Sam joined Stix in January 2021 to handle a huge uptick in customer engagement just a few months after launch.
If you’ve hopped on Stix chat or sent us an email, early on it was probably Sam who answered your questions. Sam now leads a team to ensure Team Stix gets all the help they need. Please be patient with this team, there are a lot more of you (and we are grateful for that) than there are them!
What’s your background with golf, pre-Stix?
“Growing up, I had a set of clubs from the Salvation Army that cost me seven dollars. I’d just go to a random field and hit.
The only game I played before Stix was a bachelor party. We were grouped in teams of four for best ball and there was a house rule that for every four beers, you’d take one stroke off for a max of four.
I was on a team where the others golfed but didn’t drink. Around my beer five or six there was a par three where all the shots were mine and we got par.”
If you didn’t golf, how did you learn about clubs?
“I’ll get out with Stix clubs soon, but where I live in the midwest, golf courses haven’t been open since I joined and there are only a few indoor ranges.
So, my initial training assignment was to see what it takes to buy a set of clubs online. To go through that process and encounter the questions that naturally arise.
That experience is ingrained in my memory, so I know where customers are coming from.
I discovered you can get fitted for clubs, what’s involved and the cost, which at a place nearby is $150. They’ll waive the cost if you buy clubs, but with the brands they carry, the least you’d spend for a set is $1,300 and it’s all up from there.
I learned that if you’re on the taller end, you might need custom fit. Stix does offer a range and you can pick up our clubs for height at a price far below that of custom.
So, I saw the struggles that golfers go through, whether they’re new like me or buying clubs for the first time after decades. And I saw how they can be gouged by brands.”
How did your career path lead to Stix?
“Collin Duff is one of my best friends — we go back to undergrad — and it’s so great to work together now.
I recently finished an MA at Wheaton College and all of my jobs have been in customer service.
For a few years, I worked at the Apple store on the triage team, which was really about repairing the relationship between customers and the brand.
And I brought those skills to Stix.”
What are some challenges you’ve faced and solved at Stix?
“Because people are shopping at all hours, I could be on call 24/7. We never want to keep people waiting.
So the challenge is to make information easy to find, easy to understand and available on-demand — while still delivering that personal touch.
When I engage with customers, it’s to help them think out loud. With a bit of guidance, people can make their own decisions and pick something they’ll be confident they can play well with.”
Any ah-ha moments with Stix?
“People who are new to golf need a huge welcome. We need to make them feel they belong even though they don’t know the lingo or the intricacies.
Our customers who are overdue for an upgrade know the buying process, the club specifications, the game.
But if you haven’t bought clubs in ten years, the products and what you need has changed.
The golf industry is pushing new technology on these casual golfers. They’re stressing the little pieces of tech even though each advancement won’t enhance a casual golfer’s performance.
So, Stix surprises those customers because we’re not like other brands. We’re trying to simplify the process of getting great clubs in their hands.
Instead, Stix stresses quality materials and quality design that will last longer than this year’s variation on a new tech gimmick.”
What are the most interesting questions customers have asked you?
“Every once in a while I get the Ron Swanson type customer — the character from Parks and Rec who knows more. That customer doesn’t always want help but they do want to flex their golf tech knowledge. I hear them out.
But the most common question is, ‘What club length or flex would you recommend for me?’ And then we have a conversation about build and athletic history.”
What lights you up about your role with Stix?
“Not just trying to sell clubs but doing small things to build a community around Stix.
We’re having really cool conversations, getting to know people past the transaction, connecting.
I’m excited to see how we continue to grow in that way and get to know the stories behind the clubs.”
What do you hope for the future of golf?
“Part of the Stix brand DNA is a vision of golf that’s more accessible for every type of person.
I’m a big fan of tradition, but I want to uphold what’s good about the tradition of the game and reform what needs to change, so more people can enjoy golf.”