Golf Retail Hazards – Part 2

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Welcome back.  In Golf Retail Hazard Part 1, I told you about the structural problems with golf retail, things like spiffs and lack of fitting equipment.  This week, I’m going to dive into the human part the equation.

Bad Employees

Let me start by saying that not everyone who works in a big box store is bad, lacking knowledge, etc.  I, and others on the PIG staff, used to work in a big box, and I believe that we did a good job helping golfers.  That said, there are plenty of big box employees you need to watch out for.  Here are my big three:

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The Wannabe Pro

The most loathsome of the big box employees is the one who really wants to be a teaching pro. This guy isn’t hard to spot – he’s going to walk right up to you with at least four swing tips that are going to “fix you right up.”  When he’s not “helping” customers, he can be found watching golf on TV, analyzing swings like Peter Kostis.

Dealing with the Wannabe Pro is straightforward, though many people find it difficult.  Look him in the eye and tell him you’re there to buy equipment, not change your swing.  If you want to be more polite, you can say that you already have a coach that you’re working with.

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The High Pressure Sales Guy

This character is not unique to the golf industry; you can find his type in every sales field.  He knows exactly what you need, even before he sees you swing.  Are you ready to buy now?  How about now?  That club feels great, doesn’t it?  Look at those launch monitor numbers!  What are you waiting for?

Just as with the Wannabe Pro, you need to be direct with this guy.  Let him know you want to take your time.  You’re making a substantial investment in this piece of equipment, you know the value of a good fitting, and you won’t be rushed.  If he’s in such a big hurry, have him send over a different salesperson to help you.

Our Expert Fitter

“The Expert”

Let me start by saying that “The Expert” is not necessarily a bad guy.  He may be a good guy with good intentions who simply lacks knowledge.  But regardless of his intentions, he is, to me, the worst kind of big box employee.  He’s also the most difficult to defeat, particularly when he’s a good guy.

“The Expert” is easy to identify – he’s the guy that the other sales people regard as the most knowledgeable (in the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king).  What is difficult is knowing a real expert from “The Expert”.

One thing that you need to realize is that the plaques that proclaim someone to be a certified fitter for every OEM under the sun are meaningless.  Those certificates mean one thing: he clicked through a PowerPoint presentation about the latest buzzwords.  He may or may not have passed a quiz about said buzzwords.  That’s it.  He didn’t fly to the OEM’s HQ for a sit down with the head of R&D.  He didn’t spend a week on the PGA Tour van watching the true experts fit the pros.  He clicked through a PowerPoint.  That’s it.  Don’t be intimidated or impressed by the certificates.

Dealing with “The Expert” is difficult, but I have two suggestions for how to beat him.

1) Get a referral from a trusted friend.  This is the easiest way to go.  Ask a friend what store to go to and specifically what fitter to work with.  You don’t need to trust the recommendation blindly, but if you’ve seen that your friend’s new clubs work well, you can have a little more confidence about working with that fitter.

2) Educate yourself.  You don’t need to become the master of all golf club knowledge, but you can learn the basics.  Sites like PluggedInGolf exist to help regular golfers.  Search the site, leave comments, email questions.  When you own the knowledge and the process, you’ll guarantee yourself a good club fitting experience.

Go Forth and Make Wise Purchases

Once again, a big congratulations to you, dear reader.  You’ve armed yourself with a wealth of knowledge about golf retail, and knowledge is power.  Now get out there, get yourself fit for some new clubs, and play your best golf.

Matt Saternus

One Comment

  1. Matt, thank you for some great information. I am a new golfer and sometimes all of the stuff I need to remember gets to be bit much. Keep it up. Ray

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