FAIRBORN, OH – The Southern Ohio PGA is excited to name Tom West, PGA General Manager at Heatherwoode Golf Club, the 2022 SOPGA Merchandiser of the Year at a public facility.
Tom West, PGA General Manager at Heatherwoode Golf Club, is the 2022 Southern Ohio PGA Merchandiser of the Year at a public facility. West views his golf shop as the first impression a golfer has at the club and therefore the shop must be a direct reflection of the overall facility. In addition to the typical golf items, he enjoys giving the customer something unexpected. The Red London Telephone Booth installed around the drink cooler and the walk-in cigar humidor accomplish that unanticipated appeal in the shop. West also commissioned a solid cherry wood trophy case installed in the shop to display golf memorabilia in an upscale fashion. West takes great pride in the golf shop he and his team have built. They work hard to keep it neat, clean and organized to make it feel warm and inviting to all golfers walking through the doors. As a 36-year PGA of America Member who has worked at various facilities throughout the North Florida, Middle Atlantic and now Southern Ohio Sections, West has been recognized for his outstanding work in the industry on multiple occasions. The 2022 SOPGA Merchandiser of the Year award is now his second recognition in the Southern Ohio Section after receiving the same award in 2018.
Q: What does it mean to you to be named the Southern Ohio PGA Public Merchandiser of the Year?
TW: It means a great deal to me being named the Southern Ohio PGA Public Merchandiser of the Year. Recognition for being an outstanding PGA Professional in merchandising is something that I have always strived to accomplish. As well as, recognition by fellow PGA Members for a job well done. I have had the honor of winning this award twice in the Southern Ohio Section and five times while I was in the North Florida Section. Winning this award is something that I do not take for granted and I am very proud to have accomplished seven times now.
Q: What has been the most important factor in running a successful golf shop (ie. product selection, strong support staff, physical layout, etc.)?
TW: The most important factor in being successful is surrounding yourself with quality staff members. Over the years, I have been fortunate to employ highly qualified staff members who have shared the same passion and desire for the game of golf. It is one thing to have a great facility and shop that looks professional and upscale, but without the support of staff members, it would have been nearly impossible to achieve my goals.
Q: Since beginning to work in the merchandise part of the industry, what has been the most interesting / surprising thing you have learned about maintaining a successful public golf shop?
TW: The most interesting thing I have learned that has helped me be successful is that everyone is different and have different interests. My interests may be different from yours and the interests of your friends. I have to keep an open mind when I am ordering any merchandise. An item that I may find to be distasteful may end up being a top seller. In addition, you cannot be afraid to try new ideas and trends, otherwise you risk becoming stagnant.
Q: Have there been any mentors or peers who have helped develop you as a merchandiser?
TW: My mentors consist of three very qualified PGA Professionals. Vic Sorrell the first PGA Professional that I worked for as an apprentice at Fincastle C.C. Vic taught me how to be attentive to what our members liked and disliked, this helped to order properly. Second, was Jay Overton at Innisbrook Resort. Jay taught me how to take proper inventory of items in our shop and how to display products to catch the attention of prospective buyers. Third, Dick Highland at Bardmoor Golf & Tennis Club taught me how to properly order in large quantities in preparation for large events. While at Bardmoor, we hosted nationally televised PGA/LPGA tour events; therefore, proper ordering was critical to its success. All three men have proven to be outstanding mentors in my life and career. They have helped mold me into the Professional that I am today.
Q: Is there a “Best Practice” you’ve utilized as a merchandiser to build your successful golf shop at a public facility?
TW: My “Best Practice” would be to think outside of the box. I have always strived to have items and fixtures in my shops that are different or unique from other golf shops. For example, I installed a walk-in humidor in our golf shop here at Heatherwoode to bring golfers into the shop and locals as well. I also installed a red British telephone booth in the shop to house my coke cooler. It draws the attention of our patrons to the product but also adds a touch of class. I have always liked having moving props in my shop too. To achieve this, I have placed water fountains and rotating displays inside and outside my shops, again to draw attention to areas where I want them to focus to drive sales.
Q: What advice would you give to someone just beginning to learn about building a successful golf shop?
TW: My best advice to someone beginning to learn about building a successful golf shop would be to start conservatively. Be methodical and develop a solid buying plan. Be careful to not over order. You can always order more as needed.
The SOPGA recognizes Members who have demonstrated superior skills as merchandisers in the promotion of golf. Awarded in two categories (Private and Public/Municipal/Military/Semi-Private). Credit rating, community involvement, staffing, inventory, displays and merchandising techniques are some of the criteria considered for this award. Click here to learn more about the Southern Ohio PGA Special Awards and to view previous recipients.