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Careers: Retail Therapy - Australian Golf Digest Careers: Retail Therapy - Australian Golf Digest

To engage the members at Busselton Golf Club, PGA professional Grant Williams gave them a sense of big-city shopping

The tell-tale signs were there as soon as Grant Williams walked in the door to take over the head golf professional and golf operations manager roles at Busselton Golf Club, 220 kilometres south of Perth.

A new pair of shoes on the member walking in to pay their Saturday comp fees. A new hybrid in the bag of the member at their latest lesson. Expanding the retail offering at Busselton was one of Williams’ first priorities… and now he had proof of where members felt they were not receiving full service.

“Everyone from a regional area who goes to a city, goes to a big golf shop,” Williams says. “I asked a member where he got his new 5-wood and his answer was, ‘I was up in Perth last week.’

“That was just happening all the time, so expanding the range really was a no-brainer. We have a premium golf course, so why not premium service and products in the golf shop? Regional golf courses seem to concentrate on cheaper-end products and only enough to display the product but no real stock. They’re always having to order stock for the members rather than having it readily available.” 

Awarded the WA PGA Club Professional of the Year at the WA Golf Industry Awards in March for a range of initiatives he has introduced at Busselton in the past two years, Williams went beyond simply stocking the pro shop with more gear. To encourage members to shop closer to home, Williams set about creating a shopping experience that matched what they would find in a major department store in Perth.

“Even with little space, I modelled the shop on a high-end golf experience by simply displaying everything more clearly,” Williams says. “At some regional clubs the golf shop can begin to look a bit old and tired, but it doesn’t take much to transform the look and feel of a real golf shop experience.

“If you order 12 putters from Taylor-Made, you ask if they have a putter stand you can use for the display. You’d be amazed at how many people will pick up a putter if it’s displayed well and well-positioned within a golf shop.”

While he hopes these initiatives have played a part in Busselton’s membership growing from 630 to 900 in just two years, Williams acknowledges that timing plays its part. In the wake of COVID, Busselton itself has grown significantly and golf has been booming across the country.

It was a classic case of preparation meeting opportunity, but Williams has done everything he can to turn that good fortune into an atmosphere where new members feel welcomed and valued – and reassured that they won’t find a better deal in ‘the big smoke’.

“If somebody comes in and says that they can get the same pair of shoes $30 or $50 cheaper somewhere else, I’ll match it,” adds Williams, who spent 20 years working at numerous clubs throughout Europe. “We never make a loss doing that. We sometimes don’t make much money, but my philosophy there is we don’t just turn over a pair of shoes, but we make a member happy.

“We’ve had 200 brand new lady beginner golfers come through here in the past five months, and they’re all new to golf. We show them all the aspects of golf; the first tee, the clubhouse facilities, we give them a welcome pack which gives them everything they need to feel welcome and at home. 

“Having stock makes the shop come alive. There’s a new range of shoes, a new line of summer or winter clothes; stock is constantly changing. There’s something happening all the time, and that’s important.” 

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