PRO-FILES: PGA of Ontario 2023 Retailer of the Year Alex McIntyre

Alex McIntyre was destined to work in the golf industry.

Growing up in Leamington, Ont., McIntyre’s childhood home abutted the driving range at Erie Shores Golf & Country Club. Every day, with awe, he watched golfers practice before their rounds. Whenever stray balls landed in his backyard, he smashed them back.

When he turned 10, his parents — tired of this backyard ball bashing — bought him a membership at Erie Shores. In those days, the Club only allowed juniors to join after reaching their double-digit birthday.

“I was attracted to the game right away,” McIntyre recalls. “I would play 18 holes, come home, eat lunch, go back and hit some balls, and then play more. My parents always knew where I was, so it worked out well.”

When he turned 13, Erie Shores’ Head Professional John Moffat Jr. hired him to work on the driving range picking up balls. McIntyre then worked his way up and learned the business from this PGA of Canada Lifetime member who passed away in 2011. In between washing clubs and helping out in the pro shop, the Class “A” PGA of Ontario Professional also honed his game.

After high school, McIntyre attended New Mexico Military Institute for two years before transferring to Texas Lutheran. Following graduation he competed on Florida’s Space Coast Tour for a few winters before determining he was not meant for a professional playing career.

“I found out quickly that I was good, but not quite good enough,” laughs the Past President of the PGA of Ontario Zone (2015 -2016).

In 1991, driving north from the Sunshine State after the end of another Tour season, McIntyre heard about an open position at Essex Golf & Country Club. On a whim, he stopped into the private club in Windsor, Ont. to inquire about the job.

“I introduced myself to the pro in charge and he said: ‘we’ve got a spot if you are interested. Oh, and by the way, you start tomorrow!’”

Within a year McIntyre was promoted from Associate Professional to the top position. And, 33 years later, Essex is still his home away from home; he exemplifies the tagline of this historic Donald Ross facility: “It’s more than a club. It’s a legacy of excellence.”

As Director of Golf for more than three decades he has left a legacy, but he is far from done. McIntyre is passionate about all facets of the game, especially retail. No surprise, under McIntyre’s leadership, Essex G&CC was the recipient of not just one – but two – merchandizing awards in 2023: the PGA of Ontario Retailer of the Year and the PGA of Canada Pat Fletcher Retailer of the Year.

“It was a great win for Essex and for the entire membership,” he says. “It’s humbling and a real honour for the whole golf shop team.”

Connecting with McIntyre in late January, the veteran Class “A” Professional had just returned from living out of a suitcase after attending a pair of trade shows: the PGA Merchandise Show and the CanGift show.

“I’m happy to be back home and not sleeping in a hotel room for a while,” he says. “I can now focus on planning for what I hope is an early start to the golf season.”

Though McIntyre is responsible for inventory, purchasing, promotions, sales and staffing, merchandizing at Essex is a team effort. As members of the Association of Golf Merchandisers they get access to education programs, networking opportunities and a variety of resources to help stay current on the latest trends.

“We watch what the industry does, collaborate with fellow pros and share best practices,” says McIntyre, describing a few keys to their retailing success. “We also go to conferences, attend webinars and watch what others have done and then make it our own.”

Golf Shop Manager Carmen Murphy is an integral member of McIntyre’s merchandising team; she’s been at Essex for more than 25 years. Murphy designs the shop, keeps it stocked and makes sure products are beautifully displayed by adopting best practices like steaming the clothes before they are folded and put on the shelves.

Essex G&CC stocks a lot of brands, including many luxury lines like Matinique, Bugatchi, and Torre & Tagus that are not golf-specific and are often not found in other green-grass retailers.

Since 2022, the golf shop has seen a significant increase in revenue. Personal shopping appointments, fashion and trunk shows, and constant communication: e-blasts, newsletters and printed sales flyers are only a few ways the club drives sales and makes sure its brand — and the key messages about the products it offers — reach all members.

Making guests and members alike feel special is something Essex G&CC takes pride in. Guests are greeted upon their arrival and then given a personalized nametag and locker for the day. Opening the locker they discover a freshly baked cookie with the Essex logo. This VIP treatment continues at the first tee where they receive logoed balls, tees and a souvenir yardage book.

“Just the other day a vendor remarked to me that as a guest he felt like a member and that is what we aim for,” McIntyre comments.

Outside of award-winning retailing and customer service excellence at Essex, McIntyre understands — and accepts — his leadership role beyond his Club.

“As I grow older, I feel it’s more important than ever for me to be a steward of the game,” he explains. “Golf continues to grow. My staff and I need to take every opportunity we can to make the game more inclusive … golf today is more of a social sport and we need to make it attractive to everyone.”

After 33 years in the golf industry, McIntyre is still as passionate for the game as when he first fell in love with it as a nine-year-old whacking balls from his backyard at Erie Shores. He’s looking forward to many more years at Essex G&CC working with a fantastic team and an incredible membership.

“I’m not ready to play couples’ pickle ball yet!,” he concludes. “I bleed the colours of the Club and there is nothing else I want to do. The fire is still there.”

If you are interested in contacting Alex, he can be reached HERE.

Written by David McPherson

Peter Mumford
Peter Mumford is the Editor of Fairways Magazine. He's played over 500 different courses in 21 countries and met some fascinating people along the way. He's also a long-suffering Toronto Maple Leafs fan.

Add a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *