PGA Tour Event Turns into Shopping Spree
Inside the 1,000-square-foot air-conditioned tent was a shopper's paradise. Burberry was selling $40 gloves and $65 caps with its plaid prints. Tehama and Ashworth had a collection of shirts. Maui Jim had a rack of sunglasses.
A city known for its high-end shopping set up a small boutique at a golf tournament, where more than 100,000 spectators passed through the gates on the weekend, many of them women.
A year ago, women's apparel sales were $34,000 for the week at the Byron Nelson Championship. This year, they were $27,000 on the first day - a Tuesday practice round - and $125,000 for the week, an increase of 255 percent.
The boutique was so successful that the Salesmanship Club of Dallas, which runs the Byron Nelson, wonders why it didn't think of this sooner. And its merchandising director, Andy Stern, would not be surprised if more PGA Tour events in affluent markets followed their lead.
'We get a lot of wives of corporates,' said Stern, chairman of Sunwest Communications in Dallas. 'Their husbands are watching golf, and they'd say, 'Let's go shop.' Before this, we had no reason for them to do that.'
Just about every golf tournament sells merchandise. Most do business in the pro shop, while the bigger events, such as The Players Championship and the World Golf Championships, also have a separate merchandise tent.
Some don't need one. Pebble Beach has a miniature mall area surrounding the putting green next to the Lodge, with shops that sell fine jewelry, art, crystal and regular golf merchandise. Doral has something similar on a smaller scale.
Then there's the U.S. Open, which builds something that resembles a department store. The main merchandise tent at Shinnecock Hills will be 36,000 square feet (nearly double the size from the last U.S. Open at Shinnecock in 1995) and is so big that it has more than 300 mannequins.
The Byron Nelson Championship for years had a main merchandise tent with the usual wares - shirts, hats, umbrellas, golf balls, towels, rain gear. Stern wanted something more, and a trip to Olympia Fields south of Chicago last year for the U.S. Open opened his eyes.
'It looked like a Nordstrom's,' Stern said. 'I thought, 'This does not look like what we've been doing.''
The Salesmanship Club, which has given more to charity than any other PGA Tour event the last four years, had little need for a merchandise tent the size of the U.S. Open. But it decided to do a better job catering to women, giving them more options than a sleeveless golf shirt with a logo on the lapel.
That was no small task in Dallas.
'To make this work, we had to find the buzz,' Stern said. 'Nike would have sent me some ladies' stuff, same with Antigua. But that wasn't going to get the Dallas women very excited.'
The first designer to sign up for the small boutique was Jamie Sadock, one of the top sellers in pro shops at resorts and private golf clubs.
'We're just offering ladies something different, something fun,' said John Chinni, regional marketing representative for Jamie Sadock. 'It was the first time we've done this (at a tournament), and we didn't know what to expect. The response has been phenomenal.'
Chinni said he had to have three overnight shipments to restock his shelves in the tent.
What also makes the boutique different from a regular merchandise tent is the lack of logos. Most merchants say those are for men, who want to show their friends where they have been.
Not so for women.
The proof was in a small display of Jamie Sadock shirts with the EDS Byron Nelson Championship logo, which the company made to offer women a choice. Chinni said he sold four of those shirts all week.
Mary Lopuszynski has been merchandising director for the USGA since 1995, and she has noticed vast changes in women's golf apparel.
'When I first started, it was more like vendors taking men's shirts and making them a smaller size,' she said. 'Gradually, it has become definitely a more retail fit - things like sleeveless, different necklines, what women can wear away from the golf course. It continues to move in that direction.'
Lopuszynski was the unofficial host when Stern and his crew visited the U.S. Open merchandise tent last year at Olympia Fields, showing him not only what they were selling, but how to present it. Stern wound up hiring Dale Simon, a visual merchandiser, to set up the boutique in a way to maximize sales.
Stern added his own touch.
Corporate sponsors often get a goody bag at the tournament - a leather briefcase or bag with golf shirts, crystal paperweights and other mementos. Stern swapped that out for gift cards to the boutique, which led to even more sales once the sponsors got inside.
'When they buy, they buy big,' said Kristi McAnder, a Lilly Pulitzer sales associate in Dallas who described her company's typical customer as married with two or three kids and an average household income of $200,000.
Stern already is looking ahead to next year.
The Salesmanship Club plans to double the size of its boutique, and Stern said he might add a Starbucks in the middle of the shop.
It might not work at every tournament, because not every PGA Tour stop has the demographics of Dallas. Still, Chinni said he noticed representatives from other tour events stick their head in the door at the Byron Nelson to see how things were going.
'I guarantee you, they'll follow suit,' he said.
Copyright 2003 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
What's in the bag: CareerBuilder winner Rahm
Jon Rahm defeated Andrew Landry in a playoff to earn his second PGA Tour title at the CareerBuilder Challenge. Here's what's in his bag:
Driver: TaylorMade M4 (9.5 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft
Fairway wood: TaylorMade M3 (19 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft
Irons: TaylorMade P790 (3), P750 (4-PW), with Project X 6.5 shafts
Wedges: TaylorMade Milled Grind (52, 56 degrees), Milled Grind Hi-Toe (60 degrees), with Project X 6.5 shafts
Putter: TaylorMade Spider Tour Red
Ball: TaylorMade TP5x
Strange irked by Rahm-Landry friendly playoff
Curtis Strange knows a thing or two about winning golf tournaments, and based on his reaction to the CareerBuilder Challenge playoff on Sunday, it’s safe to say he did things a little differently while picking up 17 PGA Tour victories in his Hall-of-Fame career.
While Jon Rahm and Andrew Landry were “battling” through four extra holes, Strange, 62, tweeted his issues with the duo’s constant chit-chat and friendly banter down the stretch at La Quinta Country Club, where Rahm eventually came out on top.
Watching Andrew Landry and Jon Rahm in playoff. Walking off tee talking to each other. Are you kidding me ? Talking at all. ?— Curtis Strange (@golf_strange) January 22, 2018
The two-time U.S. Open champ then engaged with some followers to explain his point a little more in depth.
0 words— Curtis Strange (@golf_strange) January 22, 2018
The issue is I don’t want to make you a bit relaxed or comfortable. High pressure, good.— Curtis Strange (@golf_strange) January 22, 2018
Did you watch the end of the NFL games yesterday ? Enough said.— Curtis Strange (@golf_strange) January 22, 2018
I didn’t say you couldn’t be friends and competitive. But in a playoff, 1 tiny mistake and you lose, and that devastated me. Friends before and after, competitors during play.— Curtis Strange (@golf_strange) January 22, 2018
Did you win ? It’s all about surviving the competition to test yourself.— Curtis Strange (@golf_strange) January 22, 2018
So, yeah ... don't think he's changing his perspective on this topic anytime soon ever.
Randall's Rant: The Euros won't just roll over
The Ryder Cup may not be the King Kong of golf events yet, but you can hear the biennial international team event thumping its chest a full eight months out.
As anticipation for this year’s big events goes, there is more buzz about Europe’s bid to hold off a rejuvenated American effort in Paris in September than there is about the Masters coming up in April.
Thank Europe’s phenomenal success last weekend for that.
And Rory McIlroy’s impassioned remarks in Abu Dhabi.
And the provocative bulletin board material a certain Sports Illustrated writer provided the Europeans a couple months ago, with a stinging assault on the Euro chances that read like an obituary.
McIlroy was asked in a news conference before his 2018 debut last week what he was most excited about this year.
The Ryder Cup topped his list.
Though McIlroy will be trying to complete the career Grand Slam at Augusta National come April, he talked more about the Ryder Cup than he did any of the game’s major championships.
When asked a follow-up about the American team’s resurgence after a task-force overhaul and the injection of young, new star power, McIlroy nearly started breaking down the matchup. He talked about the young Americans and how good they are.
“Yeah, the Americans have been, obviously, very buoyant about their chances and whatever, but it’s never as easy as that. ... The Ryder Cup’s always close,” McIlroy said. “I think we’ll have a great team, and it definitely won’t be as easy as they think it’s going to be.”
McIlroy may have been talking about Alan Shipnuck’s bold prediction after the American Presidents Cup rout last fall.
Or similar assertions from TV analysts.
“The Ryder Cup is dead – you just don’t know it yet,” Shipnuck wrote. “One of the greatest events in sport is on the verge of irrelevancy. The young, talented, hungry golfers from the United States, benefitting from the cohesive leadership of the Task Force era, are going to roll to victory in 2018 in Paris.”
European Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn won’t find words that will motivate the Euros more than that as he watches his prospective players jockey to make the team.
And, boy, did they jockey last weekend.
The Euros dominated across the planet, not that they did it with the Ryder Cup as some rallying cry, because they didn’t. But it was a heck of an encouraging start to the year for Bjorn to witness.
Spain’s Jon Rahm won the CareerBuilder Challenge on the PGA Tour, England’s Tommy Fleetwood started the week at Abu Dhabi paired with American and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and won the European Tour event, and Spain’s Sergio Garcia won the Singapore Open in a rout on the Asian Tour.
And McIlroy looked close to being in midseason form, tying for third in his first start in three months.
Yes, it’s only January, and the Ryder Cup is still a long way off, with so much still to unfold, but you got an early sense from McIlroy how much defending European turf will mean to him and the Euros in Paris in September.
The Masters is great theater, the U.S. Open a rigorous test, The Open and the PGA Championship historically important, too, but the Ryder Cup touches a nerve none of those do.
The Ryder Cup stokes more fervor, provokes more passion and incites more vitriol than any other event in golf.
More bulletin board material, too.
Yeah, it’s a long way off, but you can already hear the Ryder Cup’s King Kong like footsteps in its distant approach. Watching how the American and European teams come together will be an ongoing drama through spring and summer.
Quail Hollow officials promise players easier conditions
Quail Hollow Club - a staple on the PGA Tour since 2003 - debuted as a longer, tougher version of itself at last year’s PGA Championship, receiving mixed reviews from players.
The course played to a lengthened 7,600 yards at last year’s PGA and a 73.46 stroke average, the toughest course in relation to par on Tour in 2017. As a result, it left some players less than excited to return to the Charlotte, N.C.-area layout later this spring for the Wells Fargo Championship.
It’s that lack of enthusiasm that led officials at Quail Hollow to send a video to players saying, essentially, that the course players have lauded for years will be back in May.
The video, which includes Quail Hollow president Johnny Harris and runs nearly five minutes, begins with an explanation of how the first hole, which played as a 524-yard par 4 at the PGA, will play much shorter at the Wells Fargo Championship.
“I had a number of my friends who were playing in the tournament tell me that tee was better suited as a lemonade stand,” Harris joked of the new tee box on the fourth hole. “I doubt we’ll ever see that tee used again in competition.”
Harris also explained that the greens, which became too fast for some, will be “softer” for this year’s Wells Fargo Championship.