March 29, 2012

The Candidate (Sans Robert Redford): Matt Frey’s abridged version of how the PGA Secretary is elected to office.

March 23, 2012
The Audacity of Golf: The 2012 PGA Secretarial Campaign

The 2012 PGA Secretarial Campaign has been active for months, but today The PGA of America took it up a notch: PGALinks.com now hosts brief professional biographies of the seven candidates and videos of their stump speeches for the office of PGA Secretary.   

The candidates, in alphabetical order, are:

The seven candidates have all been nominated by a PGA Section.  Ray Cutright, Sue Fiscoe, Paul Levy, David Mocini, and Ralph Salito have been seconded by one or more additional sections.  The Delegates to the 96th Annual Meeting will vote in the election for the next PGA Secretary on November 10th in Baltimore.

The 2012 election has the potential to be truly historic; if Sue Fiscoe wins in November, she would become the first female President of The PGA of America.

All of the candidates are decorated and have been incredibly involved in the industry and The PGA of America (on the Section and National levels) throughout their careers.  It is certain that these dedicated PGA Members want to help the Association and their fellow PGA Professionals, yet they all would most certainly take different paths to achieve their goals.  There were many positive ideas mentioned in their speeches, such as the importance of Golf 2.0, the success of the individual PGA Professional, and the importance of remaining true to the Association’s mission, but I am very much looking forward to more detailed plans for their potential terms in office. We elect individuals not only because our ideals and morals are aligned, but because we are confident that their plans of action are strong and will benefit the greater good.

I truly wish all seven candidates the best of luck in the election!

Disclaimer: I am not eligible to vote in the election in November as I am not a Delegate.  In the interest of transparency, I am a PGA Member in the Northeastern New York PGA, a Section which has seconded Mr. Salito’s nomination.  I was also born and raised in and continue to have strong ties to the Southern Ohio PGA Section, which has seconded Mr. Mocini.  I also am an Assistant PGA Golf Professional at the Malone Golf Club and work for Derek Sprague, the current PGA Secretary.

February 2, 2012
Obviously, You’re Not a Delegate

The PGA of America held their 95th Annual Meeting a bit later than usual;  typically, The PGA holds the meeting in November each year, but every once in awhile, the sessions are delayed until January during PGA Merchandise Show week, as they did in 2008.  In part, the meeting is moved to January every few years to allow more PGA Members (non-Delegates) to attend the General Session and see how their Association’s governance works.  This move allowed me to attend my first Annual Meeting this year!

The PGA’s plan to allow more Members to attend the meeting seemed to work; when the meeting commenced, with President Allen Wronowski at the helm, it was “standing room only!”  The Hilton staff quickly wheeled in more chairs so everyone could sit down for the remainder of the the meeting.

The first half of the day was filled with the Celebration of The PGA of America.  The celebration included an ovation for David Hutsell, PGA (winner of the 2011 PGA Professional National Championship), the Patriot Award presentation for John Hines, PGA, and Jim Awtrey, PGA accepting his PGA Professional Hall of Fame honor (the former PGA CEO was ill during the ceremonies in November).  The procession of the PGA Past Presidents also filled the morning session; Past Presidents made remarks about the Association’s past, present, and future and leaned heavily on the Golf 2.0 narrative.  Some of the highlights of the procession were:

  • Joe Black (22nd PGA President) said that nothing is more important than the Golf 2.0 initiative.
  • Mark Kizziar (23rd PGA President) remarked that apathy has never been so prevalent in golf and the Association than it is today.
  • Dick Smith (27th PGA President) claimed that Golf 2.0 may be our last chance  to grow the game of golf and remain relevant in the industry. 

It was also during the morning session that it was pointed out that 1/3 of the Delegation was here for the first time…a feat which hasn’t been seen in years.    

During the afternoon session, business took center stage.  President Allen Wronowski gave his report on the Association.  Highlights include:

  • The Association has $192 million in marketing value
  • 4,200 facilities participated in Patriot Golf Day in 2011
  • Patriot Golf Day raised a record amount of donations last year ($3.9 million)

The Vice President, Ted Bishop, gave his report on The PGA’s financials:

  • The Association’s assets grew, while the reserve fund fell slightly.
  • 2011 marked the first time in ten years that the Senior PGA Championship had a presenting sponsor (KitchenAid).
  • The VP was confident to say that the fiscal year had a strong showing.

The PGA Secretary, Derek Sprague, followed suit and gave his report on the Membership.  Highlights include:

  • Since July, there has been a high attendance level for meetings and educational seminars, even though the MSR cycle just reset at the end of June.
  • Currently, The PGA has the most Members in its history, although the total number of PGA Professionals (Members and Apprentices) has declined over the past few years, and will most likely continue to decline for a few more years.

After the Officers gave their reports, the debate and voting on the resolutions followed.  Three proposals stood before the delegation to be approved to change the PGA Constitution, Bylaws and Regulations.  In short, they were:

  • Resolution 1 (proposed by the Connecticut PGA Section) proposed “college/ university golf coaches to be eligible for registration into the PGA Golf Management Program and earn credits without a PGA Member supervisor.”
  • Resolution 2 (proposed by the Southern Ohio PGA Section—my birthplace section!) proposed the removal of the one section transfer restriction for A-8 PGA Professionals (Assistant PGA Golf Professionals).
  • Resolution 3 (proposed by the Northern California PGA Section) proposed that Members be allowed to “remain affiliated with the Association in name only and to “wear the crest” until they are deceased, provided they qualify for Life Member “Century” status.”
(Disclaimer: all information provided above was provided by PGALinks.com

Resolution 1 had the most debate (although compared to last year’s debate, it was quite tame).  The most common argument against the proposed resolution was that the change would not elevate the standards of the PGA Member.  Throughout the course of the debate, the resolution was amended to the wording: “…earn credits with or without a PGA Member supervisor.”  The first vote (conducted by hand) was too close to call, so paper ballots were handed out.  The ballots tallied 58-for and 68-against the amended resolution.  The original resolution also failed in voting.

Resolution 2 had a bit less debate and was amended to include all PGA Member Classifications, not just A-8s.  The resolution passed via votes cast by hand.  

Resolution 3 had the least amount of debate. Many, if not all the PGA Members around my seat agreed that the resolution was completely fair and that it should be passed, and indeed it was in another hand vote.

After the resolution voting, the new business discussion took place.  The first four questions were all submitted by the same PGA Member and all dealt with the PGA Playing Ability Test (PAT).  Some of these questions were a bit odd as I saw them:

  • Has The PGA ever considered eliminating the target score in a PAT due to poor weather and instead have a top percentage of the field pass?  The short answer to that question was no.
  • Will The PGA ever consider eliminating the PAT and instead conduct a skills test on a driving range? The short answer: for The PGA to consider this, a resolution would need to be proposed.
  • Has The PGA ever evaluated the PAT’s fee structure? The answer in short: yes, The PGA is always looking to be efficient.
  • Will The PGA consider reducing the minimum number of participants in a PAT from ten down to three?  Answer: the PGA national staff would consider lowering the minimum number of participants in a PAT on a case-by-case basis. 

What I laid out above were merely some of the highlights of The PGA of America’s 95th Annual Meeting held in Orlando, Florida.  As you could imagine, a lot more work than I have mentioned took place during these sessions, but I wanted to share some of the points that I found to be the most interesting.  The Annual Meeting, and the rest of the week at the PGA Show, was filled with buzz and excitement surrounding Golf 2.0.  I’ve only been affiliated with The PGA since 2006, but this is the most excited I’ve ever seen the golf industry and PGA Professionals as a whole.  There was nothing but positive comments about the new strategic initiative, and although everyone knew how much work they’re going to have to put in, they all recognized its importance to their careers, their lives, their families and the sport itself.  Thanks in part to the Annual meeting and its liveliness, am very excited for the 2012 golf season and am ready to tear into the Golf 2.0 Player Development Playbook and grow golf!

January 4, 2012
Bungle in the Eastern Jungle

I was enjoying a nice dinner with my beautiful girlfriend Sara at LaRosa’s Pizzeria in Cincinnati last week when I received a text message from one of my EKU/ PGA Golf Management buddies, Patrick Phelps.  Patrick said that he had just read an article about Jack Barber (one of my former bosses) in the EKU alumni magazine, The Eastern Kentucky University Magazine, and that I had a few quotes published.  At first I was excited; I haven’t even been an EKU graduate for a year and I’m already getting quoted in the alumni magazine!  But then I realized that I hadn’t given EKU any kind of quote about Jack, nor had they contacted me for a quote.  At that point, I could only wonder how I was quoted and what I said.

When we arrived at Sara’s residence in Carrollton, Kentucky, we found that her copy of the alumni magazine was delivered in the mail that day (Sara graduated from Eastern in 2009).  I opened it up and read the article about Jack and I was both pleased and shocked.  I was pleased because the author of the article had found my blog and used an article that I had wrote about Jack earlier in the year for my quotes.  At least I knew that someone was reading my work!  But I was also terrified because the author didn’t do enough fact checking; I was named as The PGA of America’s Secretary.  FOR THE RECORD: I AM NOT the Secretary of The PGA of America.  I do however work for The PGA Secretary, Mr. Derek Sprague.  I am an Assistant PGA Professional at the Malone Golf Club in Malone, New York. Derek is the General Manager and Head PGA Golf Professional at the Club and also serves a PGA Secretary.  If the magazine would have contacted me for permission, I would have been able to give them my correct title.

Not only is this an embarrassment for EKU and it’s alumni magazine, but it also put my good standing with The PGA in jeopardy.  As a PGA Member, I adhere to the Association’s Code of Ethics and I am sure that impersonating a national officer of the Association would be a violation of that code.  Even though I had never told anyone (at EKU or otherwise) that I was the National Secretary, I needed to set the record straight, just in case the article found its way to The PGA of America’s staff or Board of Control.

I promptly wrote an e-mail to Jackie Collier, the Director of Alumni Relations at EKU, to explain their mistake and to ask for a correction in all forms of the magazine. The sole purpose of this blog posting is to ensure to everyone that I have never misrepresented myself and never wished to be misrepresented.  I hope to see the correction in the next issue of The Eastern Kentucky University Magazine and in the digital version of the current issue. 

November 2, 2011
The Golf Industry’s OS Update: Golf 2.0

It’s not like the golf industry is dying, but it certainly isn’t growing like the Republican debate schedule is growing.  Let’s face facts, the golf industry in the 1980s, 1990s and early 2000s was booming…I’m talking gangbusters…and now, well, it’s not as “boomy” or “gangbustery” as it once was.  There are a myriad of different reasons why this slowdown has come to be: the economy, younger generations’ work habits and lifestyles and changing family and personal values, just to name a few.  

While the number of total golfers in the United States hasn’t completely fallen off the deep end, which we’ll call “Lehman Brothers,” we are a long way from the top of the mountain, which we’ll call “Google before its inevitable antitrust lawsuit.”  The good news is that golfers haven’t been jumping ship all at once, like Jay Leno’s fans did when he moved to 10:00 pm.  Still, it is a scary sight to see a ton of growth (as golf has recently seen) and then witness everything just stop growing (like my seventh grade science project).  Yes, the number of golfers in the U.S. has flat-lined.  Like I said: the golf industry isn’t completely dying, so we do not qualify for one of those fancy TARP-bailout-thingamajigs…too soon?  So, what are we industry professionals supposed to do about it? 

Well, lucky for us the golf industry has a plan and I can help! How do I fit in, you ask?  Well, as it happens, I am a PGA Professional and The PGA of America has about 26,999 more of me to help spearhead a new strategic initiative called Golf 2.0.  As PGA President Allen Wronowski said yesterday during his inaugural fireside chat: 2.0 isn’t a revolution, it’s an evolution.  Just think of Golf 2.0 as an operating system update.  What does an OS update do?  Typically, if offers fixes to problems or provides end users with more benefits and value; that’s exactly what Golf 2.0 will be doing.  In short, 2.0 plans to increase the number of golfers in the U.S. from today’s 26 million to 40 million by the year 2020.

During today’s PGA Fall Conference of Leaders in Port St. Lucie, Florida, The PGA of America’s Officers, Staff, Directors and other industry professionals started to explain 2.0 to the 300+ delegates who attended the session, as well as to those PGA Members watching live on PGALinks.  I was fortunate enough to be able to tune in for some of the discussions today and I really liked what I heard.  Not only does The PGA seem to have a clear and relatively simple plan to help reach their goals, but they have a dedicated base to help enact the plan.  What does that mean?  A dedicated base?

Firstly, The PGA of America has 27,000 men and women golf professionals to help enact this movement, which will essentially be grassroots.  Secondly, I don’t believe I heard one negative remark about the program uttered today during the broadcast.  Now it’s not like it’s normal for delegates to moan and complain about new programs and strategies employed by the Association, but it wouldn’t officially be politicking without some resistance.  It’s rare to see (or at least appear to have seen) nearly everyone in agreement.  Not only did everyone seem to be on board with the 2.0 premise, but everyone seemed to be excited about it too.  I am almost as far north as Florida is south, and I could feel the energy in that conference room…of course, that might have a little to do with me being a golf nerd.  

Fundamentally, Golf 2.0 begins in education; not PGA Professionals educating students and beginning golfers, but rather, it starts with PGA Professionals educating PGA Professionals.  2.0 will provide lots of educational and training opportunities for PGA Members, especially those looking to earn their PGA Certification, a process which will be revamped under this new initiative.  2.0 will help PGA Members think differently and manage their facilities and businesses in creative ways in order to drive change, encourage new players to pick up the game and lapsed golfers to start playing the game again.  In that same regard, 2.0 may seem like it will focus on just beginners, but in reality, the program ensures PGA Professionals retain and strengthen their current customer base.  

I for one, am very excited about Golf 2.0 and its potential and cannot wait to get started.  40 million people are a ton of customers but as a PGA Professional, my mission is to grow the game…bring it on!** 

If you’re a PGA Professional and want to learn more about Golf 2.0, please visit www.golf20.net.

**It’s my blog and I’ll use cliches when I want to.

November 1, 2011
Trustees from the PGA Boardrooms

It’s a big week for The PGA of America and it’s 27,000 men and women Golf Professionals. When I say “big week,” I don’t mean “Gmail-gets-a-face-lift-big,” nor do I mean “Bootsy Collins-shows-up-to-Cincinnati-City-Hall-in-a-top-hat-big.”  No, I’m talking “CONAN-is-in-New-York-City-big.”  That’s right.

In fact, it seems as though the entire governance of the Association is going Port St. Lucie, Florida this week…that’s HUGE!  Yes, according to the new PGA Governance Twitter account, @PGA1916, “over 325 key industry stakeholders” will be attending this week’s Fall Conference of Leaders.  Included in the 325+ are delegates from each of The PGA’s 41 Sections, the entire Board of Directors (they don’t do that fancy, let’s keep one of our buddies in the bunker thing like the White House does), past PGA Presidents, and other golf industry professionals.  Much like the Spring Conference of Leaders, these men and women will discuss the Association’s plans going forward to the 2011 Annual Meeting (which is actually taking place in 2012 at the PGA Merchandise Show), and other matters at hand. I’m sure one of the big topics of the meeting will be Golf 2.0, The PGA’s new action plan to grow the game and to help PGA Members gain in their professional development; but I’ll just have to report back to you later about what actually happens.

What happened today?

PGA of America President Allen Wronowski kicked the week off with his version of FDR’s fireside chats.  President Wronowski sat down with Kelly Elbin, The PGA’s Communications and Publications Director, to answer questions from PGA Professionals.  Although the the fireside chat was broadcast live on PGALinks, the questions were not streaming to the President live.  All the questions were e-mailed in advance and a few were selected.  As luck would have it, two of my questions were chosen (out of four or five…I’m a golf nerd)!  Not only was I surprised to have my questions answered, I was even more excited when the President and Mr. Elbin (son of the late Max Elbin, a Past PGA President) congratulated me on my recent PGA Membership Election.  It was pretty cool.

My first question to the President was simple: how can PGA Professionals actively help dispel negative myths about the game?  In short, President Wronowski mentioned the We Are Golf Coalition and everything The PGA and other industry organizations are doing to explain to people in leadership positions how great golf is for people and the community.  My second question asked the President for any advice he may have to help young PGA Members enact new, fun ideas at their respective facilities to help grow the game.  Wronowski mentioned that PGA Members will need to look at statistics and point to measurable items as results from surveys, focus groups and the lot to help make their cases.  President Wronowski continued to take questions from PGA Members, some of which dealt with golf professional’s playing ability, our MSR requirements and Golf 2.0.  

Evidently, today’s fireside chat was the first in a series to come, which is fantastic news.  I am all for visibility and transparency, and even though that’s one of the last things The PGA’s leadership has a problem with, it certainly cannot hurt the PGA Members.  I am also especially excited to see that The PGA’s Governance now has an official Twitter account.  Along with being a golf nut, I really enjoy technology and how a lot of us receive our news and information now; most of the “breaking news” that I receive is through Twitter alone and I’m glad that The PGA and its leaders are hopping on the technology bus.    

As mentioned, the Fall Conference of Leaders officially begins tomorrow (November 2) at 8:00 am and the sessions will be broadcast live on PGALinks.  Color me excited…say, what color is excited? 

After the sessions tomorrow, the PGA Golf Professional Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony (the PGAGPHOFIC) will take place.  I am very much looking forward to the live PGALinks broadcast at 7:30 pm tomorrow, as my bud and former boss, Jack Barber, the Head PGA Golf Professional at Meridian Hills Country Club in Indianapolis and the 2009 PGA Golf Professional of the Year, will be inducted into the Hall of Fame. Jack, along with Jim Antkiewicz, Jim Awtrey, Errie Ball, Jim Flick (Cincinnati roots!) Jim Remy, and Guy Wimberly, will be honored in front of a distinguished crowd in Port St. Lucie.  Just to brag on him a little, Jack was also recently inducted into the Indiana Golf Hall of Fame as well.  

That’s a lot, right?  There’s more!  Yes, this week, The PGA of America will also host the 35th Callaway Golf PGA Assistant Championship at the PGA Golf Club in Port St. Lucie.  With a purse of $100,000, the Championship will boast a field of some of the most elite PGA Assistant-players in the nation.  The winner of the Championship will not only receive $9,000, but also a berth into the 2012 PGA Professional National Championship.  To make things more interesting, the top ten finishers will automatically qualify for the first stage of the 2012 PGA Tour Qualifying School.  The Championship begins on Thursday, November 3 and ends on Sunday, November 6.

Stay tuned and stay excited! 

October 18, 2011
The PGA Knowledge Center crashed so hard it reverted back to 2006 (see logo)!

The PGA Knowledge Center crashed so hard it reverted back to 2006 (see logo)!

October 15, 2011
A PGA Professional’s Manifesto…err, Ramblings

In regards to my career in the golf industry, there are two interrelated dates that have held great significance to me: October 13, 2008 and September 9, 2011.

October 13, 2008 is the date when I knew that I would, someday, become a PGA Professional, and September 9, 2011 is the date when I was elected to PGA Membership, making it official.  Yes, I did start PGA Education in the Eastern Kentucky University PGA Golf Management Program in August of 2006, but at that point, becoming a PGA Member was an aspiration.  My worst fear up until the afternoon on October 13, 2008 was that I would earn good grades, pass all my PGA exams and seminars, get through Level 3 of PGA Education, graduate from EKU with a marketing degree, but not get my PGA Golf Manament option, all because I wouldn’t be able to pass my PGA Playing Ability Test (PAT). 

Ah, yes, the PAT, the physical and mental examination of aspiring PGA Members’ golf games.  Many have taken the test, few have passed…some have cried.  But, thanks to some good play on my part and my good friend Adam Webb, who caddied for me, kept my mind off my score and helped me read those damn greens at Arlington in Richmond, Kentucky, I passed the test on that beautiful October Monday afternoon.  After I tapped in my two footer for par on the 36th hole, I thought two things: “I deserve a beer” and “I am going to be a PGA Member Professional!” in no particular order. 

Even though my hard part was over, I knew I still had a long way to membership.  I was only in Level Two of PGA Education and I still had to complete 10 months of internships, let alone graduate. Well, 2 years, 10 months and 27 days later (and 9 years, 2 months and 14 days after I played my first round of golf), I earned my PGA Membership!…but who’s counting the days?

Now that it has become “full circle” in a way, what am I going to do?  It’s hard to say on specifics.  Nobody or nothing can tell the future, although that would be a good app (I expect to see something soon, BlackBerry).  Commitment to my job is, of course, a must and a priority.  But I do have a few other broad ideas of what I would like to achieve in my career, with no time tables attached.

First, in case you haven’t noticed by now, I am a PGA promotion nut.  I bleed blue and gold (not literally, I don’t know if my health insurance would cover that).  And sorry world if you’re sick of it, but guess what? I’m not going to stop.  Get used to it.  In fact I’m under strict orders from the President of The PGA of America to do so…kind of.  True story: when the then newly-elected Vice President of The PGA, Allen Wronowski, visited EKU in the Autumn of 2008, he pinned a lapel with the new PGA logo on my suit coat and told me to promote The PGA whenever I could.  So you see? I have to.  That is something that I always want to continue in a multitude of ways.  Yes, I will wear The PGA’s logo whenever I can (at the Malone Golf Club and in public) and talk up the Association when appropriate, but I will continue to go out of my way to get those three letters out into the world.  The Internet is a great tool and I’m wired in.  I tweet, I Facebook, I blog (tumble?), even joined Google+ even though I’m not entirely sure I know what it is yet!  My name is now “Matt Frey, PGA” and it’s going to be all over those sites (respectfully done of course)!  I want to be able to reach out to young people in the world to teach them how great The PGA of America is and what it does for the game of golf and its members.  And since I carry a BlackBerry smartphone and tablet, I will be able to at almost anytime I see fit.  

I want to expand the game into new markets and expose it and The PGA to new people through innovative ideas.  I have a few of these ideas and I am currently working on them as we speak.  I’m going to pull a Steve Jobs here and say it’s a secret and I can’t tell you because it’s still in development.  There are so many untapped options that the golf industry hasn’t used as a whole to bring in new golfers and renew interest in the game.  I will say that The PGA’s Golf 2.0 should do wonders for the game and PGA Professionals alike.  

In the same vein, I want to help make PGA Professionals even more respected than they are today.  At most clubs, courses and facilities, PGA Members are considered rock stars…I want to help make them heroes. 

Lofty goals? Yes, but you know what?  When you think about it, it was pretty crazy that I was accepted into a PGA Golf Management University Program four years after I started playing golf, and it was crazy that I passed the PGA PAT two years later and it’s really crazy that I earned PGA Membership three years after that!  Don’t you love when everything comes “full circle?” 

STAY TUNED.

September 14, 2011

Twenty-Seven Thousand and One PGA Professionals: a quick thank you to all who helped me earn my PGA Membership.

September 12, 2011
I haven’t even been a PGA Member for a week and I’m already winning awards! Ha ha Thanks, Sara!

I haven’t even been a PGA Member for a week and I’m already winning awards! Ha ha Thanks, Sara!

August 13, 2011

And here I thought there was no such thing as being too excited to be attending a PGA of America event.

August 13, 2011
Strangers with BRAND-y

One of my favorite things about the PGA Championship coverage this year is the branding!  Yes, I was a marketing major, what gave that away?  I am really enjoying seeing such a strong brand presence at The PGA Champ, and I’m not even there!  From the small amount of broadcast coverage I have been able to watch (I’m a golf professional by day), I have seen The PGA’s logo not only on the television graphics but all over the course as well!  

I applaud The PGA of America’s Business Development department (which includes marketing and creative) for a job well done.  Not only does it appear that they have successfully displayed the logo and brand all over the Atlanta Athletic Club’s grounds, but they did so with taste.  Yes, there are a lot of PGA logos on the television broadcast, but they are used smartly and creatively without it being overkill.  

What do I mean?  Well, The PGA refrained from carving the logo into bushes or painting it onto the turfgrass.  They also kept from drawing too much attention to the logo.  Yes, as a marketing major, drawing attention to your logo is first priority, but I would rather no do so by surrounding it by flashing lights.  The PGA logo was carefully placed on hole flags, along with the precision line (now a PGA of America communications staple).

An all-white PGA logo was also placed on forest green grandstands and pedestrian walkways, which allows the logo to stand out in a non-distracting manner.

I may be partial because I worked as an intern in the PGA of America’s Business Development department for one of my PGA Golf Management internships in the summer of 2009, but I still believe it to be some of the best brand work out there, especially in the golf world.  

In addition, I am very happy with how well The PGA used social media this year. Last year, I was one of PGA.com’s “On-Course Social Media Correspondents”  for the PGA Championship (as seen in the below photos) which means I was given access to my BlackBerry and tweeted about the Champ’s atmosphere and various scenes around the facility.  It was incredibly fun to partake in the reporting and for those at home to follow along. This year seems to be no different as I have been following PGA.com’s tweets and really getting a lot out of it.  My personal congratulations to John Kim of PGA.com for such a fantastic job again this year!…so far (I jest).  

I also loved that TNT constantly had a PGA “hashtag” placed in the bottom left-hand corner of the screen that read: #PGAChamp.  The hashtag encouraged those watching at home to tweet about the coverage and the tournament in order to create more buzz for the PGA and perhaps even get a the Championship trending on Twitter or Facebook.  PGA.com also offered tons of videos and live video streams of most, if not all, of the players which allowed fans to follow the action as it happened and replay some of the best shots.

In regards to a slightly unrelated subject, I was very much looking forward to this PGA Championship, because even though I was not attending or volunteering, I actually helped with some of the preliminary marketing plans for the 2011 Champ.  I am proud to say that I am able to claim at least a couple of hours of the hundreds, most likely thousands of hours put into this year’s marketing plan for the Champ.  I know I wasn’t an integral part of this year’s Champ, but I have a small connection to it, and for that, I am quite proud of it’s success.

NOTE: If you’re that darn curious and want to read some of last year’s PGA Champ tweets, please follow these links:

Thursday’s Top Tweets
Friday’s Top Tweets
Saturday’s Top Tweets
Sunday’s Top Tweets 

August 10, 2011
Talkin’ ‘Bout My G-g-generation: Books are F-f-fading Away

The PGA of America’s Education for it’s Members, Apprentices and Students is fantastic, and it’s arguably the best programming for golf professionals in the world. I can attest to the first-rate nature of the education as I have experienced it first hand.  As I found out through my years as a PGA Golf Management Student at Eastern Kentucky University, there is a lot of information thrown at you, and when I say “a lot” I mean “mini-and-unstable-skyscrapers-can-be-built-with-your-educational-material-a-lot.”

Don’t get me wrong, you have to figure that if The PGA is going to train and educate its Members the correct way, there would have to be a lot of information. Information is a good thing; the more, the better!  Trust me, this blog posting is not about limiting information to students at all…if anything, I would have liked even more because I love to learn about the golf industry and I am a golf nerd, but I digress.  

After I passed my PGA Level Three Checkpoint, I was in the process of packing up all of my things in my Richmond, Kentucky apartment to move home to Cincinnati when I realized how many books, binders and folders of papers that pertained to my PGA education that I owned that came.  I thought to myself: “I bet if I stacked up all my PGA educational materials, it would result in a pile higher than myself.”  I figured that I had to take all of my books off the shelf and pack them into boxes anyway, so I thought I’d give it a try.  

Well, guess what?  I was right:

That’s correct, after stacking all my books up, it was taller than I was.  Granted, I am a relatively short man (five feet, five inches), but that’s beside the point.

As I said previously, I will never advocate that The PGA thin it’s educational material (unless they start to ramble), but rather I think that The Association may want to continue to look into the electronic mediums, especially since tablet PCs and eReaders are so readily available now.  My generation, Generation Y, and those younger than me, the Millennials, are using technology such as iPads, Playbooks and Kindles more and more and I believe that The PGA will have to continue to move its education in that direction to attract the best and brightest. 

Not only would the utilization of these new mediums be more cost efficient as it would cut down on a lot of storage space and printing fees, but it would be environmentally friendly!  The only downside, as I see it, would be it would make it much harder for those using the books to show off the size of their brain by proudly displaying them on bookshelves as I do:

It is true that The PGA of America has already started to make their educational materials available in electronic format.  In fact, many of the binders that they used to distribute are now available in electronic form.  Also, many of the elective course material and the Certified Professional Program and Master Professional Program information is only available online.  However, I would like to see The Association go one step further and make sure that all their education is optimized for tablet PC and eReader use.  

Let’s make Golf 2.0 a part of the green imitative and grow the game and industry through more exciting mediums! 

Disclaimer: even though I currently don’t own one of these fancy reading fun boxes, I am looking forward to getting one soon and utilizing it for my continuing education with The PGA after I become a PGA Member.  Maybe a I’ll get a BlackBerry Playbook; BlackBerry, if you’re reading this, you can contact me at mfrey@pga.com for my shipping address. 

June 24, 2011
The Bet Ceiling

Obama and Boehner find reason to grin.

Last Saturday, President Obama and his Vice President Joe Biden hosted the Speaker of the House John Boehner and Ohio Governor John Kasich for a friendly golf match at the Joint Base Andrews Naval Air Facility’s course.  

Vice President Joe Biden watches over a putt by John Boehner on the first hole of a game that included President Obama and Ohio Gov. John Kasich.

The “golf summit” was highly publicized by the media, as many speculated conversations during the match would center around spending cuts, collective bargaining, Medicare and of course the nation’s debt ceiling.  The match even received marquee coverage during NBC’s coverage of the US Open Championship, being played down the road at Congressional Country Club in Bethesda, Maryland (to be fair, this match had a lot more dire consequences than that of the annual USGA championship). 

Gov. Kasich, center, crouches for a better perspective on the ball, with President Obama and House Speaker Boehner. 

By my estimates, Biden was the low ball, Boehner received two strokes, Kasich received four strokes and Obama received ten.  But it wasn’t Democrats versus Republicans, the President and the Speaker teamed up against the VP and the Governor.  And although they may have discussed raising the country’s $14 trillion plus debt ceiling, it appears they all agreed to keep their bet ceiling quite low for their Saturday golf match; the President’s team won, securing $2 each.  

House Speaker John Boehner, President Obama, Ohio Gov. John Kasich and Vice President Joe Biden talk after a round of golf at Joint Base Andrews Naval Air Facility.

No word from the White House or the Speaker’s office if a tentative agreement on the debt ceiling was made, but it was pretty clear that if there was a best dressed award, the President would not have won it.  

Joking aside, it was good to see a fun, bipartisan “meeting” in Washington and I was very glad that golf helped that happen.  Evidently, golf is not only bigger than the motion picture, publishing and mining industries, but it may be bigger than Washington (but probably not).  At least we know that one thing can bring our bickering politicians together: golf!  

June 5, 2011
Contrary to Popular Belief, You’re Wrong

Stereotypes are loosely based on fact, everybody knows that.  Back in the day, especially in the Gilded Age, golf was known as a sport for elite white rich people and unfortunately, that stereotype stuck.  Sarah N. Cleghorn wrote the poem “The Golf Links” in 1917 that summarizes this stereotype perfectly:

The golf links lie so near the mill

That almost every day

The laboring children can look out

And see the men at play.

Since the Gilded Age, golf in the United States has become much more popular and widespread, yet the sport has retained its stereotype.  Many people still think that golf is a game for rich whites.  In my own experiences, I have heard other people voice their opinions that in order to keep the golf industry healthy, we must cater to rich whites first and all other customers must come second (let me explain that I have heard this statement a couple of times throughout my almost nine year involvement within the golf industry, but have never heard this uttered or even implied by a PGA Professional or their counterparts).  Make no mistake, if golf industry executives and their grassroots counterparts followed this business model, golf would be in for a terrible ride.  In order to avoid this situation and to quell certain stereotypes, PGA Professionals must utilize both national Play Golf America programming and their own initiatives to expand the game into different income brackets and among all races and ethnicities.  Income inequality must be stopped.

Currently, the United States is suffering from as much income inequality as in the 1920s.  In fact, as of 2005, the top 10% of income earners in the US owned 44.3% and the top 1% owned 17.4%.  In the 1920s, the top 10% owned 43.6% of the nation’s income and the top 1% owned 17.3%.  But how does this relate to golf facilities around the country?  There are many private facilities (over 4,000) in the US, many of which are upscale (private clubs are typically stereotyped as having a mostly rich and white membership).  On the other hand, there are over 9,000 daily fee facilities in the country as well as nearly 2,500 municipal facilities. It would be foolish to think that golf could survive on the top 1% or even on the top 10% of income earners with just private facilities alone, that’s obvious.  But what does income inequality really have to do with golf?  Think about it: if the United States can recreate what economist Paul Krugman called the Great Compression (post-WWII), when the middle class was created and the nation’s income inequality was at its lowest, golf has a great shot at recovering from the 2008 recession in leaps and bounds.

How much more money can rich people really pump into the sport, even if income inequality continues to grow?  The safe and most realistic bet, is not that much more.  This is why another Great Compression will help the golf industry.  Clearly, there are many more Americans in the middle class and bottom 90% of income earners than in the upper class and the top 10%; if all those people have more income, they will clearly have a larger discretionary spending budget, which means more money for the golf industry (potentially).  This is where the Play Golf America programs will help.  If PGA Professionals can make themselves and their facilities more visible to different markets through personal marketing and through Play Golf America itself (PSAs, website and advertising), chances are they will benefit, especially if the country’s income inequality decreases.  People see Play Golf America advertisements and all of the sudden golf becomes a healthy alternative to the movie theater or the shopping mall.

When this series of events happens within the industry and the nation, golf’s elitist stereotypes will become a thing of the past.

Remember: more people with more money is a good thing, not less people with more money.  It’s a no brainer…otherwise we might as well go back to the Gilded Age.  

Liked posts on Tumblr: More liked posts »