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Dick's Sporting Goods lays off 478 PGA professionals as sales of golf gear decrease

IMPERIAL, Pa. - The Dick's Sporting Goods chain has laid off 478 Professional Golfers' Association teaching pros months after the company reported that sales of golf gear are dwindling.

Based in the Pittsburgh suburb of Findlay Township, Dick's operates more than 500 stores nationwide, most under the Dick's name. Those stores sell golf equipment as do 79 stores the chain operates under the Golf Galaxy name. Dick's still employs PGA pros at its Golf Galaxy stores, but not at Dick's locations.

"We had some internal restructuring that affected the Dick's stores," Matt Trimbur, the PGA pro at the Golf Galaxy store in Robinson Township, told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.

Trimbur referred additional comment to Dick's, which did not respond to requests for comment Thursday. The PGA announced the layoffs.

"The PGA of America is aware of the decision made by Dick's Sporting Goods that affects the livelihoods of many PGA professionals who have been employed at Dick's," the PGA said in a statement. The PGA has employment consultants to help the unemployed pros.

Dick's employed the pros in an attempt to woo customers with more expert advice on clubs and other equipment.

But earlier this year, Dick's announced it expected its year-end profits to drop about 10 per cent because of reduced sales in golf equipment, which the company said was offsetting gains it made selling other sports gear.

At the company's first-quarter earnings call with analysts in May, chairman and chief executive officer Edward Stack said Tiger Woods' inability to return to peak form and the fact that fewer people are golfing have caused sales to drop.

"We don't feel we've found the bottom yet," Stack said then.

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