Golf Pros Dicked Over By Dick’s

dicksIt’s no secret our country and perhaps 85% or better of the rest of the world is suffering from a down economy. Considering the situation, most turn to basic financial survival instincts and resort to cutting back spending by starting with the luxuries. Unfortunately golf tends to fall into this category.

As a matter of fact, Dick’s Sporting Goods recently laid off around 560 golf pros from their stores (in case you didn’t know, Dick’s employed actual PGA pros at their stores, up until this week that is, to distinguish themselves from an online outlet). Their reasoning for the mass cannings? According to a story by ESPN, Dick’s blames the economy, less people playing, too many products flooding the market and a downward trend in their golf equipment sales.

After hearing of this, we connected with someone (a golf pro who shall remain anonymous) that just happen to be one of the Dick’s casualties this week. Here’s what he had to say:

1. How do you feel Dick’s handled the situation?

I thought they could have changed our role before they laid all of us off. They still sell equipment that many customers seek advice on. Which ball should I play? What loft is a sand wedge? As it was, I was already one of two people to cover an entire floor. I carried more kayaks down than golf clubs at times. Tennis was given to golf to cover and sell as well. So in my opinion, since your gonna staff it anyways, why not someone who knows what they’re doing? The company strives for a customer service number – who better to service people but a golf professional. I think they should have looked at some of their processes to save money. For example, each week the regional manager would have a conference call with corp[orate], then they would have a conference call with the district managers, then they would have a call with store managers who relay the information to the dept manager, who has an hourly associate do the task. Seems like a big waste of corp[orate] dollars to me.”

2. Dick’s attributed the layoffs to the game’s dwindling popularity – were you able to witness any slow-down at the store?

I was at the driving range on a Wednesday afternoon and just about all the bays were full. I couldn’t get a tee time because the local course was booked. I think people are still playing. While I was there, everyday a steady flow of people came through the store. In my opinion, the rule restrictions out on clubs years ago changed the market. While the companies all claim that the new models are better etc., in most peoples eyes it wasn’t much better than the clubs they purchase a couple of years ago. If they did like the new models, most buyers realized that the price would be half in 6 months. They should have given the pros more say in what sells. For years I begged them to send me wide shoes. One style was available in wide in the store. So just about every Friday, someone would come in looking for shoes for the weekend and left with nothing.”

Hmmmm. So now that we have (kind of) heard both sides to the story, I almost forgot to mention another reason that Dick’s used as part of justifying their layoffs: The decline of Tiger Woods. Tiger Woods?!?! I mean I kind of get it but it’s a tough sell to say part of the reason a pro lost their job is due to the decline of Tiger Woods. Regardless, we want to wish all those involved a quick return to the job they love.

So, how do we turn this negative into a positive? I like to refer to Warren Buffet’s theory of “Buy when there’s blood in the streets.” Obviously this refers to the calculated purchasing of stocks when everyone is selling, but relating this theory to golf, now is a good time to get in.

Many golf clubs, associations and instructors are dropping their prices to attract more golfers back. So if you’re looking for those golf lessons or club to join, now might be a good time to do so. Hey, it worked for Warren Buffet…

Hit’em long…yell FORE…Hug a Golf Pro this week!!!

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Comments

  1. Brian Schoen says:

    I worked for Dicks Sporting Goods for a short period of time and what I can tell you is that the pros spent more time merchandising than they did working with customers. And, the stores did very little to help grow the teaching part of their business, instead leaving it to the pros to do all the legwork there as well.

    Corporate America is about greed and greed first, second, and last. It’s all about the dollar and specifically about the margins. When you have people spending their entire day making sure the twice-a-day cycle count on high theft items is done, putting out stock, making sure the part-time associate gets to lunch on time, helping out in winter outerwear, outdoor equipment, and the hunting department, it leaves the pro little to no time to actually SELL golf equipment.

    Instead, what has happened is that employees are glorified order takers and stockers and are not trained to, nor focused on, selling. Instead, they are spending 10 hours a day just trying to complete their ‘task list’ and the customers are not getting the attention they truly deserve.

  2. Ted B. (Charging Rhino) says:

    I didn’t even know they were allowed to give lessons. Though the two local Dick’s I;m familiar-with they’d hardly have the resources. No simulator, no fitting department — just a crappily-lit room with a hitting net. I don’t think they even have a Track-man…they certainly don’t advertise it.

    Plus I don’t see how they can fit a club — or give lessons — when they are the only-employee there to cover the department and watch for shoplifters. They certainly aren’t there to answer questions besides, “…Is this is stock?”

    At-least at the local GolfGalaxy they have the simulator, a fitting desk, and post signs advertising they do give lessons.

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