February 3, 2023
I first met Ian Fraser, club fitter and owner of Tour Experience Golf in Toronto, Ontario, just outside the Foresight launch monitor booth at the 2020 PGA Show. We chatted briefly and he readily agreed to an interview.
A few weeks later our conversation resumed, joined by Matt Blois, a videographer, Fraser’s good friend, and the guy hitting hundreds of great golf shots for the company’s growing YouTube channel.
The column ran in April 2020, just as Canada and the United States went into full lockdown from the Covid pandemic.
At that point, TXG’s YT channel had over 66 thousand subscribers watching dozens of videos that first began running in 2017. Unfortunately, Fraser’s fitting business at his Toronto studio had come to a screeching halt because of the mandated shutdown.
What a difference three years can make.
The three of us met again at the 2023 Show and discussed the significant changes that happened to TXG since we last talked, along with some of the company’s upcoming plans. Fraser had just come from an extended meeting with Arccos Golf, the shot-tracking and analytics company, relating to technical perspectives on best club fitting practices.
Although the fitting side of TXG’s business went on hiatus, Fraser and Blois qualified for a government exemption for media and continued with YouTube. Blois said they made videos three or four days a week during that time, compared to the former Monday-only schedule they previously maintained.
The audience count for TXG’s videos jumped almost immediately – perhaps in part because viewers were also shut in, but also for the obvious reason that the clips were well worth watching. As the subscriber numbers climbed, the money earned through YouTube also increased, keeping Fraser’s business afloat.
Once the pandemic restrictions were removed, pent-up demand for new custom-fit clubs boosted TXG’s business considerably, leading to more and bigger changes.
Fraser opened a second fitting studio in Mississauga, about 20 miles west of Toronto. Last fall he opened a third studio in Calgary, Alberta, part of a planned expansion to several Canadian provinces.
More recently, Fraser entered into an agreement with Club Champion, the American club fitting company with multiple locations, including Wilmington. TXG’s YouTube title page now says, “Tour Experience Golf//A Club Champion Brand.”
“I’m running the business just as before,” Fraser said. “One of the benefits of our arrangement is that I can take advantage of Club Champion’s Asset Teams.” He said the group does market research and locality analysis to help decide where new stores could be successfully established.
For a small outfit like TXG, that kind of expansion assistance is invaluable. Market research is expensive and recovering from opening a business in the wrong place is no fun, either.
The company continues to thrive on the YouTube front. Blois said they are up to over 204 thousand subscribers, adding 3,000 to 5,000 new signups each month. He said some older videos continue to generate multiple visits, with evergreen content having the longest tail. For example, Blois said a piece on picking the right tee height has over 900,000 views.
Both Fraser and Blois are keen to avoid clickbait content that sometimes mars other YouTube sites. Fortunately, several guests on the TXG YT channel helped and even created their own following without taking that path. Mizuno Golf Club Engineer Chris Voshall is one of the most popular. “He’s instantly trustworthy,” Fraser said.
Blois said the comments section accompanying the TXG videos often includes “extremely specific questions” about shafts, club options, and product details. Any golf equipment show attracts its fair share of gear heads, after all.
Using YouTube as a market generator has worked very well. Fraser said 40% of TXG’s fitting business comes directly from the channel. The rest derives from word of mouth, referrals, and a small amount of direct advertising.
Fraser and Blois stressed that a good understanding of your own golf data speeds up the fitting process significantly. Blois said the company’s booking questionnaire gives helpful prompts, but if you bring your own Arccos or Trackman stats, that helps even more.
Fraser gave an example of a client from Dubai with a math background that brought a thick binder to his first session. “His statistical analysis proved to himself he needed new clubs. We were able to help him,” Fraser said.
Some golfers still subscribe to the “matched luggage” version of filling their bag. Fraser said mixing and matching clubs from several manufacturers is far more common. “There’s a trust element when the customer works with us,” he said.
Fraser also told a great story about Mike Martysiewicz, TXG’s Director of Club Building and Fitting, and a frequent, funny participant in the TXG videos. “I first knew him as a 15-year-old junior and met him with his dad where I worked previously,” Fraser said. After watching the youngster swing, Fraser said he told Martysiewicz to “go get some lessons and then come back.”
Twelve years later, Martysiewicz’s handicap is in the single digits. He obviously took Fraser’s advice and even joined TXG – a sure sign there were no hard feelings, at least none that lasted.