Monday, April 6, 2009

What Other Bloggers are Saying: Part 3

This week, once again, I ventured out into the blogosphere to see what others were chirping about. Obviously, the hot ticket this week is the Masters Tournament at Augusta National. It is the first of the four Major tournaments, and in my opinion it is the greatest golf tournament on the planet. On the subject, I found a quite a few interesting posts from fellow bloggers. Of those, I have posted comments to two different entries out there. In the first, Ryan Ballengee from the blog Waggle Room discusses the new Masters Twitter page. His light-hearted discussion brings up a slightly larger issue on how the sport should be taking advantage of new technology to spread the game's reach and popularity. I enjoyed the awareness and was glad to have to subject introduced by a blogger of which I was previously unaware. In the second comment, I responded to one of my favorite bloggers, the One Eyed Golfer. In his entry, Greg Norman, Just Shut Up..., he lambasted the 54-year-old for criticizing the changes to Augusta National this year. I did not think the original comment made by a popular ESPN radio show was appropriate, but I appreciated One Eyed Golfer's thoughtful discussion.

@The_Masters is On Twitter

First of all, thank you for helping bring the game of golf to the 21st Century. For that matter, I’m proud of The Masters PR person who convinced the board this would be a good idea. Wouldn’t you have liked to be a fly on the wall as they tried to explain the concept to Hootie and the gang? They are on Facebook, too? Simply amazing.

Well, you should have only picked up on a tinge of sarcasm. The sport does need to rebrand itself, and taking advantage of social media and networking sites is a step in the right direction. Looking through some of the recent posts on Twitter, they have done a good of a job as possible. However, I have never been truly sold on the website concept as a whole. You have to be simply enamored with someone of something to stay current with a Twitter page. It seems a little obsessive if you ask me. The Masters and Twitter just do not seem like a likely match. The site is too new and frankly too hip for most prestigious golfing event in the world, aside from maybe the Ryder Cup. On the other hands, the US harbors thousands of obsessive golf fans that will surely keep up with the tweets this week. Heck, I probably will, too. Facebook makes a little more sense, though. The Facebook team has made leaps and bounds in turning their site from a place where college students share their party photos to a respectable social networking tool. The Masters can track their “fans,” upload media, and let the user post their thoughts. I applaud the move and have liked reading the “wall” so far.

“Greg Norman, ‘Just Shut Up’…”

I have definitely heard his grumblings before. At 54, Greg Norman is becoming a crotchety old man, but he still deserves a little more respect than he is getting here. Though he has never won the tournament and arguably holds the title for biggest single day choke, he is still one of the greatest and most liked players of all time. My own opinion might be getting in the way in this instance, but Greg Norman has earned the right to criticize. Whether we have to agree with his criticism is another story. The members at Augusta National have worked every year to keep their sacred tournament challenging. In doing so, as equipment and players have gotten better, they have had to make their course more demanding and longer. They have every right to do so.

Greg might just be resistant to changes in the course because he has not been able to cope with his own changes that have come with old age. As a tough competitor, he must be feeling effects of the inability to perform at the same levels. I cannot imagine the feeling to playing a course that only gets harder year after year as your game slips away. That frustration is showing up in his dialogue, but it is justified frustration from one of the game’s greats.

Monday, March 30, 2009

A Dream Becoming Reality: Golf in the Olympic Games

The Olympics has it all. Michael Phelps’ record breaking eight gold medals in 2008. The USA hockey team’s Cinderella-story victory over the Russians during the Cold War. Kerri Strug landing a vault on a battered ankle to secure the gold for the USA gymnastics team in 1996. Tiger Woods’ come-from-behind victory over Adam Scott to win a gold medal for the American golf team? Well, the Olympics have almost everything, but maybe not for long. The most highly anticipated international sport competition excludes one of the most international competitive sports: golf. Since 1904, when the summer Olympic games were held in St. Louis, MO, golf has been absent from the storied games. Popular from the Americas to Asia and back again, golf has proven to be admired in almost every economic and political environment; they even play the game in Antarctica. How then, can the oldest and greatest athletic competition prevent golfers from showcasing their talent in such a prestigious event? The answer will be presented in October at 121st International Olympic Committee (IOC) Session in Copenhagen, Denmark. Although many of the other sports up for consideration are worthy, the sheer international presence of the game and the benefits to be reaped from becoming an Olympic event make golf the most deserving sport.

In October, the IOC, aside from deciding where to hold the 2016 Summer games, will select two new sports from a short list of seven candidates. The sports up for consideration are baseball, softball, squash, karate, roller skating, rugby sevens, and of course, golf. After a failed attempt for inclusion in the 2012 games, the International Golf Federation (IGF) has significantly boosted its campaign efforts this time around. In February of this year, the IGF submitted a 76-page questionnaire to the IOC, making the bid official for consideration. Though the application has been processed before, this is the first time the IGF has had full support from the top US and international golf associations. To gain support, the IGF created the Olympic Golf Committee, comprised of the world’s seven leading golf organizations, the LPGA, the Masters Tournament, the PGA European Tour, PGA of America, the PGA TOUR, the R&A, and the USGA. United commitment like this has never been seen before from these organizations (questionnaire cover page).

The proposed format for the new event involves 60 players from around the world for the men’s and women’s respective competitions to play a 72-hole stroke play tournament, a set-up similar to the major tournaments played in each major tour. According to the press release, the field will be selected based on the official world golf rankings. The top 15 players will be selected regardless of their country. The remaining field “would be eligible based on world ranking, with a maximum of two available players from each country that does not already have two or more players among the top 15.” The PGA TOUR has already invested a great deal in gaining support for the game’s bid. A series of short videos with the games top male and female athletes, including Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Paula Creamer, Annika Sorenstam, and Ernie Els, began airing on TV and have thousands of views on YouTube. And, in a bold statement, the Tour has agreed to move the Major tournament schedule as needed around the Olympics. That means we could be watching the PGA championship in November! Furthermore, grass roots efforts, like Golf in 2016 are bolstering support for the movement. This group has rallied sponsors and fans around the IGF bid for inclusion in the games.

Obviously, as a huge fan, I maintain a bias on the subject. For years I have participated in debates with friends and family on this very subject. First of all, the game can benefit greatly from becoming an Olympic sport. A recent study showed that many developing and smaller countries only invest in Olympic sports. That being said, one can assume the game will become even more prevalent abroad if the IOC accepts its bid. If smaller countries appropriate money to build golf courses, we will see the sport blossom. Secondly, I believe it will open the world’s eyes (and mostly all the nay-sayers out there) that watching a round of golf on TV can actually be exciting.

Currently, golf does not have a well put together, truly international competition. Now, I know many will argue that the Presidents Cup, which invites the top international players to compete against the top US golfers, or the Ryder Cup, a competition between the top US and European professionals which began in 1927, suffice as international competitions. I disagree. Each year, more and more players from outside the US or Europe climb up the world rankings. The US only holds 6 spots in the top 15 in the world; no longer should we take on the world in these events. The Olympics would be a perfect way for lesser-known golfing countries, like India (Jeev Milkha Singh – see picture at left) and Argentina (Andres Romero), to show their prowess in the sport. There exists an opportunity here for something great. Golf has waited long enough and has proved itself as a major international sport worthy of the Olympic games. And, after the scandals at the Beijing games with suppression of free speech and 13 year-old gymnasts, the Olympics could use a sport with some integrity.

Monday, March 9, 2009

What Other Bloggers are Saying: Part 2

This week, two posts piqued serious interest, both of which are shared, with discussion, below. On Mr Business Golf, Scot Duke, laid out the various problems facing the game of golf. His discussion was thorough, but lacking answers to the questions he posed. In an attempt to expand the discussion and offer a few solutions to topics he brought up (and some he did not), I responded with some viable options, but also with other questions. Many of the issues brought up created paradoxically aligned stances of the status of the game. I hope for the sake of quality discussion that I hear more from Mr Business Golf on the matter. Next, on In Between 18, which I found for the first time this week, Mr. Goodman responded to the criticism that Northern Trust, a financial institution that received TARP money (parodied bottom left) from the US Government, received after hosting their annual PGA Tournament at Riviera Country Club (pictured right). I took the opportunity to rant and rave here, not at the author at all, but at the critics. The topic has been hitting a nerve, and I welcomed the open door Mr. Goldman provided to publish my thoughts.

“Issues Hurting Golf”


Given the invitation, here are a few solutions and a few rebuttals to the discussion of what ails the game of golf. Business golfers, yes, “drive the cart” for the industry. Always have; always will. The industry over-invested in “the ‘C Suite’ executives who carry the Corporate Checkbook on the corporate jet,” creating too many ultra-luxurious golf getaways for only those that can pay top dollar. Corporate retreats and outings to golf courses fall under this category as well. What affects those executives right now is not what generally affects the everyday golfer, but a fear of being labeled frivolous. This is only a cyclical issue; as soon as the economy rights itself and TARPees repay the Government, no one will even notice such trips. As for these same corporations, like Northern Trust, getting smashed for sponsoring a golf tournament, once again, corporate image is the culprit. The media is quick to jump to conclusions without understanding the need for such a company to generate exposure and quality advertising outlets through the PGA tour and its attendees. These things, like the others, will pass as the country rights itself. As for the issues affecting the non-Business Golfers, the industry needs to adjust.

Too slow, too costly, too hard, and not worth it; these are the arguments, right? In response to the pace of play issue, especially concerning the assertion that “greed and bad management of golf course operations” contributing to the problem, two opposing issues emerge. First, if the course plays slowly because the management stacks fivesomes every eight minutes apart, does that mean bad things for the game? It sounds like too many people want to be out on those courses. Economically, the management could earn the same amount per group by limiting to foursomes only, spacing them out every twelve minutes and charging 20-25% more per round. The courses that have “bad management” are clearly the ones that employ the low-cost, high volume approach to profit. Here is the conflict: does golf want more people on the course and slower rounds for low prices, or fewer people on the course and faster rounds for higher prices? The everyday golfer needs to understand this trade-off between courses, as they are clearly diversified to target each golfer’s needs. Either pay more, or stop complaining about the 6 hour round. Until golfers are attracted to Executive courses, where one can play shorter, but sometimes challenging holes and half the price for half as long, they will still face this dilemma.

Thank you for the post, but I really would like to hear your solutions.

“Noble and Perhaps Unnecessary”

The incident you bring up is utterly appalling. Arguably, Northern Trust did not even need the TARP money they received, and probably would be better off now without it. You are right, Northern Trust has nothing to be ashamed of except poor timing,” the media and critics within the Government should be ashamed for their lack of understanding of simple business practices. If one does not even take into account the penalties and broken relationships the bank would have suffered from pulling out of their sponsorship deal with the PGA Tour, the reasoning for keeping the tournament should still be crystal clear. A company like Northern Trust, that derives a large amount of its revenues from everyday individuals, like those that attend and watch golf tournaments on TV, needs to advertise. Truthfully, commercial banks offer nearly identical products. People choose one over another on perception and location. Northern Trust sponsors this golf tournament to reach people and build their business. Furthermore, it would have been a really bad signal to investors about the status of their business had they pulled out.

Additionally, any PGA tournament also boosts the economy of the area in which it is located. Whether fans are traveling to area and staying in local hotels to see Phil Mickelson play or just buying a few beers on the course, golf tournaments bring large revenues. By hosting their tournament, Northern Trust provided jobs to servers, parking attendants, coordinators, are all the other people involved in the production. Does the media understand this when the criticize Northern Trust for wasting taxpayer money on frivolity.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Golf Demographics: Surviving Through the Ages

I received a comment last week that brought up an issue I had been planning on discussing since this blog’s inception. One-Eyed Golfer, an accomplished blogger in the golf realm, introduced demographics into the conversation on the health of the sport. He charged Gen X and Gen Y with responsibility for declining rounds and revenues, but left the door open for further discussion. Basically, the argument presented was based on the outlook held by younger Americans that golf is too time consuming and too costly. Though I agree that my generation and the one preceding me are playing fewer rounds than our parents (one cannot refute hard data), I argue that the game has yet to benefit from retiring Baby Boomers. Furthermore, I believe the game has the potential to adjust to the Gen X and Gen Y lifestyles through appealing to families and time-constrained players.

First of all, let me clarify the terms I will be using here to discuss generations. The Baby Boomers, which makes up about 25% of the country, were born between 1946 and 1964 (ages 63-45), according to the Census Bureau. Next, Generation X (Gen X), often called the "baby bust" for declining fertility rates after the Baby Boom, was born between 1964 and 1976 (ages 45-33). And finally, Generation Y (Gen Y) was born from 1976 to 2001 (ages 33-38). Pictured above, the population pyramid as of the 2000 US Census shows the layout of the US population by age. Note the bulge from ages 54-35 on either side to understand the impact Baby Boomers have had on the US population just by their sheer numbers. In the 2000 Census, the age group consisting of 45-54 year olds increased 55% of the 1990 Census. This dramatic increase will carry through for years to come. According to the Census Bureau projections, the 65 and older age group is expected more than double by 2050. An older population means great things for the game of golf.

As one of the liveliest generations this country has experienced, the Baby Boomers will require further activity through retirement. I foresee hundreds of thousands of Americans in the next 10-15 years moving on or near golf courses to be close to the game. My perception drives this opinion, but a study from 2006 showing the Baby Boomers playing fewer rounds per year, as compared to their predecessor, but at a higher participation rate, reinforces my premonition. This is good news; even though the Boomers are playing more infrequently than those before them, more of them are playing. The downside – infrequency of play – can be easily attributed to something that is great for our economy, but hurting the game of golf: the Baby Boomers are still working. Frankly, they do not even want to be associated with retirement. Even the AARP underwent a makeover to adapt. The group does not spell out the entire name anymore. Christine Donohoo, associate executive director of the membership division at the association, stated “the boomers want to be seen as vibrant - and we need to be responsive to that.” The Boomers have built their generation around that of activity and change, and basically, they are not coping well with aging. Accordingly, the average retirement age has been increasing at a steady rate over the past couple of decades. Older Americans possess a greater expectation to be self-reliant throughout retirement and provide wealth to their children and grandchildren after death. I am an optimist, though. As it relates to the game of golf, however, more workers equal fewer golfers. Retirement and golf have been synonymous among my generation and for good reason. The game is challenging yet easy on an older person’s body, and it supplies enjoyment and needed exercise. Studies have actually shown that golfers live longer than others and that the activity involved in playing one round of golf can even make you sleep better. The game stands to reap higher play and greater revenues when the Baby Boomers retire, but with what is happening to almost everyone’s 401Ks, many Boomers are pushing their retirement date back. Golf will have to wait.

On the other hand, golf has not been too popular with Gen Y and Gen X. We believe the game is too slow paced, takes too much time, costs too much, and does not constitute ample exercise. I love the game and always will. But, living in downtown Los Angeles, taking a full load of challenging courses, and trying to build a social and professional network, I rarely find time to get on a course. And I mean rarely. Last semester, excluding holidays, I played three times. To put this in perspective, if I did not play three times over a five-day span in high school I would not have slept. In college, on the brink of entering the real world, I can not find time to enjoy a round, and neither can most of my classmates and co-workers. We, Gen Y, have too many things going on, too many pressures to be successful, and too many appealing alternatives to get outside and exercise. The generation before us, many of whom are our parents, feels the same way. Yet, they have one more factor that keeps them off the course: children. With pressures to put their children through the best schools and provide for them the best opportunities for success, a parent can not spend 5-6 hours on the golf course very often. Nor do they want to spend that kind of money on themselves.

Nevertheless, solutions to the Gen X and Gen Y problems do exist. Implementing them, however, will be a real challenge. First, the game needs to get shorter. Designers of executive courses, like Knight’s Play (pictured adjacent) and par-3 courses are beginning to understand this with some recent courses. The game can market itself as a sport that can be played in less than two hours and still be worthwhile. The top designers will be reticent to this movement, but if people prove this profitable, the Pete Dyes and Jack Nicklauses of the world will follow (well, maybe not those two). These courses are cheaper than the traditional courses, too. I generally turn my nose up to executive courses, but usually because the holes are uninteresting and poorly maintained. Make them fun and in good shape and I will attend. So will others.

Next, the game needs to be marketed as a family experience. Show parents the benefit of learning the rules and etiquette of the game, and how professional golfers are the only professional athletes that take responsibility for self-administering the rules. Open courses that let families play two or three holes together without pressure from serious golfers to keep a steady pace. What is more, market golf to children, for they are the future of this game. The ones that catch on will graduate to full-length courses. Gen Y parents want to be around their children and teach them new things while keeping them away from video games, TV, and computers. Walking around a beautiful, green golf course for a couple of hours in a day with your children is a great way for families to connect and interact. Later, parents can drop off their adolescents and teenagers to enjoy the sport with their friends and build camaraderie.

If the game can realize its potential among the younger generations, it could have a bright future in American sports. Golf has the ability to bring generations together as a binding force, which it already is. Younger Americans need to stop associating the game with reirement. And, frankly, the Baby Boomers need to retire. The sport will always be successful in the older demographic. Leave the country clubs to the retired and upper class, and give us something new. If that happens, we can all enjoy the game in our own way.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Is There Anybody Out There?: What Other Golf Bloggers Are Talking About

This week I spent some time wandering through the blogoshere to find others committed to following the latest in golf problems and solutions. I would have to say that I did not feel to great about the sport after reading Chris Henry’s piece, “The Screws Tighten” at Eagle Par Birdie. His entry directed me to an article that shows starkly different data on green fee prices and number of rounds played on which I had previously reported, and paints a very gloomy picture. I am interested to find out what Mr. Henry thinks the industry will have to do in order to adapt to the slumping economy. Maybe I can get his opinion on the next piece, too. In Deeds & Weeds, a blog on Golf Digest’s website focused on Real Estate and Finance, Geoff Russell took a more narrow focus in detailing two cases in which country clubs are offering rounds to the public in hopes of increasing revenues. In “Ohio Club Allows Public Play: A Sign of the Times?” Mr. Russell may have found an opportunity for other struggling country clubs in America. The piece is very interesting and brings to my attention a new strategy for private clubs. I enjoyed both posts and left comments for the authors, which you can view below.

“The Screws Tighten”

I, too, am deeply troubled by the challenges the game of golf must face in 2009, so much so that I created a blog last month to explore the subject. This is a topic I want to find more about, and I appreciate your post and link to the article on It seems apparent now that the industry over invested in Tiger’s success and began opening courses at a rate the market could not support. I agree with you that the data looks gloomy, but if you get the chance, check out the January 2009 PGA PerformanceTrack data (I linked to it on my blog). The study compares 2008 data to 2007, and actually states that green fees went up last year. It sure is different from what the NGF is saying. I was rather surprised when I saw their data last week, it seemed too good to be true. They report that rounds played were down only 0.8% last year compared to 2007, and most of that looks attributable to poorer weather.

Anyways, what do you think course managers will have to do to keep people on the course? I came across another entry this week (also linked on my blog) that talks about a private course in Ohio that will allow public golfers to play on weekdays after noon and weekends after 2 p.m. You mentioned that golf courses are going to have to get creative, do you think this will work? I guess time will tell. I take comfort in knowing that at least this week, fans across America will actually watch the game, though. Thank God Tiger Woods is back.

“Ohio Club Allows Public Play: Sign of the Times?

Thank you for bringing this article to my attention. I have been exploring the game as it meets the challenges brought on by the lagging economy on my own blog since the beginning of the year. I believe this strategy may very well be one that other private clubs adopt in the coming quarters. From what I have read, there are a lot of club members that are seeking to sell their memberships, and even others losing their equity stakes because they can not make their monthly payments. Wildwood’s members must have been facing the same dilemma when they agreed to this policy. I am interested to find out if you agree with the move, do you think it will work? I can imagine some of the members are going to be really upset come April 1 when they have to share their beloved course with the public.

It is going to be an immensely challenging year for the sport, and I’m looking forward to reading more that you and Mr. Finch have to say about golf real estate and finance. As you have shown in this post, course mangers are going to have to be creative in order to stay alive. I do not believe, however, that the line between public and private golf courses should be so blurred. Wildwood’s managers have probably already tried other options, like lowering initial membership fees to attract new golfers or lowering annual fees to keep their current members. I hope, for their sake, that the strategy works. However, I think that as soon as the economy moves in the right directions, they should stop this policy and work on making their members appreciate again what it means to be a in a club. And, to be perfectly candid, I’ve never been in one.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Golf vs. Recession: An Unlikely Leader

One would think that golf, like most discretionary income-based activities, is struggling to maintain its financial status in a downtrodden economy. One would think, right? Though decreased consumer spending has (somewhat) hurt the retail side of the game, the overall impact has been less significant than many, including myself, expected.

Before this discussion makes any sense, I must first define what factors contribute to making a fair assessment of the status of the sport. The golf industry, by revenue drivers, consists of green fees, equipment sales, instruction, membership fees, and on-course food and beverage. An assessment of this industry will yield a fair evaluation of how golf courses and country clubs are performing in our economy, but I believe more factors matter. What about the professional tours? Television viewership of the major tournaments gives us a key indicator of the game’s popularity. Furthermore, statistics such as total number of rounds played, total number of participants, and average green fee measure popularity and industry revenue growth. And what about the foundations, like the USGA, that exist solely to building the game, and corporate sponsors that make the regional professional tournaments possible? Each of these aspects of the sport contributes to the game of golf; and each has fared differently through our country’s financial troubles.

Surprisingly, through 2008, total revenues to golf courses and country clubs have only dropped 0.7% compared to 2007 revenues. When compared to other consumer spending based businesses, like travel, retail, and lodging, of which many have seen revenues decline 5% or more, the golf industry is getting along just fine. Furthermore, based on the data compiled by PerformanceTrack (click on Jan 2009 report), last year’s total number or rounds played only dropped 0.8% compare to 2007. If you compare that with the decrease in number of days the courses were open due to playable weather, which went down 0.7%, the number of rounds played in 2008, during a recession, held constant. This report, which only looks at golf fees, merchandise, and food, indicates an increase in total revenues compared to last year. Convincing evidence if you ask me, but we must consider more.

Has the game become less popular to watch as Americans face more and more financial troubles? If one looks to recent TV ratings, one would definitely think the game has a problem. But, we can not make that assessment without a key factor to the game of golf: Tiger Woods. Since June 2008, when he won the US Open in historic fashion (see picture below), Tiger has not played in a single golf tournament. Unfortunately, one can directly correlate TV viewership to whether or not Tiger is playing in the tournament and if he is in contention to win or not. (See graph; Tiger joined Tour in 1997 and won this tournament in 2000, 2002, and 2008). The 2008 PGA Tour Championship, the next major tournament played in America, was watched by 55% less people than the previous year’s event (which Tiger won). Less people watching a tournament does not necessarily man less people playing the game, but it does have implications for corporate sponsors.

Two such sponsors have filled recent headlines. First, Travelers, a large American based insurance company, just renewed their contract to continue hosting the Travelers Championship in Hartford, CT. This news came as a big relief to the PGA Tour, which was uncertain whether a company so closely tied to the financial meltdown would still be able to support the tour, and Hartford economy for that matter. On the other hand, Ginn Resorts announced in January of this year that they are pulling their sponsorship deals with the LPGA Tour’s Ginn Open and the Champions Tour Ginn Championship, which will likely kill the two tournaments. Both companies are facing challenging environments, as the insurance companies were hit by loses in the credit default swap markets and resort hotels, like those operated by Ginn, do not have the same traffic as before. So far, the PGA Tour has yet to lose any sponsors, despite challenging circumstances and lost viewers in the absence of Tiger Woods. Though the loss of sponsors hurts the smaller tours, and in turn the local communities that the events support, the overall impact on the game is less significant.

Did you know that the USGA posts its annual income on the Internet? I didn’t, but it turns out the data (select Financial Summary link) is promising. Last year, their revenues increased by almost 14%, and amount of money received from sponsors increased 113%! So, even though the PGA Tour is uncertain about continuing contracts, the USGA, which operates the US Open and many charitable organizations, should be pleased with their prospects.

Frankly, I’m impressed by how well the revenue side of the game, the side that is so closely tied to consumer spending, has endured this recession. I believe that the game underwent a decline after the Tiger boom of 1997-2002, when the number of total golfers jumped nearly 20% in just a few years. Much like the resurgence of the game after Bobby Jones in the 1920s, and exciting years the 1970s when Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, and Gary Player duked it out for top billings, the game had to steady itself after Tiger. I will go into the details of this transformation later on the 6º Driver, because it interests me very much, but for now, and by now I mean 2008 compared to 2007, the game of golf remains resilient. The data shows that people are still hitting the links, and I find that comforting. And, with talk of Tiger returning any week (link), TV ratings will go up. Corporate sponsors will be reassured that they can receive large advertising audiences with a healthy Tiger Woods. I know I’ll be watching.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Golf Today: A Blogger’s Search for Golf’s Relevance in 2009

How is golf handling our economic crisis? Are patrons showing up to their local courses? Are architects getting financing for new designs? Are managers winning battles to keep their courses open? These are a sampling of the many questions I will attack in this blog. To begin the process, I have assembled a list of the best resources on the Internet to assist my followers in grasping these challenging concepts. In wanting to find all relevant content, I started by casting a wide net. My initial results came search engines (Google, Metacrawler, Yahoo!) and keywords such as “golf”, “golf business”, and “golf news”. Next, I queried various directories for American associations pertaining to golf in order to narrow my focus and finished by searching for blogs relating to my particular focus. As one can imagine, the web contains a vast amount of information on the subjects. To assist my selection process, I divided my results into four categories (Publications, News, Organizations, and Blogs) and applied the Webby Awards and IMSA criteria for assessing websites and blogs, respectively. In Publications, for instance, I selected the Golf Digest Magazine for its content and overall experience (key Webby Awards criteria) because I already knew how well they cover the sport (I subscribe to their monthly print edition). In this category, I also included the Golf Business Magazine for the sites visual design, functionality, and relevance to my topic of interest. The Golf Business Magazine seems to be very in touch with how the game is being changed by our economic struggles. The News and Organizations categories were much easier to fill, as each website has considerable relevance and traffic to ensure quality of content and ease of use. For example, is powered by CNN and Sports Illustrated. It’s tabs, sections, and subsections enable navigation and are visually appealing. However, the blogs were a harder decision. With hundreds to choose from, I had to strictly apply the IMSA criteria. For instance, the blog that, in my opinion, best met the criteria, Business Golf Blog, was founded by a former attorney that started a company focused on teaching businesspeople how to use the game productively. It has timely posts and, at first glance, is very well written. Others, such as A Walk in the Park, are less relevant, but very well written and incredibly interesting. This list of sources I have compiled will surely evolve as my search for answers deepens.
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