6428 Hollywood Blvd.
NAPLES — Residents driving by the new Golfsmith Xtreme store in Naples may have thought they were having a flashback to Black Friday.
Nearly 100 customers braved the cold early Friday morning and formed a line to be among the first to enter the new store off of Airport Pulling Road, just north of Pine Ridge Road.
Store managers helped fuel the excitement by offering $40,000 in prizes on Friday and Saturday.
Camille DeGiorgio arrived at 6:15 a.m. And got the first spot in line. She came for her husband, whom she says is a “golf nut.”
“I’m a good person, what can I say,” she said, bundled up in a black coat, and rubbing her hands together. “I thought it would be exciting to be the first one in the store.”
She wasn’t the only one.
Mike Possert, 82, arrived at 7 a.m. to take his place in line. He relaxed in a folding Director’s chair and cleaned his golf clubs, waiting for the doors to open so he could get the tune-up his Golfsmith brand clubs have long needed.
“I never do this,” he said. “I brought a chair. I brought everything but breakfast.”
What sets the 35,000-square-foot store apart from others is its interactive playground, which features driving ranges and putting greens.
The store has multiple 3-D golf simulators, a six-bay driving range, large putting green and thousands of retail accessories.
Golfsmith focuses on custom fitting equipment to players and employs PGA pros to give tips.
As the doors opened at 8 a.m. DeGiorgio had her picture taken as the store’s first customer. The giveaways started at 8 a.m. and included free rounds of golf, $20 cash cards and golf balls.
General Manager, Steve Shirk was thrilled with the turnout.
“We’re more than pleased,” he said. “This, in fact, exceeds all our expectations because, you know we don’t have a grand opening sign, and a lot of this was word of mouth.”
The store hired 40 new employees, and is looking to hire more. Shirk expected to get about $100,000 worth of business on opening day.
“I think this is fabulousm,” he said. “I just cannot believe the reception Naples is giving us I mean it is just phenomenal.”
It is the only Golfsmith store south of Clearwater on the west coast.
The brand began in 1967 with customized golf clubs. Golfsmith stores offer the latest technology to improve a player’s game.
“I think the new technology we have in our hitting bays and our fitting studios are the most accurate that’s ever been in the industry,” Shirk said. “If we can improve their game by custom fitting them and custom building a set of clubs for usually (the) same price as an off the rack set, why would you want to go anywhere else?”
Shirk believes these perks of the fully stocked 35,000-square foot store will give them an edge over the saturated golf-shop market here Southwest Florida.
But, Golf Balls Galore and More Manager Anthony Gasparrino said he’s not worried about the competition.
“Don’t feel threatened at all so far, we’ve had a very good day today,” he said. “It’s just another store opening up.”
His store, located west of Airport-Pulling Road on J and C Boulevard, has been in the area for 28 years. He explained that there used to be a lot more golf stores in the area, but they all closed down due to lack of business.
“I think (Golfsmith) will do well for awhile,” he said. “But people will get used to it and it’ll phase out. The wealthy people may go there, but we have so many faithful customers that come here all the time, I’m not concerned.”
Golf Balls Galore and More may be able to hold onto its loyal consumer base, but Possert is sold on Golfsmith and said he would be back again tomorrow morning.
“I definitely would recommend this store,” he said clutching his golf bag and walking over to his green director’s chair. “They have a lot of tremendous deals here for people. This is where I would come.”