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Was speaking with a former editor of a leading golf course monthly magazine.   He expressed his frustration with people within the golf business to sustain meaningful change to help the industry grow.  Getting them to do the intuitively obvious he felt is continuously met with great resistance.

He cited that if a change were easy, GolfNow would have ceased operation years ago from the cacophony of chaos raised by golf course owners rather than the recent departure of Jared Williams, NGCOA’s Co-Director of Advocacy and head of the Tee Time Coalition.  It was more comfortable for the golf course owners to complain than to install new barter free software.

He commented that in his many interviews with senior management at the CMAA, NGCOA, NGF, PGA, and USGA, the only thing they were in universal accord on was that they were very wary of me.

I chuckled and said, “I take that as a compliment, and I empathize with their viewpoint.”

My simple goal is to educate golf course owners to create value for their customers on a foundation that optimizes their golf course’s financial performance. That is one of those Associations’ roles, and the research I undertake they reject that is their defense to create the walls to create an illusion of superiority.

In Geoffrey A. Moore’s classic book, “Crossing the Chasm,” the golf industry is part of the late majority and laggards in adopting new ideas and concepts.  My client base has always been the innovators and early adopters.  Thus, in highlighting the roadblocks placed before me by Associations, it endears me to a narrow set of leaders in which we can undertake research and guidance for their benefit.  As Sally Hogshead in the book “How the World Sees You” classified me, “I am a maestro” orchestrating change by creating insights that have meaningful value.

Here are a few lessons that I learned about the golf industry:

  • Nearly 40% of the golf courses in the US are economically unviable.
  • Despite the emphasis on diversity and inclusion, golf is mostly a sport for well-do-do Caucasian men.
  • Most golf courses don’t comprehend that they are in the entertainment business.
  • Few golf courses have a strategic plan, and even fewer allocate cash flow to a capital reserve account.
  • Most daily fee golf course owners are poor at marketing. If they were competent, they would never use GolfNow.  They don’t understand the GolfNow is likely liquidating over $30,000 annually in their tee times in exchange for software valued at $4,000.
  • Management companies are far more efficient than daily fee golf course owners but don’t come close to optimizing a golf course’s financial performance.
  • Several management companies operate with apparent conflicts of interest, financially benefitting themselves at the expense of the golf course owner.
  • Municipalities are poor stewards of taxpayer resources. The decisions they make would be vastly different if they were spending their own money.
  • The fringe benefits paid by municipalities or the use of union labor make the probability of their financial success unlikely.
  • The Request for Proposal process undertaken by municipalities is a shame and a wasteful effort of a vendor’s resources. The NGF frequently wins, not because of their work quality, but because of their brand. You don’t get fired for “hiring IBM,” as the expression goes.
  • Associations are very in-bred. They reject nearly anything developed externally that might benefit their membership.
  • Associations continuously talk about working more closely together, but it is under the guise of “keep your friends close, your enemies closer.”
  • When senior leaders of an Association talk with you, what they most often tell you is to appease you, but it is not what they genuinely believe. They are masters of the “spin.”

These lessons learned within the golf industry now shape ten lessons about life itself.

  1. Capitalism regularly devours its creations as change is constant.
  2. Equality is an ethical and not a biological principle.
  3. If You Come from a Place of Privilege, Equality Seems Like Oppression.
  4. Brand, in the short-term, is more important than the quality of the product or service.
  5. Most people fail to take the initiative because they overestimate the strength or desire of others.
  6. A person will never have sufficient time to accomplish all that they desire.
  7. Our needs can be filled, but our desires can never be satisfied.
  8. A person’s life will always have challenges. After hello, how are you, everyone has a life story to tell about the problems they have faced.
  9. All of life is in the balance. Good and bad, love and indifference exist in equal proportions.
  10. One’s self-preservation trumps community welfare as world peace is a utopian concept that cannot be achieved.
  11. Many create barriers to mask their lack of knowledge on a subject.
  12. Success is not a destination, and though it is a journey, success is fleeting.

As a result of those insights about life, here is what I now understand about myself that I will apply going forward:

  • I am a perfectionist in an imperfect world, and it has made me crazy at times.
  • The “good enough” is a pervasive disease.
  • I am often in error but rarely in doubt.
  • I greatly overestimated the intelligence and diligence of the majority of people I have met.
  • I have always been much more committed to the success of others than they have been to their success. The number of people who listened and took advantage of the things I’ve mentioned has been only a small percentage.

What was the purpose of these narcissistic rambling ruminations?

The lesson for you as for as a golf course owner or manager, though we are interdependent on each other, one’s success is solely dependent upon oneself with a healthy dose of luck.

That is my opinion.  What is yours?  Comment below.


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  1.    Reply

    Jim, I really enjoy your observations. You provide something vastly undervalued, perspective. A viewpoint from the outside looking in. What we often see in the mirror is alternate reality or perhaps what we want to see. The data you use and the breath and depth of its origins create a meaningful insights towards a plan to succeed. Thank you for the opportunity to work together.

  2.    Reply

    Nice read’s this morning. Happy New Year to you. When competition for time returns, what will we have done to retain our new customers and those who are playing more rounds? It’s a unique opportunity but no one of the organizations can unify and help us all improve the industry. PopPutt is a great example. Everyone can participate. Top golf for putting. Why not at the golf course? It would be busier than many golf courses.

  3.    Reply


    Thank you and very well stated as always. We may not like what we read or hear about the industry, ownership, the allies and associations or ourselves which in itself, is part of the challenge preventing us from strides toward great improvement.

    That said, here’s to 2021 and the continued hope that we all become more understanding of others as well as ourselves. In this manner, we have the opportunity to make magic happen in the game, our lives, our communities and perhaps beyond.

    Be safe, be well, be kind – in the spirit of the game,
    Jim Hajek, PGA