Bob Coman, the 2001 South Florida PGA Section Golf Professional of the Year and a three-time Section Merchandiser of the Year, is the PGA Director of Golf at Biltmore Golf Course in Coral Gables, Florida.
When I arrived here three years ago, the golf shop was overloaded with hard goods. A third of the shop space was full of golf clubs; many were outdated models. The shop’s struggle with hard goods inventory was the catalyst for my idea to close in an outdoor patio area, on which were a range machine, ball washer and sorter, and convert it to a 675-foot shop with a display area for equipment sales, fitting and repair. We broke ground in June of 2014 and the facility was finished in November of that year. We partnered with a clubfitter and clubmaker with advanced technology systems. Once a golfer’s specifications are determined, the individual selects the head brand and shaft he wants, along with length, grip, and so on, and his club is assembled on site. If an entire set is purchased, the clubs will be custom built and returned to the golfer within two days. Our loyal clientele consists of about 30 percent hotel guests and 70 percent golfers from the local community. With over 50,000 rounds a year played here, word has traveled fast about our new equipment facility.
I still keep a few dozen drivers, wedges and putters in the golf shop for impulse purchases, gifts and prizes. But by building the new facility we freed up all the money and square footage we had invested in hard goods and invested it in soft goods, for which the profit margins are far greater. From a revenue standpoint, in 2015, the first full year our fitting center was operational, we saw a 130.5 percent increase in net profit from clubfitting, repair and equipment sales. We get the word out through website communication and advertising, and by talking to golfers. We offer each member a complimentary fitting, a $400 retail value. As a result, members often return later for additional fittings and equipment purchases.