The Pellucid Perspective - May 2015 - (Page 5)

meSSage Board cenSorShip? NGCOA draws flak on owners' message board By Stuart Lindsay S ome of our clients send us excerpts of comments made on the NGCOA's bulletin board service widely known as ListServ and recently renamed "Accelerate." Although supposedly only available as a closed forum for golf course owners; the NGCOA has also granted access to non-course owners and log-in credentials have been widely shared, with the net result that "Accelerate" is hardly the closed community that it is portrayed as being. Obviously, as we outline in another article in this issue, Third Party marketing and "barter" model technology acquisitions have been a major source of discussion. In addition, we were made aware of other discussions regarding billing issues with a major golf merchant processor and NGCOA "preferred vendor." Of course, our first reaction was to alert our clients using this merchant processor to look at their statements and determine if they had been overcharged. One client received a prompt refund, while others got conflicting information and had to wait considerably longer. The comments we've seen from "Accelerate" basically confirm what we saw with our clients - a mixed bag of how the issue is being handled. A recent editorial by another industry observer was forwarded to me. The editorial contained comments on a number of subjects including a suggestion that the NGCOA had actually deleted or withheld "Accelerate" postings critical of the merchant processor that also happens to be paying the NGCOA as a preferred vendor. If this is true, it's a very serious test for the NGCOA on a number of levels. The NGCOA can undoubtedly fall back on its technical terms of use and their right to monitor and "moderate" discussions on "Accelerate," but if they take that defense, what are they saying to their supposed core constituency of golf course owners? More importantly, after seeing these critical posts, did the NGCOA take any proactive steps with their preferred vendor to see that their members were fairly and promptly issued any credits they were entitled to? If they did, they would be wise to make that part of their defense. If they didn't, it means they learned little or nothing from their "beverage cart" fiasco of a few years back. Further, even if they did contact their preferred vendor, our experiences and the posts we have seen would indicate that all the resolutions have not necessarily been prompt. As far as we know, individual courses must still initiate the credit request. The NGCOA should have demanded a notification from the preferred vendor to all their member courses regarding the situation and followed up to monitor the prompt resolution of the problems. One might even suggest that the NGCOA should have acted on behalf of all golf course owners, whether they were members or not. Even though our relationship with the NGCOA might best be described as schizophrenic, we have given supporting research and opinions when asked, and donated time and preparation effort to numerous local NGCOA affiliates over the years. We fully support and will continue to assist any efforts that are truly directed at helping golf course owners deliver value to their customers. I don't know what the underlying reasons for Mike Hughes' decision to leave the NGCOA were, and this "Accelerate" issue probably was not the cause, but is certainly an example of an organization that appears to have lost sight of its mission. Maybe it was a dismissive "mom and pop" quote made by Hughes in the Wall Street Journal article last November in which this author was also quoted, or maybe the result of the pushback we hear about the increasing dominance of multi-course operators in the NGCOA, but those are simply additional indications of an organization that has lost its way. Hughes' departure represents an opportunity for the NGCOA to hire a new CEO who can re-focus its efforts on behalf of golf course owners, who are collectively the largest investors in the golf industry. Unfortunately, the early indicator cards are not encouraging. If the NGCOA Board is allowing a "lame duck" CEO the latitude to negotiate a program aimed at addressing the Third Party marketing and barter technology acquisition issues, my biggest fear is that it will be handled like n the preferred vendor problem on Accelerate. A recent editorial by another industry observer contained comments on a number of subjects including a suggestion that the NGCOA had actually deleted or withheld "Accelerate" postings critical of the merchant processor that also happens to be paying the NGCOA as a preferred vendor. The Pellucid PersPecTive 5

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of The Pellucid Perspective - May 2015

Third party tee time space battles heat up
NGCOA draws flak on owners’ message board
GPS Industries, Club Car forge rare GPS success story
“Paces” of play a healthy alternative for golf?
Flying Tee aims to top Topgolf with debut facility
April golf weather impact: Put another month in the “plus” column
Denver: Profits not Rocky Mountain high, but better than most
ClubCorp reports outstanding first quarter results
The Players, on and off the course

The Pellucid Perspective - May 2015