Mark Lammi, a PGA Master Professional, is the PGA General Manager at Westhaven Golf Club in Franklin, Tennessee.
During the first 15 years of my career as a PGA Professional, selling lifestyle pieces and bathing suits in the golf shop was more common at resort retailers. Whether I worked at private clubs or daily fee facilities, my golf shop selections always stayed in the golf merchandise lane.
Slowly, we started to see some of the most progressive private club golf professionals bringing in non-golf retail items. Many times these started as tee gifts for invitationals – perhaps a hand-crafted candle that ended up being so popular that they decided to stock them OR a custom club tie from Italy that became a special-order hit.
As the concept of carrying non-golf items started to become more acceptable, the popularity of athleisure wear really took off. Paired with the changing dress codes at clubs that included the softening of long-time standards of what “golf attire” was supposed to be, the most entrepreneurial retail managers and golf professionals began taking chances on non-golf apparel to not only increase sales but drive the perceived value of the club. Much like the mock turtlenecks worn by Tiger, the hoodies seen at the 2021 Ryder Cup really drove this idea into the mainstream. That hoodie, which was cashmere, was sophisticated enough to wear out to dinner, but functioned like a jogger’s outerwear on a cold morning.
This concept was adopted early at Westhaven Golf Club. Our members enjoy a refined, casual lifestyle, and we strive to create an environment that is “an escape that feels like home.” Accepting athleisure wear as a part of the golf experience is a part of this vision.
Some of our top sellers include hoodies, swimsuits from Peter Millar and joggers. With an influx of Californians over the last three years, our johnnie-O line, which some might say looks more appropriate at a beach bonfire than a golf course, is very popular.
With more than 300 dining members, we work hard to tell a story within the golf shop that entices them to visit us often. We have even worked to reimagine the “golf shop” moniker and promote it more as “our members’ shop” or the “Westhaven Lifestyle Shop.” While golf apparel will always be the number one seller in the golf shop, we will continue to reinvent the definition of “golf apparel” to match the desires of our members, and right now that means something they can wear on a morning jog as much as a morning tee time.