Out with the old, in with the new 0
At this time of year you would think the farthest thing from a golf professionals mind would be buying more goods for their golf shops.
It is the time of year to lick your wounds on bad buys, get money from sale items of your last size runs in successful buys and clear out as much room in your inventory room as you head into the slower - much slower - winter season.
In mid-October, the Alberta PGA puts on a merchandising show bringing together golf vendors and golf professionals to facilitate the buying process.
In most cases the show offers the necessary value for both participants.
However, to take full advantage of available soft goods merchandise (i.e. clothing) for 2013 and to get product that others won't, you have to be ahead of those dates.
As Bob Paley, CPGA golf professional who runs the Kananaskis golf retail operation, confirms, "We will have previewed as a team well over 50 different clothing lines, eight different equipment companies, and a number of 'knick knack/sundry' suppliers."
In the golf business, September and October are the buying season!
In fact, with some European brands, Puma and J. Lindberg as two examples - orders for the 2013 season were due by the end of August. For some larger brands, selection of the entire 2013 inventory has to be done by the end of September or you are choosing from what the distributors elect to bring in to Canada.
Buying is Fun! There is no two ways about it.
If it isn't fun, you are in the wrong business. You get to view, try-on, touch and feel fabrics, get an insight into the colours that will be hot the following season and see all the new and different styles that will debut or in some cases re-emerge in the new year.
For hard goods (golf equipment - clubs and golf balls) you get to hear about all the new technology, how it will improve people's games and revolutionize the game itself. For the most part it is really interesting and you feel like you are being let in on secrets.
One of the most important things about the buying process is to remember you are only one segment of your clientele and there will be many different types of people in your shop looking for styles, colours and lines you would not personally desire.
Another important factor, we as managers have to remember, is we are not on the floor anywhere near as many hours as our colleagues and supervisors who spend well over 90 per cent of their time interacting with our guests and hearing the feedback on our retail offering.
As Bob Paley noted, "One of the greatest things we do as an operation is involve our team who actually sells the product in the buying process. . Who better knows about what to buy and sell for the pro shop than those individuals who are actually on the floor selling it . they are the ones who listen to our guests and get the feedback."
I asked Darren Cooke of the Canmore Golf & Country Club what things they have seen so far that has made them excited.
Darren indicated, "The colours are strong again this year with a lot of vibrant colour in some lines."
He noticed there is an increased number of casual spikeless footwear and "a greater emphasis on matching shoes with colours in the clothing lines."
Darren was most impressed so far with how the fabrics are evolving to be easier to care for and with the expanded Foot Joy clothing line-up.
Bob agrees there is "a great deal of colour and pop in both men's and ladies' collections."
He doesn't see a change in the trend toward synthetic apparel noting "moisture wicking men's and ladies' tops continue to dominate what is being offered".
He does see an improvement in how these garments feel stating "they have found a way to make most of these synthetic fabrics feel warm and fuzzy like cotton, but still have the performance characteristics of moisture wicking, non-shrink fabrics that will never lose their colours and have a sharp and crisp look about them."
Most actual equipment launches for 2013 will happen at the PGA Merchandise Show in Orlando, Fla. in January.
Right now we are only shared the rumours of what is changing and confirmed what is staying in each line for next year: just like Rocketballz last year; white drivers the year before; adjustable wood heads and sandwedge faces a few years back.
You can bet we will see some new and interesting equipment from Titleist, Taylormade, Ping and Nike in January.
And the ball - ProV or V1 or maybe V2 will continue to dominate but how close will the Nike One, Bridgestone, the Penta or Srixon ball get?
And how about shoes, we continue to move closer to athletic wear (street shoes and runners or sandals with spikes) and away from the traditional leather golf shoe.
Fashion is also taking a greater importance in footwear, needing to not only match with your clothes but be able to wear to dinner afterwards.
One thing is for sure this fall, to make room for the new stock in 2013, golf shops will have great value on items still in their shop in the later part of September and early October.
You may not get the selection you want, but what is still available will be at an attractive price - if you are willing to compromise on the style or size, you can walk away with some great performing or fashion pieces for a great price.
It is also a great time to pick up some equipment. The rental clubs from the year become available as do demo clubs and clubs that will be replaced with new lines next year. There is nothing wrong with this equipment.
As I said recently to someone - Jack Nicklaus shot many 64's with clubs that are now over 25 years old - technology may change regularly, but the older equipment is still great!
While you enjoy your final games of the season, why not visit your local golf shop and treat yourself to some wonderful specials. And while you are at it, engage your local pro in a conversation about what is new for next year, I bet you will see a twinkle in their eye!
CHIP SHOTS: Dougal Forteath recorded a hole-in-one on Aug. 26 on No. 2 at the Stanley 18 course at the Banff Springs. He was playing with Ken Lee who deserves a lot of credit for the ace, there was a lengthy frost delay that morning and Dougal was going to go home but Ken talked him out of it. . Also recording an ace was Sibhan Duggan at the Canmore club. She used a 7-iron to stripe the ball into the hole on No. 12 from 101 yards.
Steve Young is the director of golf at the Fairmont Banff Springs Golf Course. Do you have an interesting fact or results from an event that occurred at your facility or from golfers in the area at events around the province? Please email firstname.lastname@example.org and we would be more than pleased to share these in our Chip Shots.