TAMPA — Well, that didn’t last long.
A lot of area golfers spent at least a few hours a week at the Edwin Watts golf store on North Dale Mabry. The place was a golf superstore with anything anyone could want, from club fittings to lessons, and almost everything connected to golf.
About six months ago the store shut down as a change in ownership took place. The store sold off everything — from clubs to cabinets — but according to store manager Gary Buffington, the store hasn’t only reopened, it is better than ever.
With more than 8,000 square feet of space and a new owner, Buffington said that the new store’s focus will be more golf than ever.
Edwin Watts owns 88 stores throughout the country and the Dale Mabry location is one of its most successful. The new ownership group, World Wide Golf, is committed to golf and only golf, Buffington said.
“We were owned by a different group but now we can emphasize nothing but golf,” Buffington said. “We can make players enjoy the game. It’s a great game and this is the right place to get players to love golf. That’s our ultimate goal. It’s all different now. All we care about here now is golf.”
Edwin Watts started his chain of golf stores in 1968 in Fort Walton Beach. There was a story about this startup golf shop in the Wall Street Journal and, after selling more than 700 sets of Titleist irons in one week, the company was off and running.
“It’s all about following up on the great work that Mr. Watts did,” Buffington said. “We are just using his work to follow in his footsteps.”
Buffington said that customer service is the major reason that the stores have thrived. A lot of former customers aren’t aware that the store has reopened, but Buffington said people will start coming back. He offers a 90-day guarantee on anything purchased in the store. He has also kept plenty of his former employees, including Mike Edwards, who has worked at Edwin Watts for almost 15 years doing club repair.
It might take time to get back up and running, but Buffington is making the effort. For one, he has added the Golf Charger, a device that is a fitting tool and registers things such as spin and launch angles. It’s very high tech, but it’s something golfers understand. There’s a putting green and Buffington said there will be golf demo days shortly.
Still, he wants to make sure that he lives up to the Edwin Watts promise that put the company on the golf map.
“Our biggest thing, after all we offer, is great customer service,” Buffington said. “We know a lot about golf here and we just want to make sure our customers leave here loving golf even more.’’