Dick's Sporting Goods lays off 478 golf pros nationwide

Dick’s Sporting Goods has laid off all of its PGA professionals from its retail stores nationwide about two months after the Findlay-based sports retailer announced it missed its golf sales projection by $34 million in the first quarter alone.

The move leaves 478 PGA professionals without a job, said a PGA of America spokesman Wednesday. Attempts to reach Dick’s representatives were unsuccessful.

“The PGA of America is aware of the decision made by Dick’s Sporting Goods that affects the livelihoods of many PGA professionals who have been employed at Dick’s,” the organization said in a statement. “We are extremely disappointed by the news as any time even one PGA member loses a job we are extremely sensitive to such matters.”

The PGA of America provides career counseling and employment services to all of its 28,000 members and pledged to support those affected by Dick’s decision. The organization has 12 employment consultants located throughout the country, and those consultants will contact the former Dick’s employees in the coming weeks.

Dick’s employed PGA professionals to separate itself from online retailers who offered many of the same products at competitive prices. The professionals offered in-store lessons to customers, among other responsibilities.

Dick’s was the largest sole employer of PGA professionals in the country.

But golf sales are dragging nationwide as fewer people are taking interest in the sport. Television ratings are down, in large part because Tiger Woods has failed to regain his dominant form, and fewer people are playing the game, Edward W. Stack, Dick's chairman and CEO, said during a conference call in May to discuss first-quarter earnings.

“We don’t feel we’ve found the bottom yet,” Mr. Stack said, after disclosing sluggish golf category sales.

Despite its issues in golf sales and a decline in hunting sales, Dick’s posted a profit of $70 million, or 57 cents per share, in the three months ended May 3. That compares to $64.8 million, or 52 cents per share, during the same quarter a year ago.

Michael Sanserino: msanserino@post-gazette.com, 412-263-1969 and Twitter @msanserino. First Published July 23, 2014 3:01 PM

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