A great day for Golf in the N. GA Mountains!

Come on out to Old Union Golf Club and enjoy a round and the start of the fall coloros!

Rain Rain Go Away

I hear that the rain is coming for the week of the 4th. Hopefully it will give us a break so we can tee it  up. The rain is great for the golf course so come on out!

Why 3rd party tee time agents are killing the golf industry

In the world of golf today it is hard to not notice the seemingly great deals offered by companies like GolfLink, GolfNow etc.  The following is a letter written by a close friend and fellow PGA professional concerning these issues.  ”The major issue is with the barter model, being used by companies like Golf Now.  We believe that this business model is detrimental to the immediate health of our industry, and particularly in the long term.  When barter tee times are resold by these companies it causes a multitude of issues:

1. The marketing company becomes part competitor.  Which tee times do you think the third party guys will sell first?  A marketing company ought to be helping us sell our own inventory and we shouldn’t have to worry about them selling the tee times we gave them…becoming competitors AGAINST US!

2.  These websites are “discount sites” that train the customer to wait until the last minute and look for a deal.  Why would the customer ever go back to the course’s website or pay rack rate again?

3.  The third party companies are using these barter times to create their own massive databases to market to, creating “virtual” golf courses…while using our tee time inventory to do it.

4.  They are driving down the price of golf in every market by selling the barter times at obscenely low rates.  I believe that customers make a value judgment about their experience at a golf course and once they’ve paid a bargain basement rate, they will have a very hard time ever paying full rate again.

5. Rounds continue to be flat or down, so no new rounds are being created by these guys…just the same number of rounds being moved around according to the lowest price available.

Remember, we don’t want to keep these companies from selling tee times on the internet…quite the opposite.  Companies like Golf Now have great technology and can reach a lot of people.  The problem is the bartering tee times as payment.  As long as it is an option, it threatens our businesses.  If every course would demand some type of commission based model, then they are no longer part competitor.  If they can really increase our business, then we should be willing to pay for it. We would only be paying for what they actually did for us.

Golf Now has become a behemoth that wields so much influence that even courses that don’t want to use them are afraid to stop…I’ve spoken to dozens that have said those exact words. They have the perfect media outlet to reach golfers everywhere and are creating a database so large that the consumers are really becoming loyal to them instead of the golf facilities.

Finally, this is not just a couple of guys ranting about a non-issue.  I’ve been following this for years and just about every industry “expert” and publication that I can think of has either spoken or written about the pitfalls of bartering – Stuart Lindsay, Edgehill Golf…Mike Tinkey, NGCOA…Jim Koppenhaver, Pellucid…Andrew Wood, Legendary Marketing…Harry Ipema, Fore! Reservations…Rob West, 1-2-1 Marketing…I could go on.  As long as barter is an option, then I see this as an immediate threat and the PGA would be supporting a model that is bad for our industry.”

 

These are the exact feelings of many golf industry professionals.  Until we as an industry can start to realize that we are the ones responsible for our own courses, many courses will continue to struggle without growing either their core group of golfers or their revenues.

Short Game Woes?

Cure the Chipping Yips

The word “yip” is just like using the word “shank.” Neither of these dirty words should be repeated anywhere near your golf clubs or the golf course! Although the yips will be more common with the putter, they also show up around the greens. If you suffer with the yips, try two new thoughts with the chip shot.

Longer Backswing for More Momentum
Last week I talked about the instinct to “lift” the ball off the grass instead of brushing the grass under the ball. To be more consistent around the greens it’s very important to make solid contact with the ball and the sweet spot on the club face. When a golfer develops the chipping yips, it usually will happen because they take a short backswing. When you take a short backswing it will be hard to gain any momentum with the club head. Instead, try taking a longer backswing and let gravity and the weight of the club do the work. You will be amazed how far the ball will travel without the extra hit or force into impact.

Enjoy the Backswing
The ball is not moving so what is the rush to hit the ball? Watch someone with the chipping yips and you may wonder if this thought is going through their mind. The swing is usually short and quick, the hands flip through impact and the club head either hits the ground early or hits the top of the ball and sores off the other side of the green. Sound familiar? Instead of rushing to hit the ball, enjoy the backswing and transition. Take some extra time to complete the backswing before starting the downswing. The backswing in a chip shot should take the same amount of time to complete as the backswing with a driver. The extra amount of time in the backswing will create better touch and tempo around the greens.

Putting Yips? Try the same technique with the putter. Work on making an equal length putting stroke with the putter head. Swinging the putter head instead of hitting at the ball will create tempo and better feel for distance control.

 

I just recently obtained my bronze certification at the SeeMore Putting Institue.  I would love to help you with your short game.  If you need any more help with this or any general part of your game,  make an appointment with me and I would be happy to help.

 

Ryan Scott

PGA Director of Golf

Old Union Golf Course

 

Putter Fitting

So I am standing on the putting green the other day and observe the following, three different types of putting strokes.  The “straight back and through”, the “inside to inside” and  – unfortunately – the worst, a combination of the two.

Only the first two of these styles will ever hole putts on a regular basis, which is why you’ll see them used by the best players on Tour (Annika Sorenstam uses a “Straight Back and Straight Through” for example, while Tiger prefers the second “inside to inside” or “Arc” stroke.)

So why do they make lots more putts than you?  Simple, they have their Putter properly fitted for the task.

A face balance Putter works perfectly for the “Straight back and through” stroke, while the toe balanced Putter is designed to optimize an “Arc” stroke.  It all boils down to the laws of physics; and who are we to argue with Newton?

It doesn’t stop there either.  Once you’ve identified your putting stroke it’s then time to decide on a design that both suits your eye and your ability.  New lightweight materials allow for all manner of strange creations; all of which will provide different feedback, offer more or less MOI (Moment of inertia) on off-center hits and easier alignment.  Come see us at Old Union to get your putting stroke straightened out.

Tee It Up on the Side of Trouble

Many of the students I see have certain holes during a round of golf that “are in their head”.  Maybe there is a hazard on the left or out of bounds sneaks in on the right, but they always seem to find the trouble they are trying to avoid. 

Many people see trouble and tee up on the opposite side of the area they are trying to avoid, this can cause big problems, when you tee up on the opposite side, you must aim towards the trouble to try and keep the ball in the fairway.  However if you tee up on the same side of the trouble you will be able to hit away from the trouble and still aim for the fairway.

Try this the next time you get to the hole that always “gets you”.  If the trouble is on the right, tee it up on the right, if the trouble is on the left, tee it up on the left.  Before you hit the shot, picture the ball resting in the fairway where you want the ball to end up, then picture the ball flying through the air going to that location.  Then relax and make a comfortable swing, and enjoy the results.

Scott Rich is a Teaching Professional at Old Union Golf Course in Blairsville, GA.  If you would like to schedule a tee time or golf lesson, please contact the golf shop at 706-745-4653.

What Social Media can do for the Golf Business

I found this blog entry while browsing around the internet.  This just goes to show you how social media is connecting the world today.  Thanks to

Macali Communications Blog for the link.

Jim Grundberg and I met while working at Wilson Golf a number of years ago. Jim has had a very successful career in the golf business working with Odyssey Golf and other leading brands. About five years ago, Jim and Jason Pouliot, who worked with Jim at Odyssey and on related golf brands, bought and began revitalizing the SeeMore Putter Company, a putter brand the late Payne Stewart made famous before his untimely passing in 1999. I have had the pleasure of working with Jim during parts of this revitalization. We all enjoyed pulling an all-nighter promoting Zach Johnson putting very well with his originalSeeMore putter and winning the Masters in 2007 (only a few months after Jim and Jason bought SeeMore). The SeeMore brand has a very strong and emerging presence and success with social media, and I asked Jim to tell me about it in this blog post interview. SeeMore is a great example of an emerging company using social media effectively and powerfully to build its brand and thought leadership in putting.

1.What is SeeMore currently doing in social media strategies?

We have a blog which has provided a powerful, engaging way to communicate relevant and compelling information about the SeeMore brand, products, golf and putting. We would like to develop the blog into being more of a series. Generally, it’s been very helpful and important to be interactive with people on our blog. Our audience tends to be advocates, we call them SeeMoreans. We talk to them, exchange e-mails and notes. The blog provides us with a base of fans to continue to interact. We also see our blogSeemore_grundberg
subscribers on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn and Facebook. Social media has allowed us to cultivate customers and new friends. It’s not like years ago where the customers talked about the product and that was about it. Now, they can go full circle and immediately interact and give their two cents worth. Sometimes, they offer their opinions first thing in the morning or sometimes right before bed. And people love to have the chance to communicate directly and almost instantly with the brand and its team. Another amazing idea is that social media is global and the interactions and communications are everywhere.

2. How did you decide to implement those strategies?

I was skeptical early on. And then you witness golfwrx.computterzone.com or the hacker’s paradisemygolfspy.com and equip2golf.com, and you see this incredible pursuit of and passion for inside information. In the beginning, I wasn’t sure how our brand could participate, but we observed, began engaging and have seen the rewards. Golfers do want to associate with our product. They’re highly emotional because we have a highly emotional product that people love. So, it was valuable for SeeMore to jump into the conversations about us and our products. We’re small, more focused on our business platform. All day we think about putters and share information about them, so we are in the best position to talk to customers and friends about putters through social media.

3. What social media strategy has been most effective for you?

That’s a great question. At the end of the day, it’s really been about the relationship building on a regular basis. It’s been fulfilling to see fans have come from Facebook to e-mail to following tweets and then theyPayne stewart become a new customer. Social media does get the word out. It really is our primary marketing strategy. We have no TV or print ads to print that drive our business. So through our customer base, email registration and from Google searches, we are building a very positive following in social media.

4. How are you evaluating your strategies?

We are measuring the rate of clicks, time spent on our site and word-of-mouth discussions including SeeMore. Through all of this, we feel that SeeMore is a player’s brand that is considered within many golfers’ purchasing mindset. We are known as being a brand that wants to talk with golfers. Social media has leveled the playing field for putters and all discussions as we have seen in golf and other areas. It’s a great democratic system, and a great idea that gives people and companies of all sizes a chance to compete.

5. What has impressed you about your strategies?

What’s most impressed me and social media as ability to expand your relationships and your awareness on an exponential level? Personally, I have set up my profile on Facebook and LinkedIn, and I’ve been amazed to watch the exponential power of social media. People contacted me when I started on those sites, and then it has just expanded. And right now, I feel I’m just a casual participant. At the same time, I could see the circles of SeeMore and golf business friends and fans expanding dramatically and that growth has been across all different platforms. And I’m so glad we got a chance to get onto social media.

6. What has surprised you about social media?

The transformation in a short period of time from the mainstream media to social media focus has surprised me. For the first time, going into this golf season, I’m not worried that we have don’t have a TVZach-johnson-wins-masters or print campaign. There’s so much going on now and so much resources that we have feeding the social network. Most important, our business has been built on spending time off-line talking to customers one-on-one. That’s our customer service mantra. We continue to think these conversations are the right thing to do. So social media has just propelled this approach. We know that people enjoy talking to us about anything related to putting and we think we’ve transformed that into effective social media marketing.

7. How do you plan to improve these strategies in 2011?

We’re looking to engage more instructors, engage more advocates and influencers into our social communities and help them to promote the SeeMore brand of instruction, customer care and focus on everything new and important in putting.”

Improve Your Putting

Often I see golfers who spend all of their time practicing their full swing and almost no time working on putting.  Yet when the pressure is on, they wonder why they miss a 3-foot putt or don’t two putt from 20 feet.  The way to improve poor putting under pressure is proper practice!

To many, putting is not as much fun to practice as hitting full shots, but I have two drills or practice routines that I highly recommend.  Both are fantastic for improving your putting and both are games that will keep you interested in your putting practice.

The first is the “Circle of Death” putting drill:

  1. Find a flat area on the putting green and set up 4 tees around the hole each 3 feet from the hole
  2. Get 5 golf balls and set them at the first tee or station.
  3. The goal is to make 5 in a row before moving to the next station.
  4. When you make 5 in a row it is time to move to the next station, where you must make 5 from there and so on…
  5. At any time if you miss a putt you must go all the way back to the beginning and start over, the goal is to make 20 consecutive 3 footers in a row
  6. As you get closer to the 20th putt the pressure increases and you begin go learn to make putts under pressure.
  7. As you get better you can increase from 20 putts in a row to 30, 40, and so on…  Touring pros will do this drill with up to 100 putts
  8. Another way to increase the effectiveness of this drill is to move from three feet to four feet and finally to five foot putts.

The second drill is a distance drill:

  1. Find a flat area on the practice green and lay the flagstick 2 feet behind the hole or you can use a tee if a flagstick is not available
  2. Go back twenty feet from the hole and putt the ball towards the hole
  3. The goal is for the ball to get the hole, but not to hit the flagstick behind the hole or go past the tee
  4. You must putt 20 balls in a row that either go in the hole or go past the hole without touching the flagstick behind the hole
  5. If at any time the ball comes up short of the hole or hits the flagstick then you must start over trying to get 20 in a row.
  6. This drill again helps with pressure putts, as you close in on putt number 20 the pressure increases
  7. This is a fantastic drill for working on the speed of your putts, and because every putt must get to the hole, every putt has a chance of going in… you will be surprised at how many 20 footers you make!
  8. Once 20 footers become easy, move to 25 feet, 30 feet, and so on…

Doing each of these drills 2-3 times a week when you practice will show a dramatic improvement in your putting.

Scott Rich is the Teaching Professional at Old Union Golf Course; located in the North Georgia Mountains, if you would like to schedule a lesson, please contact the golf shop at (706) 745-4653.

The Masters

The weather looks like its finally changing for the better.  Next week all of the golfing world will turn their eyes towards Augusta, Georgia, and that special gathering called The Masters.

A little FYI on the Masters that is being held at Augusta National Golf Club.

The Masters golf tournament has long been known as “the big show” for many golfers.  It’s the BIG one – the one everyone wants to win – the one that can really define a career as a professional golfer.  It has a long and storied history – one steeped in golf tradition.
In 1934 Bobby Jones and Clifford Roberts wanted to provide a service to golf by hosting an annual golf tournament.  Roberts proposed the event be called the Masters Tournament, but Jones objected thinking it sounded too presumptuous.  The name Augusta National Invitation Tournament was adopted and that title was used for five years until 1939 when Jones relented and the name was officially changed.
The tournament is held at Augusta National Golf Club in Augusta, GA, where it is still hosted today.  Many decisions made in the early days of the Masters still remain today.  Among these are
* The four-day stroke playing of 18 holes each day instead of the then customary 36 holes on the third day
* Eliminating qualifying rounds
* Denying permission for anyone except the player and the caddie to be in the playing area
* Commercialization in any form of the tournament was limited.
The first Masters Tournament was held on March 22, 1934, and beginning in 1940, the Masters was scheduled each year during the first full week in April.  That first tournament was won by Horton Smith.  In 1935 Gene Sarazen hit “the shot heard ‘round the world” scoring a double eagle on the par five 15th hole tying Craig Wood and forcing a playoff.  Sarazen won the 36-hole playoff the following day winning by five strokes.
In 1942, Ben Hogan lost to Byron Nelson by one stroke in an 18-hole playoff and the tournament was not played the following three years:  1943, 1944, and 1945 during World War II.  To assist the war efforts, cattle and turkeys were raised on the Augusta National grounds.
Many milestones have occurred throughout the history of the Masters.  In 1965 and 1966, Jack Nicklaus became the first Masters champion to defend his title successfully.  Many others would have consecutive wins, but The Golden Bear was the first.  Tiger Woods broke the four-day scoring record that has stood for 32 years in 1997.
The Masters is characterized by offering the winner a green jacket and having that jacket is considered a great honor in the golfing world.  The previous year’s winner would always present the jacket to the current year’s winner and it is done with great flourish.
The Masters is one of golf’s greatest tournaments.  The best part is that amateurs can gain entry into the tournament by invitation only giving them dreams of winning the big prize against the best in the field!

Make sure to tune in and see who wins this years Masters and the coveted Green Jacket.

Exciting New Addition To Our Staff

We would like to welcome Scott Rich as our new Assistant/Teaching Professional to Old Union Golf Course.  Scott began his golfing career early starting to play golf at the age of 3.   He competed in Junior Events throughout Florida, California, and Georgia.

Scott’s first employment in the golf business was at the age of 16 at TPC Sawgrass in Ponte Vedra, Florida.  After moving to Union County in 1992 he attended Young Harris College.  Scott began working as an Assistant at Brasstown Valley in 2000 and from there moved to Cherokee Town & Country Club in Atlanta. 

Scott began in outside operations at Cherokee Town & Country Club and quickly moved into the role of Junior Golf Leader, increasing Junior Participation by fifty percent.  Scott led juniors in clinics, individual instruction, and tournaments, including interclub matches.

Scott passion for teaching grew into a greater teaching role within the club, including lessons for adults and clinics for ladies.

Two of Scott’s favorite golf memories are attending the 2000 final round of the Masters and Caddying in the 2009 US Senior Open at Crooked Stick.

Scott’s responsibilities with Old Union Golf Course will involve individual golf instruction, starting a Junior Golf Program, running Junior Golf Clinics, running Ladies Clinics, and help with the overall golf operation.

Make sure to stop by and welcome Scott!