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A former D1 college golfer built a million dollar business in one year

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Where do you go when you want to buy, say, a simulator or a launch monitor online? Chances are, if you fire up Google and do a search for your preferred product, you’ll see Rain or Shine Golf in the first page of results.

And if you haven’t shopped for said product in the past three years, you likely have no idea what Shawn Foley’s (no, not Sean Foley) business is. That’s because Foley, a former Division I golfer, didn’t launch his ecommerce golf business until August of 2016…and it’s been massively successful.

As the name suggests, Rain or Shine Golf specializes in every variety of indoor golf product: mats, nets, simulators, GPS watches, rangefinders, launch monitors, putting greens, putting aids, analyzers, etc.
As a Wisconsin native, Foley became accustomed to an environment in which he could only play golf three or four months per year. He was introduced to indoor golf products when his father, a scratch golfer himself, bought the family an indoor putting green.

After college, Foley says

“I worked in insurance for a few years, and I found myself becoming a little bit distanced from the game…working the nine-to-five grind.”

Still, his passion for golf remained strong, and among the many business ideas he considered, one building on his experiences in Wisconsin’s harsh winter. He was kind enough to answer a few questions about starting and sustaining Rain or Shine Golf.

What was your thinking in starting the business, and how did the business develop?

“The main motivation wasn’t even golf necessarily as a starting point, it was more wanting to challenge myself…so I started doing this as a side hustle, so to speak. I started an online business with a friend of mine, and we decided after looking into about 25 different industries. Golf wasn’t the first idea, and we spent essentially a month or two trying to almost prove it wrong, and we kept thinking, “This might really work.” And as we got further along in the process, we just decided we were going to run with it. I’ve been able to stay in an industry that’s so exciting and has an extremely passionate following. That’s helped us see a lot of success.”

What was the decision to pull the trigger like? 

“Getting a business off the ground floor, at the time, seems like the most grueling thing in the world. I’ve had the opportunity to start a couple of other businesses, and it’s so intimidating to think of how much time, effort, and money it took to get into this position. It’s a very difficult and slow process.”

What was it like when you started to get some traction?

“I still remember our first sale…it was one of the coolest feelings of my life. I think it took us about a month. We had an ecommerce skill set, my partner and I, we decided we wanted to do golf. We knew we wanted to be in retail…not in wholesale. We were just trying to grind our way into visibility through Google and through social media, and it was a lot of money to get to that first sale.”

“The last year-and-a-half, we’ve been trying to stay out of our own way. The business has grown…I think we saw about 1,000 percent growth in the first year. We’re just keeping our heads down.”

“Starting the business on the side…after we got to Black Friday, I had the feeling I couldn’t keep up with it anymore, and I felt it was time to pull the trigger and do it full time…but I eventually made the decision in April of 2017.”

Tell us about your approach to retail, what’s working, and your approach to stocking products

“The toughest part for us is we are in the high-dollar side, so the toughest part is getting that customer on the front end, so we have to fight to provide the best service and retain every customer we can. We’re almost following a backward model of selling the higher dollar amount item and supplementing it with lower ticket items…we really had to claw our way in and buy our way in with a lot of advertising.”

“As the president of the company, I’m still very involved in the customer service process. We try to provide the best service out there…that’s vital to retaining customers. But we have picked up a lot of one-time customers thanks to our education materials, and we acknowledge the education barrier in golf technology. On the whole, our focus is the long-term customer.

Why the specialization in the product areas you focus on?

“We made the decision to start on the indoor golf side of things, the reason being, my business partner and I both live in Wisconsin. We have been surprised with the amount of traction we’ve gotten with customers who want both the winter experience, but they want the convenience…like customers out in California who don’t want to take the time to go to the course. But we do plan to expand in the future.”

You can find Rain or Shine Golf’s website here.

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  1. MAGA

    May 5, 2018 at 2:24 pm

    Make America Golf Again … 😀

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More beginners, bigger base: Insights from the NGF’s Industry Report

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A record number of first-time players took up the game in 2017, according to the National Golf Foundation’s Industry Report. 2.6 million beginners swung a club for the first time last year. Additionally, first-timers making their maiden trips to a golf course increased for the fourth straight year.

The NGF took a different route with its report this year, saying,

“To more accurately reflect the evolution of golf’s overall consumer base…[the organization] expanded definition of participation looks beyond traditional on-course golf and also factors in off-course engagement, which tracks those who swing a golf club at facilities like Topgolf, indoor simulators and driving ranges.”

Per the NGF, the on-course participant base held steady at 23.8 million golfers in 2017. 8.3 million people played exclusively off course, interestingly, at Topgolf and similar facilities, driving ranges, and simulators. Thus, the total number of “golfers” in the U.S. is nearly 32 million.

“Golf participation is evolving,” said NGF President Joe Beditz. “On-course, green-grass participation is holding its own and off-course is continuing to grow. There’s no denying that we’re down from our pre-recession highs, but it appears to us that traditional participation is stabilizing and there may be a new support level between 23 million and 24 million.”

The game’s most ardent players continue to account for 95 percent of all rounds-played and spending in an $84 billion industry.

With respect to translating off-course participation into on-course play, the number of non-golfers who said that they’re “very interested” in playing golf increased to 14.9 million from 12.8 million in 2016.

Rounds played were down 2.7 percent to 456 million in 2017. As has been the case every year since 2006, there were more facility closures than openings, with just over 200 facilities shutting their doors. The U.S. still has just under 15,000 facilities: 45% of the global supply.

Openings such as Streamsong Black in Florida, Shepherd’s Rock in Pennsylvania and Bayou Oaks in Louisiana got plenty of attention, but renovation projects remain the major industry investment. The NGF tracked 1,100 major course renovations in 2017.

The average price of an 18-hole round of golf at a public course in 2017: $34. 75 percent of U.S. courses are open to the public. The NGF says this is the highest public-to-private ration in the country’s history.

Looking ahead to 2018, the NGF sees “a further balancing of supply and demand.” 15 to 25 new course openings, 75 to 100 major renovation projects.

NGF members can access the full report here for free ($199 for non-members)

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Tour News

Lucas Glover’s wife arrested for domestic violence after allegedly attacking husband for poor play

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Lucas Glover’s wife, Krista, 36, was arrested after allegedly attacking Glover and his mother after he missed the 54-hole cut at The Players Championship, Saturday.

Krista Glover was released on $2,500 bail after spending the night in St. John’s County Jail. She’s slated for a May 31 court date on misdemeanor charges of domestic violence battery and resisting arrest without violence.

Per the officer’s report, following Glover’s third-round 78 and MDF at Sawgrass, the Glovers had an altercation, which Lucas’ mother, Hershey, attempted to stop. At that point, Krista allegedly began attacking her husband’s mother. Hershey Glover reportedly had cuts and blood on her arms, as did Lucas.

Glover and his mother did not want to press charges, according to reports. Glover reported his wife had been drinking and that she frequently berates him about his poor play, calling him a “‘loser” and other names in front of the couple’s children. 

The three-time PGA Tour winner tweeted the following statement, Sunday.

Per the St. John’s County Sheriff’s Department, full details are available via the arrest report below.

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Popular Photo Galleries

10 interesting photos from the AT&T Byron Nelson

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The PGA Tour arrives at Trinity Forest Golf Club for the first time as the AT&T Byron Nelson settles into its new home.

To familiarize yourself with this 2016 Coore & Crenshaw design, we have shots from both the front and back nine at this buzzworthy track. Additionally, we have our usual assortment of range photos, as well as WITB looks and shots of J.J. Spaun’s sweet Scotty Cameron. We also got a look at Jordan Spieth’s instructor, Cameron McCormick’s studio, which is extremely cool.

Here are 10 interesting photos from our Monday/Tuesday coverage.

Rumor has it J.J. Spaun thought his “for street use only” custom Cameron merited inclusion in 10 Interesting Photos. He’s not wrong!

Have yourself a Callaway Apex MB, Noah Goodwin! (The reigning U.S. Junior Am champ is in the field on a sponsor’s exemption)

What’s better? Troy Matteson’s headcovers or the bag by his bag? Toss up.

Martin Flores: A man of multiple Scotty Cameron headcovers

What’s going on here? Vintage lefty weapons and more…

Colt Knost’s camp has the beverage situation under control. (Also: great range buckets)

Not sure of the owner, by strong headcover game

Ireland’s Seamus Power’s custom Accra shaft

Cameron McCormick hangs banners for his students’ achievements. There are many.

PSA: You have to see our shots of Trinity Forest

Check out all our photos from Monday and Tuesday at Lord Byron’s tournament.

Discussion: See what GolfWRX Members are saying about the photos below

 

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