EVERETT — When Mark Johnson launched Left-Tee Golf.com four years ago, his goal was to become the must-see Web site for left-handed golfers.
Johnson, who runs Left-Tee from his home with his wife, Beth Davis Johnson, said the company is teaming up with the National Association of Left-Handed Golfers and its international organization.
In addition to sponsoring tournaments with those groups, Left-Tee will run the association’s membership program, and links to Left-Tee will appear on affiliated Web sites in other nations.
"We’re very excited with this partnership," Johnson said, adding that exclusive deals help his business stay ahead of the competition. "We want to be the de facto standard, to dominate the market for left-handed golfers."
The new partnership comes at a time when Johnson is focusing on Canada, where up to 20 percent of golfers are left-handed — a significantly larger percentage than in the United States.
In recent months, his company has begun running ads in Canadian golf magazines and Web sites. SCOREGolf Media of Canada also is providing content to Left-Tee Golf.com.
Johnson is attending golf-related trade shows north of the border and promoting a 14-year-old top player in the junior level there. Angela Buzminski, a top LPGA player that Left-Tee has sponsored for some time, also is Canadian.
In addition, Canada is a relatively inexpensive market to cover, Johnson said.
In this country, Left-Tee’s profile is rising because of a short infomercial video that Platinum TV Group filmed at the Everett Country Club and other sites.
"This is a big step for us, to put our company out there and to put my face out there," Johnson said.
The infomercial, which has been running in several markets on ESPN2, the Golf Channel and Fox Sports Net stations, has noticeably increased traffic on Left-Tee’s Web site, he said.
Left-Tee has built its reputation since its April 2000 launch primarily by selling books and training aids for left-handed golfers, but the business recently agreed with Big Dogs to sell that brand’s golf clubs. The Johnsons are now using parts of their home as a makeshift warehouse for the growing product line.
They also have launched an auction-style forum for the sale of used equipment and other left-handed golf equipment on the Web site. That’s been a successful addition and hasn’t meant much extra effort for his two-person operation.
"That forum’s unique in that we’re completely out of the loop. It’s a direct relationship between the buyer the seller. We just provide the environment for them to conduct business," Johnson said.
Having made no secret of the fact that he wants to build up the business and eventually sell it, Johnson said Left-Tee’s growth has exploded in the past year. The right-handed golfer and former Microsoft salesman now estimates the business could become profitable by the end of 2005, slightly ahead of his previous plan.
Reporter Eric Fetters: 425-339-3453 or firstname.lastname@example.org.