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Opinion & Analysis

The guide to working in a big-box golf store

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Working at a big box store is a thankless job. The pay isn’t great, the characters you meet can be difficult and every so often you are the subject of an online golf forum thread claiming you boost your monitor numbers or have committed the most heinous crime of all: not having heard of the new product that Bridgestone just submitted a patent on and will be releasing in 2016.

We understand that you are in a tough position. You’ve gotta pay those college bills and make a few bucks to take your girlfriend on a date. To you, knowing the difference between a Matrix Code 7 and the Matrix Reloaded seems inconsequential, and a “deep impact” is an asteroid movie starring Elijah Wood. You are a decent guy just trying to earn a living and we are here to help. Read the below guide to working in a big box store and you will be ready to sell clubs to anyone who walks in that door. You will be such a closer that Alec Baldwin will let you drink coffee and maybe even share with you the Glengarry leads. You will not just sell balls but you will have brass ones. Here is a step-by-step guide to the characters you will face in a big box golf store, and how to cut through their defenses:

The guy who wants what he saw on TV

How to recognize him: He hasn’t left the section of the same manufacturer for 25 minutes, except to pick up a hat of that manufacturers brand.

Obvious giveaway: He has what he wants written down.

How to sell: He probably saw Bubba Watson carry a drive 325 yards over the water of a dogleg par 5 and must have it. He probably Googled “Bubba Watson’s driver” and now thinks that a G20 with a BiMatrix is the key to booming drives. You could sell him that club, no problem. But remember, keeping a client is way easier then signing up a new one. So before you sell him that badboy whose only use for this gentlemen will be burning worms, try and do what’s right. Make sure he doesn’t storm back in two weeks asking for a refund.

Here’s what you say:

“I totally understand you want this driver, but you know what? We aren’t that busy right now, so why don’t you hit it a few times just to get acquainted with this beast? And while you’re here I’ll even grab a few others off the shelf for you to mess around with just for fun. I mean why not, right?”

Then do a friendly job of pointing out his launch and spin numbers with each driver. Throw in a casual “Wow, that one is really working for you” for whatever driver puts up the best numbers. Like we learned in Inception, planting an idea is difficult but it’s the only way to make it stick. Give it a try! It’s a lot easier then flat out telling him he’s wrong.

Click here for more discussion in the “Equipment” forum. 

The guy who knows everything about clubs

How to recognize him: He is in the store the first day a new club gets released, every time.

Obvious giveaway: “When is the Nike Covert hitting the shelves? What do you mean you haven’t heard of it, they just launched it on YouTube man!”

How to sell to him: You don’t need to tell this guy anything about clubs he doesn’t already know. The only thing lingering around this guy will do is make you the subject of a new forum thread where you are portrayed as some sort of salesman version of Forrest Gump.

This guy knows everything about clubs and shafts, so just let him be left alone to ogle the stuff on the rack. Trying to “sell” him will lose a sale faster then earning one. Here’s what you do, say:

“Hi sir, I just want to let you know that if you need anything taped up or need me to fetch a headcover for you, my name is John. I’ll be around if you need me.”

Then politely keep your distance while still being in the area. Pretend you are an undercover cop trailing a perp. Keep a couple of car lengths between you and him and don’t be too noticeable. When he is ready he will find you.

Click here for more discussion in the “Equipment” forum. 

Guy who thinks he knows everything about clubs

How to recognize him: He is hanging around the launch monitors, but everything he is saying to testers is wrong.

Obvious giveaway: He was overheard saying, “Have you tried it in X flex? X flex helps you hit it longer.”

How to sell to him: This is a tricky one. The guy who thinks he knows everything is the single toughest client you will face. He obviously needs your help, but telling him the truth can cost you a sale. These guys are among the most pigheaded and stubborn clients out there. So you face a decision: Do you try and get him to the launch monitors and put his theories to the test, or do you just go along with everything he says and make the sale?

You are probably thinking, similar to “The Guy Who Wants What He Saw on TV” that you should figure out a way to get him on a monitor, right? Sure, in a perfect world. But this guide is about you, Mr. Salesman. This is about you making some green. The best thing to do with this client is to just sell him whatever he wants. Finding out that he is wrong about things on a monitor will lead to him accusing you of messing with the settings. Either that or he’ll get so upset he’ll walk out and not buy from you out of spite. Just sell him what he wants. Don’t worry about returns or business down the road. A guy like this will find the next latest and greatest club and think THAT is what will fix everything, and then you can sell him that too.

Click here for more discussion in the “Equipment” forum. 

The expensive car, one-brand guy

How to recognize him: He pulls up in a Bentley Continental and is wearing a hat from a particular brand (let’s call it Titloast).

Obvious giveaway: “Hey kid, where are the ‘Titloast’ clubs?”

How to sell to him: This guy is probably a VP at some Fortune 500 company in the area, so he is used to being answered instantly. To him, you are the guy who works in the mailroom or the cafeteria. You are the waiter at the fancy restaurant who needs to be invisible, but still refills the wineglass whenever it gets close to empty.

First off, don’t bother trying to convince him to use the monitor or buy a different brand. This guy probably doesn’t even play good golf. The clubs are more about the image of class and excellence then about function. He can’t show up to the course to play a round with the executives at the company he’s buying and have a bag full of rusty Northwesterns, can he? Just stay fairly close, answer every question quickly and confidently and when he commits to buy, run like the wind to get him his headcovers. Remember, say please and thank you a lot and you will be golden. It is totally OK that you ignore every other customer in the store for this guy because when he buys, he buys A LOT.

Click here for more discussion in the “Equipment” forum. 

(Non-golfing) Wife with a golfer husband

How to recognize her: She looks completely lost in the store.

Obvious giveaway: Says, “Excuse me, do you work here?” Even though you are wearing a shirt with the store name on it.

How to sell to her: “A Scotty Cameron and Pro V1s? Yes we have those. Let me get them for you.”

Click here for more discussion in the “Equipment” forum. 

Wise graybeard who is obviously a +3 index

How to recognize him: You might not know him, but every big box store has a top amateur golfer working there and he will know him. They’ll have a quick chat.

Obvious giveaway: It’s not tournament season (he won’t buy a new club in July). Also, he’ll:

  1. Have a particular individual club off the rack he wants to hit. It won’t even be a particular make and model, but a particular unit of that make and model that just looks “right” at address.
  2. He’ll just waggle it,while inspecting the club closely. That will be enough

How to sell to him: This is the type of guy that you need to feel out. He will probably be immediately skeptical of any new technology you mention. This is a guy who just finished third in the State Amateur using a five-year-old driver, so he’s not going to rush to buy a new club just because it’s adjustable or has a slot or some other doo-dad on it.

This type of golfers wants something that looks good to his eye and will be completely OEM agnostic. In fact, it’s a safe bet that he owns a wedge or 2 iron that is a knock off brand and is 20 years old. So take it easy on the new terminology that OEMs are using in commercials. Talk more about how the club looks at address then about how “hot” it is. Show him some of the discounted models just so he doesn’t think you are trying to sell him the most expensive thing on the floor. The thing is, this guy actually CAN use your help because he probably knows little about the new tech or new models. You just need to be careful how you go about it.

This is the type of guy that walks out the door with the discounted Cleveland TL310 because it just looks right and he figures it will work as well as anything new. So make a few suggestions here and there. He may want to hit the club he may not. I’ve seen guys who will buy a club just because it looks right. They figure the rest out on the course.

Click here for more discussion in the “Equipment” forum. 

The obvious tour poser

How to recognize him: Is that Rickie Fowler? No it’s not, but for a second you weren’t sure.

Obvious giveaway: It’s January, the courses aren’t open and it’s snowing, but he looks like he’s on his way to a tour event and is wearing a name brand baseball hat that matches perfectly to his shirt and trousers.

How to sell to him: Answer every question he asks with:

“Yes, that is the [insert equipment/garment] that he used for the final round at Quail Hollow!”

That’s what is most important to this guy — owning what tour pros use and wear, especially if it was done in a significant tournament. Generally speaking, selling to this guy is extremely easy, so the only extra advice is that you shouldn’t stop at clubs and clothes. This guy is a prime candidate to buy a bag, rangefinder, new expensive shoes, belts, etc. You are doing yourself a disservice if you don’t show him the belt Brian Gay wore when he won at Hilton Head. You know which one, right?

Click here for more discussion in the “Equipment” forum. 

The regular guy

How to recognize him: He looks like a regular guy.

Obvious giveaway: Nothing.

How to sell to him: Juice the monitor.

Now, as they would say in Glengarry Glen Ross. I can go out there and sell….Tonight! Go and do likewise gentleman. You can thank me later.

Click here for more discussion in the “Equipment” forum. 

 

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Jeff Singer was born and still resides in Montreal, Canada. Though it is a passion for him today, he wasn't a golfer until fairly recently in life. In his younger years Jeff played collegiate basketball and football and grew up hoping to play the latter professionally. Upon joining the workforce, Jeff picked up golf and currently plays at a private course in the Montreal area while working in marketing. He has been a member of GolfWRX since 2008

9 Comments

9 Comments

  1. mike

    Jan 15, 2013 at 1:35 am

    funny stuff. good read

  2. Gary Hansberger

    Nov 28, 2012 at 11:49 am

    Good stuff. Having been on both sides of this isle it’s great to see how both customers and staff relate to the extreme issues of equipment vs real performance.

  3. killerbgolfer

    Nov 26, 2012 at 11:25 pm

    The writing on Golfwrx is getting really solid. Well played sir.

  4. josh

    Nov 25, 2012 at 2:16 pm

    loved it!!

  5. Birdielab

    Nov 25, 2012 at 11:27 am

    This pretty much sums it up – I would include “The guy who shows up once every two weeks to try out equipment that he then buys on ebay” and “The guy who doesn’t trust anything salespeople say and thinks you are always trying to separate him from his money, even though you are actually trying to help him solve whatever problem he is there to fix”, oh and “the guy who waaaay overestimates his talent (“I hit a 9 iron about 180-185”) – not judging, but all three are a very tough sell. I worked at a big box for a few months and learned a LOT about the mentality of golfers and our equipment. I have my own opinions but that’s whats great about golf – everyone gets something different out of it.

  6. Blopar

    Nov 25, 2012 at 9:01 am

    I am the 61 y.o. + 3 index— but know this, I’m a plus 3 because I’m gaming the latest high tech stuff and I’m obsessive about fitting–that’s what keeps me on top.
    Don’t characterize everyone over 35 as out of date and ignorant about their equipment!

  7. paul

    Nov 21, 2012 at 10:35 pm

    I would be the customer that wants to know everything. keep the educational articles coming guys 🙂

  8. Flanman

    Nov 21, 2012 at 3:40 pm

    I like this! I work at a big box retailer, and this seems to cover all the demographics walking through our store… This is my secret, being the best salesman in the store is about honesty, professionalism and talent. Rather than “juicing the simulator”, I prefer to let the client warm up, then maybe make one or two simply suggestions in relation to maximizing their current golf swing. If I can cure a hook/ slice and correct the clients ball flight too, chances are that they will be honestly gaining some distance. They walk out with the club 9/10 times and the 1/10 that doesn’t buy the club, is leaving with a shirt/ balls/ hat whatever!!

    • nate

      Nov 24, 2012 at 1:39 pm

      Flanman – quick question for ya. How are you measured against your peers as the ‘best’ salesman at your store?

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Opinion & Analysis

“I Love You, Tiger!” At Big Cedar lodge, an outpouring of affection for Tiger Woods

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What a difference a year makes.

About one year ago, Tiger Woods was in Branson, Missouri at Big Cedar Lodge to announce that he was designing a golf course there; Payne’s Valley, his first public course. That day was attended by hundreds of national and local media, the Lieutenant Governor of Missouri and Johnny Morris, Bass Pro Shops owner and the visionary behind the amazing golf complex that has been established at Big Cedar Lodge.

That day, Woods had not played competitive golf for awhile, and he was recovering from multiple surgeries. Woods took a couple of ceremonial swings, the last of which clearly left him in physical distress. Days later, he was in surgery again and his playing career looked to be all but over. The situation became worse when Woods was arrested for driving under the influence, found with multiple substances in his system. It seemed as though the sad mug shots from that arrest might be as prominent in his legacy as the smiles and fist-pumps that accompanied his 79 wins and 14 major championships.

Fast forward to yesterday, where Woods was back in Missouri to do a Junior Clinic at Big Cedar. An estimated crowd of over 7,000 kids and parents showed up on a school day to catch a glimpse of Woods. The atmosphere was carnival-like, with sky divers, stunt planes making flyovers and rock music blaring from giant speakers. When Woods finally arrived, the reaction was electric. Mothers and their kids were chanting. “Tiger! Tiger! Tiger!” at the top of their lungs. Photographers battled soccer moms for position to get a picture of his swing. Some of the kids were as young as 6-years-old, which means that they had probably not seen Woods hit a meaningful shot in their life. At one point, when Woods was hitting shots and explaining how to execute them, a woman shouted, “I love you, Tiger!” Not to be out done, a woman on the other side of the crowd, who was their with her husband and kids, shouted “I love you more, Tiger!” Maybe the only people with more affection for Woods would be the people in the golf business. A senior marketing official in the golf industry leaned over at one point in the event and said, “God, we could use just one more from him.”

Woods swing looks completely rehabilitated. He was hitting shots of every shape and trajectory on-demand, and the driver was sending balls well past the end of the makeshift driving range set up for the event. But even more remarkable was the evidence of the recovery of his reputation. Surely there are still women out there that revile Woods for the revelations of infidelity, and no doubt there are those that still reject Woods for his legal and personal struggles. But none of them were in Missouri yesterday. Mothers and children shrieking his name confirmed what we already knew: Tiger Woods is the single most compelling person in American sports, and he belongs to golf.

Unlike a year ago, Woods is swinging well, and seems as healthy and happy as he as ever been as a pro. Add to that the unprecedented outpouring of love from crowds that once produced a combination of awe and respect, but never love. Fowler, McIlroy, Spieth and the rest may get their share of wins and Tweets, but if the game is to really grow it will be on the broad, fragile back of Tiger Woods. It’s amazing to think what can happen in one short year.

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Opinion & Analysis

12 reasons serious golfers don’t realize their potential

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What stops serious golfers from realizing their potential? If you are an amateur who wants to get better, a young player trying to achieve more, or a young professional with big dreams, this article is for you.

I’ve made a career out of helping athletes maximize their abilities, golfers in particular. And the things I see young playing professionals doing prior to our work together is often what is holding them back. The reality is that most young players, no matter what their level, have three key problems:

  1. They’re distracted by what’s not important
  2. They have no detailed structure and plan to reach the targets they determine are important to them
  3. They have no formal process to develop mindset and attitude

In the list below, I share what I see working with these young players and some common blind spots.

1. No real plan and steps to achieve targets

Most players do not know how to create a long-term and short-term plan that outlines all steps needed to reach targets. Players should have yearly plans with targets, steps and actions and weekly plans to organize/schedule their time and prioritize key needs.

2. Not focused enough on the object of the game

This goes hand in hand with No. 1. Surprisingly, players seem to forget that the object of the game is get the ball in the hole in the least amount of strokes. Trophies and checks are not issued for the best swing, the best putting stroke or most balls hit.

3. Not enough pressure in practice

Most young players have loose practice. The intensity of feelings between the practice tee and the course are too different. Focus and intensity must be a part of all practice. Add competition and outcomes to sessions so some urgency is created.

4. Too much practice time on full swing

The data is clear — most shots in golf happen from 100 yards and in from the green. If the majority of practice time is not spent on these shorter shots, practice time is wasted.

5. An obsession with the look of the swing

Players are not generally prepared to own their own swings and embrace the differences that make them unique. Obsessing over swing mechanics is a major distraction for many players. Many players convince themselves that if it doesn’t look “good” on their iPhone, their swing won’t get results.

6. No structure with the driver

Since scoring is the main goal, a consistent, reliable shape to each shot is important. My experience has been that if players are trying to go both ways with the driver, that is a sure-fire way to elevate numbers on the card. Pick a shape and eliminate one side of the course. Predictability from the tee increases a player’s confidence to put the ball in the fairway more often, creating more opportunities to score.

7. Expectation that they will hit the ball well everyday

Many players have the unreasonable expectation that they will hit lots of fairways and greens every time they play. This expectation leads to constant disappointment in their game. Knowing that the leading professionals in the game average about 60.6 percent driving accuracy and 11.8 greens in regulation per round should be a good benchmark for the expectations of all players.

8. Trying to be too robotic and precise in putting

Some players get so caught up in the mechanics of putting that their approach becomes too robotic. They become obsessed with precision and being perfect. Feel, flow and instinct have to be a central part of putting. This can get lost in an overly robotic mindset trying to be too precise and perfect.

9. No process for assessment and reflection

Players do not have a formal process for assessing practice or rounds and reflecting on the experience. The right lessons are not consistently taken away to ensure step-by-step improvement. Knowing how to assess practice, play and ask the right questions is key to development.

10. Getting in their own way

The voice inside of most young players’ heads is not helpful for their performance. It’s often a negative, demanding voice that insists on perfection. This voice leads to hesitation, frustration and anger. The voice must be shaped (with practice) into the right “emotional caddie” to support efforts and promote excellence over perfection.

11. A focus on the negative before the positive

A default to the mistakes/flaws in the round before looking at the highlights and what worked. When asked about their round, most players highlight three-putts, penalty shots and any errors before anything else. Emphasis should always be on what went well first. Refection on what needs improvement is second.

12. The blame game

Young players love excuses. Course conditions, weather, coaching and equipment are a few of the areas that are often targets, deflecting responsibility away from the player. Many players do not take full responsibility for their own game and/or careers.

I hope this provides some insights on roadblocks that could get in your way on the path to reaching your targets in the game. Whether it’s lowering your handicap, winning a junior tournament, working toward the PGA Tour — or just general improvement — considering these observations might help you shorten the road to get there.

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Opinion & Analysis

Fantasy Preview: 2018 Valero Texas Open

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With one of the weakest fields of the year, TPC San Antonio hosts the Valero Texas Open this week. Only one player from the top-20 in the Official World Golf Rankings will tee it up here. That man is Sergio Garcia, who co-designed this course with Greg Norman.

Just like last week at the RBC Heritage, the wind can wreak havoc at TPC San Antonio. The course features an exposed layout, making the level of wind is often unpredictable. Expect it to be a factor yet again this year. Unlike last week, the longer hitters do have an advantage on this course, which measuring more than 7,400 yards with little rough off the tee.

Last year, Kevin Chappell held off a charging Brooks Koepka to post 12-under par and win his first title on the PGA Tour.

Selected Tournament Odds (via Bet365)

  • Sergio Garcia 14/1
  • Matt Kuchar 18/1
  • Charley Hoffman 18/1
  • Luke List 25/1
  • Ryan Moore 28/1
  • Kevin Chappell 28/1
  • Adam Scott 30/1

From the top of the market, it’s hard not to love Luke List (25/1, DK Price $10,000) this week. The big-hitting American is still looking for his first win on the PGA Tour, but he is knocking on the door relentlessly. In his last eight events, List has finished no worse than T-26.

He was so close once again last week, and he should take plenty of confidence from that performance onto a course that theoretically should suit him much better. On this long track, List will have a significant advantage as one of the longest hitters on Tour. Over his last 24 rounds, he ranks 5th in Strokes Gained-Off The Tee and 1st in Strokes Gained-Tee to Green. List is also flushing his irons. He was second in the field last week for Strokes Gained-Approaching the Green, and over his previous 24 rounds he sits 3rd in the same category.

It’s not only his long game that is highly proficient right now, either. List’s short game has been stellar over this impressive stretch, too. He ranks 8th for Strokes Gained-Around the Green and 28th for Strokes Gained-Short Game over his last 24 rounds.

The one department holding the big man back is his putting, where he ranks 145th for the season. The rest of his game is so sharp at the moment that he’s in the enviable position of not needing that hot a week with the flat-stick to win. He only needs an average week on the greens to finally break through and claim his first PGA Tour event. There’s nothing to suggest List isn’t going to play well once more this week, and at 25/1 he seems undervalued.

Returning to a track that he adores, Brendan Steele (33/1, DK Price $8,900) is always a danger at this event. As well as winning the title here in 2011, Steele has finished in the top-20 three times since then. Whatever it is about TPC San Antonio, it’s a course that brings out the best in Steele’s game.

It’s been an excellent season for the West Coast native, too. He won his opening event of the season at the Safeway Open and has since finished in the top-30 six times. One of the main reasons for his strong run of form has been his work with the driver. Steele is ranked 1st in Strokes Gained-Off The Tee over his last 24 rounds, and he has only failed to post a positive Strokes Gained statistic in this category once since this event last year.

Recently, Steele’s game is showing trends that he may once more be close to hitting the form that saw him win at the back end of last year. In his previous 24 rounds, the Californian is ranked 10th in Ball Striking and 7th in Strokes Gained-Total. Always a threat at this event, Steele is coming into this week with all parts of his game in sync. He should be a live threat once more in San Antonio.

Another man who has played well all year is Xander Schauffele (35/1, DK Price $8,800). The Californian has made seven of eight cuts this year, and he has finished in the top-25 in four of those occasions. Excellent off the tee, TPC San Antonio should suit the 24-year-old this week, too. Schaufelle ranks 7th in Strokes Gained-Off The Tee and 17th in Strokes Gained-Tee to Green over his last 24 rounds.

With wind likely to play a factor this week, pure ball striking will be necessary. That shouldn’t be an issue for Xander, who sits 7th in Strokes Gained-Ball Striking over his last 24 rounds. There is nothing off about Schauffele’s game right now. He ranks 21st in Strokes Gained-Putting over his previous 12 rounds and 5th in Strokes Gained-Approaching the Green over the same period. It’s only a matter of time before the two-time PGA Tour winner puts himself in the thick of contention again, and there’s no reason why it can’t be this week.

Recommended Plays

  • Luke List 25/1, DK Price $10,000
  • Brendan Steele 33/1, DK Price $8,900
  • Xander Schauffele 35/1, DK Price $8,800
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