There is a school of thought that economic distress can provide a good platform to launch a new business – think Uber, AirBnB and CNN as prime examples. Concept Golf’s Mark O’Mahony isn’t for one minute thinking he’ll reach the dizzy heights those companies have (although who wouldn’t want that) but the timing of his departure from Titleist in 2020 to set up on his own coincided with the arrival of Covid-19 and the rest, as they say, is history.
A West-Dublin boy, O’Mahony took up golf at an early age and along with his father drove past countless golf courses between Blanchardstown and Ballyboughal before they finally settled on Hollywood Lakes as their course of choice. Improving quickly, O’Mahony got hooked on the game and was lucky enough to be offered an assistant professional position with John Dwyer at Ashbourne golf club in the early 2000’s.
“I joined Ashbourne off the back of retail experience at McGuirks and it was a big step up for me to come in as an assistant professional. John was a well-established professional and also a fantastic golfer and I was delighted to get the opportunity to work under him. He was a great mentor to me and I learned so much with him.
“Ashbourne was where my initial love of technology was born. Custom fitting was in its infancy at the time and back then it was really more the realm of the better player who understood the benefits it could have on their game. Obviously times have changed a lot since then and now of course custom fitting is something that can benefit everyone. The technology involved has moved on significantly from what it was and golfers are much more aware of things like swing speed, angle of attack, MOI and spin rates etc.
“I worked at Ashbourne for four years and after I left I went back to McGuirks for a while as they had just invested in a state of the art system for custom fitting. This was a really interesting time for me as I was newly qualified as a PGA pro and the technology at McGuirks was ground-breaking, there was nothing else like it. Of course, compared to the technology nowadays it’s like comparing a Commodore 64 to a PlayStation 5! It was great for me at the time though as I got to work on the latest tech and the experience I gained there helped me make the next move in my career to Head Fitter for Titleist, based at the National Academy in Carton House.
“That was a big jump for me and I loved the job. Moving from direct retail to working for one of the biggest brands in golf was a great experience. It gave me so much insight into the industry, how it works and moreover it really opened my eyes to what was possible in custom fitting. But of course, I was quite limited there as if you wanted a Titleist club I was definitely ‘the man’ but I couldn’t help with other brands.
“I was with Titleist for eight years until I launched Concept Golf and during that time custom fitting boomed. This boom coincided with huge growth in technological capabilities and I was in the lucky position once again to be at the cutting edge of what was on offer in the market. I had Trackman when there were maybe three of them in the country and it enhanced my love for technology even more, if that was possible. I was always conscious that it needed to work hand in hand with tuition though. That wasn’t what I was doing at the time but it did give me the idea for Concept Golf and thankfully it’s one I’ve managed to fulfil.”
There is still an air of mystery about custom fitting in golf. Some folks think of those that make a living from it akin to snake oil salesmen but the science and figures behind it really do stack up. There are still many misconceptions though and O’Mahony is keen to dispel as many as he can.
“One of the most misunderstood messages these days is that most people still don’t feel that they are good enough to get fitted for golf clubs. That’s one of the things that I’m trying to change. Fitting is absolutely for everyone, men, women, kids, different age groups, everyone can benefit from custom fitting. At its core, custom fitting makes your good shots better and your bad shots, well…less bad! That’s gotta help, right?”
When quizzed about what makes Concept Golf different from the rest of the market, O’Mahony is also quite clear – it’s a journey.
“Through my experiences in the golf industry and from working with elite and Tour players I saw an opportunity to offer amateur golfers a real and comprehensive journey in custom fitting. It’s not just about the fitting process itself, or about the fact that as a qualified PGA professional I can combine that with tuition, it’s about helping the golfer understand the process. There is a pattern of movement of the golf club and a pattern of movement for the player and I try to bring the two together for the benefit of playing better golf.
“My customers buy into a lifestyle really and what I’m trying to achieve with them will help them see better results. That part of the process is down to me and how I engage with them and it all starts with the booking process. It’s simple and straightforward and I only allow one customer at a time so it’s a very personal service. I’ve got Trackman 4 which is the latest technology available in the market and adds significantly to the information output I see which in turn helps me make better recommendations. I can fit equipment from all the main brands too so the customer has a large choice of products.
“Golfers who come to Concept Golf get loft and lies checked when they arrive, I’m able to adjust anything that’s out of sync on the spot, I can do driver fittings, wedge fittings, iron fittings and also putter fittings. Everything is indoors so weather etc. isn’t an issue and the technology I have works both equally well indoors and out.”
Like all businesses, Concept Golf needs to generate customers but O’Mahony’s industry experience has taught him well and he’s very aware of how he needs to conduct his business.
“As I said, I think about this whole thing as a journey and if the final part of the journey is bumpy then that’s what you will remember. That being the case, one of the key things I wanted to focus on was after sales service. I don’t like the idea that a customer has been custom fitted, walks out the door and I never speak with them again. I like to follow-up with them, check how they’re getting on and if things aren’t going right for them, I’ll look to bring them back in and see how I can help.
“For me, that’s a big part of the offering at Concept Golf. I can check what you have and what you’re doing, recommend changes to both your equipment and your swing if necessary, bring you through the whole process and then follow-up with you afterwards to make sure it’s doing what you wanted it to. In my mind, that’s good solid business and it works equally well for me in terms of generating long-term customers as it does for the customer in that they know I’m there for them and can help them with anything they need.
“If I can help a golfer play better, feel better about their game, have a better understanding of their equipment and how it can work for them in tandem with tuition and then help them to progress longer term, then I think I’ll have done a good job.”
It sounds like a strong business model and once lockdown is over, we’re looking forward to checking out Concept Golf for ourselves. You can get in touch with Mark on Mark@ConceptGolf.ie or call 087-7792928.