PGA Merchandiser of the Year Conference Attendees Share Ideas, Celebrate Successes

Capitalizing on success was the theme driving the discussion when an award-winning group of PGA Professionals, AGM members and golf industry leaders gathered prior to the 2020 PGA Merchandise Show for the 13th PGA Merchandiser of the Year Conference, Jan. 18-20. In all, more than 100 attendees spent two days discussing golf business trends and ideas at Mission Inn Resort & Club in Howey-in-the-Hills, which hosted the event for a third year.

The attendees at the invitation-only event were well acquainted with success, as the esteemed group included 10 present and past national PGA Merchandiser of the Year honorees, 105 Merchandiser of the Year awards earned at the PGA Section level and 118 AGM Platinum Award honors. In all, attendees represented buying influence at more than 100 golf shops with approximately $92 million in total retail sales last year.

“This is a chance to reflect on what has made you successful, and how you’re going to parlay that into your next series of successes” said Brian Folino, President of PGA Magazine, at the outset of the conference. “By sharing ideas with other award-winning merchandisers, you’ll have the chance to learn even more about the different roads that can be taken on the way to success.”

The 2020 PGA Merchandiser of the Year Conference, a part of the PGA Magazine Conference Series, began with a special awards dinner hosted by the PGA of America honoring 2019 national PGA Merchandisers of the Year Scott Kirkwood (private facilities), Sara Muldoon (resort facilities) and Duncan Simms (public facilities). The ceremony started with a video message from Secretary of State Condleezza Rice and an address by PGA Secretary John Lindert before master of ceremonies David Marr III took over the proceedings. After a video presentation on each winner, they joined Marr onstage for a brief Q&A session.

The award winners shared their stories from the stage, which served as an fun and emotional start to the PGA Merchandiser of the Year Conference. Muldoon recounted how she and her staff set a goal of winning the national award four years ago, and how impactful it was to receive a phone call from PGA President Suzy Whaley last year informing her of her victory at Hershey (Pennsylvania) Country Club, where Muldoon is the PGA Director of Golf. Simms, the PGA Head Professional at Oak Creek Country Club in Irvine, California, discussed his goal of providing superior customer service with enthusiasm, including a goal of high-fiving at least 10 customers and staff members each day. And Kirkwood, the PGA Director of Golf at Ocean Reef Club in Key Largo, Florida, accepted his award wearing a kilt in honor of his Scottish heritage.

“Merchandising, coaching, playing, clubfitting, customer service – it all ties in together,” Kirkwood said. “If you love your job, that’s going to show through in your work.”

The awards dinner was streamed live by the PGA of America, and reached more than 15,000 viewers.

Following the opening dinner, attendees at the 2020 PGA Merchandiser of the Year Conference spent the next two days participating in breakout sessions that allowed them the chance to share best practices, identify trends and discuss ways to improve their respective businesses. This year’s breakout topics included Strengthening the Team: Staff Evolution; Game Essentials: Clubs, Gloves, Balls and Footwear; Tournaments, Outings & Accessories: Member and Corporate Opportunities; and Soft Goods Successes: 2019 and Beyond. Each breakout session was facilitated by a award-winning PGA Merchandisers and AGM members.

The conference also included presentations by golf industry experts from the event’s sponsors, as well as a lively panel discussion with 10 past and current national PGA Merchandiser of the Year award winners on stage together answering questions from other attendees.

Presenting partners of the 2020 PGA Merchandiser of the Year Conference included Boomer Golf, Golf Genius Software, Mission Inn Resort & Club, the PGA of America, Ping, Pukka, Puma Golf & Volition America, SanSoleil and Stirling Furnishings. Supporting partners included Greenbriar Golf, Sterling Cut Glass and TPK Golf.