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    Debbie's Blog

As Seen in the Geneva National Resort

Golf is a sport like no other, because while it has been played for centuries it has also been evolving the whole time. Did you know that some of the first golf balls were essentially small feather pillows? Or that some of the greatest social shifts in golf have taken place in just the past few years?

From drastic revisions in its most fundamental equipment, to internal revolutions in its culture, the game we know and love today is both the same and very different from how it began.

The Equipment Evolution

The equipment necessary for the game of golf has evolved significantly over the centuries, and while each iteration improved on previous generations, each also required some adaptation from players.

Golf Balls: from Box Trees to Chemical Resin

The first golf balls were made of hardwood, and, later, leather pouches stuffed with feathers (“featheries”)

“In 1848,” notes author and journalist Robert Silk, “Dr. Robert Adams invented the gutta-percha golf ball. The durability and distance of the gutta-percha in comparison to the earlier feathery ball transformed how the sport was played. Equally important, by replacing the expensive feathery, the gutta-percha opened golf to the masses.”

Golf balls continue to transform today—from convex dimples to concave, and rubber to resin covers.

“In the early 90’s, the golf ball changed dramatically,” explained Ryan Young, an avid golfer and founder of Front9Back9. “We started seeing a huge change from a balata ball to two-piece balls. I think this started the revolution into what we know today as, ‘modern golf equipment.’”

Today, golf balls might have up to six pieces. Who knows where they might be headed.

Golf Clubs: Molding the Perfect Swing

Clubs have become more and more sophisticated as well, but where new golf balls required new skills from players, new clubs gave them new advantages.

Take the hybrid golf club: “First introduced by TaylorMade in 1979,” explains Golf for Cause CEO Debbie Waitkus, “the hybrid golf club accentuates the importance of advanced technology in equipment, which in turn helps golfers of all abilities play better and engage more passionately in the sport.”

Young explained the effect of new golf clubs on courses: “Different metals were discovered to improve the golf clubs, and equipment manufacturers began to come up with different ways to mold golf clubs. This led to moving the weight around to different positions, and changing the center of gravity. Now, you go to the golf store and there are thousands of models, all with their own technology. Golf courses are longer, and you can attribute this to Tiger Woods along with drastic equipment evolution.”

As new technologies have allowed manufacturers to improve clubs, the courses, strategies, and expectations have all shifted accordingly. Those kinds of fundamental shifts will move the culture of the game as well.

Golf Culture Goes Global

The modern game of golf originated in Scotland, but most observers would not identify golf as a “Scottish game” the way many might attribute cricket to England or baseball to America.

Silk explained why: “Francis Ouimet’s win in the 1913 U.S. Open over Harry Vardon and Ted Ray. The young amateur’s shocking upset heralded a new popularity for golf in the United States, and set the stage for American dominance in the Scottish game.”

Another huge advance for golf didn’t happen anywhere near a fairway, but in millions of homes across America. “1953 marked the first televised golf tournament,” said Waitkus. “1990 brought the Golf Channel to millions of viewers. Presenting golf to a television audience has welcomed the game to all demographics – not just in the U.S., but around the globe. Viewers can observe … a variety of professional tours … [and they have] the opportunity to glean tips on golf instruction and game performance, golf travel and destinations, and other interesting topics tied to the game and lifestyle.

The game of golf has come a long way from being a Scottish gentleman’s game. The LPGA/USGA Girls Golf launched in 1989 to teach the game to girls, and in 2012 the prestigious Augusta National Golf Club opened it’s membership to women. The sport is enjoyed and played today by people of all ages, ethnicities, and economic statuses.

The Tiger in the Room

Technical advancements lead to cultural advancements, which make room for new records and great moments.

In Young’s lifetime, for example, he believes that one of the the sports’ biggest moments is when Tiger Woods won the 1997 Masters:

“This by far is the greatest moment that has changed the game of golf,” he says. “This is what effectively started the ‘Tiger Era,’ and led to all the changes the game has experienced up until today: things like golf courses being ‘Tiger-Proofed,’ prize money doubling and tripling, and more people picking up the game. These three things are just the tip of the iceberg. More importantly, Tiger Woods became the first African-American, and youngest player, to ever win a golf major championship. He did it in dominating fashion: winning by 12 strokes.”

But as Silk points out, even Tiger Woods stands on the shoulders of players before him:

“Jack [Nicklaus]‘s win at the 1986 Masters. There has never been a better tournament. We wouldn’t have been talking about Tiger’s quest for 18 for all these years had Jack not won #18 on that amazing April afternoon.”

Every player and fan remembers a win, a player, or a moment that changed everything. The game of golf is ever advancing.

How About A Game?

Where is the great game of golf headed? It’s hard to say, but most players and fans are content to take it one tee at a time. Golf can be a competitive sport, but for the most part it is relaxing and relational. Hopefully we’ll see you out on the green soon!

A Slice Of Life With Chocolate On It

Patrons were watching and eavesdropping with amusement as a couple of 75-year-olds new to smart phone technology sat shoulder-to-shoulder at the bar trying to help each other navigate through Samsung settings, apps and changing screens. She'd lean over for a look at his screen; he'd lean over to look at hers. With each breakthrough they'd high-five triumphantly and press on, ever more excited, lost in their own world and having a great time being there together.
Lucette, treating herself to an evening out, had maneuvered her way to the bar for a cocktail. The gentleman next to her introduced himself and struck up a conversation. Lucette and Mike discovered they were both in transition and interested in the other's insight on life alone after a spouse has passed.
She told him about the 48 wonderful years of marriage to Ed, and how they'd met at Firehouse Station 1 in San Jose, where she was working as a typist. She recalled looking up one day and seeing Ed sliding down the pole. The fire started right then and there. With her four kids from a previous marriage, and his two, they got married and had another one. They would eventually have 12 grandchildren. In 2000 they left California and moved to Pebble Creek, Arizona. She worked as an usher at the stadium, and volunteered at West Valley Hospital and AZ Adobe Animal Rehab until Ed's Alzheimers required her full-time presence at home. Mike wanted to know what Lucette was doing to fill her days now that Ed was gone. She was involved in a few community activities, she informed him, including the Marilynn Smith LPGA Charity Pro Am Golf Tournament, as a volunteer helping to raise money for girls to go to college and play golf.
Mike couldn't believe it. GOLF? She'd uttered the magic word. And the LPGA right in his back yard?! He wanted to know about the tournament, and told her he wanted to play. He also told her about his late wife's business, Loves Chocolate, which he closed down when she passed on. Lucette's involvement with the tournament had got him thinking...maybe he should re-open the business and be a tournament sponsor to gain exposure.
Lucette seized the moment and urged him to act fast — the foursomes were going quickly. And that, my friends, is when the craziness with the smart phones started as they hurried to get him registered as a player and a sponsor.
Golf is more than an 18 or 9-hole round. It's an amazing social experience that brings people together and enriches their lives – on and off the fairways.
Chocolate, anyone?
Turn golf into gold.®

Playing Golf Can Be Good for Business

It is no secret that people like doing business with people they know, and one of the best places for getting to know someone is a golf course. But, if you think large business deals or sales are made on a golf course, think again. More commonly, a golf outing is a catalyst for developing and enhancing relationships that lead to business transactions.

Here are ten tips to help you make the most of your next corporate outing:

1. Think about the player(s) you’re inviting and your objectives. Remember that one of the best things you can do for a client or prospect is introduce him or her to a prospect.

2. Pick the right event/setting. The venue you choose should match the skill level of your playing partners (and yours). A WOW! golf course may be too challenging and not fun. If the outing is a golf tournament, verify the playing format and be sure it fits your guests. A scramble might be preferable to a best-ball or shamble format, for example.

3. Introduce the players to one another prior to the outing, and give each one information about the course and /or event. Consider sharing websites and LinkedIn contacts.

4. Bring a gift for your playing partners. A sleeve of balls with your logo is always appropriate. Check with your marketing department for branded items left over from other events. The gift can be anything that is thoughtful. You could also buy the first round of drinks, even if it is bottled water.

5. Help others have their best round possible. This has to do with adhering to proper golf etiquette — not talking when another player is hitting; standing to the side rather than directly behind a player who is hitting; turning your cell phone off; not walking through another player’s putting line on the green. In other words, don’t be the scapegoat for someone’s bad shot.

6. If your group is playing different sets of tees, join your partners on their teeing ground. This creates opportunities for conversation to and from the tee, builds camaraderie and puts extra eyes on the direction tee shots take, which helps pace of play.

7. Bring business cards. Always keep a stack in your golf bag. And an extra pen or pencil. You can make notations on a player’s business card — a reminder about something you spoke about, or an idea to bring up after the round.

8. Show your best self. You are observing others, but they are observing you too. Mind your mannerisms, discussion topics, even your risky shots (you can be seen as a risk-taker, but never a fool). Dress appropriately. And especially be careful with the amount of alcohol you consume. Alcohol and warm temperatures are a bad combination. Remember that the more you drink, the looser and louder the conversation.

9. Maintain a good Pace of Play. Nobody likes a straggler.

10. Manage your time. This is important in a couple ways: first, be on time — people who show up late with their hair on fire and a mouthful of excuses are neither amusing nor endearing; second, don’t leave immediately after the round. The post-round time is your opportunity to explore synergies for business, follow up on a specific issue discussed during the round, or to plant a seed or schedule an appointment. Think of this time as your chance to take a big swing and follow through!

Go ahead… Turn Golf into Gold®.


Gold Nugget #1 Giving Back


McKenzie Jackson is on a mission. Petite with long black hair, a genuine smile and dancing eyes that shine, McKenzie was fortunate to be a participant on the Golf Channel's Big Break Mexico in pursuit of her dream to play golf on the LPGA Tour.
Last week she forwarded her mission by hosting a golf event to raise funds, not only for her dream, but also for prostate cancer awareness. As a participant at her event along with several good friends, we enjoyed our own Big Break experience (breaking the glass and hitting over a wall) while giving back at the same time.
As a tearful and appreciative McKenzie stood at the podium during the awards reception, an unmistakable feeling of joy and community filled the room. McKenzie was joined by friends and family who had selflessly helped make the day a success. Also present to lend support were at least two professional athletes, who no doubt understand McKenzie's path: Jim McMahon (Chicago Bears) and Roy Green (Arizona Cardinals).
Make note of the upcoming charity golf outings in your area. Can you help someone with their mission or perhaps your shared mission? How can you make a difference?
"Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much." ~ Helen Keller
Turn Golf into Gold®

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