3balls has been in business since 1998, but if you want the whole story, you’ve got to go back a ways, 20 years back to be specific. In 1981, two very good friends, Joe Ricci and Leigh Bader, arrived at a run down 9-hole golf course in South Easton, MA. The pro shop was an unimpressive 290 square feet (about the size of a large living room). Determined to make their dream of golf course ownership a reality, the two pitched in their savings of $2,000 each, bought a little inventory, hung an “open” sign and with those humble beginnings, Joe & Leigh’s Discount Golf Pro Shop at the Pine Oaks Golf Course was born.
Thinking of the pro shop as a toy store and the golf course as an amusement park helped them grow the business over the years (to say the least). Today, Joe & Leigh’s is an 8,000 square foot pro shop that has been honored to win numerous national awards, including making the list of Golf Digest’s GolfWorld Business Top 100 Pro Shops in America TEN times over
! And Leigh has been named the PGA of America National Merchandiser of the Year twice…first in 1995 and then again in 2002!
The goal of Joe & Leigh’s has always been to “make a friend, not a sale”, which means building lifelong relationships. With a strong focus on customer service, it never occurred to Joe or Leigh to do anything other than take golf club trades. One of the most highly visited areas of the shop is the space dedicated to used equipment, where customers spend countless hours looking for that “diamond in the rough”. As the Swap Shop got busier and busier, the idea of posting some of the slower moving inventory on a new and little marketplace called eBay (this was in 1998) was tossed around. We gave this idea shot and before long the entire Swap Shop was nearly emptied. Suspecting we might be onto something (???) we began to aggressively procure the finest used and like new branded golf equipment around (and also started working on our own web-site).
After a few years of rapid fire growth, 3balls was officially incorporated in January, 2000. Passionate about serving golf and growing the game, 3balls is committed to maintaining the highest integrity, offering outstanding values, preserving manufacturer brand experiences and above all, providing a fun experience for our customers. (That explains the original monthly comic strip on our web site and the straight talk you’ll find in our product descriptions and eBay auction listings.)
We now sell in a variety of different channels including our web-site and Amazon.com. In addition, our enthusiasm for eBay has certainly grown considerably over the years. We are the largest golf equipment seller on eBay with item postings in the thousands daily, and we have maintained a 99.9% positive feedback rating with over 200,000 unique transactions (we still can’t figure out why that one guy was so cranky). In 2007, 3balls was inducted into the eBay Hall of Fame for our commitment to excellence and service to the eBay community…an accomplishment we are all very proud of and humbled by.
Specializing in used and like new branded golf equipment, 3balls is also responsible for pioneering industry efforts to make the secondary market in golf more efficient. In so doing, 3balls developed and created the PGA.com Value Guide in collaboration with both PGA.com and eBay® . In general, reliable golf club industry value standards are needed to make the entire infrastructure of buying, selling and trading of used golf clubs more efficient and fair for both retailers and consumers. The PGA.com Value Guide, which is The Blue Book of Golf™, fills this need by being the National Standard for Golf Club Values™. To learn more, please click here.
3balls.com is headquartered in West Bridgewater, MA in a mixed-use facility. Our staff of more than 50 handles all order processing, fulfillment, inventory processing, warehousing, customer service, business development, and management (see cast of characters). In 2007, 2008, and 2009, we were awarded Inc. Magazine’s award for Fastest Growing Privately Held Companies in America… not too bad for a bunch of golf nuts in a sleepy suburb in eastern Massachusetts.
Ok, so what about the name? Well if you look carefully at the Joe & Leigh’s Swap Shop sign near the top of the page, you’ll see in the corner there are 3 glass globes hanging behind the vintage golfer. Those 3 balls (get it?) are the universal symbol of traditional pawn shops and the inspiration for 3balls.com. That’s the inside story!