Thank You for Making My Point

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Clearly, I am an outsider.  Not by choice but by the barriers and walls the historical insiders create to protect their fiefdom.

My preference is to work in a cooperative environment as part of a team for the betterment of the golf industry.  For those individuals that serve as obstacles, I respectfully request that they stand aside. Lacking that I tend to plow through the challenges faced. That is my DNA.  As the legendary Texas football coach Darrell Royal said, “I am going to dance with the lady that brought me.”

Thus, for those that I think I challenge the status quo too much, so be it. I perceive those of that mindset as part of the problem, not part of the solution.

In our August newsletter, Ed Getherall, Senior Project Director of the National Golf Foundation unsubscribed from our newsletter.  Ed is a really good guy. Have enjoyed having lunch with him on several occasions.

However, I am baffled.

Why would an individual whose full-time duty as part of the NGF is to help golf course owners improve their operational performance not have the intellectual curiosity to explore how he might better fulfill that responsibility via our Predictive Index or Municipal/Daily Fee Benchmarks research?

The lack of intellectual curiosity is epidemic throughout the golf industry.  It is something that I don’t suffer from.  Here are eight things that my intellectual curiosity questions about the golf industry.

Reflection #1:  The National Golf Foundation is the “Chamber of Commerce” of the golf industry.  The vast majority of their musings reflect the golf industry in a light where growth and prosperity awaits.  To their credit, they are masters of the “positive spin.”  Why don’t they publish their research reports with a confidence factor and margin of error?

Reflection #2:  Why does the Consulting Division of the NGF issue reports that are operationally focused on the nits and nats and rarely address the more important strategic and tactical issues truthfully reporting that their clients have little chance of long-term success?  Would it be because such a strategic analysis would be contradictory to the positive message of the NGF?

Reflection #3:  KPMG spun off on January 1, 2006, the KPMG Golf Industry Practice, now known as Global Golf Advisors due to potential conflicts of interest.  Should the National Golf Foundation spin off its consulting division due to the inherent conflicts of interest which may exist?

Reflection #4:  The NGCOA holds a highly successful and widely praised TECHCON Conference in Las Vegas on September 27 -28, 2017.  Jay Karen, Executive Director, deserves great credit for envisioning this event.  If the goal of the NGCOA is to advance the economic interests of golf courses, in an event where the majority of the costs are fixed, why would they create a cap of 250 attendees that limits the exposure to the event and their ultimate profit?

Reflection #5:  The very talented Jeff Calderwood, Executive Director of the National Golf Course Owners Association of Canada assumes on October 2 the dual role of Executive Director of the Canadian Golf Course Superintendents Association.  Citing economies of scale in an interview attributed to the general malaise in the golf industry, is his assuming new responsibilities an unconscious message that after his superlative efforts at the NGCOA Canada, educating the vast majority of golf course owners regarding improved business practices is a fruitless task and change is too formidable a foe?  Interestingly, the Canadian Golf Course Superintendents Association serves daily fee, municipal, private clubs, and resorts.  The NGCOA Canada only membership comprises daily fee golf courses.  Is there a conflict of interest in executing his responsibilities to both?

Reflection #6: What doesn’t the PGA of America who has a modest educational program consolidate its educational efforts with the LPGA who have a rudimentary educational program with the goal of improving the acumen of all working in the golf course industry.  Is it because the vast majority of PGA Members are underemployed or unemployed and expanding the quality of the labor pool, though it would serve the golf industry better, would not serve the PGA membership which is, in essence, a large labor union?

Reflection #7:  Why is the USGA mandating the consolidation of various state men’s and women’s golf associations through relicensing effective at the end of this year and revising its golf score posting procedures (handicaps) to strengthen its monopoly on that segment of the industry?

Reflection #8:  Despite the great efforts to diversify golf by golf and age, the overwhelming majority of people I see at a golf course (visited 42 courses in September) are indicative of the cartoon below representing senior golfers:

What are your curious about?  Comment below.

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  1.    Reply

    As a 26 year PGA member, a 17 year NCCOA member and golf course owner since 1993 I find all of your comments worthy and worth discussion. I hope you can make some traction into the industry, develop a platform and bring some provicative thought to the leaders of our industry.

    L. Andrew McCormick
    Director of Operations
    LLC Manager
    Millennium Golf Properties LLC

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    Regarding Mr. Silverman’s comment below.

    Silverman is a former Pellucid “affiliate” ceasing the relationship due to irreconcilable differences with another Pellucid “affiliate.”

    Though he has not worked for a golf software company or owned a golf course, he was retained by the NGCOA to educate Jared Williams, Golf USA Tee Time Coalition on the perils of third- party tee-time vendors. Mr. Williams had limited golf industry experience prior to his retention and is conscientiously addressing the formidable issues.

    We remain amused by Mr. Silverman’s consistent style to denigrate and undermine our efforts to have an open discourse on how to improve the golf industry.

    Several years ago when we were conducting industry research, using aliases and the names of Bay Area PGA Professionals, we were disappointed to learn that multiple bogus entries from the same TCP/IP address near Mr. Silverman’s residence were submitted on a national survey we were conducting. The pithy responses submitted were deleted in tabulating the survey to ensure its reliability.

    My comment, as reflected above, re the NGCOA was as follows:

    The NGCOA holds a highly successful and widely praised TECHCON Conference in Las Vegas on September 27 -28, 2017. Jay Karen, Executive Director, deserves great credit for envisioning this event.

    Though we received many private positive comments to our September newsletter, we also received critical feedback from the NGF’s preferred architect of choice defending what I perceive to be their lack of intellectual curiosity.

    This ASGCA Member wrote,

    I read your newsletters/reports and usually enjoy getting your perspective. I do not think it was gentlemanly to print Ed’s name, nor assume some of the comments made. In the long run, I do not think it will be something you look back on with pride.

    My response to this very talented architect was,

    I greatly appreciate your thoughts. As often stated, honest people can hold different opinions. In this case, we do.

    What is certain is that I admire your defense of your friends at the NGF. Personally, I like Ed. Good guy. I am also a big fan of Joe, Greg, and Richard. However, professionally, I think the work of the NGF is often underwhelming starting with their sophomoric outdated website as one example.

    Here is some background with which you may be unaware.

    I was an Executive Member of the NGF and licensed their data in 2015 and 2016 spending >$10,000 annually. Using their data, for 44 variables making over 2 million calculations, I have rank ordered the profit potential of every golf course in the US from 1 to 15,204. I can tell you the total spending by golfers per 18 holes within 10 miles of every golf course in the US.

    When I finished, I called Ed in March 2016 and offered to share with him the insights pro bono. His response was, “He was busy and might call.” Never did.

    Throughout the past 18 months, I have congratulated them on engagements won and sent them the key benchmarks from our Predictive Index that measure the profit potential of a golf course. They have not called once to inquire regarding the insights presented.

    They have demonstrated a lack of intellectually curiosity hence I remain baffled. Is it not the role of the consulting division to advise and guide clients to improved financial performance?

    My role is to create value for golfers on a foundation that optimizes the financial performance of a golf course, individually, and the industry in the aggregate. If I can chide any group to better serve their constituency, I will do so where I have noted consistent underperformance. The role of the independent observer has served me very well over my 28 years in the golf industry.

    My opinion is not in isolation. The response to my blog today has drawn many private responses, such as yours. Here are two of the many that share the same theme:

    • Coincidently, we dropped our membership with the NGF…. We perceive no value and have found their research to be faulty at best. I think you’re dead on with the conflict of interest comment as well as your other points in the “Thank You for Making My Point” post.
    • You are right on with your comments about NGF. I have yet to understand why they exist. Their data and staff are completely out of touch with golf reality. Keep up the good work!

    Thus, while you may feel it is a moment that I will not reflect on with great pride, it may be a moment where I take the greatest pride if I can motivate them to serve the industry better.

    Hope our paths cross on the links. Best wishes.

    What both Mr. Silverman and this esteemed ASGCA member have in common is that part of their livelihoods have been provided by those that they are defending. While I admire their loyalty, I believe, in this case, their logic is flawed.

  3.    Reply

    I dare you to publish this.
    Reflection 4: I just got back from the NGCOA Technology Conference. It should be widely praised – it was the best NGCOA event I’ve ever attended. The attendees were active and vibrant, and the presenters, including me, and sponsors had much to offer.

    Before you sling your undeserved arrows at Jay Karen, maybe you should gather some facts. The facts are that NGCOA had to commit to both space and rooms many months ago at the Aria Hotel. Jay had no idea how many members might choose to attend, this being the first Technology Conference in 20 years. They hoped and planned for 150 and would have been happy with 100. There is a cost to reserving space in advance for such an event – and being conservative is prudent. Maybe you don’t agree. But the fact the conference sold out, and the attendees were overwhelmingly positive about the day and a half they experienced, will likely lead the NGCOA to organize another technology conference with space for more attendees.

    I doubt you will be one.

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    Very nice comments from Eddie Ainsworth on your behalf. I agree with his sentiments.

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    As a general manager / superintendent I walk in the world of NGCOA and GCSAA at the same time and find the marriage of leadership for the Canadian associations interesting. Although we all have the same goal of success in the golf industry the superintendents association goal is to educate and promote their members to achieve success in salary and benefits.
    The owners are more about the bottom line and some of the worst clubs to work for as a superintendent are the low budget single owner clubs who do not value employees.
    I am surprised the private contingent of the superintendents association allowed this to happen. At least in the states they are the most protective of their turf.

  6.    Reply

    I’ve always enjoyed being engaged with thought provoking ideas, and the challenges they may bring to what we are currently doing in the Business of Golf. I’m a firm believer of everyone checking their logo, and their ego, at the door and collectively working together to improve our game for everyone. You always have an open invitation with me anytime Jim to discuss issues concerning our industry. Personally, you have helped to make me better individual through our thought provoking discussions. I”m glad to have you in the mix!!!