Q&A with Mike Strlekar, 2017 PGA Merchandiser of the Year for Private Facilities

Photo: Russell Kirk/Golf Links

Mike Strlekar, PGA Director of Golf at Montclair Golf Club, felt fortunate enough to receive New Jersey PGA’s Merchandiser of the Year Award in both 2009 and 2014. But, thanks to his continued dedication to the trade, consistently high level of service, and keen eye for detail, Strlekar was named the 2017 PGA Merchandiser of the Year for Private Facilities.


What does being recognized with this award mean to you?

I was fortunate to be named the New Jersey PGA Merchandiser of the Year in 2009 and 2014. With so many great clubs and great golf pros just in our small section, that in itself was a tremendous honor.  Being recognized by the PGA of America is something I never dreamed of. I was hoping the award ceremony would help this whole thing sink in but unfortunately I had to miss the annual meeting due to back surgery.


When members and guests walk in to the shop, what kind of impression should they have?

First and foremost, I want their first impression to be what a friendly and welcoming place the golf shop is. Then, once their eyes have a chance to scan the room, I want them to notice color. Whether it’s the apparel or other display items that we use, I believe that color is a very appealing thing for the brain.


What is your top priority in arranging merchandise in the golf shop?

For me, consistency is everything. Everything folded should be done the same way, from the width of the item, to the logo facing out, to the tags being tucked in and in the items being in size order. Every item that comes in is retagged. We reuse the company tags but we have custom fasteners and tags that have our logo on one side and the barcode price tag on the other that are hung from the middle of the inside collar. This way people will always know where the price tag is and won’t have to search for it.  I try to instill in my staff every time they walk in the golf shop to do a quick scan and see what is out of place. It could be that a customer was just in and messed up a stack of shirts or destroyed a waterfall. It takes two seconds to fix before the next customer sees it messed up. Neat and tidy is our motto.


How often do you and your team refresh displays in the shop throughout the golf season?

Our goal is to move stuff around once a week but during busy times it could be more than that. During June and July it’s not uncommon for a really nice delivery to be picked through in a couple of days.


What do you feel have been the biggest changes in golf merchandising during your career?

I got into the business just at the tail end of the golf shop being a place that sold shirts, sweaters, clubs and balls.  Now, golf shops are boutiques. We sell candles, stationary, water bottles, coffee mugs, key chains, and underwear.


In what ways do you make members want to buy from the shop, opposed to going online or using other retailers?

Everything we do is about creating relationships with our members and guests. Whether it’s playing, teaching, walking the range and putting green, or walking through the Grill Room, we try to talk to everyone. Dennis Satyshur, from Caves Valley, once told me he tries to have an interaction with every person that shows up at the club every day. Montclair is such a busy place it would be impossible for me to do, but I would be disappointed if every person that came to Monclair didn’t have some sort of positive interaction with somebody on my staff.


What is your favorite aspect of merchandising?

I still love seeing a great display, whether it’s a table with a great color story or a well done hanging display. I pour through social media and the Internet looking for great ideas. My greatest strength is borrowing great ideas from other people.


To what do you most credit your success in merchandising?

I grew up in Southern California, which has one the best junior golf programs anywhere.  Practically every day in the summer there was a tournament to play in.  Like every young kid, I dreamed about having the newest equipment so I would always go into the golf shop to see what was new.  Some shops looked great and some looked terrible so I started trying to figure out why.  I’ve spent my career trying to answer that question and I’m not sure that I have a definitive answer. It might be like the old saying, “I don’t know what it is, but I’ll know it when I see it” and I’m always on the lookout.

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