The Best of the Best: PGA Show Demo Day 2022
By Keith Stewart, PGA
The most important takeaway from today’s PGA Merchandise Show Demo Day was the practice range is more important to the golfer than ever before. In the future, our training areas will be viewed as the community center of the golf facility. In watching how consumers interacted with the Orange County National experience today, we all can be certain this is one change in mindset that can benefit everyone.
Have you ever noticed how every big box chain store has the same floor plan? It doesn’t matter if you go to Best Buy in Orlando or Omaha, they are all set up the same. The reason why, to make the customer more comfortable. There’s no doubt that’s a successful strategy, but how does it apply to Demo Day? Well today, the Golf Range Association of America (https://golfrange.org/) designed their range experience with the modern golfer in mind.
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As we go through the methodology of their setup, I’ll also highlight a couple companies who participated today. They will provide nice representative examples of how you can roll out an entirely new practice facility presence in 2022. Please keep in mind, this whole practice presentation is meant to make the golfer more comfortable. Not every example will fit your facility. Implement the highlights which make the most sense. In the end, if you start to consider the customer’s perspective more often, golf’s popularity will surely continue.
Let’s start with the left side of the range. This will be the beginner area. Why? By placing them to the left most of the golfers will be facing the other way. With one subtle move, you have taken their practice area and made it a private haven for new players. The atmosphere adjustments don’t stop there. When you consider where they are hitting, make sure the targets are large and close by. Let your beginners experience how fun the game can be.
Behind the players you want to create a very social and welcoming setting on the left side. Look at these range items from Signs by the Sea (https://signsbythesea.com/ ).
Cornhole, fire pits, drink holders and a spot to sit are going to make any entry level golfer. feel more welcome. By designing a destination where people feel comfortable to do something other than hits balls, you will create a true welcome mat to the game.
When we get to the middle you may want to open it up a little. Down range allow the players to have a large variety of targets. Your middle handicap players are building an interest in the game. Stix Golf (https://stix.golf/) had a very cool and simple setup today. Their theory, “make modern clubs for the average golfer.” Apple doesn’t make a men’s and women’s iPhone? Stix makes clubs in 15 different combinations, and they all look the same.
By making them affordable and aesthetically pleasing there’s a connection they are creating to the middle of the golfing audience. Place some demo sets around the middle of the range. Invite your players to enhance their experience and commitment to the game through interesting products. It’s a great spot for training aids as well!
Now the far right. The seasoned golfer is looking for an immersive range experience. Specific short game targets, advanced training aids, a mirror and more. Behind their tee line place your fitting carts. Bridgestone Golf (https://www.bridgestonegolf.com/en us/index) has just unveiled a cool new technology called OTTO.
It’s an autonomous ball fitting computer. By taking millions of player data points, they can connect to the green grass golfer and perform a ball fitting in three swings. Easier than checking a bag at the airport, this innovation created some attention today.
This end of the range is also where you would construct a teaching area. The reason we add these amenities to the right, because unlike the left side most of the golfers will be looking in this direction. There’s no better way to sell than to see. Since our eyes tend to control our attention, creating this new dynamic player center will change the way low handicappers approach your range as well.
The GRAA made an amazing impact on my thinking as a PGA Coach today. You can create a comfortable setting for all types of golfers without even using any signs! Demo Day displayed countless innovations we all would like to buy. In the end, the one thing we all can afford was a change in thinking. Make your practice facility the center of attention at your facility. Add food, fun and fittings. Host events there and before you know it all your players will be proud to have a home on the range.