I (Anthony Crosby) have never golfed in my life. Sure, I’ve kicked a buddy or two’s butt in some miniature golf rounds, but Phil Mickelson, I am not. However, that’s okay! This is precisely why having neighbors with diverse hobbies and businesses is so great! I may not know the secret to getting out of a sand trap, but you better believe that I enjoy spending time talking with people who do. And it’s a good thing I do appreciate these kinds of conversations because, when it comes to the world of golf, there’s nobody in our community who can approach the game like this week’s guest!
For this conversation, we’re joined by Matt Shirley. Matt, and his wife, Andrea, own a dual business storefront located on Lamoille Highway. We spoke with Andrea in a past feature about their CBD business, In the Rough Wellness, but this time around, we’re chatting with Matt about their second operation, Patriot Golf USA!
After one of Andrea’s past jobs brought them to Elko, the Shirley’s have been serving their customers out of their shop for the past year. When it comes to golf, Matt and Patriot Golf USA can help locals approach the game in ways unlike any other in town.
Matt, before we let you explain what makes you and your business so unique in the golfing community, let’s take a second to get to know you. How did you end up falling for the game in the first place?
“It all started when I was about five-years-old. We moved to a new house in Oregon, right on a golf course, so my brother and I started golfing at the earliest of ages. I played every day, and I played throughout high school and into college. In the mid-’90s, I started getting more involved with taking apart clubs and doing repairs. Everything I started doing back then has evolved into what I’m doing now, and I’ve been doing it for roughly twenty-five years. Everything was done out of my garage, but once we moved to Elko and got our storefront, I was able to turn hobby into a business.”
Tell us about exactly what it is that you do at your business? What do people need to know about your whole operation?
“I do anything that has to do with golf. Many people know there’s a golf shop here in Elko, but they may not know what I do. A lot of people think this is a place where they can get some golf balls or something, but they don’t know that I have the only golfing simulator around or that I can do the custom building of clubs and repairs. I also have a pro shop where I sell used clubs for anybody wanting to get into golf without spending a bunch of money, but a bulk of my business comes from my full-service club repair shop. I have people who come in for lessons as well. You don’t have to go out of town to get all of those services. If the people in our area are looking for something to improve their golf game, we have something for everyone.”
Now, Matt, you’ve been involved with golf for most of your life. What about the game keeps you returning year after year, enough to develop an entire business around it?
“It’s something I’ve always done and been good at. It’s fun knowing about all the repairing and building components that go into the clubs. It’s fun to talk to people while I’m out on the course and educate them on what they’re using because there’s not really anybody doing custom building anymore; it’s a lost art. Many people go to the big box stores and buy what’s on the shelf. What those stores consider to be custom fitting is minimal to what a real club-fitter does. People will travel to different parts of the country just to find a club-fitter and have a set made for them. I’m the only one in Elko County, and I don’t even know of an individual who even does it in Reno. It’s a unique trade, and that’s why I love it.”
What sort of advice would you give to someone just starting? Even if someone comes to you with merely an interest in taking up golf, what do you tell them?
“I get people, weekly, who are just inquiring. The first thing I tell them is that we should get them into this for cheap. If they know of someone who has some clubs sitting in the garage, take those out, two or three times, and just see if they like it. Sure the clubs they’re using may not allow them to be very good at it, but they should at least get out there. If they do decide to pursue golf, then they can come back and see me. And even then, I tell them to get into it for as little money as possible. People will come into the shop all the time, and I’ll give them clubs that other people have given me. Andrea and I run both of our businesses the same way; it doesn’t have to be all about the money. If I can get somebody out there golfing, even if I have to give them stuff, that works for me because if they do like it, they will come back and be a customer. If you’re starting and you’re not sure about it, come in and talk to me.”
What should people keep in mind if they are considering taking up golf? What does it take to get really into it?
“A lot of it is patience. Golf is one of the hardest games to learn, and if you go out and expect to be really good, you’re going to be disappointed. If you go out there to have a good time, get exercise, ride around in the cart with your friends, if you take up the game of the right reasons, then it’s terrific. Golf is time-consuming, and it does take a while to get the hang of. Even me, I’ll still go out and have moments when I’m just standing there, scratching my head!”
That’s some good insight! Thank you, Matt, so much for joining us this week! Is there anything else you’d like to share with our readers before we let you back on the green?
“I’m here, and it’s always going to be a one-on-one customer interaction relationship. I like to get to know people on a first-name basis and continuously work on their clubs whenever they need the help; it’s like a family doctor type deal. I like to think of this as the most “local” of business you can find. I’m as far away from a big box store as you can get. And because of that, it’s my responsibility to take care of everybody.
“Also, one of the reasons we call it “Patriot” Golf USA is because we support this country and our troops!”
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See you around, Elko!