With Golfsmith's demise, Golf Galaxy steps into void

Gary Dinges/Austin American Statesman - Austin-based retailer Golfsmith is history, the victim of bankruptcy, but a number of its former stores have been scooped up by a competitor, Golf Galaxy.

That includes one of Golfsmith’s two Austin locations, at 10001 Research Blvd. in the Arboretum area. Following a remodel and sign swap-outs, it debuted this month, becoming the first Golf Galaxy store in Central Texas.

With the addition of 36 former Golfsmith stores, Golf Galaxy, which is owned by Pittsburgh, Pa.-based Dick’s Sporting Goods, says it now has 98 locations in 33 states.

The other Austin Golfsmith store, at 11000 N. Interstate 35 in North Austin, wasn’t one of the stores acquired by Golf Galaxy. The 41-acre site, which also included Golfsmith’s corporate headquarters, distribution center and research and development lab, is being marketed for lease by BH Properties, a Los Angeles firm that bought the site this year.

Golfsmith, which got its start in 1967, had more than 100 stores prior to filing bankruptcy in 2016.

“Austin has a thriving community that is passionate about golf,” said Bill Wells, regional community marketing manager for Dick’s Sporting Goods. “We believe customers here will be thrilled with our extensive selection and find that they can make this store a one-stop shop for all their golfing needs.”

Inventory at the former Golfsmith stores that Golf Galaxy took over had been depleted during sales related to the chain’s bankruptcy, but Wells said Dick’s has fully restocked all 36 locations.

Brands carried include Adidas, Callaway, FootJoy, Nike, TaylorMade and Titleist. Golf Galaxy also sells pre-owned clubs and takes golf club trade-ins.

“Golf Galaxy prides itself on its world-class selection of brand-name golf equipment, golf apparel, golf accessories, golf technology and golf gifts for golfers of all ages and abilities,” he said. “But it’s more than merchandise that sets Golf Galaxy apart from other golf retailers. Golf Galaxy also offers an array of interactive golf features and golf services, including PGA and LPGA professionals, certified fitting experts and tour-level club technicians.”

The failure of Golfsmith, which retail consultant Jeff Green says was “the king” of golf retailers at one time, shows just how tricky the business can be for today’s competitors.

Golfsmith, in bankruptcy filings, said its problems, at least in part, were due to building bigger and bigger stores. The fact that Golf Galaxy opted to primarily take over the chain’s smaller locations, rather than behemoth stores like the one in North Austin, isn’t surprising, Green said.

“Big-box golf is a very hard retail category,” said Green, president and CEO of Jeff Green Partners. “It’s got a small focus in a large box. What do you do to fill that box?”

Powered by Dick’s, Green said he expects Golf Galaxy to do pretty well with its new stores.

“They must see some value,” he said. “Dick’s is a very fast-growing company. They have a lot of customer data. They understand a lot about their customers.”