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The USGA, handicaps, and playing with yourself

Leave it to the USGA to follow the lead of the National Football League and make rules not only more difficult to understand, but impossible to enforce as well. My friend Robert Harris, of the award-winning Golf Dispute resolution, has a humorous take on this latest development from Far Hills. You can read it here:

Given this obvious level of mistrust, I think the score posting computers will soon have a virtual bible, upon which the golfer will place his left hand while raising his right and swearing to the truthfulness of his score. This, while the computer camera is capturing the process on video. Back in the Far Hills control room/command center, experts in body language, eye movement, and speech will attest to the golfer’s honesty. If they sense a lie, a sharp jolt of electricity will create a shock in the virtual bible, and a warning screen will appear giving the golfer one more chance to post his proper score. If he tries to post the same score again, or is detected as a liar, he’s tasered and banished to play nothing but unrated par-3 and executive courses. To be reinstated, he must successfully pass an online rules test. 100 questions. Any score under 100 fails.

And we wonder why more golfers don't have handicaps...

15 12 02 score posting


It's time to retire the shotgun

If the terror and murders of innocent people in Paris have not shocked you, you are too callous to understand why I am writing this blog entry. Stop reading now - I don't wish to insult your (lack of) humanity.
I am an advocate for stronger gun laws in our country. We don't seem to be able to stem violence any other way than to try and prevent those with violent tendencies or misperceived reasons to commit violence, from easily obtaining their weapon of choice - military grade automatic and semi-automatic weapons. I'm pretty sure that our country's forefathers, who brilliantly drafted our Constitution, did not have this in mind when they wrote the second amendment. If people want to commit violence and terror with the 20-gauge, single shot shotgun I had when I was younger, go for it. By the time they shoot, open, eject, and reload a new shell, there would be nothing left in the area to shoot. Or nothing left of them.
It is that shotgun image that got me thinking as I was preparing an email and web page for a client that is holding a Thanksgiving Day golf event. The "shotgun" start is ubiquitous in the golf industry lingo. It implies a simultaneous start of golfers placed on tee boxes around the course. It infers that a shotgun blast will be used to signify the start of play, that the head pro will stand next to the first tee with a 12-gauge pump and blast off a shell into the air, so all can hear.
Does this really happen? Maybe, at some unenlightened golf facilities. But I highly doubt it.
So it is that I had trouble typing out "shotgun" in the email and on the web page. I think it is time to eliminate the term from golf. We could use "Simul-start." Or "In sync-start" (with apologies to the boy band). Or "concurrent start." Maybe something more high-minded, like "synchronal start." How about "simul-tee", or "tee-sync." And there is always the clearly explanatory, "You're all going to tee off at the same time, on different holes." 
I'm likely to be accused of stepping over the political correctness line. Too bad. The 128 people who died in Paris could give a flying fuck about political correctness. We can keep our minds in the '50s and '60s, or we can wise up to the realities of the world we now live in. In the grand scheme of things, eliminating "shotgun" from the golf lexicon is like removing a pebble from a beach. But, we have to start somewhere.
This blog was written without flying any miles on United.


How is it that, in both party's presidential debates, the key economic issue of income disparity is front and center, yet we have millions of golfers throwing away $2.49 (or more) just to reserve a tee time. The assumption is that our wonderful country is much wealthier than our politicos want you to believe. Either that, or all of the golfers tossing their $2.49+ into the void are all part of the 1%. 

Two issues are at play here. First, American consumers are some of the dumbest on earth. How else can we explain how GolfNow has reserved over 13 million rounds (in 2014) at $2.49 each. Add EZLinks' 3-4 million rounds on, and the tab adds up to about $50 million. Just imagine if that $50 million was back in the pockets of golf course owners. To quote Sam Cooke, "What a wonderful world this would be."

This takes us to the second issue - golf course owners and operators have allowed this to happen. They are to blame, for not effectively marketing that they have online tee times that cost nothing, ZERO, to reserve. Let's do a quick math exercise. You won't need a calculator to follow along. 

Let's say our golf course, OMG Springs, has 2000 rounds a year booked through GolfNow. Take that 2000 times $2.49, and GolfNow takes nearly $5000 to the Comcast bank. How might OMG Springs have benefitted if those 2000 golfers had that $5000 to spend at the course, rather than throwing it away for something they just as easily could have done on the robust OMG Springs web site? That's a lot of beer and hot dogs, or range balls, or more rounds of golf. With that $5 grand, OMG Springs could have bought that one GolfBoard they so badly coveted.  

It doesn't have to be this way. The effort needed to own your customers is not monumental. If you need help, call me. Otherwise, on those sleepless nights when counting sheep doesn't work, try imagining $2.49 flowing into your cash drawer, one drop at a time. Maybe, just maybe, you'll wake up to reality. 

Don't let this be you:

15 10 10 2.49

Utterly abhorrent bad taste

This post also appears under "Bad golf emails", although I was tempted to create a new page, "Abhorrently bad golf emails." The email in question is from Andrew Wood. The accompanying example is from my former associate Jim Koppenhaver. I'm bringing both to task because these are grown, intelligent men who should know better than to use images of despicable, mass-murdering, despotic, evil incarnate figures of history to sell a product or help make a point. 

We've all seen ads and emails designed to shock the senses, to make us sit up and take notice, and maybe take action. I'm taking action.

Using images of mass murderers, or brutal dictators in order to sell a product crosses the line of good taste, of human decency. Jim Jones led the mass murder-suicide of 909 followers in Guyana, in 1978. He convinced his devoted followers to drink Kool Aid (actually Flavor Aid) laced with cyanide. Until 9/11, it was the greatest single loss of American civilian life in a deliberate act. Jones was a despot, evil incarnate.

From: Tee Time Revolution <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. >
Date: Mon, Sep 28, 2015 at 1:51 PM
Subject: Don’t Drink Their Kool-Aid!
To: Any dumb shit who will read this

If you are having trouble viewing this message, see it in your browser.


Don’t Drink Their Kool-Aid!

The 3rd Party Pitch is Tempting,

It sounds big,

It sounds powerful,

It sounds too good to be true...

And you have some real concerns...

But aren’t all these other courses around you drinking their Kool-Aid too...?

GolfNow, CourseTrends and other third party vendors tout their large database, their “Magic portal” - the power of 6 million viewers - their 3 million emails...

Don’t drink the third party Kool-Aid, get out while you still can!

All The Best,

Andrew Wood :: Founder

Legendary Marketing

"Increasing Your Business is Our Business"

3729 S. Lecanto Hwy Lecanto, FL 34461

Direct: 1-352-266-2099

Office: 1-800-827-1663

Fax: 1-877-817-0650 

He's right up there with Hitler, who Pellucid used so gleefully in a recent Outside the Ropes:
"Before we dive into more detailed explanations of the 11 Theses, I have to share with you a video forwarded to me this past week by a colleague who wishes to remain anonymous.  I think I can probably count on two hands the number of "chain" emails or "you have to watch this" videos I've forwarded in the past decade but this one had me crying I was laughing so hard.  It's Hitler's reaction to being informed of the NGCOA's TPP Guidelines.  Enjoy (I think this might also find its way into next year's SOI presentation intro in Orlando...):"

Ha, ha, ha...let's use humanity's most evil and wicked people to sell our products and services. These images and videos might be okay to share amongst friends, in a social atmosphere. There is absolutely no place for it in the golf business. Or any business, for that matter. 

Andrew Wood, Jim Koppenhaver - shame on both of you. It's strange to find you both in the same boat, the boat of human insensitivity. 


This blog was written without flying any miles on United Airlines

How GolfNow and VW are similar

This is my first blog post. I think it is going to be fun. There are lots of subjects and targets out there. I will not hesitate to comment when they come into range.

Recently, VW was found to have developed a "defeat device" for its "clean diesel" cars. Seems those cars are not so clean after all, as the defeat device sensed when the car was attached to a smog control monitor, and produce a passing reading. Once disconnected, the cars drive away polluting the air in ways that would have killed the dinosaurs.

VW drivers were unaware they were silent, serial polluters. In the same way, my client was unaware how they were set up to potentially piss off customers. We found GolfNow overriding the course tee sheet (EZLinks) in order to double book people on a tee time that was filled. Of course, when that person or group appeared at the golf shop, they were nowhere to be found on the tee sheet, or in the PoS system. A call to GolfNow got the response, "Can you just take care of them?" Sure, because GolfNow already has their $2.49 per person reservation fee. It does not matter that the shop staff has to scramble to make the customer happy. And the customer is not face to face with GolfNow - their ire is directed at the golf course.

The client asked questions about how this happens. This was not a one-time occurrence. A few phone calls later, we knew it was happening at other courses. A GolfNow rep replied with a rather nonsensical answer, but also included this image (identities have been blurred):

15 10 06 GolfNow tee sheet override censored

Whoa! There it is, the equivalent of VW's defeat device: "Override Tee Sheet", with a check next to it. The obvious question, "What is this?", has been met with stone cold silence. So, let's hypothesize:

Reservation, or transaction fees, are a key revenue generator for GolfNow. It's $2.49 per round. Multiply that by the 13 million rounds they claim to have booked in 2014, and you have a $32 million-plus top line. There is good reason to make sure that number only goes up.

Also, customer retention and website stickiness are critical to GolfNow's success. They don't want their site(s) to be shopping windows for golfers, who then abandon GolfNow and find times on the courses' own websites - that have no transaction fees (a future blog post will speak to the stupidity of the American golfer who pays to reserve a tee time).

So, putting 2 and 2 together, or $2.49 and $2.49 in this case, GolfNow overrides the tee sheet in order to make "their" customer a happy golfer, who will come back and repeat throwing away their money by reserving more tee times. The golf course gets the weenie stuck to them by having to face an angry and confused customer, and that is all the better for GolfNow because it is hidden from view.

GolfNow and VW. Dirty deeds, done dirt cheap. If you have a comment, I'd love to read it. If GolfNow can convince me and my client that "Override Tee Sheet" is an innoucuous, meaningless function, I will gladly retract and post their response. I'm just not going to hold my breath.

This blog was written without flying any miles on United Airlines.

Play on,

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