What began as a showroom in his grandpa’s basement is now Austad’s Golf. Current president Ryan Austad has worked on and off with the family business that started in 1963 since he was 14, and he has watched the now-10 brick and mortar locations and brand change and grow over time.
“We’re all around the upper Midwest and Sioux Falls is the main hub,” he said. “Our goal is not to be the biggest in the country. At one point we were, but we just want to be the best, and specifically the best at fittings. We occupy 10 percent of the best fitting operations in the country, and we’re really proud of that. So we’re laser focused on that.”
Each location has been named a Golf Digest Top 100 Fitting Location across the upper Midwest. The company has certified master club fitters who guide patrons through the process and utilize state-of-the-art technology to find the right shaft, loft, grip size, and more.
I arrived before Austad’s opened to meet master fitter Dan Rotert. Why before open? They’re booking out fittings three weeks in advance and had a packed schedule. Dan told me they have a four-state radius where people will drive hours to get fitted for clubs in Sioux Falls. But that doesn’t mean they don’t take walk-ins.
“We match up the speed that they swing, the weight that they swing, the length that they need, the grip size, and the angle. It’s totally custom to what the person needs for their game.” – Dan Rotert
“If we have an hour period where we don’t have someone, we can get them in,” he said. “We’ll typically do six to 10 walk-ins a day along with our schedule, so it gets busy.”
Austad’s Golf offers a club-fitting experience along with other essentials for the game. Fittings are for golfers of all skill levels, from the “weekend warrior to the scratch golfer.”
Dan walked me through how there are fittings from individual clubs to the full bag. A full bag typically takes two to two-and-a-half hours.
Ryan added, “We really believe our differentiating factor is our ability to create experiences and create better golf games through the bay.”
It all begins with the booking and then filling out a profile before the fitting.
“When everyone shows up for their fitting we basically have a baseball card of you and already have club suggestions ready,” said Ryan.
Premium Full Bag Fitting | 1 Hour 45 Minutes
Driver/Woods Fitting | 45 Minutes
Iron Fitting | 1 Hour
Wedge Fitting | 30 Minutes
Gap Analysis/Retro Fitting | 45 Minutes
Then you discuss the equipment, how often you golf, what your goals are, and how committed you are. But don’t think you have to be an avid golfer.
“It’s not intimidating,” said Ryan. “We’re just here to have fun and help you. Have a beer, take some swings. If you hit some bad ones, we hit bad ones all of the time.”
Water, soda, and beer are available during the experience. After chatting clubs and goals, the master fitter took me into one of five bays in the location and patiently walked me through my swing. I was nervous, as I’m not smooth at the sport.
I did a driver fitting, and Dan explained every person, whether experienced or not, has different needs.
“If we were really good golfers, we wouldn’t be working every day,” he laughed. “Even beginners, we want to get them in so they can get the right length, grip, and as you get better and overpower the shaft we can get you there, too.”
Even if they’re experienced, things change over time, whether it’s a junior growing up or a golfer advancing or if it’s a matter of different heights and strengths.
Austad’s Golf Location
+ Sioux Falls, SD
+ Rapid City, SD
+ Sioux City, IA
+ Cedar Rapids, IA
+ Fargo, ND
+ Omaha, NE
+ Lincoln, NE
+ St. Cloud, MN
“A fitting is, we’ll basically have someone 6’7” come in, someone 5’2” come in, someone 6’ come in, and they all swing differently and all have different speeds, different flexes, and different strengths,” he said. “We want to fit clubs to that person.”
Golf makes me anxious, and I had a blast with Dan. Also, at the same time, I saw the importance of getting the right set makeup. And I know I’m not the only one with a newer excitement for golf in general, especially during the pandemic.
“It was exactly a year ago at this time that we were thinking of shutting the lights off since we didn’t know where this was going,” said Ryan. “It was late May, early June golf blew up like crazy. We saw a spike in people who picked back up the game or wanted to give it a try to get out and do something. Now we’re seeing people who started it and are coming back to get more gear and had a blast. It appears people enjoyed it and are sticking with it.”
For more information, visit austads.com.