Sunday, January 15, 2006

Golfology moved...

If you're looking for anything newer than 1/15/06, go here. I moved my blogging activity to a different location, a place I could store all three blogs in a single site.

Sorry for the inconvenience. You're welcome to tool around the archive here if you're looking for something in particular.

Captain Dalgleish

Several days ago I posted about my friend Gordon Dalgleish's becoming a U.S. citizen (see "Citizen Dalgleish" here).

Golfweek's January 14 issue brings word that Gordon's bro, Colin, has been honored himself. "The Royal & Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews announced former Walker Cup player and Scottish Amateur champion Colin Dalgleish as captain of Great Britain and Ireland. Dalgleish, 45, will lead GB&I at this year's St. Andrews Trophy and the 2007 Walker Cup."


Here's the announcement from the R&A.

And here's a photo I found from Colin's victory (as a mop-headed young adult) at the Scottish Am.

Virtual private clubs

Within the first 10 pages of the current (January/February 2006) Links Magazine, there's an ad for something called Dream Catcher Retreats, "the world's leading private destination club."

I visited the web site for Dream Catcher and learned a bit more about it. Sure enough, it appears to be another in a group of virtual clubs that give you access to a number of destinations throughout the world.

"For a membership deposit that's comparable to joining a single country club, you get to play at more than twenty of the finest signature courses in North America - with all your tee times and greens fees taken care of by us," the ad's copy says.

There's evidence that plans for golf travel are positive, so this may not be such a bad idea. But I'm scratching my head over the value inherent in a $150k "membership deposit." What asset is attached to it?

Anyone out there have an opinion about these things?

Golf Industry Preview - Survey

We polled our Secret Handicap Committee (SHC) recently with a couple of questions about their expectations for the golf business in the new year. Seems golf travel and real estate are going to do okay, but what many in the industry think of as the core of the business might be in for a tough time.

We asked which segments of the business will enjoy better performance in 2006. Here's what our SHC said:
- golf rounds ... 35.9%
- golf resorts and travel ... 69.2%
- golf equipment (balls, clubs, etc.) ... 38.5%
- agronomy products, including equipment ... 20.5%
- golf communities, real estate ... 53.8%

Although SHC members didn't especially think rounds would do better, their golf is still important to them. When we asked how often they think they'll play in 2006, this is what they said:
- fewer than 10 rounds ... 5.1%
- 11-24 rounds ... 15.4%
- 25-49 rounds (the classic "avid") ... 46.2%
- 50-99 rounds ... 30.8%
- the "Pashley category" ... 2.6%
(Disclaimer: they are on the SHC because they play golf, so it shouldn't surprise us that they intend to play - a lot - in 2006.)

For more on the Secret Handicap Committee, go here.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

PGA Tour and The Golf Channel

Out of Orlando today, what I consider to be a major announcement.

Beginning in 2007 The Golf Channel will be "the exclusive cable home for the PGA TOUR's official money events."

With only a hint of hyperbole, the press release goes on to say this: "The exclusive deal is not only unprecedented in golf, but also will make the 24-hour golf network the TOUR's biggest television partner."

This is a big deal ... and not only for The Golf Channel.

Say what you will about whether this shows strength or weakness for the TOUR's product, it is a major step for TGC and helps them live up to their name in a big way. It's a 15-year agreement, so there's a lot of potential for synergy among the several TGC entities.

It will be fun to watch how this plays out.

You can read the press announcement here.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Citizen Dalgleish

My friend and sometime customer Gordon Dalgleish yesterday was awarded citizenship here in the U.S. He took the test, he said, several months ago ("made a 100," he bragged), but yesterday was the big, official day.

Although he's not been active lately, his Golf Travel blog is good reading. But in honor of Gordon's, uh, honor, I offer something he sent me to commemmorate his acquisition of now a U.S passport to go along with his UK version.

This is a little long, but very, very good.
A message from John Cleese to the citizens of the United States of America:

In light of your failure to elect a competent President of the USA and thus to govern yourselves, we hereby give notice of the revocation of your independence, effective immediately.

Her Sovereign Majesty Queen Elizabeth II will resume monarchical duties over all states, commonwealths, and territories (excepting Kansas, which she does not fancy). Your new prime minister, Tony Blair, will appoint a governor for America without the need for further elections. Congress and the Senate will be disbanded. A questionnaire may be circulated next year to determine whether any of you noticed.

To aid in the transition to a British Crown Dependency, the following rules are introduced with immediate effect:

1. You should look up "revocation" in the Oxford English Dictionary.
2. Then look up aluminium, and check the pronunciation guide. You will be amazed at just how wrongly you have been pronouncing it.
3. The letter 'U' will be reinstated in words such as 'favour' and neighbour.' Likewise, you will learn to spell 'doughnut' without skipping half the letters, and the suffix "ize" will be replaced by the suffix "ise." Generally, you will be expected to raise your vocabulary to Acceptable levels. (Look up "vocabulary.")
4. Using the same twenty-seven words interspersed with filler noises such as "like" and "you know" is an unacceptable and inefficient form of communication. There is no such thing as U.S. English. We will let Microsoft know on your behalf. The Microsoft spell-checker will be adjusted to take account of the reinstated letter 'u' and the elimination  of "-ize." You will relearn your original national anthem, "God Save The Queen."
5. July 4th will no longer be celebrated as a holiday.
6. You will learn to resolve personal issues without using guns, lawyers or therapists. The fact that you need so many lawyers and therapists shows that you're not adult enough to be independent. Guns should only be handled by adults. If you're not adult enough to sort things out without suing someone or speaking to a therapist, then you're not grown up enough to handle a gun.
7. Therefore, you will no longer be allowed to own or carry anything more dangerous than a vegetable peeler. A permit will be required if you wish to carry a vegetable peeler in public.
8. All American cars are hereby banned. They are crap, and this is for your own good. When we show you German cars, you will understand what we mean.
9. All intersections will be replaced with roundabouts, and you will start driving on the left with immediate effect. At the same time, you will go metric with immediate effect and without the benefit of conversion tables. Both roundabouts and metrication will help you understand the British sense of humour.
10. The Former USA will adopt UK prices on petrol (which you have been calling gasoline), roughly $6/U.S. gallon. Get used to it.
11. You will learn to make real chips. Those things you call "French fries" are not real chips, and those things you insist on calling "potato chips" are properly called "crisps." Real chips are thick cut, fried in animal fat, and dressed not with catsup but with vinegar.
12. The cold, tasteless stuff you insist on calling "beer" is not actually beer at all. Henceforth, only proper British Bitter will be referred to as "beer," and European brews of known and accepted provenance will be referred to as "Lager." American brands will be referred to as "Near-Frozen Gnat's Urine," so that all can be sold without risk of further confusion.
13. Hollywood will be required occasionally to cast English actors as good guys. Hollywood will also be required to cast English actors to play English characters. Watching Andie MacDowell attempt English dialogue in "Four Weddings and a Funeral" was an experience akin to having one's ears removed with a cheese grater.
14. You will cease playing American football. There is only one kind of proper football; you call it soccer. Those of you brave enough will, in time, be allowed to play rugby (which has some similarities to American football, but does not involve stopping for a rest every twenty seconds or wearing full kevlar body armour like a bunch of nancies).
15. Further, you will stop playing baseball. It is not reasonable to host an event called the World Series for a game which is not played outside of America. Since only 21% of you are aware that there is a world beyond your borders, your error is understandable.
16. You must tell us who killed JFK. It's been driving us mad.
17. An internal revenue agent (i.e. tax collector) from Her Majesty's Government will be with you shortly to ensure the acquisition of all monies due (backdated to 1776).
18. Daily Tea Time begins promptly at 4 PM with proper cups, never mugs, with high quality biscuits (cookies) and cakes; strawberries in season.

Thank you for your co-operation.
And here's a photo of the new citizen as also a new dad:

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Secret Handicap Committee

My friend Mark Stephens used to host a charity golf outing every year. He called it the "Smokey Golf Classic," and the event benefited Cystic Fibrosis research. On the entry form, alongside the blank asking for a player's handicap, Mark included a disclaimer that "all handicaps will be reviewed by the Secret Handicap Committee," which really was only Mark eye-balling what guys submitted as handicaps and adjusting them according to what he thought they SHOULD be.

Anyway, I loved the phrase, and I've used it ever since, adopting it as my own whenever I needed to adjust a group's games and stroke differentials.

Now I'm using the phrase, "Secret Handicap Committee," in a new way. I've pulled together a core list of golf contacts I have and asked them to participate in a series of brief surveys I'll distribute using SurveyMonkey. Questions on the first survey are pretty straightforward, crystal ball-like things about golf business in 2006. The feedback I'll report here (and elsewhere) in a few days.

Information is key for golfers, whether it's weather, wind conditions, yardage to carry a hazard or the status of the bets. My "Secret Handicap Committee" will help me supply you with more data, more "golfology."

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Golf Writing

They say that the smaller the ball, the better the writing. Seems true enough. I truly enjoy Roger Angell's pieces about baseball in The New Yorker. They're less frequent now, but I'm already looking forward to his annual spring training wrap-up, usually published in an issue near enough to baseball's Opening Day. Of the other better baseball writers working today, I think of Michael Lewis and his enlightening book "Moneyball" and Jane Kramer's biography of Sandy Koufax. Both are excellent. David Halberstam has written some good things, much of it reverential reflections of an earlier time in the game. Roger Kahn is very good. Daniel Okrent's "9 Innings" is an outstanding examination of the intricacies of the game within the context of a single contest.

So there are several admirable writers working in baseball. How about golf? With last year's passing of Herbert Warren Wind, we lost one of the best. In a USGA magazine piece about Wind's death, E.M. Swift recalls something Ben Crenshaw lovingly said about HWW. "Ben Crenshaw, who was Wind's favorite modern golfer because of his interest in the game's history, has said that a Wind article always contained a history lesson, a golf lesson and a life lesson." (I wrote about Wind last year in my golfography blog last year. You can read that here.) The game itself could be described in much the same way.

But who is writing seriously about golf today? Mark Frost's books are popular. "The Greatest Game Ever Played," the story of Francis Ouimet's unlikely 1913 U.S. Open Championship, is a masterpiece. (Here's an interview with Frost about the book.) And I still give friends a copy of Jim Dodson's "Final Rounds" because few books capture the spirit of the game for the dedicated player as well as that.

But who else? Who are the best writers in golf today working in what we might call the longer form? Since the film industry can't execute a compelling movie - even with the best stories - it would be a shame to have only the drama of The Masters on CBS to look forward to this year...

Friday, November 25, 2005

Introduction - "Golfology"

"Golfology" is the entire culture of golf, from the game itself (rules, history, etc.) to its playgrounds - where we play the game (see Golfography) - and the business of golf.

It's 20/20 as well as the basics of running a public course.

It's everything from the latest materials used in equipment to the controversy about the ball and how far it goes.

It's who's making money and who's losing it, including the wagers that pay off (and those that don't).

It's everything from eBay's power in selling new and used equipment to the latest opinion column in Golfweek or Golf World.

In other words, when I use the term "golfology," I'm referring to a 360-degree view of golf as game, as business, as culture. It gives me much broader license to write about what I'm thinking and reading than "Golfography" did (and does), since that's really about the geography of golf.

So as I set out to blog about "Golfology," I'm really opening up a broader connection to the game. I'm sure I'll more likely focus on the business aspects, but I don't want to paint myself into a corner.

I hope you enjoy "Golfology," return often, and tell your friends and business associates about it. And if my company may be of assistance with your brand, your marketing, or your communications, just yell "Fore!"