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Business Of Golf: Surviving The Passage Of Time - Australian Golf Digest Business Of Golf: Surviving The Passage Of Time - Australian Golf Digest

Good retail businesses come and go. Great retail businesses pivot and continue to prosper. To mark Drummond Golf’s golden anniversary, franchisee Shane Hodby shares some secrets of the retailer’s longevity

This year marks the 50th anniversary of Drummond Golf, the retail business that originated when Ray Drummond opened a small store in Bendigo in 1974. Today, Drummond Golf has evolved into Australia’s largest off-course retailer and a successful franchise model with 51 stores across Australia.

Shane Hodby is the major shareholder of the five Drummond Golf stores in Adelaide: Enfield, Darlington, West Beach Driving Range, Tea Tree Gully Golf Club and Mile End. Hodby’s association with retail hails back to when he worked for Peter Ormsby when the Mile End store was known as Pete’s Golf.

As someone with three decades of experience in the golf industry, we asked Hodby about the Drummond Golf journey and the state of the retail sector.

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Fifty years is a remarkable milestone in business. What has been one of the most important steps in Drummond Golf’s longevity in the retail sector?

I think a couple of our key pillars that we talk about. Your pillars do evolve as you go along, but one big thing is MiMatch Fitting System. It’s that old adage, customer service. Location [is one of] the other big things. And what we call a good variety of products, having all the brands under one roof.

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Can you explain the specifics of the MiMatch Fitting System?

MiMatch is basically getting the right clubs for your golf swing. When we talk about length, clubhead speed, type of golf from ability – from a blade golf club for a really good golfer to a very forgiving golf club with a high moment of inertia. That said, it’s a program, MiMatch, which will basically give you the option of exactly what’s going to be right for your golf swing.

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What’s a major point of difference between Drummond Golf and other golf retailers?

We moved away from [using] the word clubfitting. The problem was that everyone used the word clubfitting. So [Drummond Golf] patented the word MiMatch. So it’s matched to you. That’s how we could really promote that name. That’s part of our DNA.

In a sense it’s clubfitting, but it’s a lot better experience on being able to visually see it… You can have a guy that’s 6-foot-4 and probably think he needs longer golf clubs. But it’s all about his wrist-to-ground [measurement]. If he’s got [long] arms, that means he doesn’t need a longer golf club… We go into a far more extensive understanding for the consumer. So they actually understand exactly what they’re getting and the reasons why.

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Is MiMatch the product or service that tends to draw the most customers into a Drummond Golf store?

Certainly, that’s one of our pillars that we pride ourselves on – to be fitted correctly. [Another] area that’s been quite strong over the years is what we call our soft goods – men’s and ladies’ clothing – having a very good variety of brands under the one roof. So that gives the customer that one-stop shop experience. That they can go there and say, “Not only can I get fitted out, but I can buy the latest clothing.” Be that from an adidas, Travis Mathew…

If you’re thinking hardware, one thing on our TV ads, it’s about the love of the game… You’ve probably seen over a period of time we’ve tried to move away from a price model because that’s only going to end up in everyone just lowering their prices. As such, we’re about making sure the customer gets a fair deal and they get fitted correctly across the board with any of the brands. It’s not a case of just saying, “I’m a shop that just sells Callaway.” We’ll go through every brand to make sure that’s the correct model for them.

Customers these days, when they get that experience, there’s loyalty and that’s why one of the biggest pillars is Drummond Club Membership. That’s where you get the best deal – day in and day out – being a member. We’ve got more than 400,000 Drummond Club members Australia-wide now [at $39.95 per membership]. At a lot of stores – not golf stores but retail stores – you don’t actually pay anything for a membership.

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How have the buying habits of golfers changed in recent years? What trends have you seen?

Pre-COVID, we were so reliant on the ‘Baby Boomers’ [who] pretty much held the golf industry together. But then COVID hit. Like Melbourne and Sydney, in Adelaide you couldn’t go to gyms. You couldn’t go to pubs. You couldn’t play sport for a period. So everyone was looking for something else that you could do in that period.

Golf, you could distance 1.5 metres away from each other. Someone always knew someone that played golf. So they’d go, “Hey, Johnny, why don’t you come and play with us?” They’ve [realised]: This golf ain’t stuffy. This golf’s great. I can have four hours’ entertainment with my mates… It’s becoming their main sport in that 18 to 35-year-old that we just couldn’t get our hands on consistently. Now they’ve come to the game in droves.

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In terms of retail sales, what’s been the one sector that’s excelled in recent years?

Hardware is always a bigger percentage of your business. But I think what’s come into the area is technology. So technology from rangefinders, the GPSs, GC Quads, golf simulation – the amount of people that are putting golf ‘sims’ in their home.

People have got all that data at their fingertips now. Whereas once upon a time they’d have to come into a store. Now you can buy something relatively cheaply, a bit like a Big Swing Golf [indoor simulator] or a Garmin R10 [launch monitor] that you can just plonk behind you.

One of the [other] areas that has grown is the clothing [sector]. Clothing is definitely one area where we’ve noticed from post-COVID where you had a lot of that age group of 18-to-35 coming in and buying a package: “I just want something; I’m having a hit with my mates.” And then what we’ve found over the next one or two years, you get that same person say, “I love the game. I need to get some golf shoes. I need to get the clothing. I need to look the part.” Soft goods has definitely grown quite strongly.

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How has LIV Golf Adelaide affected your business?

It’s definitely increased our business… where we do see a spike is in that younger generation coming in. If you’re going to put something around LIV Golf, it’s definitely the younger generation that have taken it on. And they’re really, really intrigued with the game of golf.

[At The Grange Golf Club] I walked into the gate, probably 200 metres, I saw seven or eight prams. Yesteryear, going to an Australian Open, you’d never take your kid because you’d be too scared they’d be squawking while the pro’s having a hit. Whereas here, the louder the noise, the better. And that’s where I think that generation have come into the game going, Wow, this is great. They’ve obviously got to understand a bit more of the etiquette, but they definitely are the ones that are going to be [feeding] the golf industry for years to come.