Local duo helps folks get into golf
Photo: Courtesy Golf Roots
Jake Hoffman, left, and Ben Stromberg founded Golf Roots to make it easy for new players to get started.

Ben Stromberg, Jake Hoffman co-found Golf Roots

By Leah Vann

Ben Stromberg was just a college student at Texas A&M who offered to sell a set of golf clubs to his old Greenhill School soccer teammate, Jake Hoffman; nearly four years later, the two of them own and operate a golf company.

“I started selling golf clubs on Facebook during the pandemic, just little sales here and there,” Stromberg said. “As I got more into it, I realized that there is not just a need for individual clubs, but there are also tons of people who want to get into the game and get a full set. It’s so complex and can be really challenging for people to buy used, so I started putting together sets for people as I was selling them to make it easy for them to start.”

Hoffman was one of those people: Having just taken his first job in consulting, he knew that golf was part of being in the business industry, but he hadn’t played.

“I didn’t feel like there was a good way to learn how to golf both from an education standpoint and a cost standpoint,” Hoffman said. “And I didn’t have $2,000 or $3,000 just to spend on a new set of clubs.”

That’s the aim of Golf Roots: to provide people the opportunity to get into the sport at a low cost. What began as a business with just Stromberg, Hoffman and a high school kid helping ship golf clubs out of Stromberg’s parents’ garage has now moved into a warehouse with 15 full-time employees marketing, refurbishing and shipping clubs across the country.

The key to making those clubs affordable is how they acquire them: through trade-in days at private golf clubs across the country. Its members then bring in their old name-brand clubs for Golf Roots in exchange for store credit at the private club. Golf Roots pays for that store credit based on the clubs’ appraised value and, in return, gets inventory.

“Since we don’t work with the manufacturers directly, we’re not tied to any MSRPs or any minimums, so that lets us price the clubs wherever we want,” Hoffman said.

That wasn’t easy: They had to reach out to private clubs across the country, hoping one would take a chance on a trade-in day. Despite being from Dallas, Stromberg said the company’s first trade-in event was at the San Antonio Golf Club. He quit his full-time job in consulting just two days before that first trade-in event, knowing that he needed to go all-in on a business idea he believed in to make it work.

“We’d never run a trade-in day before that and I had quit my job two days before that trade-in day because I had a feeling that it was going to work,” Stromberg said. “Now, we work with well over 200 golf courses around the country and that’s a growing number.”

Part of what makes the company so successful is its marketing: The two 25-year-olds understand that to stay in line with the company’s mission of being welcoming to beginners is through fun, personality-driven posts meant to teach the consumer about the basics of finding the best club for them.

“I think that our social media has had a huge impact,” Stromberg said. “Our message of accessibility resonates with people. They also really love that the company gives them an inside look into what it’s like to be a startup. So, I think that when people are trying to decide where they want to buy golf clubs from, ultimately, they pick us.” 

In addition, the company sells an $89.99 beginner set of clubs for customers to try, which includes a wood, an iron, a wedge and a putter, plus five balls. When the customer is ready, they can use that credit toward upgrading to a full set. Stromberg said Golf Roots prides itself on being the only used club company that builds full sets of clubs for its customers, from the driver down to the putter, anywhere from $200 to $2,000.

That is something Stromberg knew how to do from working at a golf course in New Mexico when he was in college, but he’s now brought in a team of experts who can help put together the perfect set.

At the same time, both Stromberg and Hoffman have been on their own golf journeys, so it’s like they’re on the same path as their customers. Hoffman didn’t end up buying that particular set from Stromberg in 2020, but the two are now 3½ years into growing the game.

“We’re just getting started,” Stromberg said. “We’re going to look back in a few years and laugh about these things that seem like our big accomplishments to us right now, because they’re going to seem like nothing compared to what we’re going to do.”

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