Toronto-based Tour Experience Golf has used YouTube, especially during the pandemic, to grow club fitting business
Ian Fraser can’t help but laugh.
Fraser, owner of Toronto-based premium golf club fitting center Tour Experience Golf (TXG), tells of the time he received a note from a gentleman in New Zealand. The man’s wife always wanted to visit New York, so he concocted an ulterior motive story, saying the only way to fly from New Zealand to New York was via Toronto — with a two-day layover.
While in Toronto, the man booked his wife a spa treatment and other activities while he went to TXG for a day.
The couple then stayed in New York long enough so that TXG could build the man’s clubs, ship them across the Canadian border, and have them in his hands to take home to New Zealand.
“There are a bunch of people with great stories like this,” said Fraser, an affable Scotsman who started TXG in 2016.
TXG has seen exponential brand growth over the last 12 months due to his and co-host Matt Blois’ incredibly popular YouTube channel, which now boasts over 130,000 subscribers.
TXG has become an authoritative voice in club fitting because of its digital success, which can be chalked up to a combination of Fraser’s deep knowledge of golf club technology and personality, plus Blois’ experience. True Spec Golf, another premium club-fitting facility with locations around the world, by comparison, has just over 750 YouTube subscribers.
Fraser, who has made Toronto home for the past nine years, was the managing director of Modern Golf, another premium fitting facility in Toronto, for four years before taking a hiatus and then starting TXG in 2016. In the year between the two companies, Fraser immersed himself in content from Gary Vaynerchuk, an entrepreneur and social media personality known for his inspiring messages on hard work.
“His hammering home of the way content is being consumed and how people are finding information in this digital age … [TXG could not] possibly approach this from the same [way as our competitors] or we’d just fall into the pack when people would try to discover us,” Fraser said. “A much bigger digital platform was needed.”
In 2017, Blois and instructor Shawn Clement, who has around 119,000 YouTube subscribers, visited TXG to shoot a series of videos. Fraser believed what Clement was doing was solid, but he was more impressed with Blois.
“The video was shot that morning and uploaded by the afternoon,” Fraser said. “I wondered how that was even possible. I just thought that was the future for TXG, the way they did that.”
Blois, who was a teaching professional for a few years before pivoting to the digital marketing world, isn’t shy to admit that the channel’s success is directly related to Fraser’s meaty knowledge base on the latest and best in golf equipment.
Blois learned that firsthand when he and Clement were initially looking to use a Foresight launch monitor to enhance Clement’s channel. Foresight representatives told the pair to visit Fraser, who was already using the launch monitor. Blois envisioned Fraser, 37, being a 70-year-old man with a tartan jacket based on Fraser’s heavy Scottish accent.
“But when I came to meet Ian, we had a lot in common,” Blois said. “Everything he said, I was like, ‘Wow, that’s not something I’ve ever heard someone say before.’”
Blois and Fraser arranged another meeting about a week later to talk about Fraser’s plan for the business moving forward and how a digital strategy — specifically a YouTube channel — could help drive awareness of TXG. The initial conversation was about building a clean, modern website with videos that showcased Fraser’s ability as a fitter. They wanted to show people what it would be like to come to TXG in an organic fashion, versus “spewing” it all at them, said Blois.
Blois didn’t initially join on camera, but when he did, the chemistry between the pair was natural and the feedback was solid. As a duo, they would have a conversation and the viewer could be a fly-on-the-wall, versus Fraser just talking at the viewers. Initially they thought they had to keep coming up with unique ideas, but a few months in they realized there was just a thirst for knowledge on stuff that was better than what existed already thanks to comments from viewers.
“The YouTube space is full of golf personalities, but not nearly with the expertise that Ian has,” Blois said.
Fraser said the YouTube channel has now taken TXG to a place he never would have expected it to be. TXG puts out five videos per week, and it did one video per day for nearly 40 days during April and May while so many people were locked down due to COVID-19.
He said there is about an 800-person waitlist to get in for a fitting.
TXG had international clients who were flying in on weekends pre-pandemic, and those extra visitors were not factored into the original business plan. Fraser said the original plan focused solely on domestic growth. However, because Toronto is Canada’s most metropolitan city and a captivating tourist destination, Fraser pivoted and wondered why couldn’t TXG think beyond the border?
Partnership and licensing opportunities, Fraser said, are also coming to his inbox these days. Fraser believed he had a “pretty good plan” for what was next for TXG, but he’s discerning differently these days because of how successful the YouTube channel has become.
He admits with a laugh that he wished this success was part of the grand plan all along, but the pair has been changing as they went.
“You can’t tell where something might go,” Blois said, “but the best thing we ever did was just get started.”