signature….
    For the guy that gets arrested for possession on the way to the course

    • AB

      Oct 22, 2017 at 9:43 pm

      You’re the person that arrested him and sell that possession to buy a dozen of proV

  69. dan

    Oct 20, 2017 at 8:07 pm

    This is the single most out of touch article I’ve ever read. And you had to bring up Gordon Heyward….

  70. Denny Jones

    Oct 20, 2017 at 8:05 pm

    “Next time you go to buy something golf-related online, at least consider how much this effects your local golf club and local golf professionals. If the golf course, food or staff is not up to your standards, what are you doing to help the operation? If everything you buy is online and you eat off premises, can you really justify complaining about the operation? More and more golf courses are either opening their doors to the public or closing their doors permanently because of financial reasons. Everyone wants a top-notch facility to play at with great service. This can only happen with financial support from their golfers. If you love Kirkland golf balls that much, buy a few online but do not forget to support your golf club in other ways.”

    What model car do you drive? American? What type of refrigerator do you own, was it made in USA? What about your TV, computer, etc? With the world growing smaller because of the internet, commerce is now world wide. It’s tough for everyone to compete with the big companies, not just the pro shops.
    People are going to buy the best product for the best price. They work hard for their $$ and if product “A” is the same quality or similar than product “B”, they will vote with their dollar.

  71. Tyler Brooke

    Oct 20, 2017 at 7:43 pm

    no one buys balls at the course the way they mark them up. get real.

  72. Tommy

    Oct 20, 2017 at 7:33 pm

    The clubs that I have belonged to have always voted for the pro to mark up the regularly priced items the same or below what the big box shops do and, guess what, everybody buys all their gear at the pro shop, even their clubs. Nobody at my club buys anything at Dick’s, or online. Everybody’s happy! Most good clubs have adopted that policy and any public courses that want to do any business with golf gear, they’ll do the same. With the internet, there aren’t any “dummies” left who will pay full retail for ANYTHING. If you make it your business to wait around for those few dummies who will, you’re it! Get with the program. Reminds me of the industry types who sit around praying for Tiger’s return so it can be like it was twenty years ago. When you hitch your wagon to one donkey….

  73. mauiatheart

    Oct 20, 2017 at 7:30 pm

    This is the dumbest article I have seen on this website. Buy your equipment from the place with the best combination of price and customer service. If it’s online it’s OK.

  74. Lospeed

    Oct 20, 2017 at 7:21 pm

    I cant believe you wrote this article with a straight face….I kept waiting for the joke at the end. Wow, apparently anybody can write for golfWRX?!?

  75. The dude

    Oct 20, 2017 at 7:14 pm

    K Sig….for the guy that spits on your towel to clean his club….

  76. TheCityGame

    Oct 20, 2017 at 7:05 pm

    No, we don’t all want a fully stocked pro shop. I don’t care about that at all. A golf course needs a cash register and tees. Maybe some branded merchandise.

    The old days ain’t coming back.

  77. Brian

    Oct 20, 2017 at 7:00 pm

    The only thing I’ve ever bought in the pro shop are gloves, tees, and hats (when they’re on sale).

  78. Big Mike

    Oct 20, 2017 at 6:30 pm

    I understand everyone needs to make a living. However, my first allegiance is to my wallet and my support of my club is confined to green’s fees, coffee, an occasional hotdog and beer. Never found equipment prices including balls to be competitive and won’t spend 25% or more just to help my golf pro. Now if you want to lower your green fees and lesson costs perhaps we can talk.

  79. Jalan

    Oct 20, 2017 at 6:02 pm

    I’ve never bought golf balls at a course other than a couple “jar balls” when I was playing a resort as a guest.

    I do spend money on Golf, range balls, food and beverages, and occasionally clothing. No golf course is losing money by me because I bought golf balls before I got to the course.

    Besides, the find and sell the ones I lose on the course.

  80. Charles

    Oct 20, 2017 at 5:50 pm

    This is the dumbest article I have read on GolfWrx.

  81. Mike

    Oct 20, 2017 at 5:42 pm

    What a horrible article. I think we are all dumber for having read this.

  82. ron

    Oct 20, 2017 at 5:31 pm

    I think its time we add a “SHANK” (all caps) button. “SUPER SHANK” button?? Steve, if you go around looking to pay the most you possibly can for items you use then go right ahead. The rest of us will do things a little different, but thanks.

    And who approved this to appear on the site anyways?!

  83. Broton

    Oct 20, 2017 at 4:54 pm

    Major shank. Who is paying you?

  84. Grandpa Gord

    Oct 20, 2017 at 4:45 pm

    Simple Solution: Golf courses should simply BAN the K-Sig and other cheap balls from being played. Legally they can do this on private golf courses, but not munis where most of these cut-rate balls are played.
    Also they can make a rule that all balls played on their course must be purchased from their pro shop, together with the green fees.

    • Bert

      Oct 20, 2017 at 6:22 pm

      Yep, and say goodbye to their customer base. Here’s an example; you must ride or hire a caddie, and if you ride you must hire a fore-caddie. Sorry, I’m gone, will not play there even if it’s a top rated course. It doesn’t matter to me, I can play many fine courses and either ride or walk and usually at a decent price. As mentioned in one reply, arrive prepared and you won’t be subjected to rip-off pricing. I’ve always wondered why the golf shops don’t mark certain golf products way down, perhaps with only a 25% mark-up. I doubt it would hurt them, would make their customers happy, and more than likely, the customer might be inclined to make other purchases, and yes, return to that course again.

      • Bryan

        Oct 23, 2017 at 10:40 pm

        What about shipping costs on those products? Employee wages? Electricity/utilities? Insurance? Taxes? You honestly think selling anything at 25% above wholesale will cover that type of stuff?
        I’m all on-board with your first sentence… I think you should not play at the clubs that offer nice services and amenities, good chance those employees don’t like dealing with people like you anyways. Stick to your $12 round of golf in a place that only sells plastic ball markers.

        • Bert

          Nov 6, 2017 at 4:49 pm

          Sorry I offended you – and I think you missed my point. “Certain” items, perhaps golf balls, could be sold at a lower profit margin. I play many high dollar rounds, but I’m not stupid either and I could care less about supporting the golf industry. What all forget is I am the customer, not the employee and if I don’t like the price or the service, yes, I’ll go elsewhere.

  85. mr b

    Oct 20, 2017 at 4:13 pm

    not a member anywhere so i will buy where it’s most cost effective. plain and simple!

  86. Fred Dickson

    Oct 20, 2017 at 2:58 pm

    I suspect this is a result of PGA Business school???? in a free market economy, innovation, value and proformance win, the strong survive. Consumers will spend their money where they get the best value. Course conditions will play a part in the consumers decision where to play. If you quasi threaten that conditions will suffer as a result of off course purchases, you will loose customers to facilities that maintain their conditions. On course shops lost the battle to off course shops for equipment long ago. The Ksig is having a much greater impact on off course stores than green grass. Pro, you have what every retailer would kill for; foot traffic! If green grass shops had not been so stubborn and fought off the off course retailer in the beginning, tGreen grass shoes would not be the non profit center they are today. Embrace the shift, add value. Ideas: embrace Jr golfers, display in dozens, create frequent purchase programs, negotiate with vendors for better terms, pay invoices ontime a stake the discount, rather than get personal use clubs and balls demand additional discounts (see David Brannon). Green grass shops have seen the enemy, alas it is themselves…

    • Bert

      Oct 20, 2017 at 6:37 pm

      One important note however is the industry fixing pricing and not allowing competition, unless they approve price reductions. It’s collusion among the manufactures, simple. If a golf shop purchased a driver for $250, they should be able to sell if for $150 if the so pleased. The old excuse used by the manufactures that they were protecting the mom and pop and green grass golf shops has long passed. Now the big box stores receive special pricing and then they must sell at the mfr required price. Small shops and green grass may not receive the same special pricing the big box stores receive, they have much less foot traffic, and simply cannot compete, especially with equipment. As for golf balls, I believe their price point is already high and mark-up on golf balls isn’t as much as we might believe. Just check what one big box store offers; don’t like the club/s you purchased, bring them back within 90-days for 100% store credit. Now I assure you, green grass can never offer anything close to that, and most other big box stores can’t either.

  87. nick

    Oct 20, 2017 at 2:55 pm

    How is the game of golf not making enough money on green fees alone? my local tracks are filled beyond capacity on a daily basis. 5 hour+ rounds, packed driving range, hoards of patrons in the bar/restaurant…?! and we’re talking about the OVERPRICED balls the course sells in the freakin pro shop? GTFO. K-Sigs all day! Vice all day! – dont get me wrong, i play a lot of makes, but I always look for the deal. I’ve never bought a box of balls from a pro shop in 10 years. get real.

  88. Bill James

    Oct 20, 2017 at 2:30 pm

    I already buy a over priced hot dog for $3 and a Diet Coke for $3 at the turn form a guy who doesn’t even say hello or ask me how my round is going. Yeah, I don’t feel bad at all for purchasing Ksigs

  89. Curtis Demorest

    Oct 20, 2017 at 2:21 pm

    Maybe Gordon Hayward should by some balls from Costco, while he is recovering he can work on his short game.

  90. Eric

    Oct 20, 2017 at 2:19 pm

    How about the thought that people are saving almost $40 per dozen by purchasing golf balls from Costco. Guess where that $40 is going?? Right back to these golf courses we are hurting so much!! I doubt anyone is buying the KS ball and then just hitting them in their backyard. They are taking them to the course and playing. Often times playing more often because they just saved a green fee by purchasing the Ksig ball. This argument is stupid.

  91. Jason Day

    Oct 20, 2017 at 2:18 pm

    Let me get this correct, we are supposed to feel for the local shops that have been pillaging us with over priced golf balls and equipment? Welcome to capitalism. I believe if you didn’t try and make so much money on the golf balls and equipment and priced them fairly you would sell much more product. I don’t know when this 200% plus markup became standard practice but thankfully it is in its demise!

    • Bryan

      Oct 20, 2017 at 5:46 pm

      Hold up hold up hold up…

      I want you to explain where you’ve seen a 200% markup on any product…
      And how much do you think clubs cost? If a driver is $400, you really think that the manufacturer is selling those clubs to the Pro Shop for $100 wholesale? Get a fricken clue.
      There’s a good chance the club is making a $80-$100 margin on that driver, IF THAT.

      Why don’t you bash the manufacturers and not the pro shop until you can get your facts straight and stop talking out of your #%@

      • Konnor

        Oct 21, 2017 at 5:21 pm

        THANK YOU!!!

        There is so little profit in clubs is scary. If you want me to factor in the hour it took to fit you for the thing we’re getting close to a break even point if I’m not mistaken.

        Would almost rather sell you a hat lol

        • Bryan

          Oct 23, 2017 at 10:45 pm

          People just don’t get it. When a pro shop sells a sleeve of ProV1’s, the shop is making MAYBE a profit of $2.50? MAYBE. After you take out the shipping costs and everything else it may be a little less. There’s about 40 geniuses on this thread that think pro shops sell a sleeve of ProV1’s for $13 and makes a $8 margin on that. This is golf WRX though and people love to complain about EVERYTHING if it doesn’t align with their views or if something is different from what they believe to be the truth.

  92. George

    Oct 20, 2017 at 2:08 pm

    I agree with what you are saying. Except for the fact that I personally do not buy anything unless it is on sale from anywhere. Most of the sale items at local pro shops are all XL or XXL. As far as golf balls go, I like to play yellow Bridgestones. Most places only carry white and i do not like taking a chance to see if they will have my ball of choice at the club.

    • Bryan

      Oct 20, 2017 at 5:48 pm

      People like you, sir, are the reason why greens fees are the rate they are. Bravo.

  93. every golfer ever

    Oct 20, 2017 at 2:07 pm

    yeah because we REALLY want to support the wannabe hacks with attitudes behind a register

    i never buy anything from pro shops

  94. Rod

    Oct 20, 2017 at 2:05 pm

    Many local retailers do such a poor job of customer service they can expect to continue to be replaced by online outlets.

  95. TigerMom

    Oct 20, 2017 at 2:04 pm

    That’s not how free market capitalism works. If you want a subsidized business, you’re living in the wrong country.

    • George

      Oct 20, 2017 at 2:13 pm

      So screw small businesses. Even though thats what every politician says is the backbone of our country. Lets give everything to big corporations. The argument was that give your money to the small pro shops so they can have more capital for you to enjoy the course more.

  96. Golfcourseoperator

    Oct 20, 2017 at 2:02 pm

    I run a golf course. Proshops need to get with the times. I carry snell balls in my shop. The price is higher than consumers pay to directly buy them from snell but guess what, i still sold out in my shop this season. People want things and they want the convenience. Not everyone wants to buy online. What’s to stop you from contacting the manufacturer of k-sigs and getting your own course “signature” ball and selling them? Nassau golf made the first k-sig. I’m sure any company in taiwan can offer you the same price as costco gets on a tour level 4 piece ball if you order 1000 dozen to sell in your shop. As businesses, we get access to things consumers cant buy online. You just have to source it yourself. Get creative. If a big box store can carry an off brand ball that costs $12 a dozen you can contact the manufacturer and bring them into your shop at wholesale and make the same margin.

    • Brad

      Oct 20, 2017 at 6:58 pm

      Bravo, this is the right attitude.

      Now add some VICE to your shelves as well!

  97. Fredo

    Oct 20, 2017 at 1:59 pm

    Bravo Tom, we must support our courses and also our local golf shops, shout out to Shawn at Alameda GolfWorks. Without them our pastime would suffer irreparable harm!

    Shop Local, we all benefit!

  98. michael

    Oct 20, 2017 at 1:56 pm

    I’m either supporting costco or golftown here in Canada. I never buy balls at the course. Thanks for the lecture though.

    • Friend Down South

      Oct 20, 2017 at 6:39 pm

      Michael, I <3 your truly Canadian reply; THANKING someone for a lecture.

      You = awesome.

      • gwillis7

        Oct 20, 2017 at 8:39 pm

        Lol, this is hilarious ????????

      • gwillis7

        Oct 20, 2017 at 8:46 pm

        I actually do think that comment is hilarious, for some reason an emoji on a cell phone turns into 8 question marks…nice

        I am actually glad I bought up all the k-sigs I could on costco website, if the pro shops suffer they need to adapt, like any other business would have to do to survive.

        • Daniel

          Nov 14, 2017 at 2:05 pm

          This is all there is to it. It’s a business reality everyone faces eventually. Adapt of die.

          Golf needs to get its head out of its arse.

      • Scott

        Oct 23, 2017 at 3:47 pm

        Michael should have also said “I am sorry for Shaking your article”.

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Ari’s Course Reviews: Oakmont Country Club

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Editor’s Note: Ari Techner is a well-traveled, golf-course connoisseur who’s setting out to review the best golf courses in the world. The views and opinions expressed in these reviews are his own. 

Oakmont Country Club. The name alone strikes fear into the heart of any mortal golfer. Oakmont has a reputation for difficulty unmatched in the golf world; it’s fear forged in the public’s eye while watching best players in the world struggle during the U.S. Open every 10-plus years or so. There is a notion that Oakmont could hold a U.S. Open just about any day of the year. This is not a course that needs to be tweaked from its daily setup to test the best in the world.

All that said, a close look at the course reveals that there is so much more to Oakmont than just difficulty. Since around 1950, MANY courses have been built with the dilebrate intention of holding a U.S. Open. Most, if not all, of these courses are filled with water hazards, extremely long holes and very little variety. Oakmont is the exact opposite of that, and this is what is at the core of its greatness.

A view from the ninth fairway

Oakmont Country Club first opened in 1903 and was designed by Henry Fownes, who built it because he felt the other courses around Pittsburgh were not difficult enough. The course was constantly tweaked in the early years by Fownes and his son William. Both Fownes were accomplished players with William winning the U.S. Amateur in 1910 and serving as the playing captain of the first U.S. Walker Cup team in 1922.

Trees, or no trees?

The 18th tee

The course was extremely influential in the development of early golf courses in America. It was equally influential in future years by setting trends that have changed the way many other courses have evolved. When Oakmont opened, it was built in an open field and had no trees on the course, adding to the links-like flavor that Fownes wanted from his visits overseas. In the 1950s (after all the Fownes had left the club) Oakmont added thousands of non-native trees to line the corridors of the holes, a look that was a heavy trend of the time. This work was mostly done by Robert Trent Jones, who also modified the bunkers to fit more of his style of the time.

The course continued to evolve over the years with the bunkers being restored by Tom Fazio… but the trees remained. In preparation for the 2008 U.S. Open, Oakmont cut down thousands of trees, returning the course to its open, windswept origins. This was very controversial among the members, and much of the work was done in the middle of the night in the off-season so as not to cause a big stir. After 2008, thousands more trees have been cut down, opening all of the amazing long views across the property. You can see almost every hole on the property from just about every spot on the course. Oakmont was the first course to embrace this massive tree removal and it has turned into a trend with hundreds of classic courses removing their non-native trees and going back to their more open original layouts.

Oakmont is the only course that Fownes designed and I believe that contributes greatly to its uniqueness. Fownes’ version of difficulty did not include artificial water hazards, out of bounds or excessive bunkering fronting greens, and it did not rely simply on longer-than-average holes to challenge the golfer. Instead, it has an amazingly varied mix of holes that challenge the golfer in a variety of ways both mentally and physically. Overall, the course requires you to be a straight driver of the ball, a good iron player and to have a deft short game and putting touch. You also need to be able to think your way around the course while you execute the shots you choose at a high level.

A good variety

Oakmont has its share of length with long par 4s, such as hole Nos. 1, 10, 15 and 18, the monster par-5 12th and long par 3s such as Nos. 8 and 16.  What sets the course apart to me, however, are the short holes and the holes that require strategic decision-making off the tee. These include short par 4s such Nos. 2, 11 and 17 and mid-length par 4s including Nos. 5 and 14.  These holes can be just as difficult as the long ones, and they require a completely different skill set.  The short par-3 13th and short par-5 9th (plays as a par 4 for the U.S. Open) round out what is an amazing set of shorter holes.

A view of the ninth fairway from across the Pennsylvania Turnpike

The course uses the natural movement of the site very well and has a tight, extremely walkable routing despite being bisected by the Pennsylvania Turnpike at the bottom of the hill in the middle of the property. I particularly love the fallaway greens at 1, 10, 12, and to a lesser degree 3 and 15 where the front of the green is higher than the back. This is a unique look that you do not see in the USA very often. Without the little backboard that a back-to-front sloping green provides, you must hit the ball solid or execute a well played run-up shot to hold the green. The short par 4s temp the long hitter just enough to make them think about hitting driver, but wayward shots are punished enough to make most think twice. The 17th, at a little under 300 yards, could be the hardest hole on the course, and yet it is definitely drivable for the right player who hits a great drive. The small and extremely narrow green requires a short shot be hit the perfect distance if you decide to lay up to the right down the fairway. Hit it even a little short and you end up in the aptly named “Big Mouth” bunker which is extremely deep. Hit it a hair long or with not enough spin to hold the green and you end up rolling over the green into one of a few smaller bunkers. Carry the bunkers on the left side off the tee into the sliver of fairway up by the green and you have a short, open shot from a much better angle into the fatter part of the green. Such risk/reward and great use of angles is paramount to Oakmont’s genius.

Green complexes are…complex

The green on the 18th hole

Oakmont also sports one of the best sets of greens anywhere in the world.  They are all heavily contoured and very challenging, yet playable. You can certainly make putts out there if you are putting well, but get on the wrong side of the hole and you are left with an extremely difficult, but rarely impossible 2 putt. They are also very unique due to Fownes only designing one course, as they do not look like any other classic course; they have a feel all their own. They are mostly open in front, coming from the correct angle, and they have many squarish edges. They also cut the tight fringe far back into the fairway, which aids in run-up shots; it also gives a great look where the green and the fairway blend together seamlessly.

The bunkering is also very unique and very special… and they are true hazards. Find yourself in a fairway bunker off the tee, and you are likely wedging out without much of any chance of reaching the greens. The green-side bunkers are fearsome, very deep and difficult. The construction of the bunkers is unique too — most of them have very steep and tall faces that were built up in the line of play. Oakmont is also home to one of the most famous bunkers in golf; the “Church Pews” bunkers — a large, long rectangular bunker between the fairways of holes 3 and 4 with strips of grass in the middle like the pews in a church. There is also a smaller “Church Pews” bunker left of the fairway off the tee on hole 15. Hit it into one of these two bunkers and good luck finding a descent lie.

Ari’s last word

All-in-all, along with being one of the hardest courses in the world, Oakmont is also one of the best courses in the world. It is hard enough to challenge even the best players in the world day-in and day-out, but it can easily be played by a 15-handicap without losing a ball. It is extremely unique and varied and requires you to use every club in your bag along with your brain to be successful. Add that to a club that has as much history as any other in the county, and Oakmont is one of golf’s incredibly special places.

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Coming Up: A Big Golf Adventure

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My name is Jacob Sjöman, and I’m a 35-year-old golf photographer who also enjoys the game we all love. I will be sharing some experiences here on a big golf trip that we are doing. With me I’ve got my friend Johan. I will introduce him properly later, but he is quite a funny character. According to Johan, he is the best golf photo assistant in the world, and we will see about that since this is probably his biggest test yet doing this trip. Previously on our trips, Johan almost got us killed in Dubai with a lack of driving skills. He also missed a recent evening photo shoot in Bulgaria while having a few beers too many… and that’s not all.

Anyway, the last couple of days I’ve been packing my bags over and over. I came home from the Canary Islands this Sunday and I’ve been constantly checking and rechecking that we’ve got all the required equipment, batteries, and that the cameras are 100 percent functional and good to go for this golf trip. I’m still not sure, but in a couple of minutes I will be sitting in a taxi to the airport and there will be no turning back.

Where are we going then? We are going to visit some of the very best golf courses in New Zealand and Australia. There will be breathtaking golf on cliffsides, jaw-dropping scenic courses, and some hidden gems. And probably a big amount of lost balls with a lot of material produced in the end.

I couldn’t be more excited for a golf journey like this one. Flying around the globe to these special golf courses I’ve only dreamed about visiting before gives me a big kick and I feel almost feel like a Indiana Jones. The only thing we’ve got in common, though, is that we don’t like snakes. Australia seems to be one of the worst destinations to visit in that purpose, but all the upsides are massive in this.

First, we will take off from a cold Stockholm (it’s raining heavily outside at the moment) and then we will do our first stop at Doha in Quatar. Then after two more hours, we are finally heading off to Auckland on the north island of New Zealand, a mega-flight of 16 hours. I believe that could very well be one of the longest flights available for a ordinary airplane. I need to check that.

Flights for me usually mean work, editing photos from different golf courses I’ve visited, writing some texts, editing some films, and planning for the future. Last time, though, I finally managed to sleep a little, which is a welcome progress for a guy that was deadly scared of flying until 2008.

Now, I am perfectly fine with flying. A few rocky flights over the Atlantic Sea to Detroit helped me a lot, and my motto is now, “If those flights got me down on the ground safely, it takes a lot of failures to bring down a plane.”

Anyway, I hope you will join me on this golf trip. Stay tuned!

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19th Hole

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