Golf Ambassador: Lesley Knight
Lesley Knight was a freshman in college when his brother-in-law invited him to play golf for the first time. Knight shot 81 and a love affair with the game began.
The Oklahoma City native had played baseball and football growing up, but there was something special about those four hours, the first time he put those beat up clubs in his hands. He knew he was going to have a career somewhere within the game.
Now 37, and after being a club fitter for big-box stores, an instructor and a head golf professional, Knight is six years into running Next Level Golf, a 1,000-square-foot facility in Fort Worth where he’s able to combine his passions for helping golfers improve.
Knight took the leap to build his own business after realizing he was the go-to guy for all of his friends who had golf questions. Which clubs should I buy? Where do I get fitted? Who is the best person to give me a lesson? Knight was always the first person his friend group would ask.
“I just wanted to help people in general,” Knight said. “I wanted to try to help people not waste money on just buying something off the rack. They need to be fitted so they can get more out of what they’re paying for.”
So he decided open Next Level Golf, a full-service club repair shop where he teaches lessons and provides club fittings. The space also has two 12-foot simulator bays – one where Knight teaches, the other purely for fun and games.
The facility is in the heart of a sports complex that caters mostly to basketball and volleyball, with multiple courts for both sports spread out. One day, Jeff Wood, vice president of marketing for The Indoor Golf Shop, was in the complex for his daughter’s volleyball practice and he stopped by to introduce himself to Knight and explain that his company helps outfit businesses like Next Level.
“He walked into my shop, asked me what I was using, told me what he was doing and told me about his background,” Knight recalls. “I told him I’d love to work with him and help promote his product.”
Knight had The Indoor Golf Shop make suggestions and together they came up with a plan to install Foresight Sports’ GC Quad launch monitor to help with teaching and the Swing Catalyst for video analysis. Although Knight is old school, and a lot of his teaching is done by feel, he incorporates video into lessons only to help students understand specific areas of focus. He does not use it as a corrective tool.
While it is not necessary to be a member to use Knight’s expertise, there are three levels of membership for Next Level Golf. Knight has 818 names in his database of people who have done business with him and his records show that 700 of those have come to see him in the last 3-6 months.
“I build a relationship with every one of my customers,” Knight proudly says. “Not only are they getting a service or coming in for something specific, but they’re also getting somewhat of a friendship. They’re getting someone who is real and relatable.”
The immediate goals for Next Level are clear – Knight wants to develop more simulator business for clients to hang out and hit balls with friends, and he wants to develop a training program for junior golfers. The next phase, of course, includes Knight having to hire employees for what has been, to this point, a one-man band.
But like everything else over the past six years, Knight will figure it out. He always does. And he’ll use his own personal touch to make sure that it’s done with class and with a customer-first mentality.
It’s amazing what shooting 81 can do the first time you touch a golf club.