'Spot-On Perfect': 'New' Golf Augusta Impressive
Walk in. Look around. Be prepared to be impressed.
And, if you’re a golfer, expect to leave with something new for your game or your appearance. There’s just too much good stuff for you to leave empty-handed.
The place is Golf Augusta, and while it’s not a new golf equipment outlet, the location is new, and the 5,000-square-foot building is bursting at the seams with the latest golf goodies on the market.
Want some new golf shoes? Golf Augusta can fix you up with a selection from more than 4,000 pairs. Honest. There’s an entire room packed with stacks of shoes.
Scott Shepherd, a 49-year-old Tom’s River, N.J., resident who has been in the Sandhills since taking a job with Tom Graber as an assistant professional at Foxfire in 1986, and his brother Greg are co-owners of the store, and they aim to please.
Golf Augusta opened originally in 1997 with a location on N.C. 5 between Aberdeen and Pinehurst as part of a chain that originated in Augusta, Ga. The new address is 1545 U.S. 1.
“We bought in as a franchise,” Scott Shepherd said, “but we’ve been on our own for the past 10 years.”
The reasons for moving are more room and more traffic. And despite being the fourth golf equipment store to be located on a short stretch of U.S. 1 in Southern Pines, Shepherd says he thinks there’s plenty of business for everyone. After all, two of the biggest golf equipment stores in the Carolinas, Martin’s and Golf Dimensions, are located across the street from each other in Myrtle Beach, S.C., and customers are standing in line daily.
“We’re not concerned about the other outlets here,” Shepherd said. “Our only concern about the move is being located a mile farther away from Pinehurst.”
Plans are to expand the new store to 7,500 feet as soon as possible, and with a new launch monitor being installed on premise soon, Shepherd expects business to be brisk.
“We buy, sell and trade used clubs,” he said, “and that’s a big attraction to golfers. Allowing them to trade up to the next line of equipment seems to really have been a catapult to our growth.
“We’ve also had an online business for the past 12 years, and that enables us to have so much more product. That’s why we have more than 4,000 pairs of shoes. And, next to clubs, the shoes are our biggest sellers.”
Shepherd feels the huge inventory and customer service are the keys to doing well in economic times that have been harsh for most people in the golf business.
“I’ve been a Class A PGA professional since 1989,” he said, “and we have other PGA professionals working here. Being PGA-owned and operated makes our customer service stand out.
“We’re newer, we have more inventory, we’re larger, and we take club trade-ins. We have a significant inventory of all the major brands, and if we don’t have it, we’ll get it for you. We’ve prided ourselves on that since the day we opened in 1997.”
Shepherd points out that Golf Augusta is not a discount store. “The prices are set by the equipment companies,” he said, “and we all have to sell the major lines for the same thing.
“But when a company comes out with a new line, we can reduce prices. For instance, when Foot-Joy closes out a line of shoes, because of our large inventory, we get in on the deals faster than some other stores.”
Shepherd, who was a walk-on as a senior for the Gettysburg College golf team, plays a strong game. He won the 2000 Moore County Match Play Championship, beating out his old boss Graber in the finals. But he’s happiest these days fixing a customer up with a set of clubs that both hope will create game improvement.
“I can’t think of anything else I’d rather do,” he said. “It would have to be something outdoors.”
Shepherd admits that January is one of the slowest months in the equipment business, but expects it to start picking up next month.
“We’re busiest from mid-February to Memorial Day,” he said. “Things are pretty steady through the summer, except when the U.S. Kids Championship comes to town. I’d really like to thank the Chamber of Commerce and anyone else who has a hand in bringing the U.S. Kids here. Any week they’re here is better than any U.S. Open week we’ve ever had.”
Meanwhile, Shepherd is concentrating on completing the move, getting everything situated, putting the new launch monitor into service, and making customers happy.
“We’re planning on a grand opening in February or March,” he said. “We’ll have a different equipment company represented each day, demonstrating their clubs and fitting equipment. From the experts to you.
“There’s a great pride in having your own business. It’s not like we’re living in New Jersey or somewhere and calling down here to see how things are going.
“Greg and I are not going to be satisfied if everything is not spot-on perfect.”
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