The Public Merchandiser of the Year Award recognizes a Colorado PGA member who has demonstrated superior skills as a merchandiser in the promotion of golf at a public facility. Congratulations to this year’s award recipient Matt Schalk, PGA, General Manager at Colorado National Golf Club!

A Colorado native, Schalk was raised in Boulder. He was introduced to the game of golf by his father. In addition, the golf professional staff at Boulder Country Club, where Schalk grew up, had a huge role in spiking his interest to get into the golf business. Baseball was his sport of choice in high school and he picked golf up again in college. Schalk passed his PAT at the Air Force Academy and was one of the first graduates of the Golf Professional Training Program (GPTP). His first golf professional job was at Lake Valley Golf Club in Boulder where he started doing outside service and then moved into a golf shop assistant. He worked at Lake Valley for 14 years and was the Head Professional when he moved on to Colorado National Golf Club in 2007.

In his free time, Schalk enjoys coaching youth sports, as well as refereeing youth sports.

What does it mean to you to receive this award? 

Receiving this award has been extremely fulfilling. Working as a PGA Member since 1998 and taking pride in merchandising since day one, has given this award more meaning to me.

What is your merchandising strategy?

Retail sales, along with merchandising, has become a skilled and difficult market to navigate. Creating displays that maximize gross margin dollars, proper turn ratios, keeping merchandise fresh, changing displays weekly, maintaining unit integrity and pricing accuracy are all important. Digital marketing and purchasing have provided many avenues for customers to shop. To compete, we have relied on the same avenues to connect to our customers and to keep them informed of new products, while at the same time, making sure I am buying wanted product.

Creating user experiences with specific product-showcase days and having online digital shops during COVID times has proven extremely viable for us. Using analytics, including purchase data to monitor our customer tendencies, online and digital data including time spent on pages, and what types of product descriptions are being searched through our marketing avenues has helped us forecast and understand customer habits. Offering options of non-traditional golf-shop purchases including lululemon, purses, lotions, make-up and daily health products that carry a larger margin and turn ratio, have made the customer a loyal buyer.

From the hard-good side, we have begun collaborating with manufacturers to become hubs. This allows us to not only sell the most advanced and newest equipment professionally fit, but also to highlight apparel alongside those brands and create a relationship with our client. With the partnership, we collect rent from the manufacturer for use of our practice-facility space and collaborate through social-media channels with them on our products and services. This has increased our reach and customer base, which allows for more cross-selling of our merchandise.

Many staples to customer service are still in place here at Colorado National. Developing loyalty through knowledge and pricing has allowed us to grow our brands and our overall profit margins.

What are the qualities you possess that you believe supported you receiving the Public Merchandiser of the Year Award?

Education and always keeping my pulse on the new products and trends has been very instrumental. Looking and thinking outside the box in merchandising has been huge. Trying to fill my shops with products that my customers use, and not just golf related products, has proven to be significant in our profitability and our ability to grow revenues. Implementing online golf shops and the ability to purchase digitally has been very successful in our turns, as well, and helps us reach customers in different states.

What are two tools you use in your profession that help you with your success? 

Providing exceptional customer service is always number one. Making sure our products and services are hip, current and meeting the immediate habits of our buyers is equally as important.

As it relates to golf, what is the best piece of advice that you have received and what advice would you give to others?

Enjoy each day and appreciate your atmosphere. Working in the golf business comes with many obstacles but using those obstacles to show growth helps fulfill you both as a person and as a businessman.

What is your proudest moment as a golf professional?

For me, it is growing the game. I have invested thousands of hours into junior golf and more specifically girl’s junior golf. Being able to grow that demographic in golf has by far been my greatest accomplishment.

Share something about yourself that others may not know. 

I enjoy baking. Making desserts from scratch like cinnamon rolls, cream pies, cakes and pastries is what I spend much of my free time doing.