Ever considered starting a part-time business in the golf industry? Here we profile a homeowner that turned his love for the game of golf into a lucrative business. All Pro Orange County, a dealer located in Cerritos, California, is making many golfer’s dreams come true with their “Golfscape” designs. Owner Mark Knight shares his experience and offers advice as we ask him questions about his business.

Since you began, how many putting greens have you installed?
We have installed 85 greens in two years.

Do you sell and install greens on a full or part-time basis?
We started out part-time, but quickly saw the demand for our product and service. Now we have a full-time manager/salesman, as well as full-time installers. Currently, we are booked with orders for the next 4 months.

What percentage of your sales are complete installations and self install kits?
Ninety five percent (95%) of our projects are complete installations. We don’t want to lose a single sale. Some customers can’t afford to pay $12.00 per sq.ft. so we try to sell them a self-install kit. We provide them with a list of suppliers for the needed materials and even offer assistance if they have any problems with the installation.

Where do your leads come from?
A lot of our leads come from the good relationship we have with many of the golf professionals from local golf courses. Most Pro’s are willing to listen to what we have to say about the putting greens. We explain that they can make a 5% commission just for referring a lead if it turns into a sale. The truth is that most pro’s can use additional income because the pro’s job is more of a prestige position that generally doesn’t pay very well.

Referrals make up a large portion of leads. One great thing about a referral is that they have already played on a synthetic green and know the square foot price for the product.

Always, always offer the customer a FREE sand trap if someone refers you a lead that turns into a sale. We have some customers that have 2 and 3 sand traps around their putting green. If they are not interested in a sand trap then tell them you will give them a 5% commission on any leads that turn into sales. Some of the leads come from All Pro Greens. They are the manufacturer and can’t come to California to install a putting green. They rely on us to provide a bid to a customer and close the sale.

What do you charge, per sq.ft., on an average installation?
$12.00 per sq.ft.

After everything is paid for, what is your profit margin?
On a 12’ x 30’ putting green we charge $4404.00. After we pay for everything - turf, freight charges, sub base material, infill, labor, we will clear 60% or $2642.00 for a one day job. The larger the green, the less it costs for materials per sq.ft., the more profit we make.

How long do most installations take to install?
Two guys can install a smaller putting like a 12’x 24’ or 12’ x 30’ in one day and leisurely install a 24’ x 30’ in two days. Planning ahead and having all materials on site ready to go will save a lot of time. Watch the weather forecast to make sure it’s not going to rain during the installation procedure.

Do you sometimes gain additional business from clients you sell to?
Yes. We always get requests for additional landscape work. However, we specialize in installing putting greens and because we are back-ordered with work we would rather do that. We have an agreement with a landscape company to provide the extra landscaping. This allows us to move to the next project.

How important are referrals in this business?
Referrals are priceless! As soon as we install a green for a customer, we have one of their friends or neighbors calling wanting an estimate or an installation. The customer is our best salesman. The idea of offering a customer a FREE sand trap if we get a referral that turns into a sale is one of our better sales tactics.

How do you approach a client at the first meeting?
A portfolio of installations is always a great visual. Take pictures of your greens from different angles and it will look like a different installation and this in turn will make your portfolio look larger. I spend a lot of time listening to the customer and what he wants.

What is your sales procedure?
First, show up having a professional presence - clean clothes with company name. I feel that you close more sales even if a competitor is cheaper in price, if you have a professional appearance.
This is the best sales tactic - take samples of putting green turf from other companies in the area if there are any. Never bad-mouth another company’s product. Just show the customer the samples and let them draw the conclusion that your product is the best. Ask them what is the best product of all the samples they have seen - obviously it is the All Pro sample. This has closed more sales for us than anything else.

Always provide a referral list of other clients for them to call. The portfolio is a must. Show them photos of greens that are of similar size of what they are looking for. Many times a customer will see a sand trap or a landscape layout they like. These extras will get you more work and more pay.

What is your secret to closing a sale?
Selling the best product. All Pro Putting Greens offers the highest quality product at the best price. We show samples of products offered from local competitors. Customers are savvy and can clearly see the difference in quality. But let them tell you that your product is better.

What is the biggest concern you hear when trying to sell a putting green?
Cost. Some people don’t realize what is involved in installing a putting green. At the same time, we are not in business to trade a dollar for a dollar. Our cost, turn-key installed, on an average green is about $3.00 to $3.50 per square foot. Our profit margin is high enough where we can come off of $12.00 per sq.ft. installed price. If it looks like a customer can’t afford an install, we will always try to sell a self-install kit.

Job Breakout
Item Your Cost
One 12' x 30' Putting Green Turf $
Accessory Kit $35.00
Freight Charges $161.93
Putting Green Kit Total $
Limestone Sub Base Material Delivered (5 tons) $140.00
Black Beauty Sandblasting Sand (13 100 lb. bags) $91.00
Geotextile Underlayment $30.00
Ride-on Vibratory Roller Rental $110.00
Paid Labor (2 men - 1 day) $310.00
Additional Materials Costs $671.00
Selling Price
(367 sq. ft. @ $12.00 per ft. )
Actual Cost $1,561.00
Job Profit 64% $

All Pro Orange County Tips:

  • Planning ahead will save you a lot of time and effort.
  • Follow the step-by-step procedure. Short cuts will cost you more in the long run,
  • Any additional landscape work is an additional cost to the customer.

What incentives do you offer customers to purchase a green?
We always offer the incentive of the free sand trap for a referral that turns into a sale. We also offer the incentive of 50% off on freight charges with a deadline date. This helps to create a sense of urgency and reason to purchase. Probably the biggest incentive to purchase is the fact we have the best product to offer.

Do you have any construction tips you could share with us?
Take your time with the compaction of the sub base. You must have a solid foundation to lay the putting green on. Most problems that develop later have to do with improper compaction. Follow the step-by-step procedure for installing the green. Make sure you are always sweeping against the grain of the turf when filling the green. Do not short cut any of the steps.

How do you see the future with putting greens?
Solid! Before we heard of All Pro Putting Greens, we didn’t know the product was available. As more people become aware the product exists, we will be there to sell it to them. The putting green is a great complement to any backyard.

What is the most rewarding experience you have had installing greens for customers?
Installing a 9 hole putting course. This is the largest installation we have done. We think we will gain a lot of additional business because we have put up several signs around the course.

What advice can you give someone getting into selling and installing synthetic putting greens?
Become comfortable with the installation process. The installation is easy, simple and produces the desired result every time but you don’t want to experiment with your customer and look like you don’t know what they are doing on the jobsite. This product makes for a perfect part-time business. It started out as part-time and has now turn into a stand alone business.

For more information about All Pro Orange County check out the editorial article appearing in Orange County Golf, January 2000. Written by Joel Beers.