Merchandisers of the Year Donah, Montgomery and Schlaman Winners

Oct 10, 2023

Merchandisers of the Year Donah, Montgomery and Schlaman Winners-

Donah Wins Private Merchandiser of the Year-
Riverside, Iowa – Luke Donah of Cedar Rapids Country Club has been named the 2023 Iowa PGA Private Merchandiser of the Year. This award is presented to the PGA Professional who demonstrated superior skills as a merchandiser in the promoting of golf at a private facility.

When asked on what this means to win this award Donah responded with, “It’s an honor to be recognized as the 2023 Iowa PGA Private Merchandiser of the Year. This award means a lot as it validates the effort, vision, and execution brought forth by my team of Staff Professionals in our retail operation. In 2022 we had the privilege of starting a new golf shop from scratch due to a large-scale capital project that invested in the future of the Cedar Rapids Country Club. I could not be more proud of the end product that my staff and I have created for the membership and look forward to many years of creating a retail experience that embodies the traditions and culture of our historic club.”

His merchandising philosophy can best be summarized as attempting to uphold an high end, elegant, and tasteful shopping experience that one would find at premier classic clubs throughout the country. They carry brands that are not found at standard commercial sporting goods store and display merchandise in a fashion that creates an experience for the shopper as they navigate their way from the front door to the counter. Brands that can be found in our shop include Smathers and Branson, Peter Millar, Holderness and Bourne, Kjus, Zero Restriction, B Draddy, Fairway and Greene, Footjoy, GFore, Ecco, American Needle, and others. They also brings in the usage of alternate logos and merchandising concepts that tell a story about the history of the club.

Golf Magazine Article on Members Only logo that he introduced in 2022. The logo is a Titanic lifeboat meant to represent the story of Walter Douglas, a founding member of Cedar Rapids CC. Walter was aboard the Titanic and because of his wealth, was offered a spot on a lifeboat as the ship was sinking. Walter denied the opportunity stating, “I wouldn’t be a gentleman if I did that” and ultimately perished wearing his finest tuxedo as the ship met its icy, watery grave. The story Golf Magazine did ties together that story with the resilience and selflessness witnessed by Cedar Rapidians through the Flood of 2008 and Derecho of 2020.

Longtime Cedar Rapids CC member Lou King was notorious for having crafted the notion of the infamous Amana cap that changed the face of sports marketing for good. Lou’s hat program would go on to bring about dramatic changes in the opportunities for athletes to profit off of their likeness and abilities. In 2022 they celebrated their connection to Lou and the history he created with a CRCC Edition Amana Cap, merchandised alongside a write up on the significance of Lou’s work in the history of sport!

This is Donah’s first Iowa PGA Section Award.

The PGA Congratulates Luke Donah as our 2023 Private Merchandiser of the Year.


Montgomery Wins Public Merchandiser of the Year
Ben Montgomery of Airport National Golf Course has been named the 2023 Iowa PGA Public Merchandiser of the Year. This award is presented to the PGA Professional that demonstrated superior skills as a merchandiser in the promotion of golf at a public facility.

When asked on what this means to win this award Montgomery responded with, “”There are many Golf Professionals in the Iowa Section that run great golf shops. To be recognized as Public Merchandiser of the Year by your peers means a lot. If it was not for my boss Matt Erger, our great staff at Airport National, and most importantly the customers putting their trust in me, this award would not be possible.”

Montgomery’s philosophy is built around trust. If he can provide the following things, a knowledgeable and friendly staff, deliver on all promises, and make sure there is value to the purchase. If they can meet these three areas, they feel they will have built trust with the customer and they will continue to choose Airport National Golf Course for future purchases. Great sales begin with proper buying. He takes a lot of time to get to know his customer base and understand what they need and want. This goes a long way to making sure they are buying the proper product at the best price so they can pass that along to the customer.

Since taking over merchandising in 2020, he has a 110% increase in merchandise sales. They are on pace to increase sales again in 2023 Not only have they been been able to increase gross sales, through proper buying techniques, working with suppliers, and building strong customer relationships He has been able to increase their profit margins as well.

With the addition of a state-of-the-art fitting studio, he has been able to take the customer’s fitting experience to the next level. In addition to the knowledge he already has, he is constantly working with the manufacturers to learn more about their product and increase ways to get the best performance for customers. Even though merchandise sales are important, when he is doing a fitting, he always takes the approach of, “what is best for the customer.” There are plenty of times he has paused the fitting because the real issue is a swing thing. Montgomery stressed to their customers that there are people that just sell clubs, people who just give lessons, then there is him. He has built golf games. If that means they need to hold off on selling new clubs to better service the customer, he will do that 100% of the time. He also has gone the other way. Customers are swinging and playing well but the equipment is holding them back. He will then recommend getting in for a fitting to get their best performance out of the club. This approach of being here to build golf games not just clubs or swings has gone a long way in building trust and long-term custom.

Mark McMahon, PGA Head Professional at Ellis Golf Course had some nice words to say, “Ben has done a fantastic job growing the merchandise revenue at his facility. Ben utilizes the new indoor space along with the GC Quad technology to put his customers in the best clubs for each individual. In doing so he has become the best club fitter in the eastern Iowa area.”

Montgomery won Assistant Player of the Year in 2017, 2018, 2020 and 2021.

The Iowa PGA Congratulates Ben Montgomery as our 2023 Public Merchandiser of the Year.


Schlaman Wins Resort Merchandiser of the Year-
John Schlaman of Eagle Ridge Resort & Spa has been named the 2023 Iowa PGA Private Merchandiser of the Year. This award is presented to the PGA Professional who demonstrated superior skills as a merchandiser in the promoting of golf at a private facility.

When asked on what this means to win this award Schlaman responded with, “I feel very humbled and appreciative of being awarded this honor in my 36th year as a PGA member. With 63-holes of golf at Eagle Ridge and four clubhouses, it is a team effort to accomplish merchandising along with the many services that are involved in producing our resort golf product. I am very proud of our IPGA Golf Professional of the year since Erin was one of my hires here at Eagle Ridge in the mid 90’s, I knew she had potential! I would also like to congratulate all the fellow professionals in the class of 2023 Iowa PGA awards, they are all deserving and have earned this distinction. My goal has always been “Owner, Customer and, Employee Satisfaction”. If one is missing it is difficult for the others to be successful. Thank you to the entire Eagle Ridge Resort and Spa team for helping make it happen. It takes a village!”

Schlaman’s mission is to do what is in the best interest of the owner (profitability, asset upkeep), the customer (service, cleanliness and experience) and the employee (safe, informed and team-oriented culture). Our goal is to develop staff members that take ownership and become leaders so there is less need for bosses. His merchandise goal is to sell items at full retail while offering a discount to members and employees. We will efficiently identify slow movers and have planned sale racks on holiday weekends to move these items out and turn them into cash so we may reinvest in profitable opportunity.

His staff is kept up to date on new arrivals, features and trends in equipment and apparel. The front of the house and behind the sales counter should be organized, clean and free of clutter, the back of the house should be the same and reflective of what we want in the front of the house.

His four golf shops are departmentalized. Equipment, bags, balls, gloves, men’s apparel, ladies’ apparel, headwear and accessory items are readily identified and easy to shop for. Signage is always professionally printed and never handwritten. Whenever possible a golf shop salesperson should walk out from behind the counter to hand a customer their purchase package.

His golf staff are to be solution oriented and are trained to act informed. If you are not sure of the answer or solution, tell the customer you will find out and get back with them. A sense of urgency and timely follow-up are key elements of our service plan.

He wants his staff to manage each customer contact with the knowledge the customer is forming an opinion of us and our business, every contact is a “moment of truth”, an opportunity to impress people and make them satisfied with their purchase.

The General at Eagle Ridge – Par 72 – Opened 1997 – $140 for public $105 for resort guest. The General is our premier course with 289 feet of elevation changes from highest to lowest point. The clubhouse complex at The General is also home to the Highlands Restaurant and our Country Store (for gasoline, provisions, and deli/meat market). We received 24 new Callaway Rogue Rental Sets in 2023, $70 per round includes six logo Callaway balls in logo pouch with tees ball markers and divot tool. We also have 3 junior Callaway rental sets. The Rental Sets are dispersed between all four of our courses, there is a nine-hole price as well. It is an important offering at the resort and must be diligently managed by our supervisors.

In 2024 we will take delivery of golf cars for all our courses (270 golf cars plus utility and beverage units).

The North Course at Eagle Ridge opened in 1976. All our Courses were designed by Roger Packard. The North is the closest course to our Lodge/Resort Core. It is also home to our only Practice Range. Resort Guests may confirm tee times immediately upon confirming lodging, Golf Members may book tee times three weeks in advance, Property Owners and Public may book two weeks in advance.  The North and the South green fee including cart are $120 for Public and $85 for Resort Guests. The Property owner rate is $105, we also have discounted twilight, weekday afternoon and spring and fall season rates.

Each of our four courses have a nice size practice putting and chipping green with the largest at the East and the North course.

The East course is our only nine-hole course. It is par 34 with one par five. Green fees at all our courses include cart, we have very little demand for walking. The East is $55 for public and $30 for resort guests. We have a Twilight rate that begins at 3:00 daily at all our courses where the price drops significantly and therefore, we can have high demand at that time.  The East is also home to our Family Tees and Foot Golf. Foot Golf does not work for every facility, but it seems to work nicely at our East Course, it is an added activity available at the resort and does generate approx. $18,000 in revenue. We rent soccer balls, charge Foot Golf green fees and allow adults to rent a cart if desired.  The golf Shop attendant at the East is also the bartender.  Until 2023 the East never had decent rental clubs. We charge $35 for 9-hole rentals that include a sleeve of Callaway balls and have three junior sets.

New in 2023 is our Range Ball Dispenser (12,000 ball capacity). It is equipped with Range Star software. Being our range is removed from the clubhouse this has been a needed feature at Eagle Ridge for decades. It allowed us to raise the price of a bucket of balls, increased control, added customer convenience, and removed burden from staff.  The practice range is an important amenity for our resort.

The Iowa PGA Congratulates John Schlaman as our 2023 Resort Merchandiser of the Year.


Follow the Iowa PGA
For more information and schedule updates, fans can follow the Iowa PGA on Facebook (, Twitter (@iowapga) and YouTube (  Fans can also get a behind the scenes look on Instagram (@iowapga).