This month we interview Brett Eaton, winner of the 2022 PNW PGA Merchandiser of the Year – Private category. Previously honored with this award in the Resort category in 2014, Brett has taken his success in merchandising to several of Washington’s premium courses, including Homestead GC (awards in 2003, 2004, 2005), Semiahmoo Resort – Semiahmoo G&CC and Loomis Trail GC (2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2011, 2013, 2014) and Tacoma C&GC (2022). He is also the recipient of the 2014 Western Washington Chapter PGA Golf Professional of the Year award.

Facility: Tacoma Country & Golf Club

Hometown:  White Rock, BC, Canada

PGA Member Since: 2000

Tell us a little bit about your career. Who or what inspired you to become a Golf Professional? 

I have been very fortunate to work with two great golf professionals; when I first started in the golf business I worked for Wayne Clark at Homestead G&CC and then shortly thereafter I worked for Marty Keiter at Kapalua Golf Resort at the Bay Course.  Still today, Wayne and Marty are both very passionate about the golf business shown through camaraderie with fellow golf professionals, whether this is playing golf in tournaments, teaching, member relations, junior golf, merchandising, playing golf with members, tournament operations and member golf trips.   Having the ability to learn and work for both of them has allowed me to grow as a Golf Professional and learn the many aspects of the golf business in which we all wear many hats. 

You are known for your creative merchandising ideas. Can you share some of your ideas from your 1/31 education webinar?                   

  • Tacoma C&GC Member Logo, the Ballie Tartan will be in the backdrop of our TCGC logo. We will have a small area in the golf shop designated for member only logo apparel.
  • TCGC Logo Penny Press Machine – ball markers, we have a penny press machine in the golf shop that offers four different logos (we provide the pennies) this allows members and visiting guests an opportunity to create 1 to 4 ball markers for their round of golf.  Juniors love coming into the golf shop to roll out their ball marker for the day.  This in turn leads to connection with parents of junior members and additional visits to the golf shop.
  • Glassy Baby’s with Tacoma C&GC logo, we started out with a small order of 36 (six different color styles), which then turned into an order of 64 Glassy Baby’s for the tee gift for our Women’s MGI.
  • Kitty Keller Christmas Ornaments, minimum order is 60 – I used hole #6 photo, along with our TCGC logo.  The order process started in late February 2022, and I received them in mid-August.  Once I received the ornaments, I showed the ornament to a few of the women on women’s day and the word spread so quickly, we sold out prior to the holidays.  This January, I placed an order for 60 more ornaments which will showcase hole #9 and our logo, they are to arrive in September.

What is one of the most memorable and successful merchandising campaigns you’ve created? 

When I first arrived at Tacoma C&GC in January 2021, I loved the Alexander Ballie photo in the main clubhouse, it’s a main focal point.  I thought to myself, “How can I showcase Mr. Ballie and his family tartan?” I reached out to Seamus Representative to see if we could track back the history of the Ballie Tartan ….it took 14 weeks for Seamus to receive the sample of the family tartan to then create the headcovers for our Men’s MGI.  At the MGI final evening’s dinner, I spoke to 400 attendees and explained the overview for the communication below.  Each headcover had a leather patch with their name embossed on it, the headcovers were placed on stakes around the lawn edge which allowed members to locate and receive their headcover.

What merchandising trends do you foresee in 2023? 

With the tremendous growth in golf for all sectors for golf; resort, daily fee, private, par 3, executive and off course facility like Top Golf, we are introducing many new golfers to the game of golf which we love.  With this, we have seen many vendors expanding into their apparel print golf shirts which compliments their brand. As golf shop operators we have many more options to choose from and provide options for our visiting guests and members at our facilities.