Professional Golf Shop Staff and Merchandising Plan

The philosophy that makes the most sense for golf pro shop retailing and the areas that I work to improve can be summed up in a few key phrases. A well planned shop, in order to be successful, needs to be attractively merchandised across all appropriate categories of goods without being over-inventoried and it needs to provide service that is “above and beyond".

The best way to institute a plan to address the scientific area of the formula is the ‘buy to space’ approach. Understanding the clientele and their wants and needs and tailoring this unique mix to the existing fixtures, traffic patterns and peak selling periods is the challenge. Having orders arrive that are specifically designed to fit a specific space and that are planned out according to the right turn ratio allow for a variety throughout the year of vendor, color and seasonally appropriate goods.

It is wise in today’s market place to establish partnerships with key vendors both in hard goods and apparel. Titleist, Foot-joy, Zero Restriction, Fairway and Greene, Greg Norman and Peter Millar are vendors that partner well and are willing to help key accounts with staff apparel, shop fixtures, visual display and product-knowledge seminars. Golf Shows are the venue to be on the lookout for new and ‘next best’, but key vendors should be having their representatives visit the club often and with a purpose.

Staff appearance is critical for many reasons, not the least of which is that they are the first impression the Club gets to make. A staff that does not come to work well-groomed and properly attired will never be perceived as truly professional. Perhaps the most important part of the job of a Head Professional and the staff they train is to provide a ‘cutting edge service’, attitude and atmosphere. This can only be accomplished when the bar is set high, expectations understood and the proper education provided. A knowledgeable staff in the shop that enjoys conveying that knowledge to members and guests is imperative to having a profitable shop that members are proud to patronize. A pro-shop that provides this type of service is open until the last member leaves for the day.

The Concept - The Plan

To the average golfer, pro shop retailing must appear relatively simple. The new head pro has a captive audience of avid players who must walk through his shop to play. He travels to the trade show in Florida in the dead of winter to purchase inventory, comes home, receives his merchandise and listens to the cash register ring.

Unfortunately, retailing is a bit more complicated. Today, the lion’s share of lost profits and poor cash flow for independent retailers are due to their inability to effectively plan and budget future merchandise expenditures. Although these costs can run fifty to sixty percent of sales or more, many golf pros, attempting to wear too many hats, plan and budget their trips to Orlando with greater care and detail than they do their major capital outlay. They look for help with this aspect of their business to friends, family or shop managers who they deem to have “good taste” in clothing.

Successful apparel buying for any retail space, including the typical golf pro shop, is about 80% science and 20% art. Everyone is an “artist” but very few fully understand the science.

Let me provide the science.



  • Evaluate current inventory levels
  • Analyze sales history
  • Evaluate fixturing and use of retail space
  • Create overview and schematic of shop selling space and fixturing
  • Develop buy plan by determining:
    • OIL (Opening inventory level)
    • Projected turns based on peak volume history
    • Goals for sales volume and margin
    • Vendors and categories (preferred/needed)
  • Price points needed
  • Develop tournament packages as needed
  • Determine tournament needs and build into plan
  • Review findings and buy plan for approval


  • Schedule and meet with all selected vendors
  • Initiate spring buy plan and pre-book where appropriate
  • Determine promotions needed
  • Schedule off-price for margin enhancement
  • Develop key person for in-stock programs and floor sales


  • Supervise merchandising of shop for spring opening
  • Review staff knowledge of spring product
  • Provide sales and product knowledge seminars
  • Initiate fall buy plan and pre-book where appropriate
  • Spend time on floor with customer
  • Review fall promotion needs and plan accordingly
  • Review all ancillary buys, e.g. member-guest favors


  • In-season monthly visits
  • Re-merchandise shop
  • Continue education of key people
  • Place needed spot buys
  • Evaluate need for off-price fill-ins
  • Review sales history to date


  • Supervise merchandising of shop for fall season
  • Evaluate spring and summer sales
  • Plan holiday business if appropriate
  • Plan end of season promotion needs


  • Provide end of program review and suggestions for upcoming season

Retail Consulting Clients

Robert Trent Jones
2005 President’s Cup

Bulle Rock

LPGA McDonald’s Championship

Ocean City Golf Club

Hasentree Golf Club

Country Club of Maryland

Kinloch Golf Club

Sparrows Point Country Club

Park Country Club

Belle Haven Country Club

The Patterson Club

Bayville GC

“ By using Craig’s techniques I lowered my average inventory and increased profitability. We now emphasize those areas that produce the most to the bottom line”

Buddy Sass, PGA Professional Ocean City Golf Club
2003 Merchandiser of the Year