Golfsmith - Because It's More Than Just a Game

By David R. Holland, Contributor

AUSTIN, TX - You know you have made it in the golf world when your retail business becomes a tourist attraction.

In 1967, Carl Paul and his wife, Barbara, started a small business. It was the beginning of the custom clubmaking industry and it was Paul's interest in golf and his engineering background that led him to discover a niche in the golf industry: providing golf club components - clubheads, grips, shafts - to golf clubmakers worldwide.

Now, almost 33 years later, The Golfsmith International headquarters welcomes visitors from all over the world. Each year thousands of people tour the corporate offices, shipping facilities, 250-person telephone order/customer-service center, award-winning driving range and 30,000-square-foot superstore deep in the heart of Texas.

The location is also home to the Harvey Penick Golf Academy, which teaches the technique and philosophy of one of the world's most renowned golf instructor and author of the popular Little Red Book.

The Golfsmith International headquarters welcomes visitors from all over the world.

Mr. Penick, who taught Texas legends Ben Crenshaw and Tom Kite, emphasized making golf as uncomplicated and enjoyable as possible. Since its beginning in 1993, the Harvey Penick Golf Academy has helped more than 10,000 students from all 50 states and 16 other countries learn the game of golf. Two-day and three-day Harvey Penick Golf Academy classes are held weekly, 11 months per year.

In the beginning Paul was still commuting to a job in New York City while Barbara managed the upstart business and took care of the couple's young daughters. Carl dedicated his evenings and weekends to growing the business, and was soon designing and assembling golf clubs.

In 1969 the first catalogs offering golf club components were produced and the same year they received a federal trademark on the name Golfsmith. In 1973, Carl's brother, Frank, joined the business and shortly thereafter they moved to a small storefront in Austin.

"Each week, people from all over the world also visit Austin to attend Golfsmith's golf clubmaking, clubfitting and club repair training schools and become certified clubmakers" said Barry Rinke, marketing vice president of Golfsmith International.

"In addition to the 5 ½-day Complete Clubmakers Training Program, Golfsmith offers shorter, more focused programs such as Advanced Clubmaking, Fitting and Repair; Advanced Clubfitting; Basic Golf Club Assembly; and Marketing. Many clubmakers also participate in Golfsmith's annual Golf Clubmakers Association International Conference.

The five-day event features seminars from Golfsmith's technical staff, as well as other experts in the industry. It is attended annually by about 500 clubmakers and their guests, and is designed to keep clubmakers abreast of the latest technical innovations in the industry."

Today, Golfsmith is a multi-million dollar company. Golfsmith International, Inc. now includes huge golf superstores nationwide and in Canada, several foreign distributors, a shipping department that ships 8,000 orders in an average day.

The company opened its first superstore outside of Austin in 1995 in Houston, Texas. Since then, the company has opened superstores in Dallas, Denver, Phoenix, Long Island, Moorestown (New Jersey), Chicago, Seattle, Minneapolis, Pittsburgh, Columbus, Atlanta, Arlington, Plano, Minneapolis, San Diego and Vancouver, Canada. Additional locations are scheduled to open continuously in the near future.

The superstores are between 20,000- and 30,000-square feet and are each filled with a huge inventory of golf club components, golf equipment, training aids, accessories and apparel. Visitors have access to the latest in technology such as computerized swing analyzers and golf simulators, devices which measure clubhead speed, and banks of synchronized televisions tuned continuously to golf programming.

"Although the company has experienced double-digit growth in each of its last 31 years, Golfsmith is still very much a family business" Rinke said. "Carl, Barbara and Frank Paul are actively involved in the day-to-day operations of the company. All three of Carl and Barbara's daughters are involved in the company, and their sons-in-law are Golfsmith employees as well."

Rinke said the key to the success of Carl Paul's American Dream has been offering his customers the very best possible service.

"Carl and Frank and the management team try to pass on an understanding that the world doesn't really need another place that merely sells golf equipment, but can absolutely understand a place that offers fantastic service to the customer and also happens to sell golf equipment," Rinke said.

What you might not know about Golfsmith: In 1998, Golfsmith purchased three well-known golf companies: Lynx Golf Inc., Snake Eyes Golf Clubs Inc., and Black Rock Golf Corp., manufacturer of the Killer Bee® line of golf equipment. The three lines will become proprietary brands for Golfsmith's U.S.-based catalogs and retail superstores.

Golfsmith International, Inc.
11000 North I-35
Austin, TX 78753
US Telephone: 1-800-815-3873
Telephone: 512-837-4810
Store: 512-821-4050
Fax: 512- 837-1245

Directions: From I-35, take the Braker Lane exit. On the 1-35 frontage road, travel south of Braker Lane and the showroom is on your right. Golfsmith is located about a half-mile south of Braker Lane.

David R. HollandDavid R. Holland, Contributor

David R. Holland is an award-winning former sportswriter for The Dallas Morning News, football magazine publisher, and author of The Colorado Golf Bible. Before launching a career as a travel/golf writer, he achieved the rank of Lieutenant Colonel in the Air Force reserve, serving during the Vietnam and Desert Storm eras. Follow Dave on Twitter @David_R_Holland.

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