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The guide to working in a big-box golf store

The guide to working in a big

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#1 zakkozuchowski

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Posted 21 November 2012 - 02:33 PM

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The guide to working in a big-box golf store

By Jeff Singer

GolfWRX Contributor

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.

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.

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.

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.

(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."

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:
  • 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.
  • 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.

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?

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.



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#2 tbowles411

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Posted 21 November 2012 - 02:48 PM

Oh, the stories I could tell!  Hilarious and spot on!  :rofl:

#3 honketyhank

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Posted 21 November 2012 - 02:56 PM

I am the guy that walks into the local GG or GS about once a month with nothing really on my mind except maybe "I could use a new grip on my 3-hybrid" (and all I want is the grip because I will install it myself). But I usually make a turn thru the new clubs section, the used club section, maybe a few other sections. I don't really want any help because I know that what I came for is either in plain view or not there at all. So a request of "How can I help you today?" is usually met with "I came for a new grip, they are right over there, right? Thanks, I'll yell if I need you."

But sometimes I will see something I want to try out. After the above, I think many sales folks are turned off. And then, they are hard to find.

So how do you sell something to me besides the measly grip I came for in the first place? (Not that I really want to spend more money than planned, but just curious.)

Edited by honketyhank, 21 November 2012 - 02:56 PM.


#4 Super Tuna

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Posted 21 November 2012 - 03:13 PM

Very well done. Bravo!

#5 snowgolfing

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Posted 21 November 2012 - 03:17 PM

Good article and i would have to agree with mostly all of these, though i am to kind hearted/honest of a person to jack up the monitor. My favorite guy is still the one that walks in and tells you what all the clubs properties are (mostly wrong) then when you explain everything in actual truth makes him frustrated. I always have loved the people who say thank you and appreciate the work and effort that you put into their sale that was the most rewarding thing and even something little like a thank you goes a long way :)


#6 plus8

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Posted 21 November 2012 - 03:24 PM

View Posthonketyhank, on 21 November 2012 - 02:56 PM, said:

I am the guy that walks into the local GG or GS about once a month with nothing really on my mind except maybe "I could use a new grip on my 3-hybrid" (and all I want is the grip because I will install it myself). But I usually make a turn thru the new clubs section, the used club section, maybe a few other sections. I don't really want any help because I know that what I came for is either in plain view or not there at all. So a request of "How can I help you today?" is usually met with "I came for a new grip, they are right over there, right? Thanks, I'll yell if I need you."

But sometimes I will see something I want to try out. After the above, I think many sales folks are turned off. And then, they are hard to find.

So how do you sell something to me besides the measly grip I came for in the first place? (Not that I really want to spend more money than planned, but just curious.)


I'm the same way. Or, I happen to see something that I 'need', and since I already have done all the research/testing/etc and have enough knowledge of my own needs, I already know if I want that one or not.  Example: If I am looking at a particular shaft, chances are I already know the weight, length, torque, stiffness, reviews/opinions from Golfwrx, and my expected outcome.  So for me, it's kind of a waste of time to listen to 20 minutes of why the Prolaunch Blue is different than the NVS, or all the great stuff about the Ogio Chamber or the Metal-X #8. I already know the answer  (and, I've already made my decision about it).

So I'm one of those guys who (a) doesn't want to debate the employees; (b) will not get switched to something else; and © am not gonna listen to the sales mgr who happens to be .2 index better than last year due to his G20's (because, of course, he happened to tell me as he was shoving some G20's into my hand and ignoring my preference for Mizzy-land)....

I, too, make the rounds thru the used clubs, looking for a deal - but it may not be a deal on some fruity current brand - it may just be an old slotted Anser or a rusty original 588.  But no need to shepherd me - I already know why I m there.

Hats?  Yes, I wear 'em on the course but not in the store. I wear free ones....

I do like grazing the stores sometimes.   But not often.

#7 MelloYello

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Posted 21 November 2012 - 03:27 PM

You forgot some:

No, no no. I'm laughing at something behind you.

No, we don't carry Ping.

No, we don't carry blades.

Nope, no extra stiffs.

Now how'd you really break it?

They said I could fix this?

No, Nike hasn't shipped it back yet.

No, I don't mind spending 15 minutes on hold while I call another store.

Yeah, old grips are no problem. I'll gladly do those Spaldings.

No, we don't have 9 or 9.5 in that shoe.

No, we don't have wide, either.

Sure, I'll help this lady find her North Face Jacket online. What else am I doing?

Edited by MelloYello, 21 November 2012 - 03:29 PM.

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#8 cgasucks

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Posted 21 November 2012 - 03:28 PM

Frickin' nice article!!!
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#9 highergr0und

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Posted 21 November 2012 - 03:37 PM

You didn't mention anything about the used club hounds......  I rarely even look at new clubs.  I will browse pretty much the entire used section though.

#10 bppry

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Posted 21 November 2012 - 03:48 PM

View Posthonketyhank, on 21 November 2012 - 02:56 PM, said:

I am the guy that walks into the local GG or GS about once a month with nothing really on my mind except maybe "I could use a new grip on my 3-hybrid" (and all I want is the grip because I will install it myself). But I usually make a turn thru the new clubs section, the used club section, maybe a few other sections. I don't really want any help because I know that what I came for is either in plain view or not there at all. So a request of "How can I help you today?" is usually met with "I came for a new grip, they are right over there, right? Thanks, I'll yell if I need you."

But sometimes I will see something I want to try out. After the above, I think many sales folks are turned off. And then, they are hard to find.

So how do you sell something to me besides the measly grip I came for in the first place? (Not that I really want to spend more money than planned, but just curious.)

Haha. This is a good one. I would say we are identical in this. I go to a big box store by my office around once every two weeks. Sometimes need nothing but to get out of the office or something small. I am not going to buy anything other than a rare gem in the used section.

What I found is to have a decent conversation with one employee once. Explain why you come in and so forth. Don't worry he will explain to all the others there, I know cause I've also been the employee. Then they will acknowledge you when you come in and notice if you do need something. Otherwise like you said you are invisible to them.


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#11 Boogaloo_Jones

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Posted 21 November 2012 - 03:53 PM

You forgot one:

The angry golfer.  He literally comes in the store angry.  Browses angry.  Walks angry.  Picks up items angrily.  Hits balls angry.  Uses the bathroom angry.  And finally leaves angry.
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#12 khuffman17

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Posted 21 November 2012 - 04:18 PM

i love my golf galaxy they are awesome always very helpful with what ever i need if nothing just a good 5 min golf convo

#13 hebron1427

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Posted 21 November 2012 - 04:48 PM

God that was funny

#14 ILBrad`

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Posted 21 November 2012 - 04:53 PM

Curious, do some golf stores get more commission or better deals if they try to sell TaylorMade over callaway for example.  More pressure from big companies?  I know its not right, but your average Joe walking in saying he needs a new driver, is a prime target.

I know a friend who used to work for at&t that said they don't make a dime from commission  selling the iPhone, so they tend to push android phones.

#15 timbo08

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Posted 21 November 2012 - 04:57 PM

Haha that was great!  One of the best non-review articles I have read on this site.  Good stuff and pretty spot on I'd say!


#16 EricZ116

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Posted 21 November 2012 - 04:58 PM

That was a great read haha

#17 pga43

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Posted 21 November 2012 - 05:58 PM

Pretty much spot on!

Thanks for the laughs.

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#18 Dr. Shankenstein

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Posted 21 November 2012 - 06:01 PM

That was hilarious. Jeff Singer is gem of a writer. Keep up the good work!
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#19 Kadin 25

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Posted 21 November 2012 - 06:05 PM

Nice read very funny and I love observing these "guys" and listening to them....great stuff!!

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#20 Birddog2

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Posted 21 November 2012 - 06:11 PM

Good article!

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#21 Funkey

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Posted 21 November 2012 - 06:12 PM

Of the big box stores I have been in.  It looks like they went to all the local McDonalds and hired all the folks that could not cut fast food.  Most don't have the intelligence to carry off the dialog as stated.  Even if you wrote it down for them they would have problems reading the list.  Much less pulling it off.

#22 leftypga

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Posted 21 November 2012 - 06:34 PM

View PostFunkey, on 21 November 2012 - 06:12 PM, said:

Of the big box stores I have been in.  It looks like they went to all the local McDonalds and hired all the folks that could not cut fast food.  Most don't have the intelligence to carry off the dialog as stated.  Even if you wrote it down for them they would have problems reading the list.  Much less pulling it off.

It's funny, because I have had similar experiences at big box golf stores in the past, but the one I work at is totally different.  Most of us have a background in the golf industry.  For a decade before I started here, I have been a club fitter/repairman and a golf professional.  We have two guys who were also club pros, another who owned a repair shop for almost 10 years, and a couple of others who are regulars here on golfwrx.  We all know our stuff, even when it comes to obscure brands (we actually carry fourteen) and exotic shafts.  It's really a fun working environment.
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#23 leftypga

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Posted 21 November 2012 - 06:41 PM

View PostILBrad`, on 21 November 2012 - 04:53 PM, said:

Curious, do some golf stores get more commission or better deals if they try to sell TaylorMade over callaway for example.  More pressure from big companies?  I know its not right, but your average Joe walking in saying he needs a new driver, is a prime target.

I know a friend who used to work for at&t that said they don't make a dime from commission  selling the iPhone, so they tend to push android phones.

At least in our stores, we do not get more commission on one brand over others.  It's a flat rate for any clubs.  The nice thing is that we actually make a higher percentage on shoes and bags, so those customers don't get ignored.  We also get double on used clubs, so there is not a huge incentive to sell customers the latest and greatest out there.  I'll make as much on a guy that we put a set of used clubss together for $500 than the guy I sell a new set of AP2s.

Now, we do get freebies or deep discounts from manufacturers, so there is sometimes incentive to sell their stuff more than others. But that's a story for another day once I'm not in the same line of work...
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#24 blink3665

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Posted 21 November 2012 - 06:52 PM

That was well worth the reading time!  Hilarious!  Unfortunately (fortunately?) for me I do not have ANY big box golf stores nearby... Unless you count Sports Authority...
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#25 wigolffan

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Posted 21 November 2012 - 07:18 PM

When I worked in a big box golf store all of the guys where at the very least golf nuts, most where playing college golf, or where very good amateurs, we where paid about a dime more than minimum wage, got no commission on sales.  Got an awful discount from our employer 10 percent and nothing off if it was on sale.  We did get good discounts from the manufacturers which made it somewhat worth it. It gets real old having some 17 handi tell you he knows everything about golf and your an idiot then watching his swing (looks like he is dry humping a whale) but still tell you your a fool for telling him he does not need project x 7.0 shafts with a 6 iron swing speed of 65


#26 JOHN GOLIA

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Posted 21 November 2012 - 07:37 PM

View Posttbowles411, on 21 November 2012 - 02:48 PM, said:

Oh, the stories I could tell!  Hilarious and spot on!  :rofl:
   Me 2  . I have been at this forever.   I have seen it all.
    Heard it all.

#27 td_proV_UNO

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Posted 21 November 2012 - 07:38 PM

Good article! It is TOUGH to please this crowd too!!
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#28 Lucho8

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Posted 21 November 2012 - 07:44 PM

Great article and fun to read! Thanks!
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#29 TheMackDaddy

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Posted 21 November 2012 - 07:52 PM

Spot on, and well worth my time!

#30 Sean2

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Posted 21 November 2012 - 07:59 PM

Well done Jeff. :-)

Hey...be nice.

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