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Worldwide Golf Shops Success Story

Worldwide Golf Enterprises started as a small San Diego golf store and quickly grew to one of the largest multichannel golf retailers in the country.

The old adage “from mighty oaks, acorns grow” is certainly true for Worldwide Golf Enterprises. What began as one small store in San Diego in 1984 with less than a dozen employees is now an 87 retail store chain stretching from Hawaii to Florida, with over 1,000 employees. “In the early days, we all sensed the growth potential and it was ownership’s vision that put us where we are today,” said Rick Levy, vice president of operations for Van’s Golf Shops, one of the six brands of the Worldwide Golf Enterprises portfolio. “From day one, world class customer service has been our main goal, and we’ve kept that focus through all the expansion.”Worldwide Golf Shops began as Golf Mart, a small golf store on Morena Boulevard in San Diego just below the University of San Diego. The company expanded to nine Golf Marts in San Diego and Northern California before making its first large acquisition. In 1993, Worldwide Golf Enterprises acquired 23 Orange County and Los Angeles area golf stores known as Roger Dunn Golf Shops.

Worldwide Golf Shops incorporated its novel 90-day 100% satisfaction guarantee in its new stores, an innovation it began in 1984. “We felt you couldn’t service a customer better than giving them a 90-day 100% satisfaction guarantee for anything they purchased,” said Levy, who has been with the company since 1984. “If someone Screen Shot 2015-02-03 at 11.47.25 AMreturned with a golf shirt, golf club, bag or putter they didn’t like, there was no hesitation … the response was, ‘Let’s see what we can get you that you will like.’“

In 1997, Worldwide Golf purchased nine stores formerly owned by Arizona-based Van’s Golf. Like all its acquisitions, Worldwide Golf kept the original name and a big part of the team. “We look at the existing staff and management as tremendous assets,” Levy said. “They are people with a lot of experience and have immense customer loyalty, which has great value.” In 2009, Worldwide made its biggest geographical leap, acquiring New England-based Golfers’ Warehouse.

The final two acquisitions came in December 2013 with Uinta Golf, based in Utah, and Edwin Watts Golf, based in Florida, Worldwide Golf’s largest acquisition to date. “We were a family-run business with a lot of tenured employees and what is so smart about Worldwide Golf is that they kept as many of the managers and employees as they could,” said Kerry Kabase, who had worked for Edwin Watts Golf for 37 years and today is a consultant with Worldwide Golf. “They allowed us to keep our identity, which was great for our loyal customers. But now they could walk in and see a fully stocked golf shop with that 90-day guarantee. It was a smooth transition and we feel very lucky to be working under their umbrella. They were a lot like us, avid golfers who were all about customer service.”

Currently, Worldwide Golf Shops includes 48 Edwin Watts Golf stores in 12 states; 12 Roger Dunn Golf Shops in California and Hawaii; 10 Golf Marts in California; seven Van’s Golf Shops in Arizona; five Uinta Golf stores in Utah; and five Golfers’ Warehouses in the Northeast. As far as future expansion? “We want to keep every opportunity open, and if there’s a market and there’s a need we wouldn’t hold back” Levy said. “We feel very comfortable right now. We’re in several year-round markets and business is going well.” Even though Worldwide Golf Shops has several regional brands, it makes a concerted effort to make sure that all its customers feel at home at every one of its stores: its 90-day satisfaction guarantee extends to all its stores, as do all store policies. “That’s another smart thing,” Kabase said. “Each one of its brands has its own customer loyalty and now that loyalty extends to the umbrella operation. If you buy a new club in New England and then travel to Hawaii but don’t like it, you can walk into a store there and exchange it, or use a gift card you bought from a Florida store in Arizona. That really helps grow customer confidence.”

Worldwide Golf Shops, already a big player in the Western United States and the Northeast, is now one of the largest national golf retailers with its acquisition earlier this year of Florida-based Edwin Watts Golf, the largest golf retailer in the Southeast. As part of the purchase, Worldwide Golf will operate 48 Edwin Watts Golf stores in 12 states, each of which will keep the Edwin Watts name. “The acquisition of Edwin Watts Golf is a perfect ft into our portfolio of brands, for among many business attributes its main focus is the same as ours, which is outstanding customer service,” said Al Morris, Worldwide Golf Enterprises President.“Edwin Watts Golf rounds out our formidable stable of brands that now operate from coast to coast.”