PEABODY — PGA Tour Superstore opened its first golf superstore in New England on Saturday at the Northshore Mall — the same weekend the New England Patriots played in the Super Bowl at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta.
Coincidentally, businessman Arthur Blank owns both — the superstore and the stadium.
PGA Tour Superstore is based in a suburb of Atlanta, and is part of the family of businesses that Blank, the co-founder of The Home Depot, owns. He also owns the Atlanta Falcons.
"I think it's a perfect weekend to open a PGA Tour Superstore on Super Bowl weekend," said Dick Sullivan, president and CEO of the company since 2009.
Sullivan, 52, was the chief marketing officer for The Home Depot until 2002, when he left to become executive vice president for the Atlanta Falcons for nearly eight years. When Blank acquired PGA Tour Superstore, Sullivan went to work for this company. Since the Falcons are not in the Super Bowl this year, Sullivan was rooting for the Patriots.
He had good reasons for doing so: he was raised in Needham.
When he was in high school, he was one of the hardy souls who attended the "snowplow game," played during a snowstorm at the old Schaefer Stadium in December 1982. That's when plow operator Mark Henderson, a prisoner on work release from MCI-Norfolk, cleared a spot on the field to allow Patriots kicker John Smith to kick the winning field goal in one of the most famous games in Patriots history.
Of course, the Atlanta connection also extends to the Patriots' comeback, from a third quarter 28-3 deficit against the Falcons, to win the Super Bowl in Houston two years ago.
Sullivan said there was "great energy" in Atlanta leading into the Super Bowl, the first to be played in the new stadium, which opened in 2017.
Back in Massachusetts, PGA Tour Superstore occupies the former Toys R Us location at the Northshore Mall.
The new golf store, with its expansive putting green at the front of the store, joins another golf retailer on the North Shore, Golfers' Warehouse at 4 Newbury St. in Danvers, which also offers club fitting technology, indoor hitting bays, club repair and an indoor putting green.
Sullivan describes PGA Tour Superstore as "kind of a toy store for golfers."
But, much like The Home Depot is bigger than most hardware stores, PGA Tour Superstores are bigger than your average golf store.
They also pride themselves on having knowledgeable sales people with a focus on service: the stores gave 50,000 lessons last year. They aim to grow the game, too, with clinics for women, juniors and kids.
They use technology to help fit clubs, given how scientific things have become with the game. People may not think they need new clubs, Sullivan said, but "we can scientifically show you" what may be the best fit.
They also try to bring customers an experience, and provide an outlet for golfers unable to play in the cold.
"We focus a lot on bringing people inside of the stores in the winter time," he said.
The store in Peabody is the company's 36th store overall, with a second planned in Braintree in June. The plan is to have 50 stores open by the end of 2020, and 75 stores within the next three to five years.
An acre of gear
In a place where kids and moms used to scramble for toys, PGA Tour offers nearly an acre of clubs, balls, putters, shoes, sunglasses, range finders, golf bags and all manner of colorful golf apparel for men, women and kids. The selection of clubs for women is on par with that for men. The store also features a large tennis section where you can have your racket restrung.
The store, which employs 28 people, offers club repair and regripping.
There are seven fitting bays, including two specialized bays for lessons and swing analysis. The back of the store has nine bays where, for a fee, you can hit into a net to work on your game. The bay allows you to watch your swing on video, which you can replay and even have emailed to you to work with at home.
A feature of the store is an instruction bay called a "fitting van experience."
"So, it's really cool," said Sarah Lawrence, regional marketing manager. "It's really similar to what the tour pros go through when they are being fit for clubs."
The 90-minute fitting, which costs $50, is "a full analysis," she said. "So you are going to get to hit all sorts of clubs," while staff observe things like swing speed and determine what shafts someone needs to be playing or club heads.
All that choice can be overwhelming to even the most seasoned golfer, so what if you are just starting out?
"That's why we have the best people fitting you," Lawrence said. "They can watch you do a couple of swings and get an idea of what you need from there."
Lawrence was speaking a couple of days before the store opened. When asked what her prediction was for the Super Bowl, Lawrence laughed: "Well, I feel like I have to say the Patriots, right?"
Staff writer Ethan Forman can be reached at 978-338-2673, by email at email@example.com or on Twitter at @TannerSalemNews.