Last month, I focused my thoughts in this space on how all of us need to do a better job of preaching what we practice. In short, we have an amazing story to tell to golfers and non-golfers alike and we should all be able to recite how golf benefits everyone in ways big and small.
And we did that successfully on April 26 in Washington, DC. National Golf Day was, as always, an extraordinary event featuring more than 100 turfheads who carried our story to their elected representatives in Congress. They also spent a rainy day beforehand pitching in to help Mike Stachowicz with the turf around the National Mall. It was another very successful NGD and a real coup for GCSAA and the We Are Golf team (led by Steve Mona) who are working to capture hearts and minds on Capitol Hill.
But (you knew there was a “but” coming, didn’t you?) I still think we can continue to do better. Let me offer a few observations.
First and foremost, where the hell are our “friends” from the PGA of America? Why aren’t there also a 100+ PGA professionals up on Capitol Hill telling a great story about golf? And why aren’t there thousands of them tweeting about how golf contributes to the U.S. economy and creates 2 million jobs? Seriously? Were they all too busy folding a huge new shipment of shirts that arrived at America’s “bustling” pro shops on April 24 to come to Washington to help?
(Wait, I probably shouldn’t use the old “shirt folder” joke because it’s derogatory to golf pros. And I probably shouldn’t suggest that pro shops are the last place anyone buys golf equipment anymore, either. I really shouldn’t say anything about how supers have emerged as the MVPs of golf business social media while most pros can’t be bothered. Nah…I shouldn’t say any of that. Just ignore that part.)
One thing that non-turf types could do to help promote golf is to get PGA Tour players involved in supporting important golf industry causes. One of the most important of those is funding scientific research to find more sustainable ways in the future to maintain golf courses using less water. After all everyone in the business benefits from better turf, right?
Yet it was a bunch of turfheads who pulled off a pretty remarkable effort to get PGA Tour players to support turf research.
Our friends at the Carolinas GCSA – the folks who originally launched the Rounds4Research initiative to try to raise money to replace waning university and government funding – decided to go big this year by getting Tour players and other celebrities to promote the R4R auction. The videos started showing up shortly after National Golf Day and included the Tour’s Jay & Bill Haas, Ben Martin and William McGirt, Kevin Kisner and, in the biggest coup, Jordan Spieth. All had the same basic message: buy rounds through the R4R auction and help support turf science.
For once, we weren’t just preaching to the choir ... we were getting big names to help us preach to the heathens and raise money for a cause that really matters.”
This awesome effort was the brainchild of our friend Tim Kreger and his merry band of leading Carolinas GCSA members including Kyle Traynham, Billy Bagwell, Chuck Connolly, Brooks Riddle, Adam Charles and Brian Stiehler. They worked every angle they could to connect with the players and shoot quick iPhone videos. Then they blasted them all over social media to try to reach out beyond the turf world as much as possible. It was very cool.
For once, we weren’t just preaching to the choir…we were getting big names to help us preach to the heathens and raise money for a cause that really matters.
So, there are three pretty clear messages here as we continue efforts to preserve and grow the game.
First, superintendents continue to take an important lead role in telling golf’s story in Washington and on the national stage. That’s a huge win and an amazing opportunity for any of y’all who get a chance to do it.
Second, for reasons that elude me, very few of our brethren in the pro shop or dining rooms seem to take this as seriously as we do. That’s a shame…but it’s also an opportunity to continue to develop professionally while others don’t.
Finally, let’s continue to get imaginative and have fun finding ways to support our industry. The Carolinas GCSA team showed it doesn’t need to be fancy. It’s just needs to be done.