Specialized Tournament Gift Items


Chip Essig, PGA Master Professional and 2011 PGA Golf Professional of the Year, is director of golf and owner of Hickory Stick Golf Club in Greenwood, Indiana.

Years ago, I used to jam all my business appointments into one day at the PGA Merchandise Show, then spend the rest of the time networking. These days, I’ve slowed my approach down quite a bit; I’m not in as much of a hurry. This strategy has proven beneficial. I divide my time into categories, looking for tournament ideas in one block of time, range ideas in another, and so on. A major focus for me at last year’s PGA Show was finding interesting tournament prizes for outing coordinators. Since we have a lot of corporate and charity events at our club, three years ago my team and I started assembling binders for the outing coordinators, containing myriad gift items we can get for them to use as team favors or tournament prizes, often things they can’t find anywhere else, like certain golf bags, shirts, hats, divot tools, hat clips, money clips and special knickknacks. We always include items for ladies, as more than 50 percent of our outing coordinators are women. Our binders are like catalogs. We find that outing coordinators really appreciate them and, as a result, buy items from us instead of elsewhere. Our prices might be the same, but our service is a lot better. We make sure our catalogs change every year, except for some stock items such as golf balls. We create separate binders for high school and junior outings, containing things like clubfitting sessions, logoed team shirts and spirit wear, which is popular with parents and grandparents, too. This year we will add another catalog, targeted to our members, containing special-order items they can get only through us. At this year’s PGA Show, I will seek out items for this new binder, as well.

We send our outing coordinators targeted emails and show an interest in their tournaments. As a result, we now host about 30 tournaments a year. I would say about 50 percent of our tournament coordinators increased the amount of spending they do with us once we started handing out the catalogs. Some of them upped it as much as $30 per player more per outing. One even did a golf bag, which was a $100-per-player increase for us. Both corporate and charity outings have increased their spending due to the catalogs, and we saw a huge spending increase with the school tournaments, too. A certificate for a series of private lessons is a popular catalog gift idea. When we included some new items in our school-outing catalogs after last year’s PGA Merchandise Show, five new students signed up for lessons and several parents signed up for clubfittings. They tend to keep coming back.

If you would like to email the author of this Best Practice directly, please email cessig@pga.com

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