With 25 years as a PGA professional under his belt, Mark Thush has a wealth of knowledge, experience & advice to share. Join us as we go behind the scenes with the 2016 PGA of America Merchandiser of the year to find out what brands are trending at Desert Mountain Club, his best career advice, why the numbers 136, 87 and 2 are important and more.
PGA Show Insider: Can you give a brief overview of your career?
Mark Thush: I joined the Pebble Beach Company as an assistant golf professional in 1992, and took a strong interest in the merchand
sing side of the business. Over a nine year period, I worked my way up to eventually become director of retail operations. I was fortunate to also be the director of merchandise for the 2000 U.S. Open at Pebble. Then, after a year as director of strategic contracting at Avendra, I joined the Desert Mountain Club as director of retail, and have been in that role for 15 years now. Time sure does fly!
PGA Show Insider: Can you tell us a little bit about the Desert Mountain Club, your role there and what makes it different from other facilities?
Mark Thush: There is no place quite like Desert Mountain. Members enjoy six Jack Nicklaus Signature golf courses, six clubhouses, a state-of-the-art golf performance center, and a newly-remodeled and expanded recreational facility featuring tennis, fitness, swim, spa, and more, in addition to 15 miles of hiking and biking trails.
We’re very fortunate to have seven shops to buy for and to merchandise, allowing us great flexibility to introduce new products and services. And we’ll soon be opening an eighth shop with the introduction of an 18-hole par 3 course and clubhouse.
I’m responsible for all retail operations (reporting to our director of golf) and we have a fantastic team of golf and retail professionals who focus on member loyalty every day.
PGA Show Insider: How has the club, your customers, events, etc. contributed to your success?
Mark Thush: The Desert Mountain Club membership, Board of Directors, and senior management have all been very supportive of me and the retail operation in general. We have been encouraged to take calculated risks, to source and develop new products and services, and to continue innovating in order to maintain and expand our relevance.
The “feather in our cap” is our big Demo Day event, held twice a year, where we feature over 80 brands of merchandise and services to our membership at incentive pricing. Fun music, raffle prizes, and a barbeque lunch contribute to the festival atmosphere that our members have come to love and anticipate.
PGA Show Insider: Describe your day in 3 numbers
Mark Thush: What a great question! Let’s see…136 emails, 87 staff interactions…2 glasses of wine!
PGA Show Insider: As a PGA Professional—what skills or attributes have helped you grow in your career and transition to a role like this?
Mark Thush: A successful PGA Professional is good leader. My years of experience and PGA educational programming have helped me develop into a better leader over the years. I believe I’m a good listener, that I empower and challenge my team members, and that I am effective at reaching consensus on solutions that usually results in mutual “buy-in” and a strong sense of ownership.
In general, I have good organization and prioritization skills, which are critical in the fast-moving world of retail, in particular. Lastly, I (usually!) have a servant’s heart, which enables me to be successful in a customer service-centric environment.
PGA Show Insider: What’s your favorite part of your job?
Mark Thush: I really enjoy coaching, mentoring, and empowering team members to further their personal and professional development. It’s very satisfying to see people grow and flourish as a result of someone believing in them and encouraging them to stretch and learn new paradigms.
PGA Show Insider: What’s the best piece of advice you’ve received about your career?
Mark Thush: If you want to earn respect and have people follow you, you had better get in there and work side-by-side with them. No task is too menial. I’m the boss, as well as “the head bottle washer” (younger folks will be scratching their heads with that one!). Some other great practical advice I received… Try to never get overbought; you can always buy more. Take calculated risks, however, think through the worst thing that can happen if things don’t end up working out. If you can easily recover from the worst-case scenario, then the risk is worth taking.
PGA Show Insider: We love to highlight up-and-coming brands and new products—has there been a brand or product that’s caught your eye lately? And why?
Mark Thush: Turtleson men’s apparel has been trending the right way in terms of design, coloration, and sell-thru, and the same is true of Fennec.
We’ll be trying Greyson Clothiers for the first time this fall. I would describe their look as understated and sophisticated.
On the gift and novelty side, while not new, we’re doing very well with Smathers and Branson, as well as Stance socks.
PGA Show Insider: What are you looking forward to most about the PGA Fashion & Demo Experience?
Mark Thush: We look forward to the brainstorming and collaboration opportunities with the designers, sales managers and presidents of our vendor partners. How can we create a more meaningful business? And, of course, we always look forward to finding new brands and items…the proverbial “diamond in the rough”!