The Pellucid Perspective - April 2016 - (Page 15)

THE LAST WORD Golf 's use of the President - a whiff or a stiff? W riting for the "Congress Blog" in a recent edition of The Hill, which covers national politics, Democratic Party strategist Joe Maloney lambasted golf 's leading organizations for whiffing an opportunity to make PR hay from the eight years of ardent (and frequent) golfer Barack Obama in the White House. In a story re-posted by Club and Resort Business magazine on its web site, Maloney wrote, "One would think the President's devotion to the links, coupled with Mrs. Obama's dedication to fitness and active lifestyles, would produce an ideal public forum for an industry like golf to tell its story of the game's many benefits - mental, physical and even its positive influence in America's communities." Sadly, he added, "Only in Washington can such potential get turned upside down." As an avowed supporter of the current President, Maloney obviously took it personally that the golf industry shied away from assigning President Obama a leading role in its campaign to debunk the all too common public perception of golf as an elitist sport for the privileged and wealthy few, mostly characterized as middle-aged (or older) white males. The fact that the President is AfricanAmerican might fit into that campaign, but on the other hand, who is more privileged and elitist than the President of the United States? Maloney does acknowledge that publicizing the links outings of a sitting President, regardless of party or popularity, can backfire for both the President and golf in general. Some media members and political opponents, whose interest and abilities in the game may be non-existent, invariably contend that the President's time, all 24/7/365 of it, would be better spent wrestling with the affairs of state, rather than a buried lie in the trap or a downhill 15-footer at Congressional. While Maloney acknowledges that sitting Presidents, regardless of political party or stance, expose themselves to that sort of criticism by displaying their fondness for golf with frequent rounds, the commentary following Maloney's post by a gentleman named Dave Will may have more accurately speared the reason for golf 's reluctance to make the President the face of golf in the U.S. "You obviously know little about marketing," Will wrote in response to Maloney's post. "Why would anyone tie themselves to the most polarizing figure ever to occupy the White House? Either you love him 100% or hate him 100%. If you tie anything to him, you automatically lose 50% of your intended audience." Will went on to claim that his own visits to the 19th hole at the public golf facilities he frequents have produced a 60-40 characterization of the President as "a moron of the highest degree," and he surmises that trips to most private club bars would generate "scorn and derision" at the mere mention of the Obama name. Will concluded that, "The golf industry did not miss an opportunity. They obviously chose to not get associated with a guy that would get them loved/hated." Frankly, my own visits to public courses even in Southern California (and we all know what "those people" are like) have produced Presidential public opinion poll results similar to what Will describes. When the post-round conversation strays into politics, almost never a good idea, I continually find myself wondering how Barack Obama ever won the White House, not once but twice? Apparently it's a good thing for him and the Democrats that very few polling places are located at golf courses. Now, if we credit the leaders of golf 's associations for listening to their constituencies and backing away from parlaying Presidential participation into a positive for golf, we might consider whether it's just THIS President. At a time when golf is desperately seeking a way to attract new players from the ranks of millennials, juniors, women and minorities, many of whom just happen to represent the sectors of the electorate who put Barack Obama into office twice, might it not have been a good idea to enlist the President in a more upfront golf promotional role? After all, even if we concede that current golfers may not be the most fertile voting grounds for Obama and, most likely, Hillary, they're probably not going to quit golf just because Barack Obama plays it. The stigma of elitism is not golf 's only public relations hurdle. While the industry may be making some very slight inroads against the perception that golf courses are bad for the environment via turf reduction and other potable water conservation practices and reduced use of pesticides and herbicides, it remains difficult to overcome the fear that golf will break the household bank. National Golf Foundation research produced a median peak season weekend rack rate of $43 for courses surveyed in 2015, with the 9-hole weekend rate pegged at $23. Granted, the start-up costs for clubs, shoes, bags and some lessons are higher than most recreational sports, but once that foundation is laid, is $43 for 18 or $23 for 9 exorbitant for a few hours of fresh air, exercise, camaraderie and, hopefully, fun? A trip to the movies costs more than 9 holes in my part of the country, and nobody can make a case for that being healthy. Skiing? Similar start-up costs, plus it frequently involves significant travel and accommodations expense. Tennis? Cheap for sure, but may involve more running than some of us can manage these days. Bowling? Again relatively inexpensive, but any health benefits are likely to be negated by the proximity to beer and burgers, and if you've taken the kids, the video game arcade will ramp up your costs significantly. As for the games we can no longer play competitively, like major league baseball, the NFL, NBA, NHL or, frankly, golf 's major tournaments, fuggedaboutit when it comes to cost. And, unlike professional spectator sports, where you pay more for the better seats, if you do a little shopping for a round of golf, you'll pay less, but get the exact same golf course as the folks teeing off at 9AM on a sunny Saturday. And, come next January, you might even find yourself playing with a certain left-handed, graying 16-handicapper accompanied only by a few earpiece-wearing companions with a slight bulge under one arm or a golf bag that appears to have more than 16 clubs. -Jim Dunlap The Pellucid PersPecTive 15

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of The Pellucid Perspective - April 2016

The Pellucid Perspective - April 2016
In search of meaningful operations performance measurement
We have a data problem in golf. Let’s fix it
EZLinks Golf expands customer base, technology resources with IBS acquisition
Devote article
On the scene in Myrtle Beach: Owners lighting candles vs. cursing the darkness
March weather impact: Strong first quarter finish, mixed by geography
Sadly for operators, MLB team not the only “reds” in Cincinnati golf market
Golf ’s use of the President - a whiff or a stiff?

The Pellucid Perspective - April 2016