President of PGA Tour Superstores on Planning For The Future

PGA Tour Superstore, White Plains,Syndication: Westchester County Journal News
PGA Tour Superstore, White Plains,Syndication: Westchester County Journal News /

Recently, I sat down with Jill Spiegel, President of PGA Tour Superstore, for a one-on-one interview to discuss the growth of the company and her part in it.  In addition, Spiegel was a guest on The Golf Show 2.0 podcast. This is Part II of a two-part article. Part I can be found here.

If PGA Superstore is any guide, golf is definitely on the upswing. Their business is beyond good, according to Jill Spiegel, the relatively newly appointed president of the company.

“The first half of ’21, we did more business than we did in all of 2019, which was unbelievable,” Spiegel said about the company’s success, even though the pandemic wasn’t over in 2021.

Some of the company’s growth came from expansion, but their same-store growth was up nearly 60 percent. These days, sales and the number of stores continue to expand.

“Our average volume has increased dramatically,” Spiegel added.  “It’s really a combination of both.”

"“It’s not just about transactions. it’s about relationships, and we really feel that way when we have customers come in.”  —  Jill Spiegel, President of PGA Tour Superstores."

In 2019, eCommerce was a much smaller part of their overall business, Spiegel said, but when they were faced with shutting down stores in 2020, online tripled. Today, eCommerce sales are not the lion’s share, nor do they want it to be.

“It contracted a little this year (2022), but it’s still so much higher than it was back in ’19,” she noted, adding that they really prefer having customers come into the stores.

“We don’t want to do eCommerce business in place of brick and mortar,” she said.

"“It’s an experience (when you come to the stores), and you don’t get that same experience on the website as you do when you’re in the store.”"

She looks at it as omnichannel. A lot of their customers utilize online information to research what products are available, whether clothing or equipment. Then they come into the stores for the purchase. Or they come to the stores to be fit for clubs or for a lesson.

Right now, she believes it’s a good balance, but eCommerce is significantly lower than 40% of sales.

The main focus for Spiegel in the upcoming months is to execute the expansion without losing what they believe is great customer service in every store.

“A lot of our markets were new last year, and we have eight more scheduled for this year,” she noted.

In 2022, they opened eight PGA Tour Superstores.

Three of them were in California: Pleasanton, Cupertino, and Torrance. (They already had a store in East Palo Alto.)  They debuted in the Milwaukee market. They also added stores in Tampa, Florida; Charlotte, North Carolina; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; and Rockville, Maryland.

“By the end of this year (2023), we’ll have five stores in Chicago, more than we’ll have in any one city,” Spiegel said about the continued growth.

States with the most to date are Florida with 10 locations and Texas with nine.

“We look at where we go based on how much golf is played,” she noted.

States with the most golf courses, according to the National Golf Foundation are, in order, Florida (1238), California (964), Michigan (860), New York (830), and Texas (819).

In theory, that should be an indicator of where stores will open in the future. But some locations are just golfier than others. Like Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, where PGA Tour Superstore started as Martin’s Golf & Tennis.

This year, PGA Tour Superstore plans to open in another eight locations.

Which will bring the total to 66. They expect to be in the mid-70s by 2024, and by 2026, the company plans to have nearly 100 stores.

One factor in the choice of the store location is real estate availability and price. PGA Tour Superstore looks for deals in or near existing shopping areas. For example, they purchased the leases of many Toys R Us and Babies R Us stores and converted them to PGA Tour Superstores.

“A lot of our stores the last year have been Toys R Us or Babies R Us, and we were able to get into some very expensive markets with advantageous pricing because of that,” Spiegel explained.

"“We entered the Boston market with three stores. I think all of those were either Toys or Babies, and one of the California stores we opened, the one in Pleasanton, was a Babies R Us.”"

Their real estate division is always on the lookout for opportunities.

But with expansion comes the challenge of providing the same consistent service at each location. Recently they had what they call their annual summit, which they were not able to do during the time of COVID. While they usually do them in Atlanta, this time, it was held at PGA National in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida.

“We trained 240 of our club fitters across the company,” Spiegel explained.

"“It’s an amazing event. All the OEMs (equipment manufacturers) come in. It’s a big demo day. It’s educational classroom teaching, and then they go out on the range, and they talk equipment. Not only is it great training and great information, it’s a cultural infusion as well.”"

Spiegel said she had received many thank you emails from club fitters who attended. That is just the tip of the golf tee when it comes to training.

PGA Tour Superstore also built a new training center and performance facility in Atlanta on the second floor of their offices. The Atlanta training center is a replica of a store with the studios, the repair area, and the instruction bays.

“We bring in fitters, we bring in service people, like people who are doing repairs and putting on grips and bending clubs,” she explained.

Instructors are also included in special training sessions.

“When we have new people, they come in every week for training because we want consistency in how you’re fitting and how you’re teaching and how you’re putting grips on,” she noted, adding that it was a multi-million dollar investment, but worth every penny.

Each skilled area is a niche, and PGA Tour Superstore wants to create consistency from location to location.

“The repair area is hard to do. It’s kind of a lost art, so it’s like how do we find those people, and get them trained up,” she added.

Spiegel is enthusiastic about the challenge of making it all work, from finding new store locations, to seeing new customer service staff get training, to seeing the stores open, to visiting a store after it opens, to seeing customers come through the door.

But the goal is to provide a solid, dependable customer experience that’s as identical as it can be whether it’s in Seattle or Orlando. The customer service personnel, she notes, are what make it work.

"“What we always worry about is, because we are growing double digits every year, how do you protect the culture? The two most important groups of people in our mix are our associate and our customer,” she insisted.  “It’s not just about transactions. it’s about relationships, and we really feel that way when we have customers come in.”"

Next. Jill Spiegel, President of PGA Tour Superstore, Heads Up Next Expansion. dark

What’s ahead? More stores, for sure, and in the future, maybe some international locations.

In Canada, she pointed out, 15 or 16 percent of the population plays golf compared to the US which is closer to 7 or 8 percent.