Hundreds of PGA professionals, including some in Columbia, are in the rough after being fired from Dick’s Sporting Goods.
According to PGA officials and store employees, on Tuesday Dick’s laid off at least 400 and possibly more than 500 PGA-certified employees in the golf division of its stores.
“It’s tragic,” said Will Mann, past PGA of America president who now helps produce new PGA pros as the program director of the Coastal Carolina University PGA Golf Management Program. “They were the largest single employer of PGA professionals in the country; that’s why it was so stunning.”
The PGA pros provided Dick’s locations with golf equipment sales, club fitting, club repair and some instruction.
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An employee at the Dick’s on Bower Parkway in Columbia, who did not want to be identified, said that the store let their PGA professionals go. He did not say how many were employed there. The store manager declined to comment. However, that store underwent a major remodel over the past year in part to improve its golf options.
The golf section of the store was among the first departments to get a makeover as the retailer prepared for increasing competition. Golfsmith opened a store on nearby Harbison Boulevard last year and also uses PGA professionals to assist customers. Academy Sports + Outdoor, which boasts a large golf section, opened last weekend on Park Terrace Drive – within sight of Dick’s.
Across town, the manager of the Dick’s on Two Notch Road in Northeast Richland – who declined to be identified – said that store never employed any PGA pros and therefore was “unscathed.”
Efforts to reach a Dick’s corporate spokesperson for comment were unsuccessful, but a news release on the company’s website reported “significant weakness in golf” sales for the most recent quarter and said the company has lowered its full year earnings outlook to reflect a “continuation of negative trends in golf and hunting.”
According to the release, Golf Galaxy, which was acquired by Dick’s in 2007, saw a 10.4 percent sales decrease in Dick’s stores.
“After a very challenging first quarter in golf last year, we expected some further headwinds and modest improvement, but instead we saw a continued significant decline,” said CEO and chairman Edward W. Stack in the release.
The PGA has vowed to help the displaced employees iron out what to do next.
“The PGA of America provides all of our professionals with career counseling/employment services which include access to 12 PGA employment consultants who are strategically located throughout the country,” the PGA said in a statement. “Over the coming weeks these PGA employment consultants are personally reaching out to all those affected by this decision to remind them of these services. While we are sincerely disappointed with this news, we continue to support our PGA professionals who are extremely dedicated to share, teach and grow the game of golf.”