The Pellucid Perspective - October 2011 - (Page 17)

THE LAST WORD The “Most Powerful” — really? P eriodically – well, annually for one golf industry magazine – a publication will produce a list of the socalled “Most Powerful People in Golf.” In the interest of full disclosure, I served as a senior editor for over nine years for the magazine that has been producing such a list for nearly 15 years, so I have a pretty good handle on how the list is compiled, and why. Ironically, given the almost totally subjective nature of the selection process, that annual ranking of, currently, the top 35 power-wielders in golf has become that magazine’s signature article, even as the magazine has declined in publication frequency from monthly to quarterly. It does, after all, make interesting reading, at least for the 35 people selected, or perhaps the dozens of others who think they should have made the list. As to the “why” the list is compiled, I have partially answered that question — it can make interesting reading, and it draws attention from many of the industry’s best known businesspeople … many of whom are regular news sources and some of whom are potential advertisers. It would be naïve to assume that the latter factor plays no part in the selection process. Another rationale for the annual ranking, from the magazine’s standpoint, is that the honorees’ companies frequently tout their man’s (or one woman’s) selection in press releases or web site bios, providing the magazine with a sliver or two of free publicity in return for the encomiums handed out by the magazine each year. The “most powerful” rankings are unquestionably subjective – even the much maligned college football and basketball rankings have won-loss records, strength of schedule and head-to-head results to guide them, unlike the uncharted golf industry clout. In the past, before the magazine in question’s publisher lost or laid off all of his full-time editorial staff to save money, there used to be some heated discussions of the potential “most powerful” selections. With that magazine’s current contributors more occasional and geographically far-flung, I suspect the current list is even more than typically a reflection of the publisher’s zeal to inject “new blood” into the listing. (Tacky as it may be of me to mention this, but perhaps more full-time coverage of the industry might have uncovered the fact that the senior member of the David Chu/Ken Chu father-son duo who moved up to the #4 position on the current list, David Chu, had unfortunately passed away more than a month prior to the magazine’s publication. Or that Gene Pizzolato, the COO of Golf Channel Solutions (GolfNow), whom the magazine elevated from #27 to #22 in this year’s rankings, had been let go by the company quite some time before the issue came out). Admittedly, until recently, the list was heavily U.S.-centric, with people like R&A CEO Peter Dawson and European PGA Tour head George O’Grady appearing well down the list, and foreignborn celebrity golfers and course architects like Gary Player, Greg Norman and Annika Sorenstam cited as much for their visibility on American TV as for their contributions to worldwide golf. This year’s rankings include, in addition to those mentioned, non-Americans such as ClubLink CEO Rai Sahi (#16), Pro Tour player manager Chubby Chandler (#19?) and China Golf Association ViceChairman Wang Jun (#31). There are also some inclusions that are, frankly, a stretch, and perhaps testify to the afore-mentioned zeal for new blood, or perhaps an attempt to portray the listing as an “insider” analysis. The magazine debuted Peter Nanula on its list at #14 (!). Nanula has recently resurfaced in the industry after more than a decade’s absence since he served as CEO of Arnold Palmer Golf Management. The former private equity exec has assembled a war chest of a reported $50 million for golf course purchases, and has been quoted as saying he hopes to close on up to 10 more this year. The fact remains that to date his Concert Golf Partners group has closed on just one course, and in the unlikely event that they close on nine more this year, that would, frankly, have small impact on an American golf base of 16,000 courses. I suppose the very presence of someone with cash to spend and an interest in spending it on golf courses is a welcome development for hopeful sellers, but I’m not sure that makes Mr. Nanula the 14th most powerful person in golf just yet. Similarly, the inclusions of Bandon Dunes impresario Mike Keiser (#12?) and plumbing magnate Herb Kohler (#29) would appear to be designed merely to spur discussion. (Guess it’s working, since I’ve mentioned it). One 5-course golf destination in far-flung Bandon, Ore., albeit a brilliant one, plus a recently opened course in Nova Scotia, hardly makes a ripple in golf ’s grand scheme. Kohler’s pricey Wisconsin triumvirate of Whistling Straits, Blackwolf Run and the American Club and his purchase of the Duke’s Course and the Old Course Hotel in St. Andrews are testimony to the fact that Mr. Kohler definitely does have (lots of ) pots to pee in, but again, although those are nice trophy properties to have, I’m not sure the golf industry in general would be diminished much if they weren’t around. (In Whistling Straits’ case, I’m sure Dustin Johnson would agree). There are also some significant exclusions on the current list, for various reasons. American Golf Corp. and its CEO, Paul Major, are not on this year’s list, partially, one presumes, because the company has declined substantially from its once industry-leading portfolio total of courses (although it is still the third or fourth largest in America most likely), but also because the list publisher’s publisher and AGC have had a sticky relationship for approximately a decade. Similarly, KSL Capital CEO Mike Shannon still wields a fair degree of clout behind the scenes. And, speaking of behind the scenes powers, how about the folks at Goldman Sachs and others with the keys to the capital castle, including, by the way, Textron Financial, which may not be funding (See The Last Word on page 15) The Pellucid PersPecTive 17 http://WWW.PELLUCIDCORP.COM

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of The Pellucid Perspective - October 2011

The Pellucid Perspective - October 2011
Table of Contents
When will pricing power return to golf?
Municipal golf’s identity crisis
Let’s make a deal
‘Winter rounds test drive’ promotion wins Labor Day battle
September weather impact: Too little too late?
‘Brown’ not making Half Moon Bay golfers blue
Cincinnati, OH Core Business Statistical Area (CBSA)
Comings & goings
The “Most Powerful” — really?

The Pellucid Perspective - October 2011