If you're into golf and also trying to run a business, then you're a lot like me. I used to play golf for a living, now I run an online marketing agency. I'm documenting my journey, the people, tips, advice, mistakes, and crazy thoughts I hope will help.
Here's what I believe about both golf and business: 1. Both are challenging, but don't need to be complicated - simple and consistent is best.
2. Large and infrequent improvement sessions aren't optimal - light, regular refinements are much better.
3. There's no magic pill (sorry) - it's about making the most of the time you're spending.
Where to listen
How to Break Those Mental (and Scoring) Barriers in Golf
People buy into franchises for 2 reasons: better processes/buying power and brand.
In golf management, there's really no brand element...everyone is trying to differentiate themselves as experts, with buying power and better processes. That's not why you buy into a franchise.
You buy into a franchise because you want more customers coming in the door. You buy in for Brand.
Processes and buying power are just table stakes, not differentiators.
Read an article the other day about learning new skills and practice.
Turns out that repeating exactly the same move over and over is not nearly as effective as mixing things up...but just slightly. When we practice golf, I believe we need to work on technique, but we also need to simulate on-course experiences by hitting variations of each shot.
Do this and I feel it will help you improve fast.
In this episode, we're talking about all the ways to win attention online. Every business is different, and you shouldn't feel like you have to win on EVERY platform...only the ones that suit your mission the best.
Not every platform is created equal, and your content needs to be applied contextually for the platform it's on. That means choosing which platforms to engage with carefully.
I promise this practice session will help your game.
Today we're talking about improving our technique, and nailing down our setup and alignment (science)...
Then taking it to real-golf simulations on the practice range (art and creativity).
I believe it's super important to work on both areas. One of my best practice sessions yet.
I grew up playing golf in Maine...not exactly golf central. I had no idea about how the college recruitment process worked, and how college coaches selected their teams.
Of course, premium showcases like the AJGA are great, but for most kids looking to play team golf, it's not a reality. There are other ways to get on radar screens and win the attention of a college coach who's willing to bet on you.
Here are a few strategies I should have thought about years ago.
JP Longeuil is the Head Pro at Orange Lake Resort in Orlando...but it hasn't always been white glove country clubs and pure 7-irons knocking down flagsticks for him. He began as an artist...with lofty ambitions of helping people "see things differently".
JP grew up in a really tough neighborhood outside New York City. That "gritty" beginning made him into the person he is today...one of Brown Golf's go-to guys.
Today, we're getting into some of his childhood adventures sneaking into the city, the Graffiti art culture, and connections to his viewpoints on golf.
I've been struggling with my driver lately...hoping to use some old tricks to iron out the big dog this weekend.
Here are some quick ideas for a short practice session to get your long game back on track.
A great friend and colleague called me out on social media the other day in a hugely complimentary way. I can tell you that it really hit home and I believe in paying positivity forward.
This episode is all about gratitude and how I believe it's super important in life (and with your golf game)
Whether in real life or in the digital world, there are 3 things you absolutely have to do if you want to grow a trusting and appreciative audience.
Here's a 6-min episode on exactly how to do it...
In short, we need to be diverse in our topics/knowledge to be interesting (curation), we need to listen and engage ($1.80 strategy), and we need to bring our own empathetic voice (creation/documentation)...relating to the interests, questions, challenges that our audience faces.
This isn't a quick win...but it's a big win if you can manage.
Most beginners feel too intimidated to go out to their local public golf course. They feel like they won't belong, or the course doesn't want them out there.
That couldn't be farther from the truth. The industry is struggling to bring people into the game right now...and golf clubs are still really lousy at letting newcomers know that they're welcome.
But there are some ways around it...and you can try golf for free at most public golf courses. Here's how.
Forget about your swing. Don't even think about changing your hip rotation or your club face angle at the top of your swing.
That crap is NOT where you're going wrong. It's much more likely, and much easier to fix the stuff you're doing wrong before you even take the club back.
Focus on your pre-swing stuff forever...more or less...and I promise you'll improve like crazy.
If you've only got a small window of practice time this week (hopefully more), here's what I'm suggesting you can work on.
We're going to focus heavily on distance control with your wedges. Knowing your carry yardages for each of your wedges is hugely valuable on the golf course. By the way, there might be a significant difference between your carry yardages and your total yardages (where ball eventually ends up).
Let's try to get a solid ballpark of those carry yardages to arm you with info on the course.
Bigger buying decisions follow principles known as a considered buying process. More risk means more consideration, more time, more stress in pulling the trigger.
Quick sells don't work in considered buying situations...here's part of a recent consulting session that outlines how it goes down and what you can do to bring more business in the door.
For those of us with limited practice time, it's really important to do our best to simulate real golf in practice. Here's my 1-hour blueprint for taking your game from the practice range to the first tee.
Lot of value in this episode. The fact that some people choose to do business with others with common interests is fascinating to me.
It doesn't matter if you're talking about specific things your target audience is looking for, or simply covering subject matter that you're passionate about. Either way, people with shared interests often do business together.
If you're a Boston Red Sox fan...talk about it...and other Red Sox fans will gravitate to you.
The Facebook community has been really active lately with tons of Q&A. I've answered everyone's questions in the feed, but here's a quick recap of my findings after over 300 comments and conversations.
Hope it helps you break your personal best.
If you're not winning the battle for attention on the front end of the buying process, you're not even hearing from a huge chunk of potential followers and customers.
Here's a quick talk about why you need to be more open about sharing your good stuff....whether for your personal brand or for your business.
When you're feeling good about those 3-5 footers, the whole world is a better place.
Today's practice is all about confidence over the "shorties". Hope you can get through the challenge and win yourself a chance to pound some drivers.
I spent about an hour working on the game this morning.
There were a couple takeaways that I thought I'd share with you. One had to do with short game and chipping from short range. As for full swing, a focus on the "transition" of my golf swing produced some great results immediately.
Baby steps...just a little progress at a time guys!
Based on some recent consulting work, we're discussing some tips for writing better content around your business.
Good news is that there are definitely strategies that will help you out...bad news is that writing good stuff is HARD!
Hope this stuff helps you win some biz.
Working on a couple things today, based on the idea that I haven't been out to the course in a few days and want to get back in the swing of things.
1. Full Swing - Work on alignment, trajectory control, and set up a structure where I'm not hitting the same shots repeatedly.
2. Short Game - A little chipping and putting challenge to help with those up-and-downs we should be executing almost every time.
Nothing fancy today, just a little practice with intent.
It's such a fine line on the PGA Tour...just a 1/2 shot per round makes all the difference.
They're really good at dialing in their weaknesses and bringing up the rear so to speak. Same advice goes for the recreational player.
Let's find those quick wins in your game, remove your most fearful shots, and quick "playing around" your weaknesses.
This is part of a consulting session I had with a prominent golf management company a few weeks back.
In the 5-hour session, this 8-minute segment brings value by outlining exactly how large companies deploy so much targeted content for building brand and staying top of mind over time. It's also about how smaller companies can leverage limited resources to compete with the big boys.
I share how we do it for our clients, and it begins some extremely fruitful conversation about where they'd like to take their company.
Super sorry to have been out of action for past few months. Been in Germany, but playing a ton of golf.
Plan on a lot more podcast action from me moving forward. Excited about my golf game right now, and really want to continue bringing value to all you golfers out there.
Also, career stuff has also gotten really interesting, so I plan on documenting parts of my journey there as well - interviews, ideas, and other stuff around growing a business. I want to do a better job of showcasing our marketing agency clients, and the tactics they're deploying to win business.
No matter what, it's all about doing my best to bring value to you. Reach out with anything you want to talk about.
I scored terribly (even embarrassingly) in my most recent golf tournament in Leipzig, Germany. Sure, it was a tough course, really windy...but my results were seriously disappointing.
If you play golf long enough (or even just a couple tournaments), it's going to happen to you. I believe that handling golf's disappointments optimally is a definitive sign of the kind of player you'll become.
Hope this one helps you after your next lousy round...
I played a Pro Golf Tour event this week in Leipzig, Germany. The course was designed to basically eliminate anyone who couldn't carry the ball 270...cross bunkers and fescue.
If you're looking to play at the highest level, add some focus to your physicality and carry yardage!
A conversation with a good buddy struggling with the yips led to some interesting insights that have helped me with all areas of my game. It started with putting stuff, but applies to chipping, pitching, and full swing too.
I feel super solid right now, ball striking is good and I'm making more than my share of putts. Hope this one gives you some food for thought.
So many businesses lack patience in their marketing...trashing their mailing lists with sales pitches.
Try proper nurturing where you're delivering more value than you're trying to extract. They'll come around when they're ready.
Balance is a wonderfully simple swing thought that does the following:
1. Forces you to swing within your control
2. Removes many of the other tips and swing thoughts that you're dealing with
3. Forces you to basically make a reasonably fundamentally sound motion
4. Holding a balanced finish offers a ton of valuable feelings and feedback for you to improve
Give it a try...I promise it'll be refreshingly simple and effective.
I was invited to play The Golden Bear Club today here in Orlando. My friend has lived in the community for a couple years now, but only last week decided to join the club.
He was super excited to have us out there for the day...something we know is an incredible opportunity for a golf club to solicit membership referrals.
KPI Golf's 85/50 Program in action...
Super simple...I want to talk with you about your golf game. Ask me whatever you want...
I've only got so much time in a day, but book a time slot as they're available at caseybourque.com/chat
I'll have you on the podcast and we'll talk about whatever you want - your questions, challenges, struggles or whatever. I'll do my best to point you in the right direction...and we'll share it with the world.
Looking forward to getting to know you.
Got paired up with a great group of people randomly out in Amelia Island. I keep telling myself to do that more often...so much fun to go out and jump in with groups of people you don't know. Almost always works our wonderfully.
In the process, I noticed a tendency that I see all too often. Those glancing golf shots that fade to the right and come up short of the target. So many people have that going on, and the fix is often a lot simpler than they think.
Hopefully helped out my playing partners a little bit, and made their honeymoon just a half percent better!
Gary Vaynerchuk has the record in my personal book for the highest ratio of total words spoken to me - words I disagreed with. About a million to zero.
His 79-21 rule is spectacular for business, but turns out it's not such a good strategy for golf.
If you don't listen to Gary, go check out his stuff by the way.
Finally found someone that I'm bringing on to begin helping us scale up our Web Design Phoenixmarketing agency.
Hiring as a small business owner is not without its set of challenges. How do you take time out of an already full day to train someone to know what you know? How do you get to the point of entrusting them with executing on things only you have done previously?
It'll always be a work in progress. I'm taking the mindset that I'm going to execute quickly and refine as I go...rather than delaying, thinking, calculating on something so riddle with uncertainty.
Hard work and trust in good people is sure to pay off in my opinion...so that's what I'm going with.
In this episode, I'm interviewing David Mayo, the General Manager at Blue Sky Golf Club in Jacksonville, Florida. The club is managed by Hampton Golf, a company that KPI Golf is closely collaborating with on data-driven solutions.
Hampton Connect is a brand new proprietary software just entering the golf facility marketplace. It allows club managers to access real-time performance data at their facilities, and the effects are incredible. David shares how his team is leveraging data and collaboration with Hampton HQ to refine operations, contain costs, drive additional revenues, and streamline staffing levels like never before. He also shares the tremendous cultural shifts that have occurred at the facility with added transparency and understanding at all levels of the operation.
Hampton Connect software is offered in conjunction with KPI Consult - a package offering recurring lightweight and affordable insights and deployable tactics to reach performance benchmarks at golf facilities. KPI Consult's "Guide Posts" bring aggregated data from thousands of facilities to help clubs understand where certain spending and performance ratios need to be in order for the club to be successful.
For more info on KPI Consult, visit KPIGolf.com
Whether you're testing out new clubs (like I am) or coming out of winter hibernation, it's all about self awareness. You need to learn your own limitations and capabilities.
One approach I've always taken in both respects is to try to temper expectations. It's easy to assume that your new clubs are going to be the miracle pill that solves all your problems. Hint: they won't
If you've been hitting balls indoors all winter long, it's similarly easy to assume that you'll come out of the gates with guns blazing and playing your best golf. Hint: you won't.
Best to taper your expectations, deploy patience, and bring a longer term set of goals to the equation.
Had a great time this weekend playing golf with some old college buddies. We had an intense competition called the Floyd Manny Invitational at the Publix Par 3 Course in Lakeland, Florida. 36 Holes of pure pressure.
It's actually the 16th event we've had dating back to 1997...great times.
In looking over the scorecards (by the way, we were victorious), I wanted to compare my scoring with the Tour. Turns out it wasn't too bad...although DEFINITELY not an apples to apples comparison. Nevertheless, I believe that an occasional statistical comparison is a good thing to do.
So, here's a link to the PGA Tour stats page for "Birdies or Better < 125 Yards"
So many players struggle with those 40, 50, 60-yards wedge shots because they don't have a real plan to pull them off. Usually it's a matter of guessing the yards, grabbing a lofted club, maybe opening the face a bit, and praying for some good luck. You can do a lot better.
This episode is about giving you something to work on in your practice. Practice with purpose right? Well, I know this methodology REALLY helped my game, and I know for a fact that most Tour players do something similar - including Nick Faldo.
Start simple and build it up. This part of the game is where you can really gain a ton of ground in terms of scoring.
Charity and company golf tournaments are a blast. They can also be pretty daunting experiences for novice golfers. Maybe you're playing with the boss, or some prospective clients and you don't want to embarrass yourself. You haven't played golf in years, and you're nervous.
This session is all about a strategy for contributing to your team, and which areas you can focus on before you tee it up. Don't worry, you don't need to learn how to hit 300 yard drives the morning of the event.
All things remaining equal, try to land your chips and pitches in low areas rather than high areas. This strategy alone will improve your results. This episode explains why you should always avoid landing short shots on mounds and high areas.
I get a lot of questions about bunker play.
The pros make it look so easy. Well, of course they practice a lot, but there are other reasons they get such great results out of the sand.
They set up for huge margins of error. Even if they mishit shots by even a few inches, the outcomes are usually pretty good. They're really good at their stock, standard bunker shot. From there, based on the circumstance, they'll make adjustments. The key is to have your standard comfortable shot to fall back on under the heat.
As you play more and more golf, you begin to notice patterns. Maybe shots with certain clubs tend to go higher or lower, or probably curve left or right. Different conditions will affect these outcomes as well.
I want you to be able to "read" your shots and know exactly why the ball goes where it does. Over time, this helps you to diagnose yourself and gain the self awareness you need when you're out on the golf course.
Hope it proves helpful for you.
Stuart Lindsay has been in technology and data-driven marketing research since the early '80's. He's one of the golf industry's foremost thought leaders on data-driven golf operations and decision-making.
Today, we're digging deep into where the golf business has been and where it's heading...and most importantly, what club owners can do about it.
2019 Changes to the Rules of Golf
Stuart's of the opinion, just like Rory McIlroy, that the rules are the rules...deal with it. At first, I was surprised that this was his opinion. Stuart is a big proponent of making golf accessible and compelling to the next generation of players. As we talked further, he made it clear that the rules themselves are not the issue making newcomers feel confused or overwhelmed - it's more in the messaging and our on boarding processes. Many the rules, especially those having to do with etiquette, are designed around safety, pace of play and convenience. If our messaging would do a better job of clarifying, he believes that the rules would not be nearly the sources of confusion that they are today.
In fact, things like our focus on medal play rather than match play seems to be perpetuated my media coverage of the major tours. Match play simply isn't conducive to television.
Using Data to Drive Golf Facility Business
Stuart has many years of experience consulting with and performing research for golf facilities - marketing research, feasibility studies, comparisons, operations reviews, etc.
As his career has taken him through various technological endeavors, he's well equipped to speak to the importance of data-driven decision making in golf operations.
Data allows club owners to understand the ecosystem that they exist in - their customers, competition, and potential differentiators.
"Data is going to do nothing but become more and more important" - Stuart Lindsay
The problem is that aggregated data in the golf industry is extremely hard to come by. Rounds, spending, and participation data is complete fragmented largely because point-of-sale systems haven't evolved to the point of truly integrating their respective data sets yet.
Stuart points out the importance of comparative data - simply measuring performance relative to prior weeks, months, years in real-time will prove to be a game changer for golf facilities.
He also points out that club operators need to be paying attention to this stuff and who is "owning" their customer data. Companies like Google and Facebook, as well as 3rd party bartering systems are really good at selling off customer data. This can drive a wedge between your club and your customers if you're not careful.
This conversation was fascinating for all of us at KPI Golf considering what we have on the horizon. We're rolling out performance tracking and real-time data technologies that even the smallest facilities will be able to afford.
If you'd like to reach Stuart at Edgehill Golf Advisors or Pellucid, he can be reached at (262)241-7088.
It's all about club face ladies and gentlemen. The ball almost always goes in the direction that your club face is looking at impact.
If you miss to the right or slice the ball all the time, you're leaving the club face open. If you hook or miss left, the club is looking left at impact. It's that simple.
In terms of working the ball on purpose, you need to think about your swing path to get it started in the right direction. Basically, you need to take the direction you want the ball to start it's curve, then double that angle...and swing in that direction.
So, if you want to hit a 10-yard slice, you need to set the club face to look at your target, then swing 20-yards to the left of the target.
Hope this one helps clear up some misconceptions.
We've got our annual Floyd Manny Invitational coming up in a few weeks - a college buddy trip. This year, we're heading back to Hilton Head, South Carolina.
I'm super interested to hear your suggestions on other great golf trip locations you know of that we should be considering for next year.
In today's Golf Course Owner and Operator's Forum, we're discussing how to market your golf facility.
I'm leading a discussion on strategies that golf courses typically fail to consider. Golf is what we call a "Considered" buying process. The time it takes to usher someone along the customer lifecycle from stranger to loyal customer is often considerable - 2 to 6 months or more.
The two club owners taking part in the discussion today have two very different facilities, yet marketing principles remain fairly constant. Here are my presentation notes as you follow along - although I don't cover everything and I do jump around a bit.
Winning New Business - The Customer Life Cycle
Awareness (top of the funnel)– Basic level…Never or rarely ever tried golf. Not even considering golf as an option in general – never played, too expensive, elite, scary, intimidating, into other things for recreation/exercise. Comparing to other options like hiking, biking, soccer, other sports, family time, gym membership, etc. (why is golf great? Address rejections (expensive, time consuming, elite, snobby, embarrassing, scary, full of rules)
Evaluation (conversion, middle of the funnel)– They’re doing heavy research whether or not your offering is a good fit for them. They’ve somehow “raised their hand” and identified themselves. Has expressed an interest in golf, we know who they are, but need time to consider level of involvement or which club to join or call their own.
Purchase (bottom of the funnel)– They’re figuring out exactly what it would take to become a customer (facility tour, meeting, membership inquiries, downloads, etc.)
Activation (onboarding)– Most excited about new endeavor, validating their purchase, precarious socially (getting plugged in). First 2-3 months vital for longevity
Referral (evangelist for the club)– Best possible time is soonest after purchase. New member events, referral promotions (with urgency), personal invites, 85/50 program
Golf is a considered buying process–
Function of cost – greater cost = longer consideration
Cost is high than just dollars: opportunity cost - Golf is hard, scary, social, expensive, time consuming…could be doing many other things
Typically 2 – 6 months in evaluation stage for average private club (more for beginners and expensive clubs) – sales processes aren’t set up for this!
Numbers: Stranger – Lead – Customer.
Close rate 5% = 20 leads for each new customer
2% conversion rate = 50 Strangers for each new lead
Total = 1,000 stranger for each new customer
CPM – cost to reach 1,000 qualified strangers
Customer acquisition cost – ads, nurturing, staff
Example: more qualified/targeted advertising is higher CPM, but improve conversion rate from 2% to 4%, and close rate from 5% to 7% = 350 strangers per customer
Member referrals highly qualified, highest close rates, minimal CAC – 100% conv, 33% close = 3 referrals for each new customer
Data in the golf industry is completely fragmented. There are more than 20 major point of sale systems (think cash registers with accounting software)...and they don't speak the same language. There's really no system of aggregating and using big customer data in the golf business...until now.
KPI Consult is leveraging tools called Hampton Connect to allow clubs to track, measure and leverage real-time performance data to improve club operations. Club operators have access via phone app anywhere, with the ability to make metrics-driven decisions every day all day.
All things equal, there's simply no way that a club without this kind of solution can compete with those deploying true data-driven execution.
At the core, KPI Golf is built around the principle that golf courses serve as the epicenter of the communities in which they reside. The local living environment goes the way of your country club - jobs, recreation, real estate values, quality of life.
This is a story of how we have chosen to model our company - giving without expectation of anything in return.
I lost my wedding ring in the ocean this weekend.
We were on a family trip to Southwest Florida. We were staying at a beachside rental in Englewood, just south of Sarasota.
Our family is very close, and we always have a great time together, laughing and playing games. Well, the silly game that we came up with this time was volleyball...or a modification thereof. We basically all stood in a circle and tried to keep the ball going (we're terrible).
After we were finished, as I was toweling off I realized that my wedding ring was gone. It feel off my finger in the middle of the ocean while we were playing. The story that ensues is a true representation of giving without any expectation whatsoever...and a ton of luck.
Our friend John, who we met randomly on that beach modeled exactly how we have chosen to conduct our business. Intent matters and the outcome is always positive.
Have you been doing your winter putting homework?
In this episode, I'm just checking in on your northerners to see if you've been putting in the work. A month back I talked about my indoor putting drills and how they really helped my technique and confidence back when I was in high school.
All you have to do is take a few minutes every night to hit 100 putts over a dime on your living room rug. Set up, rock your shoulder, listen for the "click" and you're good. Repeat.
Trust me...it's crazy how big that hole's going to look to you when you finally get outside.
Working with a couple different golf courses right now to deploy a test run of free golf lessons as a marketing instrument. The program is part of KPI Golf Management's push to get golf courses reconsidering the relationship golf instructors have at their facilities.
I'll be dedicating 4 - 6 weeks of my time for these free sessions. I'm marketing and taking registrations all on my own. Any business that comes of it is going to the golf facility instructors and to the club. I have no interest in benefitting personally other than to document the experience and the results that come of it.
Wish me luck and come out and see me when I get started in the next couple weeks!
After a challenging day like today, I was reminded of a round of golf I played out in Arizona at Pine Canyon Country Club in Flagstaff. Great club.
Following the round, our group grabbed a drink in the grille room. One of them brought up the topic: What's your biggest golf disappointment?
The stories were amazing. I couldn't believe how interesting the conversation became.
Give it a try next time you're hanging at the 19th hole.
Our company KPI golf management just signed a vendor partnership deal with Srixon and Cleveland. They're going to be one of our primary equipment providers at the facilities that we consult with and manage.
So, in return it's pretty typical for these companies to load us up with some personal use gear, clubs, bags, gloves clothing, etc. so that we're able to best represent their stuff.
Super excited to be heading over to Oceanview CC in Ormond Beach next week to get things dialed in. On this podcast, I share a few thoughts on how fittings go, and what I like to focus on to make sure my equipment is right for me.
Hope you find it beneficial.
I spent a good 4 hours on the practice range yesterday. I hit a grand total of 0 drivers during that time.
I spent a lot of time on short game, some putting, pitching, wedge play that became super encouraging.
For the first time in a while, I was able to really feel that connectivity between body turn and club face. The results were killer - great contact, direction and trajectory control, and just a lot less effort to make things happen.
I'm on the right track, and hope this one helps you out too.
Great conversation with my old high school hockey coach Jack Lowry today. He's the head coach of the Vermont Lumberjacksin the Eastern Hockey League (EHL).
The EHL is part of the Junior A Hockey system where players develop their skills and showcase themselves to top-end college hockey programs. All of the players have aspirations to play college and even professional hockey.
Coach Lowry brought a couple of his most promising players into the discussion after practice. We talked all about their journey, and the work that it's taken for them to get to where they are in the sport. As you might expect, the drive and work ethic that it takes to succeed in the sport of hockey is much like what it takes to do great things in golf (or really anything for that matter).
I don't believe in overnight successes. Winning takes work...and these two kids have determination and work ethic it in spades.
Check out their profiles on the Lumberjack website.
Glynn Robitialle- a forward from Northville, Michigan
Mason Emoff- team captain, and a forward from Ontario, Canada
I love hockey myself, so I was fascinated by what they're doing on a daily basis through the season. Coach Jack made it clear that the Lumberjack organization is one of the best around, giving the players every resource and opportunity that it takes to win.
Of course, at the end of the day, it's up to the players to put in the work.
The team has been playing great of late, with a 14-1 record since the Christmas break. Just like in golf, an attitude of positivity and grit brings rewards. It really sounds like the team culture is right where Coach Jack needs it to be in this part of the season. They're gearing up for a deep playoff run in the next few weeks. Here's a link to follow the standings or to check out any EHL teamsin your area.
Hope you find this conversation as intriguing as I did. There are so many takeaways whenever you're able to talk with successful people in their trade.
Good luck boys!
The private club model is changing. In the past, exclusivity and privacy was highly touted. Nowadays, younger generations don't look nearly as favorably on these kinds of policies and clubs in general - of course there are elite exceptions.
Most golf courses are working harder and harder to attract and retain membership.
KPI Golf's 85/50 Membership Program was developed by John Brown through his work with Troon Golf and as he build his prior golf course management company - Brown Golf Management.
In this podcast, John outlines the key components to deploying this proven successful recruitment strategy.
The 85/50 program is about engaging your newest members to become your most important evangelists for the club. The sooner you can engage these members in the recruiting process, the more likely you are to succeed.
By creating a structure where new members are encouraged to invite their friends to experience the club, close rates are greatly increased. It's play on social proofand the natural inclination for people to justify the decisionthey made to join the club.
If you're 20 or 30-something and you don't know how to play golf, you're making a huge career mistake. All the old dudes running companies are retiring and play more golf than any other part of the population right now. It's not going to last forever though.
When you play golf with someone, you're got a captive audience for 5-6 hours. All these retiring business owners and execs still have all the networks and connections they've accumulated their entire life. You're one fun day away from the keys to the castle.
Learn to play golf for your career...simple as that. If you're not getting invited to company tournaments, you're missing out on more than a fun day in the sun. You're not in the room and you're not moving up the ladder my friends.
My good friend Brendon Elliott with Little Linksters Junior Golf invited my wife and I out to play Hammock Beach Resort today. The day was perfect and we learned a few very important things that I though worthy of sharing with you.
Hammock Beach is an unbelievably great resort for golf and otherwise. The golf was perfect...challenging, fair, well conditioned, beautiful, and everything you want in an experience.
3 Adults in the group, with 3 young kids riding along worked out wonderfully. I highly encourage you to try it.
Playing extreme forward tee markers is a great idea. My wife played from about 4,300 yards, shot about 80, and had a blast. She got to feel what it's like to strategize and course manage...rather than mindlessly pounding drivers and 3-woods on every non-par 3.
My old friend Jon Jacques is a longtime high school golf coach in Maine. He shares some thoughts on what he's seen out of his players over the years, and what it takes to have some fun at the high school level in most areas of the country.
The truth is that there is a ton of opportunity for young people to learn the game for free or cheap while they're young. Most programs are trying to get kids to come out for some free golf...and you don't have to be a superstar to crack most high school lineups either.
Choose the people that you play golf with carefully. If you like hard core games, putting everything out, or gambling, go for it. If you'd rather never keep score or never have to hit out of a bunker, find some people who want to play that way.
At the end of the day, find people who share your beliefs and your interests and you'll enjoy your time on the golf course a lot more.
My last couple days here in Orlando is a testament to how much fun it can be to play golf with good people.
So I had a great day playing some golf with some clients today at Shingle Creekhere in Orlando. Great golf course, they recently redesigned their greens and they're super challenging. They're built up with shaved areas all around, so it requires really good quality golf shots to get the ball into position.
I had some good things going on and some simple swing thoughts that I thought I would share with you. I'm always about minimizing tension in my swing because I think it brings more repeatability and better tempo. Whenever I get squeezed in the club tightly, I know that I lose speed and power as well as consistency. I feel like the tension in my hands and arms are in fact interrupting the physics of the golf swing.
If I'm able to relax my arms and hands, I'm focused more on what my core body is doing to rotate back and through. the arms hands and club just go along for the ride and the club returns back to the ball repeatedly every single time.
To that end, your golf swing begins as a one lever system. It's basically a straight line down your left arm down the shaft of the club. As you swing the club further back, you allow your wrist hinge bringing into play a second lever. This is the most powerful system.
Now, some people who either lack flexibility, or if they get too quick in the transition of their golf swing, their hands and arms collapse towards their body. A bent left elbow in this situation brings a third lever into play.
A three-lever system is nowhere near as powerful as a 2 lever system. Not only that, the circle that the club is traveling on is now smaller, so having lost the radius of our swing there are huge challenges with bringing the club back to the ball repeatedly and solidly.
Today I was just thinking about soft arms and hands, yet maintaining that tool ever structure throughout the entire swing. Hope that helps you guys.
Whether you're precise with your shot making or not, it's good advice to at least aim precisely. It's the best chance you've got to produce the shot you're hoping for...and to evaluate your results.
Aiming vaguely or inconsistently is going to seriously limit your rate of improvement.
Jack always used an intermediate target for every type of shot. He'd pick out something 6-10 feet in front of the ball to aim at...including on the putting green.
Hope it's super helpful for you.
So, I had a day full of DATA today...I mean in a good way.
First, I got myself a Flightscope MEVO to play around with. MEVO is a tiny golf launch monitor...about the size of a deck of cards. You can bring it with you anywhere and set it behind you when you're hitting shots.
It spits out all sorts of relevant shot data - carry distance, height, club speed, ball speed, smash factor, etc.
It's gonna make my practice a lot more fun for sure.
Secondly, lots of cool things happening with KPI Golf Management. We're doing some great work with a golf data firm called Pellucid. The mission is to arm golf course owners with more accurate and timely data to run their businesses effectively.
Lots of headway today in the data department. Cheers!
Beginners always feel super intimidated at the golf course. Everyone seems to be experts. They all know how to dress, hit great shots, and have so much fun. Starting out can feel overwhelming.
I'm here to tell you that nobody feels as comfortable as they look. Everyone deals with the same anxiety, worries, and fear of embarrassment. Golf is hard for everyone...but that doesn't mean it's not a ton of fun.
I believe it's a matter of perspective. The sooner beginner's own the fact that they're not going to be the best out there for a while, the more fun you'll have. Truth is that if you take a careful look around, all those members aren't hitting nearly as good of shots as they seem. Do some people watching and see for yourself.
Adjust your expectations, own your beginner-ness, and pick some friends to play with who are going to have some fun no matter what.
John Brown is talking with one particular golf course owner about operating expenses.
It’s common practice to stick with vendors for long periods of time, especially if you feel like they’re “taking care of you”.
Well, sometimes when you bid out the sale to other vendors, you’re going to be really surprised. Vendors are REALLY nice to clients that over pay for stuff.
The challenge is that your team won’t like moving toward a bidding buying process. It’s a lot more work, and they might lose out on the perks they used to get thrown at them. That said, it’s a guaranteed way to bring money right to your bottom line.
I use this drill every time I warm up.
Super simple. Start with a short chip or pitch shot on the range. On your next shot, try to land the ball on top of the previous ball. It’ll roll out a little farther, then try to hit the 2nd ball with your 3rd shot, and so on.
Each shot gets progressively longer, so every swing is unique, with a defined target.
You’ll learn to control your distances and develop a great rhythm to your pitching game.
By the way, it might be a good idea to tee the ball up for these shots at first. No need to dig them out of the dirt when you’re working on distance control and tempo.
It’s human nature to squeeze the club and try to hit the ball harder when you need more distance.
The problem is that the complete opposite will give you much better results. Hold the club as loosely as you can throughout the entire golf swing.
You’ll feel the club swinging (rather than hitting) the ball. You’ll bring more clubhead speed.
Added side benefits are that your tempo will be greatly improved automatically if you can manage to maintain loose arms and hands throughout your swing. This means more efficient contact and more consistency too.
Sometimes logic leads us astray…hold that club softly and get some instant improvement.
Lately, I’ve been really simplifying my practice. In my career, whenever I’ve been struggling, I’ve always found that the solutions were far more simple than I would have ever imagined.
Take a step back and focus on the basics for a while. It’s human nature to chase the next quick fix, but you’re not ever going to be able to totally sidestep the work it takes to truly improve.
Athletic stance, alignment, grip. That’s it for pre-swing. Then, just think about soft arms and balance in the swing. Do that for a month and let me know how you’re doing.
We had a great 2019 PGA Show.
KPI Golf struck an incredible collaboration deal with MG Orender and Hampton Golf to deliver their new Hampton Connect club management software to the market.
John Brown and I go over some of the cool things we did and saw last week at the Show as well. We found some really fun devices making golf more fun. We also got to meet with a ton of equipment vendors and hit all the new stuff.
Give a listen and please share the podcast if we’re delivering any value at all! Cheers.
Saw an article about Justin Thomas and Rickie Fowler sharing the lead (after the first round) and also sharing a house out in Phoenix this week.
Brought back some old memories of traveling around with the boys on the Canadian PGA Tour some years back.
I’m sure our “rentals”…car, hotels, we nothing like Justin and Rickie. In fact, we had an “Over/Under” room policy.
Regardless, I encourage anyone who is trying to give professional golf to give it a shot. When you’re in your 20’s, that’s the time to go chase the dream.
Don’t settle for some crap job too early. You can always fall back to that later on. Go for the big win and at least later on you’ll be able to say you tried.
Gotta listen to the podcast to find out what the Over/Under is…it’s not what you think.
Golf courses are hurting for demand. We’ve gone from 29 million golfers to 21 million since the last market downturn.
We’re losing between 100 and 200 golf courses per year, and data suggests there’s still another 9-15 years left of the same to reach market equilibrium.
I’ve run some numbers on how free golf lessons should be deployed at country clubs to bring in new business.
It’s a long term approach versus the “car salesman” quick win approach we’re used to.
We’re talking about the average annualized and lifetime value of your customers. How to get them out to your facility, and getting only a small number of them to convert into paying customers.
The numbers work…like crazy.
I’m pretty sure you’ll agree that the estimates and assumption I’m using are extremely conservative. A 5% conversion rate is very low for public facilities, but for private clubs may be very high (of course average customer values are also much higher).
In this example, after paying your Marketer/Teacher a flat $30,000 salary, the club will have generated $320,160 in future Total Gross Revenues (10x marketing spend).
Of course, your instructor will have plenty of time to teach avid golfers on the side for a fee. In fact, this program becomes a feeder system for your staff instructors charging their regular hourly fees.
The club has developed an enormous differentiator vs. the local set of golf facilities. Marketed well, the club will be able to attract the lion’s share of newcomers to the game in the area, indoctrinate them into the club, and develop a culture of giving/generosity/hospitality while they’re at it.
Guests feel more welcome over time because there are no hard sells or sale pitches. All staff members participate in marketing the club, and inviting new people out to try golf becomes ingrained in company culture.
Combined with the KPI Golf Membership Sales specific programming, clubs can further capitalize on the power of word of mouth, positive company culture, and membership referrals.
Reach out if you’d like to learn more: kpigolf.com
I get a lot of questions about ball position.
Why is it important? Where do I put the ball for the different clubs in my bag? How do I know if I’m doing it right?
There’s some simple physics involved. Once you understand, you’re good to go.
Without good ball position, you’re going to develop some bad habits.
Lastly, there’s a really cool trick that I use to make sure the ball is positioned exactly where I want it.
I believe that casual golfers don’t need to spend money on golf lessons.
All the information is out there for free - how to stand, hold the club, basic swing techniques.
I also believe that golf courses should be giving away basic instruction for free. It’s the ideal gateway drug for bringing people into the game - it’s a great business decision for owners.
That said, golf isn’t free. You’ll avoid a ton of headaches and disappointment if you own up to the fact that good golf takes work.
After 2 months of running this podcast, I've figured out the tie that binds all my messaging together:
Free Golf Lessons for All Beginners and Casual Golfers
In this session, I explain why it's great for facility owners (believe it or not), teachers and students.
The golf industry hasn't woken up to this concept yet, but it's coming if I have anything to say about it.
I’ve heard a few times from my audience that they feel that my stuff is too advanced for them or that they aren’t good enough to benefit.
The truth is that golf is actually quite simple at a recreational level. People don’t want to believe that because it’s so hard. There’s a difference.
The stuff you need to do is simple, however proper execution takes time.
Do what you know if right, without the added stress of worrying about other peoples’ opinions. You’ll have more fun, gain clarity, and play better golf.
Spent that last couple days running around the PGA Merchandise Show in Orlando. I had the chance to test out all the new clubs and equipment on the market.
I found some nice surprises…a few club companies really impressed me.
If you're not practicing don't complain about not getting better.
When I was in high school, I used to hit balls in to a net every day, and head to the beach because that was the only place without snow.
I believe that winter can be a big-time refresher so that you come out with guns blazing in the spring.
It’s that time of year when lots of people start thinking about building their set for the spring. This episode is about my thoughts on some basics to go with if you’re a relative beginner grabbing some new clubs.
Be sure to subscribe and shoot me any questions or topics you’d like to talk about.
Preventing Injuries and Recovering
Flashback to a chat I had with videographer Craig Kotilinek last week about his sports injuries and some remedies that have worked well.
I've been really luck in my career to avoid major injury, but I've weathered some setbacks of my own. Fun chat on recovering and getting back in the action as soon as possible.
The Shanks Suck - But We Can Fix 'Em!
The shanks can come out of nowhere. They’re super scary and often paralyze golfers and suck the enjoyment out of the game.
The big problem is when they get into your head and you feel things spiraling out of control.
Solutions can be super counter intuitive. The way that you logically and naturally react to your first shank is probably the exact opposite of what you really should be doing.
I explain why this is…and how to fix them once and for all.
Got questions or want to be on the show?
Email me or hit me up through Twitter (@caseybourque) or social media and I'll make sure I help you out. Look for live Q&A sessions and call-ins. Subscribe on your favorite podcast platform to get Golf Essentials every day.
Heading to the PGA Show next week. So much to do in preparation for announcing KPI Golf to the world.
We’re going to be super busy next week meeting with vendors and solidifying contractual relationships.
Because we’re managing a bunch of golf courses, we represent a much more substantial book of business than stand alone golf courses. Vendors sharpen their pencils and compete for our business, which is super fun.
I also got out and played some really fun golf at the Ritz Carlton in Orlando today. Surprised myself with some decent golf on a spectacular day.
Lots of Sports are Mental
Sidechannel conversation with my good friend and master videographer Craig Kotilinek. Craig's day job is running CSK Creative, a videography and design agency here in Orlando.
On the side, he's an aspiring tennis player (recreationally).
I learned that he's had troubles in the past with his serve - specifically the toss.
He had the YIPS.
With an inconsistent toss, basically flinching on important serves, his game was severely limited. With some mental fortitude and some hard work, he's been able to overcome.
Lots of parallels between golf and tennis in this way...hope you enjoy the banter.
World Junior Golf Swing Contest
Brendon Elliott, PGA Member shares the details on his global junior golf swing contest. The panel of judges is incredible - Jack Nicklaus, Lauren Thompson, Francesco Molinari to name a few.
Registration is super easy here.
Record a 1-minute video of kids hitting golf balls, and send it in! The best of the bunch will be reviewed by this incredible panel personally!
Expert Opinions are Cheap
John Brown discusses the options that struggling and underperforming golf courses have. The first big misconception is that professional advice and exploratory conversations only come with hard sales pitches for club management contracts. This isn't the case at all.
The logic first step to take is to pick up the phone and call a consulting or golf management company. KPI Golf offers free phone consultations, investing hours in learning about the club's challenges and assessing best fit.
Of course, only so much information can be gathered over the phone. Often an on-site visit is necessary, however this can be done for surprisingly little cash outlay.
For less than the cost of a few covers in the restaurant, John says that he'll pay your club a visit and roll up his sleeves. He'll dig into financials, interview staff and members, conduct basic market research, and gather a clear picture of how the club is positioned.
After just a few days, the club receives an exhaustive presentation about where the club stands, competitive set, and recommended next steps toward improvement.
Long Term Consulting is Best
As a next step in a club's turnaround process, John highly recommends a long term consulting agreement. This is effectively standard consulting on a regular cadence that makes sense for the club - typically quarterly or annually.
This allows KPI Golf to dig deeper into the club's culture and learn more about the inner workings of the facility and marketplace. It also allows for performance reviews, planning sessions, and continuous improvement.
John emphasizes that there is no "set and forget" strategy that works. Long term consulting is a great, and inexpensive way to ensure that your club is continually evaluating performance, prioritizing highest impact activities, and holding everyone accountable for results.
John can be reached best through email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Pre-Swing is Better than In-Swing
The quickest wins are in your setup and stance - nothing to do with your swing. Most people focus on "in-swing" faults and ignore the "pre-swing". I do the opposite.
Without good setup and alignment, your swing is doomed. Don't get it mixed up.
If you Haven't Been Playing in a While
Two things to look at when you're a little rusty: posture and grip.
Posture: Use a golf club to allow you to feel what a straight spine feels like. Take your stance with a club running along your spine and it'll remind you of what good posture is supposed to be like.
Grip: This one's simple, but nobody seems to focus on it. If you're slicing, rotate your hands around to the right around the handle of the club. This helps the release of the club, the toe will pass the heel through impact, and you'll hit it left. Once you do this, then work towards the happy medium.
Always focus on pre-swing before any in-swing stuff guys...it's easier to pull off and you'll see lasting results much quicker.
CSK Creative Founder Craig Kotilinek
I've known Craig for 8 or 9 years now here in Orlando. He's an extremely talented and accomplished videographer and business operator. CSK Creativeis a video production agency boasting clients like Golf Digest, Mercedes, The US Coast Guard, Total Wine and Wakeboarding Magazine.
Craig's shot famous figures like best selling author James Patterson, Jordan Spieth and Ms. Transworld Wake's Amanda Lewis.
Videography for Dummies
In this podcast, I do my best to squeeze as much knowledge out of Craig as I can. He shares a bunch of tips on how to produce better videos using simple equipment like just your iPhone.
We cover a lot, but some major points were:
Lighting is super important. Get your light source behind the photographer for best results. Use natural light where you can, rather than anything indoors.
Don't abuse the slow-mo feature. Trim up your videos to minimize the wait time, and dead space at the beginning and the end.
Watch the sound. Find quiet places with minimal background noise. If you're shooting indoors, be aware of air conditioning systems and other noises you may not otherwise notice.
Consider a second camera for backup footage. This is a great way to fill in gaps or add some variety.
Set up your background. Move your subject away from the background as well to push the back out of focus.
Frame your shots horizontally where possible. Unless you're shooting for a specific medium, horizontal is always best.
Don't shake. Mount your camera on a tripod when you can.
Add some background music. Great royalty-free music can add so much to a video.
Contact Craig and CSK Creative
If you're looking for some video work, or if you have any questions for Craig...I highly recommend reaching out.
CSK Creative - Orlando, Florida
Website | Email Craig | (407) 718-1112
KPI Golf Management owner and business partner John Brown Jr. shares some stories of over 45 years in the golf course ownership and management business.
It's not always sunshine and lollipops in the golf business!
This episode is all about me asking you how I can be better. I'm loving doing the podcast thing, and I want it to be 100% about bringing value to the community.
Let me know what I'm doing right and what I could be doing better. You won't hurt my feelings...that's how improvement happens.
Cheers and thanks for listening!
So, some old friends of mine from Maine and from Texas come here to Orlando every winter for a week to play golf and enjoy some sunshine.
They've been doing it for 30 years.
Well, last night was the first car accident ever. Fortunately nobody was hurt, but a close call nevertheless. A REALLY close call...and a lesson for all of you on guy golf trips.
During the round we played today, I found a little mid-round swing key that really helped.
It's all setup.
Basically, I was addressing the ball with my spine too "vertical". Just a touch of extra tilt, or as I think of it, bowing to the ball made a huge difference.
I felt free to rotate, more powerful, and I was striking the ball consistently on the middle of the club face.
Listen to the podcast and I hope it helps you out!
How Charlie Got into Television
Many don’t realize (myself included) how great a player that Charlie was in his early days. He’s still competing occasionally on PGA Tour Champions as well.
After Q-School one year, he ran into his good friend Gary McCord who told him he should get into television:
“You’re an idiot, you’re perfect for television”
Funny story, but sounds like it worked…
Moving Back to Myrtle Beach
So, Charlie’s ending his time at Golf Channel after more than 10 years. He’ll be moving his family back north, closer to where he grew up in South Carolina.
He’ll still do some occasional work with Golf Channel, but mostly some freelance broadcasting.
He’s also taking on a new gig with Golf Tourism Solutions in Myrtle Beach to help reinvigorate that area as a leading golf destination. He’s got some great things to say about Myrtle as a group golf destination…awesome for families, wide variety of golf, beaches, restaurants, live music…and apparently there are some good biscuits up there!
Welcoming Kelly Tilghman to South Carolina’s Golf Hall of Fame
Charlie tells some cool stories about growing up with Kelly in South Carolina and the long odds of the two of them making it in the golf broadcasting business.
He’ll be attending the South Carolina Sports Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony in just a few days where Kelly and Charles Warren will be honored. Charlie also makes it clear that he beat her to it, as he was inducted into SC’s Hall a few years back.
Friends in the Business: Feherty, Ian Baker Finch, Bill Macatee, Peter Kostis & Coach Lou Holz
Charlies shares a number of stories about his good friends and mentors in the television and golf business.
Although he’ll be stepping down with is move out of state, Charlie serves our local North Florida PGA Section as its Vice President. He shares some insight how he was able to convince his longtime friend Lou Holz to join us as a guest presenter at our most recent annual meeting.
Normally, Coach Holz would charge substantial fees for an hourlong presentation, but Charlie was able to make it happen by calling in a favor and perhaps trading off some Titleist AP3 irons and a custom Notre Dame wedge.
Just a fun chat with one of the best…hope you enjoy the podcast
Country clubs bringing in outside management do so in one of two major ways:
1. They recognize they need help and expertise to help them move forward optimally.
2. A firm offers to inject some capital over time in exchange for ownership stake in the club (equity vs. non-equity).
Problem with number 2 is that over time, when the capital improvement money “comes due”, the members are subject to cost cutting tactics that markedly deteriorate the quality of the experience and the club itself.
Members find that they no longer control the club. This is a far worse circumstance, and is often inescapable.
3 Drills to Get Sharp in the Off-Season
These 3 wintertime exercises helped me big time coming out of the gates in the spring back when I was in high school. I worked on my putting, chipping and full swing while our family was watching TV...and I won the Maine State Amateur that spring.
Here's what I worked on...
Putting Over a Dime
Find some good, true carpet to putt on. The faster the better.
Set yourself up by laying a dime on the ground (the hole), with a book behind at a 45 degree angle, and a few pillows to catch the balls.
Lay an alignment stick on the ground to make sure you're set up on track.
Hit 100 or so putts every night and you'll make some crazy progress in the winter months.
The book works great because it gets the balls out of the way. You can also hit putts at different paces. Nobody says you need to hit the 4-footer like a 4-footer. Hit it like a 20-footer and see if you can hear the dime click each time.
Coin Chipping Drill
Make sure you set up some pillows to catch the balls. Don't use a lob wedge...more like a 9 or 8-iron.
Lay down that alignment stick again. Hit some basic chip shots into the pillow.
Every once in a while...say every 10th chip, do the coin drill.
Lay 1 coin about 3 inches behind the ball, and another 3 inches ahead of the ball. The goal is to miss the first coin, strike the ball, and then also strike the 2nd coin. Chips should be hit with a slight descending blow - ball then turf.
This gives you some great feedback to make sure you're doing things right.
Swing in the Full Length Mirror
I'm not talking about 100% full swings. There's a ton of value in slow motion swinging in a full length mirror.
Check out your posture, and where the club goes throughout your swing. You'll notice what you're doing and how it looks compared to pictures you've seen and the guys playing golf on TV.
It's a great exercise to feel the positions where the club is balanced and how your body reacts.
Most importantly, focus on the lower half of your swing - 9:00 to 3:00. Get this part right and you'll be able to swing as hard as you want and hit the ball straight.
Just a few minutes each night will go a long way toward dominating in the spring...I promise.
Get Your Business Priorities in Line
I believe that the most successful businesses (golf or non-golf) take care of the most important things first...and at all costs. It's super upsetting to me to see operators ruining perfectly good businesses - especially golf courses - because they get it totally backwards.
It is our belief at KPI Golf that company culture is of the utmost importance.
When your teams are turning over frequently, it not only ads costs and reduces performance. It creates lousy work environments and attitudes for future staff members.
A revolving door makes it IMPOSSIBLE to grow your business.
We believe in taking very good care of the staff members that are performing at the highest level.
We also believe that motivators vary for every human being - some like money, others titles, others work/life balance, others upward mobility.
The trick is that it's always a moving target. People change their priorities as they progress through life. Communication and face-to-face time is the only way to learn what motivates your team.
The best companies in the world make company culture their #1 priority:
Priority #1: Company culture- positive working environment where staff knows and likes working with their colleagues every day. Collaboration is highly encouraged, and nobody is ever disparaged for bringing new ideas to the table. Hiring good people means that you're able to free them up to do what they do best.
Priority #2: The Customer- Yup, customer comes AFTER your employees. We've turned down deals where we knew that the customer was not going to be a good fit for the teams we had in place. Nothing comes ahead of your brand and your company culture - nothing.
Priority #3: Personal Interests- This could mean profits for ownership, vacation time, and prideful things. Leadership works for the employees, not the other way around.
The companies that make this priority shift will win.
Pull-Back and Safety Pull-Back
These two putting games are incredible in a lot of ways. First of all, they help make putting practice a lot more interesting. That's a big deal for some of you who find putting super boring.
The benefits of these two games are many...they help lag putting as well as those testy 4 - 8 footers. You'll simulate real round conditions including a little bit of pressure if you're playing with others or matching your personal best.
Here's how it's done:
In both games, you'll play 9 or 18 holes on the putting green.
Each hole is a Par 2 with a range of about 15 - 50 feet. Try to mix them up as much as possible.
Count all your strokes and see what you can shoot.
After you hit your first putt on each hole, any putt that doesn't go in the hole gets "pulled back" directly away from the hole 1 putter length (or 3 feet).
This means that even putts that miss by an inch become testy 3 1/2 footers.
Miss your second putt? Pull it back and knock it in. Miss again? Sorry, but keep at it until you hole it out...
Shoot even par in this game and you're REALLY rolling your rock.
This one is a variation of pull-back where you have a "safety zone". If your approach putt lands in the safety zone, you don't pull it back. You play it from where it lies and tap it in.
The safety zone is based on hitting a good approach putt - one that has a chance to go in with the proper speed. The zone is defined by any putt that reaches the hole (1 inch short is out)...and stays within your putter length (3 feet) of the hole. Imagine a 3 ft semi-circle behind the hole.
Safety pull-back is quite a bit easier, but it puts more emphasis on players who are good lag putters. Good lag putts are rewarded with tap-ins, whereas lousy distance control means you're grinding over 5 footers all day long.
Super Thankful - Time to Reflect
Just a regroup on why I'm bothering to deliver this podcast. It's two major reasons, both of which based on stuff that I've lived, experienced, and executed myself.
I come from a blue collar background, not from money and privilege. I believe that the strategies that have made me successful will help a lot of people in golf...whether as a player or as a golf course operator.
I welcome all commentary, good and bad, as well as any questions or topics you'd be interested in learning about.
Draw a Line in the Sand
Super simple pitching and bunker play drill for improving your consistency. It's all about impacting the ball or the ground in the same place every time.
Here's how it goes:
Draw a line in the sand about 4-6 feet long
Address the line as if it were the golf ball
Make a standard bunker swing, trying to "erase the line"
Impact the sand behind the line, exit the sand after the line
Repeat moving up the line until you've erased the whole thing
Review all your entries and exits for consistency - where did your club enter the sand and exit the sand? Is it staggered or is it consistent?
I promise that investing about 5 minutes daily into this drill will bring big improvements in your bunker play and pitching game.
Surviving The Next Round of Closings
Visiting my parents in Southwest Florida this week. Their golf community lost their golf course a couple years back and it's super sad to see.
All the residents came here for social golf, sunshine and fun...now they have to take their games on the road.
I talked with a group of them about strategies for underperforming clubs and how things could have been different.
There is No “Set and Forget” Strategy
The only way to perform optimally is to stay diligent and continuously prioritize highest impact activities.
There is no solution that allows for anything other than constant oversight and management. This is because conditions, economies, market positions, competition, and consumer preferences are always changing.
The only way to compete is to evolve with the times. Golf courses are quickly finding that they are not different.
The First Tactic Isn’t Always the Best Solution
John shares how his team’s initial assessment of this North Carolina club did not uncover the biggest wins.
Their focus was on membership and driving rounds and revenues for the first 6-12 months they owned the club.
Upon deeper inspection and market research, they determined that other areas of the club presented tremendous opportunity. The wins were certainly disguised as there was considerable costs to unlock these assets.
Good market timing, smart planning, and aggressive negotiation allowed the group to perform significant capital improvements at minimal costs.
The returns were exceptional. Listen to the podcast discussion to hear more.
A Test of Confidence - Preying on Weaknesses
Hammer has a wonderful way of revealing just how confident you are with your game. It's best played with other players of similar skill set, preferably with buddies who you can harass a little bit.
Knowing your opponent is key. You should be able to strategically add pressure where they'll feel it most. For instance, if you know your opponent is a lousy bunker player or putter, you can hammer often in these areas and expose these weaknesses (and make money).
The Rules of Hammer:
• The game is match play (gross or net, team or individual)
• Each hole starts with an established bet (i.e., $1, $2, $5, etc.)
• At any point, any player can "hammer" the other team, which doubles the bet on the hole.
• The receiving team can accept the challenge and play the hole out for double, or forfeit the hole (and current bet) immediately.
• Hammers can be launched at any time, including after players have holed out
• Hammers must be accepted or declined immediately - cannot wait until you get to your ball, etc.
• Players/Teams cannot hammer consecutively - the other team much hammer back before you can hammer again.
• Each hole starts fresh from a hammering perspective - either team can hammer first
• Teams can agree to increase the best as the round goes on. Presses do not impact hammering capability.
Hammer has components that are a lot like poker. You need to sniff out the other player's level on confidence in certain shots, or capitalize on incomplete information (i.e., maybe you saw their ball roll up next to a tree and they didn't)
Length of Backswing = Length of Shot
Sounds super obvious, but so many players fail to deploy this simple method:
Let the length of your backswing determine the length of the shot
Most players that struggle with short game either aren’t making consistently solid contact with the ball, or, they don’t control distance very well. This simple strategy helps on both fronts.
They either take a short backswing, and then hurry the downswing to hit the ball hard. Conversely, they might take a long backswing and decelerate the club through impact.
Better Tempo, Less Tension, Less Stress
For short shots, make a short backswing. For longer shots, make a longer backswing. It’s that simple.
If you truly focus on this, you’ll be able to swing the club with exactly the same tempo for all length shots. You can relax your hands and arms, and the club will bottom out at the very same spot every time.
Best part is that it works when you’re nervous – including with your putting. I promise your distance control will improve dramatically, but you’ve got to try your best to move away from the bad habits you’ve built up to this point. Could take a little time and effort.
Big Changes for Tournament Players
If you're planning on playing some real competitive golf, moving forward the rules have changed quite a lot. You should rely on more trustworthy sources than me to get the details about what you're allowed and not allowed to do.
In my experience, knowing the rules will only help you in tournament play...it'll never hurt you.
Casual Golfers Can Continue What You're Doing (kinda)
Casual players shortcut a lot of the rules anyway, so there won't be huge impact for this crowd. That said, even if you're just playing some club golf or money games with your buddies, there are some rules that you should be able to take advantage of come crunch time.
Again, it never hurts to know what's going on.
Download the USGA Cheat Sheet
What Happens When We're Nervous?
What is it about pressure that causes our body to react so strangely. You may not even be all that nervous about the outcome, and for some reason, you can't swing the same way, your putting goes bad, and you can't even think straight?
It happens to all of us.
First of all, golf is hard. We tend to put a lot of pressure on ourselves. Pressure to product perfection, when we know that perfection isn't ever possible.
So how can we deal? How can be pull off good shots when we need them the most?
Start With A Positive Vision
I attended a golf clinic with 6-time Major Champion Winner Nick Faldo a few weeks back. It was unique because the clinic was intended for elite junior golfers who are trying to compete at the highest level. Nick let us into his mental game in an amazing way.
One big takeaway from the session was that he liked to watch an imaginary player (i.e., Jack Nicklaus or Arnold Palmer for him) hit the shot before he did. This produced a beautiful vision of the shot before he stepped in and attempted it himself.
Have a Plan B
Nick also noted that through all his practicing, he was able to have a plan B, C, and D swings that he could fall back to when needed. This eased the pressure on his "A" swing for sure. He was extremely self aware, knowing which swings would produce certain shot shapes - and more importantly, which shots they wouldn't produce.
Very helpful when you're in a big tournament under lots of pressure.
Use Your Imagination
Fred Couples used to imagine that last perfect shot he hit with the club he was pulling out of the bag. When he was hitting a 5-iron, he thought back to the pure shot he hit with that club weeks before and tried to reproduce that feeling.
For me, when I've been really nervous at certain points in golf tournaments, I like to imagine I'm on a totally different golf course, on a comfortable hole at home. This really helps if you can really try to role play all the way through the shot.
There are lots of tricks...try them all and see which ones work best for you!
Turn a Weakness into a Strength
I used to absolutely fear a 50 yard wedge shot in golf tournaments. I'd do all I could to avoid them. Mostly that meant laying up to 100 yards leaving a full wedge into the green.
While that might be a good way to avoid embarrassment, it's not the way to become the best player you can.
A Turning Point in My Wedge Play
At some point, I read Dave Pelz's Short Game Bible. and my golf life changed forever. With some basic practice, I was able to turn my biggest fear into a huge strength.
Instead of worrying about skulling shots over the green or laying the sod over the ball, I was thinking about holing those same half wedge shots.
Your First Step Toward Confidence
The first step is to get to know a basic half wedge shot, and how far the ball tends to carry. Do this the next few times you hit the range.
Grab your favorite wedge...perhaps your 56 or whatever. Hit about 20 balls with a swing that takes your hands back to 9:00 (about hip height) and follows through at the same height (3:00 position on a clock).
Try to swing with the same relaxed rhythm and repeat the same motion every time. Note the CARRY distance that the shots tend to fly.
Do this for a few days with each of your wedges, and you'll effectively be adding new clubs in your bag. This is the beginning of learning exactly what kind of swing and club produces these short range shots with precision.
This clip is from a clinic I did back in Phoenix for some relative beginners about hitting fairways woods.
A lot of players struggle with this clubs - they're long, unforgiving, and you've got to be dead on to hit great shots. I hope these few tips help you out.
Creative Sources of Revenue
When I go to Germany every summer, the days are very long. The sun rises around 4:00 am and sets around 10:30 pm. Golf courses over there have come up with a very creative (and simple) solution for bringing in revenue during those odd hours of the day when nobody is working.
The first thing I noticed in Germany, is that they deploy an incredible amount of trust in people. Basically, if you want to play golf really early or really late, you can just come and walk on the golf course. No carts of course.
They've got a lock box where you fill out an envelope and leave your green fee for the staff to retrieve when business opens.
Funny, you would think the place would be overrun with freeloading walk-ons, but it's not. The culture that exists is one of pride in their club, and nobody would ever want to risk being branded a thief or a cheat.
I'm not saying this strategy would work everywhere, but it's absolutely a plan that some clubs should consider seriously.
They're Just Numbers
Many of the so-called barriers that we try to reach in golf are simply arbitrary numbers. I get that it sounds cool to say that you shot 69 instead of 70, but at the end of the day, it's just 1 shot.
Focus on What You Can Control
Winning golf tournaments and the scores you shoot themselves are results. Both, in many ways are out of our control. I suggest focusing as hard as you can on the things that you can control...like executing the proper shots at the right time.
The results will take care of themselves.
More Players the Better
Stymies is a vicious competitive putting game that is best played with as many people as you can wrangle up. Find 10 people and you'll have a blast.
It's a total strokes game played on the practice putting green...usually with some fun people that don't mind beating each other up a little bit.
How you Play:
1. Draw straws to determine who goes first - it's super important to keep the order
2. After the first hole, use golf's honor system to set order of play - low score on previous hole leads off
3. Player with the honor chooses the hole
4. All players putt in order, leaving their ball in place
5. If a ball strikes another ball, the player who putted incurs a 1-stroke penalty
6. The player farthest from the hole ALWAYS goes first.
7. No finishing out whatsoever - including 1" putts - in fact, the point is to get in everyone's way if you don't hole out.
8. Low score wins
We used to play this game for $1 per stroke...which can get pretty hefty.
Go with what you feel comfortable with, but I highly suggest some value per stroke to keep everyone engaged the entire time on every shot...otherwise, people get silly when they know they've lost.
How do you Feel About Gambling on the Golf Course?
I'm down for a friendly wager playing golf with some friends, but is there a point where it goes too far? The USGA rules on amateur status say there is.
I've got some experience at a country club where gambling was pretty heavy and it definitely impacted how people treated their handicaps and participation in member tournaments.
I'd love to hear your take on the subject. Hit me up and share your thoughts...
Dealing with the Yips
I suspect that there are many more people out there facing the yips than we realize. I hope that this deep dive discussion brings value for you, and brings ideas and solutions that will help you climb back to a place of confidence and enjoyment of the game.
The yips is a putting affliction that strikes without notice. Those who have never had them can't ever empathize with the challenges golfers face when hands are trembling and flinching at impact.
It can be devastating. In fact, I almost quit golf because of them.
In this episode, my good friend Robert and I share our feelings and the challenges that we've both faced. I give him some tips and exercises to build his confidence back up so that he can hit the spring golf season running.
We're Living in a Bubble
Based on the fact that the economy has been great over the past 9 years, AND we've got a huge wave of Baby Boomers playing more golf than ever, golf should be thriving.
In fact, if your home course isn't killing it right now, look out when the market turns.
Now is the time to grab market share and prepare for the storm ahead.
The Best Marketing Asset for Golf Courses
By far, the best (and underutilized) marketing asset for golf courses is golf instruction. Prices for lessons are going up because the interests of individual instructors is not aligned with the interests of the clubs they serve.
$150 lessons don't appeal to newcomers or old timers at all. These are the groups that golf courses need to attract and retain respectively.
Those first to market with golf lessons brought in-house and offered for free will win the lions share of the marketing spoils that'll come with it.
But nobody's moving out of their box...until the day comes when the music stops...
From a Player's Perspective
The advantages for golfers when multiple golf courses team up is obvious. We get more holes to play golf on for our money.
What's really cool is that when one course is closed for business because of a tournament or course maintenance procedure, we've got other options. Not only that, golf is just more fun when you have more variety...otherwise it's just too easy right?
From an Employee's Perspective
Local clusters of golf courses are a marvelous thing for employees. First, there's not nearly the "glass ceiling" effect from a career standpoint as compared to working at a stand alone facility. This means more options, more diversity and more upward mobility.
At a stand alone club, if you're working under a career general manager, you'll probably never become the general manager yourself.
As a result, multiple golf courses grouped in synergistic clusters are able to recruit stronger talent and retain staff longer than single clubs ever could.
From an Owner/Operator's Perspective
Beyond the 2 big reasons listed above, owners reap the biggest rewards from golf course clustering under centralized management.
When it comes to buying products and supplies, clustered golf courses represent a much larger book of business, and therefore can negotiate advantageous contracts and pricing.
Additionally, there are often opportunities to share supplies and equipment between facilities. For example, 5-6 golf courses could easily share a greens aerator, golf carts for events, or even key staff members as needed.
There are enormous opportunities for economies of scale and cost containment under the right circumstances - even beyond the tremendous scale that can be achieved through a proficient golf management company.
A Revolution in Clothing Retail
Super cool conversation with Nik Bando, Founder & CEO of Bogeybox Golf Club.
So, Nik figured out that he (along with what turns out to be a ton of other men out there) hates to go shopping - especially for clothing. I'm definitely included in that group.
His solution is one that plays on a beautiful blend of technology and white glove personalized customer service.
In a nutshell, here's how it works:
• You register at bogeyboxgolfclub.com by letting them know you sizes, style preferences, and types of clothing you're interested in.
• You determine how often you want to "shop" - could be weekly, monthly, quarterly, annually or anything in between.
• A human selects articles of clothing based on your preferences, packs them up and sends them to you for free.
• When the box arrives, you try stuff on, keep what you like and send back the rest.
• Over time, the system gets "smarter" and learns what you like and don't like
• At any time, you can request item changes, rush orders, alternate selections, etc.
• Super easy - shop while you're eating Dorito's watching football.
Big Benefits to Golfers
I get that there are lots of creative online retailers out there. There are a bunch of reasons why I'm liking this methodology and this company.
Here's what I love about this business model:
They don't want to send you anything that you don't love
It's that simple. They lose crazy money in shipping costs if they bombard you with crap that you never want to buy. This is systematically different than any other method of buying clothing online.
I love that they have some skin in the game...and by the way, we as customers don't. If stuff doesn't fit, or it's not what you want, there's literally nothing at stake for us as buyers. They're putting their money where their mouth is in terms of how in tune to your tastes they'll become.
I love it...and I believe I'll be doing a lot of business with these guys honestly.
Another Big Reason Nik and BBGC are Super Cool
I was totally taken off guard by this, but Nik is a personal friend of Gary Vaynerchuk. In fact, Gary is an original investor in BogeyBox Golf Club. By the way, Gary and his team sees thousands and thousands of startup pitches every year...and this is one that he got behind.
I personally believe 1000% in Gary Vee's methodologies, I'm executing against them as we speak, and I have a ton of instant respect for someone who's spent years working alongside Gary at Vayner Media.
Really glad to have connected with Nik and I'm excited about what these guys are doing...for no other reason than the business model just makes sense for most guys that I know.
KPI Golf Management’s John Brown discusses a Hilton Head area private golf course that was struggling with membership attrition in the Hilton Head market. They were losing more members than they were selling.
He outlines the market research that he conducted, how he achieved buy-in from club ownership, and the details of how he executed his plan.
The turnaround was substantial - moving a club that was on the ropes to a place where they are healthy and operating at a tremendous profit.
Chipping and Pitching Struggles
Lately I've been struggling a bit with my chipping and pitching. I've felt like it's been a challenge to make clean contact consistently from poor lies and tight lies. Basically, if the ball isn't sitting up perfectly, my confidence hasn't been too high lately.
So, tonight I spent some time on some short game and found a small, simple thought that really seemed to help.
Through a few drills, I learned that I was shifting my upper body center laterally in my swing. This means that my body was sliding off the ball to the right, making it really difficult for me to get the club back to the ball consistently...especially on important or delicate shots.
The solution was pretty basic - quiet my body during the swing.
My focus was on 100% rotation rather than allowing my body to slide laterally - like turning in a barrel.
I took a little extra time in setup to be sure that my alignment was good, and the ball positioned correctly. Before taking the club back, my focus shifted to my chest or sternum. I tried to feel like my core was turning without shifting position.
Whether reality or not, the feeling I had was that the club was moving around my body in a perfect circle and the club was bottoming out in the same place every time.
I had a lot of fun experimenting with different lies and shots to test myself.
So, next time you're out working on your chipping and pitching, give that thought a try if you're having trouble making consistent contact - a quieter body with more rotation rather than sliding.
Hope that helps!
$300/Hr Golf Lessons aren't Helping Anyone
Golf Digest just ran an article on the nation's top golf instructors under 40. I get it that these are the elite instructors catering to elite clientele (meaning rich people already playing lots of golf), and that they'll likely be the ones replacing the world's leading instructors in a few years.
BUT, ultra expensive golf lessons aren't doing a thing to help the industry, golf facilities, and 99% of the people out there.
I understand that everyone has the right to earn a great living, and I'm not disparaging these instructors for charging what they do. Good on them for having the marketing prowess to be getting those rates. By the way, don't kid yourself...it's all about marketing.
A Voice for the Common Instructor
I'm much more interested in hearing about teachers and coaches focused on inclusion. The ones teaching in schools, in underprivileged populations, etc. I want to hear stories about instructors bringing people into the game who would never had considered playing golf otherwise. Additionally, I love to hear about solutions around keeping our senior or handicapped population engaged in the sport longer.
Golf Lessons are the Ultimate Gateway Drug
KPI Golf is all about the principle of FREE GOLF LESSONS. We believe that facilities fighting for their lives are going to eventually realize that instruction is a grossly underutilized marketing asset. Paying instructors ought to be considered a marketing expense rather than bringing on a sole proprietor who's going to be serving their own best interests.
Free golf lessons are the absolute best way to bring in newcomers, and to retain senior golfers longer. As a facility, the biggest impact will come for those who are first to market with this idea. Imaging the marketing impact of promoting free golf lessons all the time for everyone at your club.
I Believe the Golf Instruction System is Broken
I'm sorry, but golf lessons are too long, too complicated, too expensive and too far in between.
If you share this belief, and you know someone deploying creative solutions, I want to have them on my podcast.
Email me: email@example.com
Bringing Golf Opportunities for Amputees that Never Existed
Sports Science Solutions and K-Motion are teaming up to develop some incredibly helpful solutions. Biomechanics technology and the resulting data is allow the group to develop specific processes adapted to particular amputees.
So, depending on the nature of a person's amputation, their systems will provide a course of action for that person to optimize their results in golf. This is ground breaking because it's going to allow many, many people to participate in golf who never had access to the game before.
Visit https://sportssciencesolutions.us for more information.
or email Casey Cox directly at firstname.lastname@example.org
They Don't have Grainy Greens in New England
Where I grew up, our bent grass greens don't have any grain to speak of. I just never thought about the effects of grain...ever.
So when I came down to play college golf in Florida, it drove me nuts. In fact, I blame grain for my nearly career ending bout with the yips. This episode is all about helping you putt better on grainy greens based on what I've learned over the years.
Does Grain Really Matter?
Yep. Grain kind of acts like wind for full shots. You can be into the grain, with the grain and cross grain. In all cases, if you don't account for it, you won't putt very well.
How Do I Read for Grain on the Green?
1. Light and Dark Areas - Look at the shades of green on the green (that sounds funny). Lighter shades are down grain and faster, darker shades are into the grain and therefore much slower.
2. Look at the Hole - On bermuda greens especially, the edge of 1/2 the hole will be clean, and the other half will be dirty, or beaten up over the course of the day. The grain is running from the clean edge toward the "dirty" edge.
3. Where's Water Flowing - Grain tends to push in the same direction as water runoff.
4. Toward the Strongest Sunlight - Some believe that grass tends to grow toward the southwest, or the direction where the most intense sunlight is coming from. Could be a rule of thumb.
Hope that helps you putt better!
Finish this Challenge and I'll be Super Impressed.
I learned this drill when I was back in college playing at Florida Southern.
Lee Janzen, former US Open Champion and FSC alum came back to practice with the team a few times. Lee's always been an incredible putter, and this was a drill he worked on every day.
There are few reasons why I love this drill:
1. You don't hit the same putts over and over again
2. You're simulating real golf circumstances
3. You're simulating pressure
4. You're working on your entire pre-shot routine
5. It's a great benchmark for how good your short putting is
Truthfully, you probably won't appreciate this drill until you try it a few times and realize how frustrating it can be.
If you miss any one of the 24 putts, you have to start all the way back at the beginning. I think you've got to be a pretty good short range putter to accomplish this.
Sharpen Up Indoors Over the Winter:
So, if you're up north in the snow, this is a great use of your time indoors. While you're watching football, grab a coin and see if you can get through this drill before the 4th quarter ends. You'll be super sharp when the snow melts.
Message me if you're able to accomplish this drill...I want to keep a short list of top putters in the crowd in case I'm short a player in my next scramble.
This special swing clinic was part of a private session offered to some elite International Junior Golf Tour players playing at Bella Colina in Orlando.
The coolest part about it was that the content was designed for top level players. Nick got into details that I'm sure he normally wouldn't with the general public.
In this session, we're able to get a peek into the practice routine and mindset of a 6-time major championship winner and former #1 player in the world.
He discusses strategies for improving consistency day in and day out. Practice habits to give yourself a better chance of feeling good and dialing in your golf swing more often.
Nick covers some intricate details of the swing sequence and downswing triggers to experiment with in practice. Also, how to deploy those triggers on the course to your advantage.
One of the best parts for me was the discussion about playing under pressure. He advised a strategy of choosing world class players to mimic. Basically, use them to visualize the shot you want to hit, let them hit it first in your imagination, then step into the ghost and hit the shot yourself. Amazing psychological play.
There's a little wind noise in this session due to the recording device, but it's totally worth it in my opinion.
Longtime friend John Brown joins us to talk about the business of golf - namely golf courses and their survival.
We tap into his 40+ years of golf operations experience. John shares a bunch of insights into where the golf industry is heading and how golf clubs are going to need to aggressively compete for market share in the coming years.
John is one of only several hundred designated Master PGA Professionals in the country, and he's achieved national recognition on multiple occasions as the golf industry's leading "turnaround specialist".
He's known for revitalizing country clubs that are underperforming or even in distressed situations. As golfers, we all care very much about the golf courses that often become the center of our social lives and communities.
Unfortunately, even despite a recent economic "tailwind", many clubs are struggling with declining golf participation and increasing operational costs.
For this reason, in the coming weeks, John and I will be formally launching KPI Golf Management together. Our mission is to help underperforming golf courses win.
In this chat, John shares some specific strategies to help food and beverage operations, procurement processes, financial auditing, marketing, and instruction.
A Golf Clinic for Elite Junior Players
This clip is part of a private clinic that was conducted for 1 hour and 20 minutes for elite junior golfers.
I felt so lucky to be a part of listening to Nick Faldo talking about real competitive topics, tournament preparations, practice methods...rather than the watered-down version for large audiences of general public.
He made a point to mention earlier in the session that playing tournament golf is an entirely different sport than casual golf...requiring different approaches.
Note: There's a little bit of wind noise in the audio file, but my opinion is that it's well worth it!
Takeaway: Rely on Facts
The theme of this session from Nick was to rely on factual data rather than feelings and opinions.
Top players all benchmark distances on their wedges especially - 20, 30, 40 yard shots up to whatever the full swing would be with each club. There are multiple swings, clubs and shots for each yardage.
He subscribes to the "clock face" method of calibrating swing length and shot carry distance.
Super cool to hear it all from a former world #1 player and 6-time major championship winner.
Do it in Practice Before Bringing it to the Golf Course
We know that opening the club face will yield a slice, and closing the face will hook the ball...but how much?
I feel it's super important to fall back on a game plan, or at least to have practiced the shots before you deploy them on the golf course. I totally get that nobody has time to invest 8 hrs a day to hit every possible shot, but here's what I mean.
We need to learn (by hitting a few shots in practice) about what the ball tends to do under certain circumstances...so that we can be more confident hitting the same shots on the golf course.
Simple Benchmarking Really Helps
What does "opening the club face" mean? Is is 5 degrees? 10 deg? 45?
Here's what I do to make it consistent, or to benchmark my setup:
Hold the club directly in front of you in the playing position, equidistant from each of your feet.
Turn the club in your hands until the grooves of the club point to your left toe (or your right toe for a hook).
Take your grip.
That's my benchmark slice and hook position - super simple
Calibrating the Curve and Other Things
Next time you're on the range with a little time, set up an alignment stick toward a target in the middle of the range.
Grab your 7-iron with the club face in the benchmarked slice position.
Set up to the target and hit 4-5 shots with your open club face. We know the ball will curve to the right. The key is to observe where the ball starts, where it finishes, how high it goes, how far it goes, if it tends to run out when it lands, etc.
Do the same for the hook position with your 7-iron and note the differences. The ball should go lower, farther, and run out more when it lands. Valuable info to have.
Experiment with Every Golf Club in your Bag
Do this with every club in your bag. You'll note that the longer clubs (i.e., driver, woods, long irons) react differently than the shorter clubs. Clubs with less loft will probably curve more than the short ones...but everyone is different.
This is an incredible exercise to get to know your tendencies and to learn all the different shots you're capable of hitting.
Data-Driven Decisions in Athletics
Today, I'm talking with Casey Cox at Sports Science Solutions about the absolute cutting edge of using biomechanics data in sports.
Now, I know what you're thinking - high-tech diodes, bones and muscles, it's all too technical for me.
But, that's the coolest part. While these guys are using data for elite golfers and hockey players, they're also doing incredible things to dummy it all down for the average guy.
This conversation really took me off guard in a good way, mostly because I admittedly don't know much at all about biomechanics. As you probably know by now, my teaching style is way on the other end of the spectrum with an emphasis on simplicity.
They've got labs at their facilities, but they can also hook you up and measure what you're doing while you're in the wild - meaning you're actually out playing your sport and doing what you do.
Casey talks about the details of how their solutions are helping people prevent injuries and optimize their athletic performance. They're working with NHL hockey players and teams, golfers, and other athletes.
I was really surprised to hear how intuitive it was for the users to make immediate improvements in their technique. Normally this kind of high-tech stuff is reserved for the science geeks, but he gives a bunch of great examples of how hockey players and golfers have deployed changes in minutes achieving almost instantaneous benefit.
These guys are dealing with elite athletes on an individual basis or entire teams and large groups of people all at once. The data that they are collecting is allowing coaches, trainers and the athletes themselves to make more informed decisions and to accelerate faster to peak performance or greater longevity.
I'm now convinced that this is absolutely where the industry is headed.
After you hear the episode, if you've got specific questions for Casey or would like to learn more about his work, here's how you can reach out:
Call: (207) 423-8274
Email Casey Cox Directly: email@example.com
I Believe that Traditional Golf Lessons are Best for the Instructor, not the Student.
Learning to play golf is a lot like learning a language. Everyone is bad in the beginning, and the the benefits you derive are directly proportionate to the efficiency of the work you put in. That’s fancy talk for “you can’t fake it”.
So, I can speak a bit of German. I’ve learned bits and pieces over time talking at home (my wife is German and she speaks to our kids) and spending 2 months in Germany every summer.
Here’ the thing. My last day in Germany every year is 100 times better than the first. I’m immersed in the culture and my vocabulary and pronunciation improves dramatically…every year.
Then I come home, forget everything I learned and fall back to where I was.
Over time, my German has plateaued. I get good in the summer, neglect it for 10 months, and fall back to where I was. In the aggregate, I’m not getting much stronger.
Here's how old school, traditional golf lessons work.
We take a 1-hour lesson, gain some knowledge, inspiration, invest some practiced with a trained eye.
Lessons are spread out weeks/months apart (mostly because you got lots of info, and paid lots of money)
We don’t practice as much as we should in between sessions, and fall backwards. Then repeat.
I’m not suggesting that you don’t take lessons or not to spend money on instruction. I’m saying that you should take the time and money you would be spending and spread it out over as much time as possible.
Rather than one 1-hour lesson per month, go to your instructor and request weekly 15-minute sessions instead.
Watch what happens over the course of a few months or your golfing season.
My Parents are the Best Humans in the World
This is a segment of a keynote presentation I did at Golf Academy of America in Orlando. I talk about a phase of my college and amateur golf career where I had a debilitating bout with the putting yips.
I told my dad over a pizza that I was going to quit golf forever.
For context, quitting golf for me at that time was not really feasible.
I had earned a golf scholarship at Florida Southern College - by the way we won the Division II NCAA National Championship that year. I was also the defending champion of the Maine State Amateur...at the age of 19. There were a ton of expectations around my golf...my life was all about golf.
My parents matter in this equation for one simple reason - they were cool with what I wanted to do. That's it.
No convincing. No discussions on the costs of my education. No chats about what all their friends at our home club would think.
It was cool either way. I had support.
Fast forward the tape 4 years to me wiping my face full of tears, thinking of that slice of pizza with my dad, standing with my brother Jake on the 1st tee at Shinnecock Hills in the US Open Championship.
Cheers my friends.
Scrambles are a Whole Different Animal - You Can Cheat!
So, I'm teeing it up in a scramble golf tournament tomorrow. I wanted to share some thoughts, especially for beginners on how to navigate your day and have a great time.
First rule is to inoculate the group. Here's what I mean. Don't act like a rock star if you aren't one...they'll all see right through you. Better to own your "beginner-ness" and bring value to the group in some strategic ways.
Second rule is that certain kinds of cheating is allowed. Bring all the clubs you want. Change out balls for distance and feel. If you hit a shit shot, pick it up and nobody cares.
If you're a Beginner, Don't Worry About the Long Ball
The long ball isn't the way you're likely going to bring value. In fact, as the day goes on, it's totally cool if you don't even bother to hit your tee shot if there's already someone out there in perfect position. Here's a quick driver tutorial if you need one...as well as my latest driver podcast rant.
Laser Focus on the Short Game
The short game - putting and chipping is where you've got your best shot to be the hero. Roll one in the hole from 20 feet and you'll bring a roar from the gallery, high fives and laughs for the whole day.
Reverse engineering, when you get to the golf course, don't spend the whole warmup time on the range. Hit a few balls, but go to the putting green and hone your putting and chipping skills. Let the big boys handle the long ball...short game is your best chance to contribute.
And as a last Resort...
Depending on the group and the game, think about some other things you can bring along to deliver value. Here's a quick list:
• Music (speaker and phone)
• Funny clothes
• Extra clubs - there's no 14 club limit in a scramble
Just be yourself, be humble, and you'll have the time of your life.
Big-Time Misconceptions about Sidehill Lies
After you’ve been playing golf for some time, you’re bound to hear this rule of thumb:
If the ball is below your feet, play for a slice. If the ball’s above your feet, play for a hook.
Well, that statement is only half true. Literally.
Ball Above Your Feet: Play for a Hook
In the case where the ball is above your feet, it will indeed tend to hook. That’s because when you set up the club with the toe of the club higher than the heel, the club face itself does actually point to the left. Try it by imagining hitting a shot with your sand wedge with the ball waist high. The club face is “looking” well to the left.
Now, try that same imaginary shot with your 3-iron. You should notice that the face isn’t pointing as much to the left. So, the degree that we account for the hook depends on the loft of the club we’re using AND the severity of the slope we’re talking about.
In practice, find a side slope and hit some shots with different clubs. Use an alignment stick to make sure you’re aiming in the exact direction you think you’re aiming. Take note of how much hook you can expect with each club. It’ll be different as you progress through the bag.
Ball Below Your Feet: Play it Straight
On the other side, when the ball is below your feet, the converse is not true. You can play these shots straight away without accounting for a slice. This is because even on the most severe sideslips, you’ll never address the ball with the toe of the club lower than the heel of the club. You might flex your knees in the address position, but you won’t tilt the club up to the extent that it’ll affect ball flight. Play it straight!
So, the old rule is misleading many golfers for exactly half the sidehill shots they hit. Hope that helps you!
Look for Feedback Every Time You Practice
Here's your hour of practice broken down for you.
We're starting off on the range with a great drill to help your arms stay connected with your body as you rotate. We run into a lot of problems when we lift our arms away from the body during the swing. Start off with some short swings with a towel stretched across your chest, held under both arms. Try to make small 9:00 swings without losing either end of the towel in the backswing or the follow through.
This drill does a great job of giving you the feeling of staying connected. Do the drill at home in your spare time as well.
Next, we're going to experiment with hitting shots of different trajectories. Use an alignment stick on the range to ensure that we're aiming in the exact direction that we think we're aiming. Always be very diligent with your setup and club face. Start with your sand wedge and hit a normal shot at the target. Next, with the same club, try to hit one low at the target. Then, hit one high. Do this for each club in your bag...or skip clubs if you prefer.
Try to notice what your tendencies are. Perhaps when you try to hit the high shot, the ball tends to hook...or when you hit the low one, it tends to go out to the right. This is really helpful information when you get onto the golf course. When there's trouble left, you can use the shot that you know won't hook the ball.
Then we're heading over to the bunker to work on the standard bunker shot for 10 minutes. Lay the club open so that the grooves are pointed at your left toe. Simple 9:00 swings will do the trick.
Finishing on the putting green, use your alignment stick with a perfectly straight 4-5 foot putt. With the help for alignment, make sure that your putter face is square to the target, as well as all your body lines and shoulders. Make smooth strokes, trying to hole 25 consecutively...or pick a number in line with your experience level.
One of my strongest presentations to date. Lots of continuing dialogue and positive feedback from the audience on this one...Here's my keynote speech at The Golf Academy of America’s Orlando Campus. The talk is geared for the students (all ages) at the school getting educated on careers in the golf industry - golf instruction, golf operations, tournament play, and golf management.
The first 20 minutes is mostly my personal background and stories - growing up in Maine, how I got into golf, and the work that I put into my game. Also, how I was able to raise some money to play on the Canadian PGA Tour, qualify for the US Open, and make a cut to earn a check on the PGA Tour.
In November of 2009, my life changed course dramatically. I moved away from traditional golf operations at green grass facilities. That's when I began building a personal brand and startup companies for myself - which would never have worked without my time in the "trenches" as a practitioner in the biz...executing and empathizing . I believe strongly that the future will place enormous importance on personal brand and an online presence in particular.
I then get into statistics and outlook on the golf industry and where my partner John Brown and I see things heading. With our new venture, KPI Golf Management, we're aiming to help underperforming golf courses turn around their operations and fight for their existence.
I touch on how to deep dive into club budgets through detailed financial auditing as well as procurement strategies that deliver quick wins for facilities.
There are a variety of strategies we'll deploy to help us accomplish this. All of which are taking into account overall macroeconomic trends (we've been riding a huge tailwind in recent years) as well as generational shifts in the game (baby boomers are playing more than half of overall rounds).
John and I believe that the traditional method of structuring golf instruction is broken. The way the lessons have been delivered over the years have been designed to serve the instructor first, not the student or the facility.
I explain why we believe that golf lessons should be offered for FREE. Lessons are the ultimate gateway drug for newcomers to the game, as well as an incredible means of retaining older golfers longer before they age out of the system.
I also tell a few stories about my playing experiences in the US Open, and inform the group of my 6-year mission to earn a round of golf with Gary Vaynerchuk in New York...
This episode is all about bunker play. In basic terms, we handle bunker shots a lot like pitch shots, but there are a few important variables we'll need to learn to account for.
First, everything is determined by the lie. Learning to assess what you're capable of from different lies comes with practice and simple trial and error.
If the ball is sitting down, we need the club to dig into the sand. If we've got a good lie, we'll want the club to slide into the sand.
Digging: We need the club to do more digging when the ball is sitting down.
Sliding: We need the club to avoid digging when we're in soft sand.
Bounce angle is part of the anatomy of a sand wedge where the leading edge of the club is raised off the ground. We can moderate bounce by opening or closing the face.
Open Club Face: More bounce, less digging, soft sand, good lies.
Square Club Face: Less bounce, more digging, hard sand, poor lies
I like the comparison of a peeler taking the skin off of a carrot - we don't want the club to dig so much that it stops dead. Conversely, we also don't want the club bouncing off the sand, or the peeler failing to grab any skin at all.
My bunker line drill is a great way to practice and learn about how consistent you are with impacting the sand (or turf).
Practicing by setting up square to a target, opening the club face, and hitting a few shots will reveal how far to the right the ball tends to come out. Transposing that angle to the other side...meaning aiming that much to the left will mean the ball comes out at the flag.
Here's your 1-hour practice blueprint for the day. The goal is to make best use of the limited time you have at the course. Here's what we're doing:
1. Ladder Drill (15 mins) - Short and mid-length putting with variability in distance. The game adds in some degree of pressure and challenge to keep it interesting. This is a great game to play with your buddies. Use one golf ball, hitting only one putt at a time with focus. Over time, if you set the drill up with the same distance increments, it'll serve as somewhat of a benchmarking tool for how your putting is improving.
2. Basic Up and Down Game (15 mins) - Play 9 or 18 holes of simple up and downs. Grab your 7-iron, your putter and one ball. Choose a different starting point and different hole each time. Mix up the distances, but keep them realistic. We're trying to work on the common chips and putts we're going to have on the course. Shoot even par and you're in great shape.
3. Alignment and Stance (30 mins) - On the range, we're working on ensuring that we're actually aiming where we think we're aiming. Be precise. Lay down a club parallel to your target line as a guide, then work your way from your wedges, to mid-irons, long iron, woods, then back again. We need to set up the same way every time if we plan on hitting consistent shots every time.
Enjoy...reach out if you have any questions: firstname.lastname@example.org
Today we hear from Carson in Rochester, New York. He's a 13-year old who's been playing golf for a couple years. As he's moving into junior tournament play, his questions and maturity are off the charts.
• Judging and handling tough lies around the green
• Self awareness
• Practice habits
• Strategies for handling tournament pressure
• Aggressive vs. conservative play
• Distance wedges: Feel vs. Numbers approach
• Launch monitors and carry distances
• Making the most of your time indoors during the off season
If you want to be on a show or you have questions, hit me up on social media or shoot me an email at email@example.com
Cy Cyr has arguably become one of the world's top golf photographers...and we've know each other since we were 5 living in Maine. I wanted to know how I can be taking better pictures with my phone...and he didn't disappoint. Cy's been in the room with everyone in golf - Tiger Woods, Jack Nicklaus, Nick Faldo, Rory McIlroy...you get the idea. He shoots for Golf Channel, Golf Digest and others...so he knows his stuff.
In this episode, Cy shares some great stories through his career with the likes of Lee Trevino and Jack Nicklaus. I pick his brain a little bit to help the rest of us pull off some better photos at our family functions, friends, golf swings, and other stuff.
Cy also recommends a couple free phone apps that he uses to enhance his photos before publishing.
Check out Cy's work at cycyr.com.
His work in corporate & portrait photography, golf course photography, product photography, and his portfolio of famous athletes he's worked with is stunning.
In particular, I love his night photography work. He's been out to golf courses like Pebble Beach, Hazeltine and Royal Troon in the middle of the night to produce some stunning stuff.
This wedge play technique changed my golf life.
I was able to turn an absolute fear of 30, 50, 60 yard wedge shots into a strength of my game. These shots require a special approach that brings distance control and consistent impact with the golf ball every time. I'm super passionate about this part of the game, and I think this lesson is one that's going to help every single player out there.
In this episode, I start things out with some data to help convince you this is an area of the game that you really need to focus on. Dave Pelz figured out some important things using the scientific process - that these shots are the biggest correlation to money earned on the PGA Tour and they require their own kind of technique.
For me personally, I absolutely feared these shots for a very long time - to the point of nearly quitting golf. Once I figured a way to make consistent contact and control the distance of these shots, wedge play became the hallmark of my game.
The golf swing has many different sources of power - weight shift, body turn, coil, release of the club, hand action, etc. To control distance, we want to soften things up and limit our power to a single source. When we do this well, we're able to calibrate distance and make some great things happen around the greens.
I'll fill you in on setup and swing technique to get you started in the right direction.
• Narrow stance
• Noodle arms
• Your unique rhythm
• Rotate without coil
• Maintain soft pressure throughout
• Ball comes off like a marshmallow
• Consistent impact every time
This technique is the absolute foundation of so many things we're going to talk about around the greens - pitching, bunker play, and even chipping.
Listen in and get in touch if you've got questions.
Anyone looking to get their kids into golf, this episode is for you. We're talking with Brendon R. Elliott, PGA founder of Little Linksters Association for Junior Golf in Central Florida.
Brendon is the National PGA Award winner for Junior Golf Development in 2017...out of 28,000 professionals, he's the man when it comes to kids learning how to play golf.
I learned this concept from the great Dave Pelz - Better shot selection in terms of where you’re choosing to land the ball will improve your chances of success. Always try to land pitch shots into troughs and avoid hills...here's why.
Probably the most common question that I haven't gotten to yet. Here's an easy way to think about your golf swing setup and how far from the ball you should be standing. It's super important to nail this down every time if you're going to be consistent.
Here's your hour of practice time broken down into drills and an approach that I think will be super helpful for your game. We're mixing it up with the full swing, starting in on calibrating wedge distances, and giving you some putting challenges to keep things interesting.
Happy Thanksgiving everyone! Here's what you need to know about driving the ball like a champ. There are some tendencies that we all fall into that'll sabotage our chances for success. An easy pre-swing checklist usually does the trick.
Physics don't lie. The ball goes where it goes for a reason. In this episode, we're reverse engineering impact and how the ball behaves. Where does it start? Is is curving? Are your misses mostly right or left? What do your divots look like? It all tells a story...and once you know how to read, you'll be armed to fix yourself and improve faster.
There are only 2 factors that determine the direction that the golf ball flies - swing path and club face angle. For most full shots, where the club face is "looking" is by far the most important. So, how do you better control the face, and by rule, the direction that the ball travels? Get ready for an easily deployed deep dive into your hand placement on the club.
If you're thinking of about playing golf, or investing some energy into getting better...especially as a 20 or 30-something, I'm gonna try to convince you. There's a one-time opportunity to tap into golf largest of all time attention "land grab". 60% of golfers are baby boomers who are wrapping up their careers or running companies...golf is your chance to get into the room with them.
Golf Essentials is Casey Bourque's way of meeting you where you are with a "tell it like it is" methodology for feeling better about playing golf - answering all your questions, live Q&A sessions, practice planning, drills, tips, and insights to make the best use of the limited time you have at the course.
Casey explains the approach and principles that took him from a small town in Maine to playing in the US Open Championship