From The "Icon" of Arizona Golf
Roger Maxwell's sister, Susie, enjoyed horseback riding during her youth, and the family owned two horses in Oklahoma City. One day, one of the horses ventured onto the fairways of nearby Lincoln Park Golf Course, causing considerable turf damage. Roger and Susie both began working at the course for PGA Professional U.C. Ferguson to help repay the course for the damages. Little did they know that would lead to a long-lasting careers in the golf industry. Susie became a three-time U.S. Women's Open Champion, and Roger became a legend in golf merchandising as a PGA Professional after working for Ferguson for nine years, including while University on a golf scholarship.
During that time, one of the many lessons imparted on Roger was about the kind of vision and foresight a PGA Professional needs to have to succeed not only in the game but in business. With more than 40 years of golf experience on greens all over the country, experience has become Maxwell's favorite word. For him, all paths to bettering golf run through the experience, which he defines as a "combination of retail and sport" coming together.
Maxwell has developed quite an experience with his golf retail store "In Celebration of Golf" in Scottsdale, Arizona. The store is part state-of-the-art-retail, with custom and unique golf attire displayed on mannequins that will actually talk to you when you walk past, and part museum with memorabilia, antiques and exhibits that will virtually take you on a trip through golf history. "The days where a golfer's dress added to the experience of the game have gone by the wayside, says Maxwell, 65. "I believe it's the responsibility of the PGA Professional to deliver a golf ' experience' and a big part of that for me is replacing khaki with color. According to Maxwell, the game of golf is stymied.
"There's no question that Tiger Woods is a tremendous influence on the game, but he can't bring excitement to the game on the course for everyday golfers," says Maxwell, who was the inaugural recipient of the Merchandiser of the Year Award for resort facilities in 1978. "That's going to take the PGA Professional coming to the realization that he's got to be the 'director of experience' and not he director of golf.
Yes, golf participation has remained flat as of late, and Maxwell is very outspoken about how the on-course turnout can be improved. To him, it begins with the PGA Professional and the golf shop.
"The PGA Professional has to have passion for the game, and believe in the entertainment value of golf", Maxwell says. "More than ever, PGA Professionals must position the golf course as an entertainment venue, or we'll continue to lose more of the market share in terms of participation".
The passion Maxwell is referring to is the kind of passion that infected him growing up, that kept him invested in a sport that saw him become PGA head professional at Arizona's Camelback Golf Club in the early 1970s, that led him to a Vice President position with Marriott Golf where he oversaw the retail operations for 23 facilities. For Maxwell, retail is an integral piece of the plan to get golf participation back on track. "The retail operation plays a huge role in creating the 'experience' that will keep people coming back to our facility. The role of the PGA Professional today has to be retention and development," he says.
From humble beginnings working off debt caused by a runaway horse, Maxwell's In Celebration of Golf has expanded into a golf course management company that operates 9 facilities. He hasn't forgotten his roots. "U.C. Ferguson passed away several years ago, and I carry his PGA card with me to this day," Maxwell says. "The backside of the card is autographed by the following: U.C. Ferguson, Ben Hogan, Walter Hagen, Bobby Jones, and Arnold Palmer. That's passion. That's experience.
In Celebration of Golf
This article was written by the PGA Magazine in December of 2009 Copyright © 2007-2010 In Celebration of Golf Management. All Rights Reserved.
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