Daniel Marinello is the Founder of Seattle Golf Fitness and The Mercer Island Golf Club in Mercer Island, Washington, and Vancouver Golf Performance in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.
(As we continue to highlight innovative and effective golf fitness programming, concepts and techniques, we also aim to spotlight the professionals whose education and expertise are driving this vital aspect of golf player development.
After sharing the very beginnings of his success story in our September 2023 Golf Fitness Monthly digital publication, Daniel Marinello continues his tale by demonstrating the dedication and focus needed to grow your own golf fitness business and the importance of building a trusting team around you.)
After traveling to clients’ office gyms, apartment gyms and homes when first starting out, and subleasing a small space at a local gym, I knew it was time for a change. After all, our business was growing and our clientele was ever-expanding.
Finding the perfect space for Seattle Golf Fitness was no easy task. Amidst the soaring rents of Seattle, my year-long search for a suitable facility saw me crafting more than ten letters of intent, each one a hopeful pitch to secure a space that could accommodate my vision. The challenges of getting a space were substantial. Rates in the Eastside of Seattle are a staggering $42 per square foot, and as a 24-year-old looking to expand my young business, I struggled to close any deals.
In June 2020, after an extensive search, I finally secured a lease at the Mercer Island Golf Club, marking a pivotal milestone in the journey of Seattle Golf Fitness. Following three months of dedicated build-out efforts, what was once a lawyer’s office had transformed into a state-of-the-art private indoor golf club, complete with a 200-square-foot gym for Seattle Golf Fitness. Despite the limited footprint of 1,400 square feet, the club’s two golf simulator bays proved to be a hit, swiftly propelling us toward profitability within a mere two months.
As our success continued to gather momentum, my landlord approached me with an opportunity to expand into the neighboring office space that had fallen vacant due to the unfortunate circumstances brought on by the pandemic. Seizing the opportunity, I embarked on the transformation of the additional 800-square-foot area into Seattle Golf Fitness’s independent gym. Simultaneously, recognizing the need for additional support, I made the decision to hire my first full-time employee.
In an effort to attract the best in the industry, I devised an alluring compensation package for our future golf fitness coach. This included transparent pay structures incentivizing client retention, an annual $2,000 continuing education stipend, indoor golf memberships and allowances for golf sessions with their clients, all complemented by standard benefits such as PTO and health insurance.
The response to our job listing was overwhelming, with over 120 applications pouring in. After an exhaustive interview process, I was delighted to welcome Zach Johnson to the team. His exceptional background as the former head strength and conditioning coach for Florida State University’s men’s and women’s golf teams was underscored by his unparalleled expertise and dedication, as well as his Certified Strength & Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) and Titleist Performance Institute (TPI) certifications.
Upon joining Seattle Golf Fitness, Zach seamlessly transitioned from the collegiate environment to the private sector, garnering a fully booked schedule within a few months. As our client base expanded, the need for an effective internship program became apparent. Drawing from my own mentorship with renowned coach Eric Cressey, we developed a comprehensive three-month paid internship at Seattle Golf Fitness. The program presented a holistic learning experience, encompassing all three TPI levels, diverse programming methodologies, client retention strategies and effective networking within the industry.
Despite the challenges posed by the European travel ban, our commitment to fostering talent saw us welcome two exceptional interns, Germán Cabrero and PJ Meaney, both hailing from Europe. Overcoming the logistical hurdles, they successfully completed their internships and transitioned into full-time coaches by the close of 2021, a testament to their dedication and the inclusivity of our team.
With Zach’s schedule fully booked and the increasing demand for our services, we swiftly responded to the needs of our growing clientele by expanding our coaching team. In November 2021, we proudly welcomed our fifth coach. Reflecting on our journey, it’s a testament to our collective dedication and hard work that Seattle Golf Fitness was a one-man operation just one year earlier.