Bill Sampson, the 2016 Carolinas PGA Section Palmer Maples Teacher of the Year, is the PGA Director of Golf at Old Tabby Links in Okatie, South Carolina.
About 20 years ago, we started expanding women’s clothing lines in our shop, and for the past 10 years, we have tried to go in an even broader direction. We have introduced more lifestyle, business and golf selections, more colors and styles. We’ve created our own trunk shows, rather than having a vendor set them up. We hold the trunk shows after a day of golf, letting people take things home to try on. We do a lot of special orders, even of brands we don’t carry in the shop, or different styles — a skort instead of shorts or slacks, for example. Over the past two years, we’ve gone even further, adding sun- protective apparel and sportswear. Our members like to do more than play golf: tennis, horseback riding, fitness and croquet are a few of the other activities they enjoy. People are more aware of being protective while in the sun. We offer long-sleeved garments for golfers and non-golfers, and we have bucket hats. At the PGA Merchandise Show each year, I spend nearly one full day looking for unique apparel for women, such as scarves or swimwear. My wife, Wendy, is our merchandising manager. She calls members individually to inform them of a new piece in the shop they may like, or she might call a spouse to suggest a specific gift for their wife.
The response to our increased emphasis on women’s apparel has been excellent. Seven years ago, about 30 percent of our soft- goods sales were to women. Last year, it was 49 percent. Members are pleased they don’t have to go off Spring Island anymore to find clothes to wear to dinner. Our fitness and sporting wear lines have been popular, even our lines for children. We have added baby and toddler products that grandparents want to give their grandchildren — this strategy has been a big success. We flipped our shop, placing women’s clothing in the front. This is unusual but has really helped us. We’ve become a personal shopper for male members seeking gifts for their wives; we know the women’s sizes. The personal touch makes a big difference. We are expanding our women’s apparel lines even more, asking women in verbal surveys which styles they’d like to see for the next season. Our women members range in age from about 45-85. They play golf and take lessons, and they appreciate the additional apparel selections for them in our shop. We value their input. If a style is too wild in design, they let us know.