It was a stroke of genius. It had to be to get 250-plus eager golfers to line up in front of a shopping center hours before (days before, for some dedicated souls) Austin’s new PGA Tour Superstore’s grand opening on May 25. By the time the doors opened at 9 AM, the crowds had swelled to well over 500. “Kendall” from Lakeway was the first in line, having camped in front of the entrance for 48 hours with two Yeti ice chests, a queen-size camping cot and, as it turns out, just enough Vanilla Coke to make it to the finish line. A 12-pack.
PGA Tour Superstore had been advertising for weeks that the first entrants through the door would be receiving free golf merchandise until the store had given away $30,000 worth of iron sets, drivers, putters, range finders, apparel and gift certificates. So, Austin showed up and showed up big to the Arbor Walk Shopping Center, oddly enough, on the same land Highway 183 that was once home to the Hank Haney Driving Range. Many had heard that this was a store unlike any they’d seen and certainly unlike anything Austin has had since the closing of the venerable homegrown Golfsmith vanished earlier this decade.
Inside was a veritable Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory for golfers. A giant 1,600-square-foot putting green, six simulator-focused hitting bays, two teaching and practice bays with simulators, equipment by every manufacturer you could name and some you couldn’t plus a huge selection of men’s and women’s apparel and shoes and balls, golf bags, travel bags, learning aids, accessories at every turn. They have all of the equipment that you could possibly need to help you to brush up your skills on the driving range, as well as being able to look good doing it. One lady looked right at home in the apparel section. “These are golf clothes I would actually wear. I mean, this is all really cute!”
The PGA Tour Superstore secret seems to be not just having merchandise that yields a quick and tidy margin, but curating the shopping experience for serious golfers who live and breathe the game and have nuanced brand loyalties as well as educated opinions on shaft types, particular brands and product lines.
“So much of the experience for customers in a PGA Tour Superstore is technology-driven. We don’t want there to be any doubt in a customer’s mind when he comes into be fit for a driver, a set of irons, a wedge, a putter or even shoes. All of our staff our trained with goal in mind of that customer being perfectly-fit and ultimately very happy with their golf purchase their putting in their bag or on their back,” says PGA Tour Superstore director of marketing and events Ralph Stokes. “The simulator, launch monitor and fitting technology used in this store is state of the art and our people are the best-trained and most knowledgeable in the business. This store is as close as you can get to walking into the Tour van out on the PGA TOUR.”
One staffer let the line “if it’s in the game, it’s in the store” roll off of his tongue quite easily as he was showing off the array of fairway woods and hybrids to a dad and his teenage son. “We invest in our people to have the greatest knowledge and expertise to fit your game. We’re trying to make you the best golfer you can be with the best equipment for YOU and your game,” Stokes adds.
To learn more, visit the store at North Mopac and Braker Lane or check out www.pgatoursuperstore.com.
By Marc Hall