What Toys“R”Us is to a 10-year-old, a pro shop is to me.
There are many types of “pro shops” – chain off-course retailers such as Academy Sports, Dicks, Edwin Watts, Golf Galaxy and Scheels; public- and semiprivate-course shops; private-club shops and resort-course shops.
Of course, all of these shops are inhabited by men and women who are always on the lookout for I-HAVE-TO-HAVE-THATs – clubs, bags, balls, shirts, windbreakers, sweaters, shoes, hats, ties, sunglasses, books, drinkware, etc.
While our pro shop at The Kansas City Country Club is not the world’s biggest, I thought golfers everywhere would be interested in knowing what our Head Pro Andy Fisher is carrying and what is selling.
And now that the Christmas season is RIGHT on top of us, you don’t have much time to think about gifts to be given and gifts that I would like to open. In order to make the best gift-giving and gift-getting decisions, I asked Andy Fisher what apparel companies were doing well and what the bestselling equipment was. When it comes to making great gift decisions, SALES INFORMATION AND TRENDS MATTER.
Left to Right: Pullover Thermal Fleece Jacket, Mixed Texture Sport Half-Zip and Thermal Base Layer Shirt
Let’s start with clothing. For winter and early spring golf, Andy says that the “big and bulky” look is over and that “sleek fitting” is in. That means taking advantage of high-tech performance fabrics that are designed to keep you warm and don’t restrict you swing. His two favorite cold-weather brands (Just by chance, the ones he carries.) are Footjoy and Under Armour.
Left to Right: Donald Ross, Fennec and Martin
As far as everyday menswear (polo shirts, sports shirts, sweaters and outerwear pieces) goes Peter Millar was Andy’s top selling brand this past year and he doesn’t expect that to change in 2018. The other brands that consistently perform well in the Pro Shop are Donald Ross, Fennec and Martin. “According to the golf industry publications I read, Peter Millar is the bestselling brand at private clubs,” Andy said. “My friends at other clubs also say that (Peter) Millar is No. 1 for them, but if you carry quality brands, then it comes down to design, color, feel and need.”
As far as the feet are concerned, “It’s all about the athletic looking golf shoe,” said Andy. “We still do well with Eccos, but the traditional saddle shoe is fading. Right now, the athletic style is our most popular and I don’t see that changing. Comfort. Comfort. Comfort.”
KCCC’s Equipment bestsellers: Left to Right: The TaylorMade Spider putter, a Titleist Vokey 56-degree wedge and the Callaway Epic Driver
Jack Nicklaus once said, “I would much rather be hitting the driver and a 9-iron out of the rough than hitting a driver and a 4-iron out of the fairway.” That kind of thinking explains exactly why Andy sells so many drivers every year. In 2017, the Pro Shop sold more Callaway Epic drivers than all of the other brands combined. So what did Callaway bring to the teeing ground that the other manufacturers did not? According to Andy, it was: “Technology. Ultra-lightweight technology to be exact. The way to obtain greater distance is to swing faster. If the shaft and the clubhead are lighter, then if all else is equal, you will get more distance. I haven’t met a player yet who doesn’t want more distance.”
If you are the type of buyer who loves the hunt, then you should consider trying out Andy’s Nos. 2 and 3 sellers – The TaylorMade M1/M2 and Titleist’s 917.
Please note that Callaway will be introducing a new driver in early 2018, the Rogue.
Speaking of Callaway, its Epic fairway woods and hybrids were the shop’s top sellers in those two categories as well. “There was a carryover effect because the Epic driver sold so well, but their fairway woods and hybrids are excellent products as well,” said Andy. “Regardless of the brand, for most of our players, I am recommending 5 woods and hybrids instead of 3 & 4 woods. It is easier to get the 5 wood up in the air than the lower lofted fairway woods. The same goes for the hybrids, plus they are shorter. Shorter usually means better contact and that turns into more accurate and longer shots.”
If you are in the market for new irons, the Callaway Big Bertha irons were the first choice of the mid to high handicappers while Titleist’s AP1 & AP2 irons were No. 1 with the “more accomplished players.” For the average player, a new set of irons consists six or seven clubs – 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, pitching wedge (44 to 46 degrees) and gap wedge 48 to 50 degrees). For example, if a player wanted a whole set of new irons, Andy would recommend the basic six or seven irons from a specific manufacturer and then two specialty wedges from Titleist’s Vokey line-up. “The specialty wedges go from 54 to 64 degrees,” said Andy. “Phil Mickelson has a 64-degree wedge in his bag as do several of our members.” (According to Andy more and more “regular players” are foregoing the 5 iron in the standard set and putting in an extra hybrid.)
If you are a stats person, then it might impress you that the Titleist Vokey specialty wedges outsold the combined total of all other wedges by a 4 to 1 margin this past year. “Tour usage is telling the world that the Vokey wedges are the best,” said Andy.
The putter is called the “payoff club” for a reason: Forty percent of all golf shots are putts. “You can have an allegiance to your putter,” said Andy, “but that doesn’t mean you should stop looking for other styles, the next great thing. Look for something that you find visually appealing. Also, the No. 1 fitting element for a putter is length. Most people have putters that are too long. If the toe is up in the air, it is too long. You should never stop looking at new putters.”
Overall, the extensive line of Odyssey putters, including the now classic two-ball, produces the most sales dollars at KCCC. However, the single bestselling putter is the TaylorMade Spider.
Whether you are buying or hinting, you can always use a good stocking-stuffer idea or two. If you are going to play it safe, the Top 2 selling items at KCCC by sales units are balls and hats and socks. Titleist’s Pro VI, Pro VIX, NXT and the Velocity DT are the top sellers. In addition, Titleist just brought out the AVX. The Callaway Chrome Soft has a small but devoted following.
Well, that’s the scoop on what is hot in The KCCC Pro Shop. If you are looking for extra yards, more made putts, comfortable outwear or great style, head to your favorite pro shop.
Shop Away! or Hint Away!