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June 2020

Surrogate Shopping Promotes Social Distancing

By Steve Eubanks

Most clubs struggled with the mechanics of retail commerce during the COVID-19 crisis. Cash was discouraged, as the virus could live up to five days on a $20 bill and be touched by dozens of hands. Credit cards were better, but not if golfers congregated at the counter to use them, violating the rules of social distancing. So what to do?

Many private clubs went to member charges only and did not require the members to sign receipts. Others closed the golf shops entirely and moved check-in to the first tee. If a player wanted golf balls, the starter radioed the shop and had the items, which were disinfected, delivered.

Sea Pines Resort on Hilton Head Island, which includes Harbour Town Golf Links, Atlantic Dunes and Heron Point, took a different tack and instituted a 10-person rule for the golf shop.

“No more than one person per tee time was allowed in the shop,” said Cary Corbitt, vice president of sports and operations.

That one person became a “designated shopper,” handling credit cards and making all the purchases. And while casual shopping suffered during the quarantine, golf balls, hats, yardage books and other golf-related items continued to move.

The designees for each foursome appeared, at least at the peak of the crisis, to keep the groups well stocked.

ShopTalk Tip: Going Digital
With social distancing and closure ordinances in place, several businesses are getting creative when it comes to reaching their customers. Utilize this time to research and consider making your shop 100 percent digital. Here are a few ideas to keep shop sales coming in when customers are not physically available.

~ Provide gift certificates for future services
~ Create an online shop
~ Offer ordering online and same day contactless curbside pick up
~ Switch training to virtual

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