UK retailer says PGA professionals’ jobs are safe following mass sackings in the US
PGA professionals in the UK do not need to fear for their jobs after hundreds were sacked on the same day in the USA.
These comments come from the head of one of Europe’s largest golf retail groups after it emerged that Dick’s Sporting Goods, the largest retailer in the United States of TaylorMade and Callaway products, fired every PGA professional it employs at the end of July.
Nearly 500 golfers lost their jobs in the cull.
The company had a PGA professional at almost every store it owns in the USA, but it has decided to change its business model in line with the pressures affecting golf participation in traditional western markets.
Unsurprisingly, there are fears that there will be a similar mass sacking in the UK, especially as the British market often mirrors its American counterpart.
However, Eddie Reid, managing director of the TGI Golf Partnership, said British PGA professionals do not need to fear for their jobs, provided they show commercial acumen.
“There have been claims that what starts in the US invariably comes here and people are concerned as to what sort of impact this will have on our own PGA professionals,” he said.
“But it was purely a business decision to release the PGA professionals, it had nothing to do with the service they were providing. Dick’s Sporting Goods freely admitted the PGA professional gave their business credibility, but the company is answerable to shareholders, and with a warning of a reduction in profits of 10 percent this year, like most businesses it has to cut their cloth accordingly.
“As for our own PGA professionals here, they will continue to thrive as long as they have a sound business model based on quality of service and a commercially agile attitude which permits them to change and adapt to the current market forces, whatever they may be at any given time.”
Reid added that there has been a change in consumer behaviour in the USA in recent months, which has seen buyers waiting for merchandise to drop in price before they purchase it.
This was confirmed by Dick’s CEO, Ed Stack, who said the company has had to drop the prices of drivers from $299 in autumn 2012 to just $99 this spring. As a result the company’s overall golf business missed its first-quarter sales plan by $34 million this year.
At the heart of the problem is declining participation in golf in the USA, which has been mirrored in the UK.
“Every macro-indicator that we’ve been looking at for the past 20 years – rounds played, number of minorities playing, women coming into the game – all of these things that we tracked says that there’s less people playing,” said Mark King, the former president of TaylorMade. “Young people entering the game after high school, 18- to 30-year-olds are down 35 percent in the last 10 years. So I don’t like where the game looks like it’s going.”
Recent surveys has found there is huge demand from women to play golf, but many clubs are perceived as being unwelcoming to ladies. The R&A Golf Club will hold a vote next month on whether it will allow women to become members for the first time in its history.