Sean Palmer, the 2014 Philadelphia PGA Section Assistant Professional of the Year, is the PGA Director of Golf at The Union League Golf Club at Torresdale in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Golf is increasingly being viewed as an athletic sport rather than a recreational activity, and the fashion of golfers is evolving with this trend. This shift allows the Union League to offer apparel to the golfer looking to improve his or her golf swing, as well as the members seeking improved fitness. After all, golf fitness is not just a trend – it’s mainstream, and it’s here to stay. Athleisure is more than just lifestyle pieces; it also encompasses technology-driven apparel, and this has created opportunities for our retail team to offer top-of-the-line brands in our golf shops, as well as in our fitness center.
The Union League offers a premier health and fitness center with state-of-the-art equipment, spa services, personal training and nutritional analysis. We recently developed a program for our golf members to work with our fitness director, Katie Barrett, who focuses on core strength training, yoga and Pilates. Our fitness instructors and PGA Professionals are TPI-certified, which allows our membership to develop their golf game in the gym, as well as on the course. Many PGA and LPGA Tour players are leading the way in physical fitness, which supports the direction in which the game is evolving. Our apparel vendors are following this trend and offering fitness-focused designs that represent the athleticism of golfers.
The connection between fitness and golf has increased our sales dramatically and allowed us to implement a small retail space near the entrance of our fitness center. In addition, we offer a wide variety of fitness apparel on our website, which nets over $100,000 in sales per year. Our offerings include Lululemon, RLX, Zero Restriction and Peter Millar, to name a few. Using Lululemon’s blend of athletic performance with a professional look allows the merchandise to perform well in both a golf shop and gym setting, making this one of our top-selling brands.
While every club has its dress code requirements, we see the trends in fitness and athleisure reflecting a new approach to golf fashion – a shift from traditional trousers to five-pocket pants and joggers. Our customers have become excited participants in the shift in trends, which reflects greatly in our sales.
Visual displays in our fitness center and golf shops continue to change through the seasons, allowing our merchandising program to go beyond just golf. Due to the additional offerings, we have seen a spike in sales over all four properties. As this trend becomes the mainstream approach in the industry, our retail efforts will continue to adapt with the needs of our membership.