Gear-to-go aims to give golfers club rentals/demos
Ask any traveling golfer to tell his or her horror stories, and you'll more than likely be listening for awhile.
One of the biggest horror stories is likely to involve clubs - specifically, getting them from one place to another without being lost, stolen or broken.
Nowadays, with increased security at airports, more horror stories involve the tedium of getting bags through security checkpoints. Add to that increasing shipping costs and more traveling golfers think about renting.
But renting clubs has its own peculiar problems. Many golf courses rent dated clubs of usually only one brand name. Sometimes, they're mix and match. Golfers used to their own clubs feel funny playing with a strange set.
A possible option is in the near future. Bob Klingensmith has heard the stories, and gone through many himself. As one who has golfed in Japan, New Zealand, Spain and other places, he's experience all of the above.
"I've had my own clubs broken three times in the last 10 years," he said. "I've had them mis-shipped twice in just the last 12 months. I've been charged for excess weight and oversized baggage and missed two flights due to long security delays in which my golf bag was given a ‘full body search' each time lasting 45 minutes."
After one particularly bad experience in Spain - one couple he traveled with eventually ended up spending $1,400 to get their bags shipped back to the United States - he decided to do something about it.
The result, two years later, is a company called Gear-to-Go. As of this month, the company has begun offering a combination of a rental and demo golf clubs.
"We're not a shipping company," Klingensmith said. "There are plenty of those. And we don't want to be just a rental company. We want to be a demo/rental service."
The idea is that once the company starts, traveling golfers can go to the company Web site (gear-to-go.com), pick out the latest clubs from top manufacturers, and have them delivered to their airport of choice.
They can then use the clubs for as long as they want, and return them when they leave. Quick, easy, convenient and, according to Klingensmith, less costly than renting or shipping.
For example, golfers will be able to rent a standard set of clubs, from Calloway, TaylorMade, Adams or Nike - for about $200 a week.
If you want to mix and match - say you want to use TaylorMade's new R-7 driver with a Calloway putter and Adams irons - it will cost $10 extra. The second week would cost $20 a day. That price compares favorably to many rental outfits.
Golf club manufacturers have initially expressed interest, Klingensmith said.
"Those manufactures who want to have their newest clubs available to people who are early adopters and opinion leaders who get out there and travel a lot for golf see the convenience of this," Klingensmith said. "People want to try the latest thing, or whatever's hot on the PGA Tour."
The company will start at Sky Harbor International Airport in Phoenix. Its distribution center is near the airport, and it also has agreements with car rental companies, like Avis and Budget, and American West Airlines.
Still, there are no long-term contracts yet. Manufacturers are adopting a wait and see attitude.
"Some of them are extremely pro-active, like Calloway and TaylorMade who have always been strong in golf club rentals for golf courses," Klingensmith said. "They've been very supportive. We have agreements we've done, but nothing long-term. It's more of a ‘let's do this test and see if it works.' "
If it sells, the company has big expansion plans.
"We'll go to financial fund-raising in the spring throughout the rest of Arizona, then all of California, Las Vegas and Hawaii," he said. "Also, in Orlando and up the coast. In three to five years, our plan is to have the top 50 golf markets in the country covered."
September 1, 2004