It may have been the impressive percentage of increase in retail merchandising that won Mark Pfingston, PGA, head professional at The Golf Club at Bear Dance, the 2017 PGA of America’s Public Merchandiser of the Year Award but the real story of his success is better understood when one appreciates the extreme passion he has for his calling.
“Guys like me don’t win amazing awards like this. I am so very honored,” expresses Pfingston when asked about receiving this award. “I have a great group of people that I rely upon and demand that everything we do is our very best effort. They understand that our work is a reflection upon all of us including our ownership group and our brand. It is this dedication to excellence that makes us worthy of this recognition.
“Personally, it is an honor for me to represent our ownership group, our club, our members and our golf professionals that have been instrumental in building the blocks that have allowed us to grow our merchandising and retail philosophy. It has been the dedicated effort of the entire team that has brought us to this pinnacle.”
As Pfingston told his story, it was very clear that he sees retail merchandising as one of many spokes in the wheel needed to run a successful golf operation. All of the work that is done at the club, from ladies socials and men’s clubs to the daily traffic, is a reflection upon us. If we perform below our standards, it is a poor reflection and a lack of effort. I always think that if we can plan and prepare, we are afforded an incredible opportunity.
“God has wired everyone with different talent, which makes people passionate about different things,” expresses Pfingston. “I carry in me a component of representation or image that I believe translates into the success of our golf shop operations.”
Pfingston’s passion for the golf business originated from his father. As a career Air Force man, he taught young Pfingston that whatever he did was a reflection upon himself. That philosophy carried over into his work. When he decided to become a club professional, Pfingston wanted to run military courses and he wanted to create the best image and experience he possibly could to honor the service men and women bestowed upon him. He wanted them to feel like VIP’s and the course was a great place when they walked in the front door, because to him, the shop is a representation of how the rest of the day on the course and with the staff will evolve. Serving military personnel for 10 years proved to be the best honor of Pfingston’s career.
When speaking of his family and his father in particular, emotions surface in this self-assured man. His father’s impact, his 33-years of military dedication and service and his achieving the highest enlisted Air Force rank – 10th Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force – made Pfingston want to honor him in everything he did and to never tarnish his legacy.
“When someone walks into our shop, it is like the first moment of truth in their experience for the day. They should know that the team of people working here are friendly, knows what they are doing and that they have a plan,” says Pfingston, a PGA member since 2002. “We are very aggressive in making sure that we represent ourselves well.”
According to Pfingston, besides buying and selling merchandise, retail is about inventory management and fiscal responsibility. To understand how the business is performing, full fiscal inventories are performed monthly, which allow for immediate changes to mitigate any missed sales opportunities.
Having been a merchandiser from day one, anyone working under Pfingston’s guidance in the golf operation is going to be extremely well versed in the full scope of merchandising. Staff members are given the opportunity to market products from inception to sale, making the success of the merchandising efforts not only a reflection of Pfingston but of the entire team. Actively participating with the team in the merchandising aspect of the business allows Pfingston to turn these team building moments into learning experiences.
With one common goal, the staff at Bear Dance works to always exceed the customer’s expectations in all that they do. To accomplish this mission, Pfingston has incorporated a three-pillar merchandising philosophy.
Pfingston has created a very tight, concise buying program designed to help the team buy well, buy enough of what they really like and price it correctly. Through this strategy, his team works to show their guests an extreme value…both on and off the course. They work hard to create the perfect buying atmosphere in the 900 square foot shop. Because the Colorado weather and the 7,000 foot club elevation have a direct impact on the seasonality of the club, financial goals must be achieved in the short 200 days the club is open. The team generates 85 percent of total revenues in four months from June through September.
Pfingston credits much of his success at Bear Dance to the support and the family atmosphere owners Stuart and Lisa Bruening have created. For 15 years now, he has worked at his dream job and every day he still strives to prove to not only them, but to himself, that they made the right decision in offering him this position.
“I am honored by the opportunity given to me by Stuart and Lisa,” comments Pfingston. “They have bestowed to me the keys to run their entire operation. We trust each other and in doing so, I have been given a lot of room to grow, to excel, to bring in new people and to explore new and creative ideas. That is why it is so gratifying to be recognized with this award and for it to reflect positively back upon them.”
Preceding this honor, Pfingston was the recipient of the Colorado PGA Public Merchandiser of the Year Award in 2005, 2015 and 2016.