19 Apr 2023

Alizaib Malik – The latest growing success story of the local golf scene

Alizaib Malik is a Scottish-Pakistani in Dubai and a growing success story of the local golf scene.

The 25-year-old doesn’t play the game besides the odd knock on a par three course, but has dedicated himself to working in the industry over recent years. Spurred on during the COVID-19 pandemic, he started buying and selling second hand clubs in 2020 before expanding into repairs and maintenance in his home workshop. Now the owner of a fully-fledged company ‘Big Dog Golf’, the youngster revealed to Worldwide Golf how everything unexpectedly came about.

“It all started because I was helping my family friend Randy Livingston sell household stuff when he was moving,” said Alizaib. “When I sold used clubs online I saw there was a huge opportunity and a lot of people were enquiring about them. Also with my Dad being a golfer for the last 15 years, he taught me a lot about golf and how there’s a market for used clubs. I decided to buy my first set of clubs from the States at auction. I kept reselling and buying, then I started offering more services as well.”

As I stood alongside the former Jumeirah College student in his workshop which is full of second-hand bats, I couldn’t help but feel this was a unique gamble paying off. Alizaib grew up in the UAE after moving here in 2003, but confessed he wasn’t well acquainted with the sport to begin with. He more recently studied computer science at University back in the UK and the traditional career path for that qualification is very different to what he finds himself doing now. I wanted to know more.

“When I initially started I didn’t know much about golf,” he added. “The main people who taught me were my Dad, a South African fitter who was initially my customer, and some online books helped. I started with 20 wedges and after selling them I could afford all the machines and equipment in my workshop as well as more stock. I’d say since 2020 to now, I have a really good customer base. I offer quick turnaround times as everything will be ready the next day.”

An average week during peak season sees 20 customers stop by, with up to 30 second-hand club sales. Big Dog Golf have also welcomed collaborations with RZN golf balls which are now stocked in the workshop, along with biodegradable tees from a local UAE company. The numbers are growing, demand is increasing and Alizaib has ambitions to spread his wings internationally.

“I have two suppliers to do the running around for me at auction in the States,” added the Glasgow-born expat. “They’ll send clubs over to me here and as well as my people in America, it’s progressed to Japan and Malaysia. Any time they find an auction that’s up for sale, there’s hopefully golf clubs there. They’ll buy the clubs after I tell them what price I’m comfortable with. Then they’ll ship the clubs to me, I keep the profit and I pay them a commission”.

Buying and reselling used clubs for a reliable income is undoubtedly a challenge, but repairing them is a craft that requires genuine skill. Golfers can be very specific with their equipment and extreme care is needed when making alterations. The University of Hull graduate alluded to this in our interview as he pointed out a large bucket full of various clubheads from customers. This selection need specific replacements shafts which are currently out of stock and may take months to appear. It was starting to dawn on me that this ‘gamble’ was actually a well-thought out project.

“I used to buy golf clubs that I wasn’t intending to sell, just to practice on,” explained Alizaib. “I would practice on them and experiment on them until I mastered all of these skills. With my newest workshop which I’ve just moved into I’m hoping to be able to offer some new services that I previously couldn’t. I’ve got the space now for loft and lie machines, and air sanding along with more sophisticated things. I’m also hoping to officially launch my website this year which should mean people can access me more easily, rather than word of mouth which has been effective for me.”

Big Dog Golf’s workshop is becoming somewhat of a go-to destination for people looking for something other than the latest brand new driver. Golf is a costly hobby which can be a deterrent for beginners. However, Alizaib, a young expatriate who initially had no knowledge of the game, is tapping into the local market through social media and is starting to appeal to an unusually different demographic.

“I’ve had quite a lot of Emiratis come to me to buy golf clubs,” he revealed. “The biggest thing about my workshop is it enables beginners to come and buy clubs at an affordable price. It was really nice to see them come down. They were really inquisitive about golf and how to play the game. It was nice to be able to spend time with them, they are all really warming people. I was able to help them, whether they were buying a beginner set or if they were looking for some maintenance work on their existing clubs.”

Alizaib’s story is a testament to the fact that dedication and hard work along with an entrepreneurial spirit can lead to unexpected success. Now an owner of a growing business, his journey highlights the power of determination in taking a chance on a business idea. With his welcoming nature and growing golfing expertise, he is sure to continue making a positive impact in the local community and beyond for a long time to come.

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