Canada might not be the most ideal country to set up a retail golf business but Modern Golf, one of the country’s largest golf retailers, is aggressively looking at expanding its experiential concept this year.
Paul Fisher, Managing Partner of Modern Golf, said the company, which was initially established in 2012, is set to add more locations in 2020 from its current locations in Toronto, Vancouver, and Vaughan.
“There’s two locations coming in Calgary and they’ll be our fourth and fifth locations,” said Fisher.
“The future Modern Golf 2.0 is ever evolving. Modern Golf is a custom club golf club fitting facility. The Toronto location is 13,000 square feet with five custom fitting bays and basically customers come in and they’re able to purchase equipment but also get a full fitting for it. We use technology to derive what will basically be the best equipment for them. There’s upwards of 30,000 different combinations that a customer can be put into them. We custom build the product basically to PGA Tour specs.
“While basically the entire golf retail world has failed in recent years, we’ve had a fantastic run and are set to open aggressively across the country. We have 10,000 square feet coming in Calgary opening in February.”
Fisher said the Calgary facility will have practice time and include having memberships. It’s not just a facility where people come in to buy equipment but they’re also coming into practice and get lessons as well.
The second location in Calgary will be the company’s first one in Canada as a standalone at a golf course. Modern Golf will be partnering with Country Hills Golf Club. The strategic partnership includes Modern Golf handling all equipment retail on the golf club’s behalf.
“We’ll staff the facility and we’ll also offer an elite level service that’s not available anywhere else in Canada at a private club level and they’re willing to open their doors that outside members can come in and take advantage of the service. We’re excited. It’s different. It’s something we’ve never done before but we see it as a huge growth opportunity for ourselves – that ability to partner with private golf courses and help them offer a higher offering than what they currently have,” said Fisher.
That will open sometime in the spring.
He said the company also plans to launch a location in Halifax later this year.
“We are looking for expansion to the GTA (Greater Toronto Area),” added Fisher.
Fisher said the Modern Golf space looks very much like a showroom – sleek and modern looking. But the locations are really driven by the performance end of things where a customer is going into an individual bay with a professional who will fit the customer for their clubs. The product will be ordered and then built to spec for the customer.
Modern Golf locations have a number of other features including putting greens, video driving ranges, coaching, and lounges.
“Up until this year, we’ve never sold anything other than equipment. It’s only been your traditional drivers, irons, woods, wedges, putters. We never jumped into the space of giving into soft (equipment),” said Fisher.
“This will be the first year we dive into getting into bags. We’re really going to use pop-up models rather than invest in having a lot of inventory and kind of being sunk by inventory. We’re going to use the fact that we are kind of a showroom to be more opportunistic, change and have different brands in there and really drive foot traffic like a pop-up sale would be.”
Modern Golf stocks all major grips and specializes in shaft repairs, adapter installation, sandblasting, paint fill, and many other customization and retrofitting services.
“Golf in Canada is such a difficult business. It’s so so hard on the retail side because of the seasonality. That was a huge impacting factor. If you’re only going to be able to sell golf clubs for six months a year, what are you doing for the rest of the year,” said Fisher.
“Retail’s got such a high fixed cost that if you don’t have other things that you’re dabbling in it’s so tough and golf is the perfect example of that. At the end of the day for us because we kind of pivoted away from retail, that we built this hybrid model, now I would say it opens up any market to us. We’ve got recurring revenue streams that come off of these membership platforms. I would say Montreal, Ottawa, Winnipeg, Edmonton are all possibilities for us now.”