POLL: Are Golf Tournaments Getting Too Pricey?

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So I’ve been wanting to play in my college alumni golf tournament for the past few years. But each spring the tournament comes and goes without my taking part.

This year I had decided I was going to play in it for sure. I put the little postcard reminder they sent me aside and planned on signing up online ASAP. Long story short, as I went to sign up yesterday I was stopped dead in my tracks…not by a scheduling conflict, but by the price: $395.

WTF are they smoking?

I had to check to make sure I wasn’t looking at the foursome price…nope, that was $1,580. Somehow, I just assumed it would be around $175 per person (I swear that’s what it was last I checked two years ago). Granted, it’s being held at a rather upscale public course where fees typically surpass $150, but $395…really? Needless to say, I won’t be playing this year either.

What the hell goes on at these tournaments, anyway? I spoke to someone recently who said a raw bar is a necessity at local tournaments nowadays. Really?

“Oh, there’s not an oysters, clams and quahog spread behind the 18th green? Then I’m out.”

A three-course meal after the round with a raw bar and free drinks? Is this a golf tournament or a wedding? Look, I’m all for supporting a good cause – be it your alma mater or a local charity, but isn’t $400 pushing it a bit too far?

But perhaps I’m crazy. Maybe I’m just out of touch with how much people typically pay to play in a local golf tournament these days. That being said, I offer the poll below – so you can tell me what you typically pay when you hit the links for a good cause.

How much do you typically spend on playing in a golf tournament?

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No Tiger, No Fans?

I think we can all agree that when we are watching the PGA Tour, we are watching the highest level of professional golf we are likely to see.  And that probably goes double for a major.  Face it, the absolute worst player on the tour will still wipe the floor with most any of us.  These guys are simply the best.  So why is it that so many viewers need to have Tiger Woods there, or they’re not interested in watching?  Is a large collective of most of the best players in the world not good enough?

Obviously, I’m referring to The Masters and the fact that Tiger Woods did not play due to surgery (as well as Mickelson not making the cut).  The result?  The lowest ratings for a Masters tournament since 1993.  I wonder why this is?  I get that he is certainly the most popular player in the game, as well as arguably still the best.  But are that many people electing not to tune in if he’s not there?  What about all of the other great golfers who are there?  No love for Bubba?  Fowler?  McIlroy?

This is the reason why the PGA needs to do a better job of hyping more players on the tour.  Once the most hyped player doesn’t participate, despite the fact he hasn’t won the tournament since 2005, too many people no longer care.  So again, these are the greatest players in the world…but no one cares.  When there’s an NFL game in which Tom Brady or Peyton Manning isn’t involved, people still watch, right?  Why is it different for golf and golf tournaments?  Take a look at the numbers.  When you really look at final scores and the total number of strokes, the difference between first and thirtieth is only a matter of about three strokes per round.  Is that really much of a difference form a skill level standpoint?  I’m sorry, but it’s not.  So what exactly do these so-called fans think they’re missing?  It’s as if they are more caught up in the off-the-course Tiger hype than what he should be known for, which is golf.

Speaking of so-called fans, I saw an idiotic comment on another post proving my point.  This person claims they would rather watch Tiger shoot 74 than a ”no name guy” shoot 70.  So basically you’re telling me, just because a specific golfer is playing, you would rather watch bad golf than a lesser named player having a better round?  I’m sorry, but that means you are not a fan of the game.

If anything, this should be an eye opener for the PGA.  After all, Tiger is not going to be around forever.  And if this is a sign of things to come when he does decide to hang up his spikes, then the tour is going to be in some real trouble.  They’d better get to work sooner rather than later.

Swing ’til you’re happy!

Alial Fital: Not Your Ordinary Golf Polo.

pienza2_largeThe golf polo. A classic piece of clothing that has made its way into the closets of millions. From the golf pro to those that swung a club once, chances are they have donned this top. Through the years of hacking my way around courses I’ve seen a variety of polos. Now that I had a chance to think about it, most of the shirts golfers wear are pretty boring including my own. It’s like we try to find anything with a collar so we can get out there. We need help.

Enter Alial Fital. A shirt company started by retired NFL quarterback Gibran Hamdan. In his newly acquired spare time, Hamdan taught himself to sew on his wife’s sewing machine and began making shirts for himself. Soon, his friends began requesting these shirts and a new company was born.

Thanks to the folks over at AF, they were generous enough to supply a golf polo for us to try out and let me tell you, it does not disappoint. For example, I always had an issue with the collars on regular polos. After a couple washes and wears the collar ends up looking like a piece of cooked bacon. AF took care of that problem by combining a woven dress shirt collar with a super soft polo. Finally, a nice firm collar that stays.

Speaking of super soft, the moisture wicking materials and quality of this shirt are top notch as is the fit. A true to size cut that doesn’t interfere with your swing. I personally like that their “golf cut” doesn’t follow the traditional slightly oversized and baggier style most golf polos have. And for the fashion conscious golfers, AF only makes 100 of each polo and that’s it. Therefore minimizing the chance of sporting the same shirt as someone else…how embarassing.

When you get a chance, check out their colorful selections and styles and treat yourself or a loved one to a quality polo made right here in the U.S.A.!

Hit’em long…yell FORE!!!

5 Things Wrong With Golf

5ThingsWrongWithGolf

Let’s not beat around the bush – there are inherent problems with golf that are rarely discussed. Now I’m not going to try and solve any of this stuff in one post, but I do intend to address them in hopes of beginning a conversation around what (if anything) can be done to change this game for the better. People in the industry are always talking about needing to grow the game. Perhaps we should start by considering the five 800-pound gorillas below.

1. The Cost
It shouldn’t be any surprise to see “cost” on this list. There is perhaps no greater turn-off to people than how much money it takes to play this game. The top brands push the most expensive equipment and apparel on us – from advertising to in-store displays. Where is the section of $25 Nike golf shirts? Or the $100 Taylor Made drivers? (Not even last year’s model will be that cheap). Why do we have to spend half a grand just to have an “average” set of new irons? Retailers and brands say they are helping us to become better golfers, but all they are doing is helping us hand over our hard-earned cash with minimal results in return. We all know the formula to playing better golf: Talent and practice – preferably lots of both. Money isn’t part of that formula and it’s time the industry stops pretending that it is.

2. The PGA Tour
I am not denying the tour is an integral part of golf. Without it, the game would surely suffer both economically and in popularity. But it is sorely in need of a makeover – preferably with its schedule. First, the season is far too long with barely an “off-season” for fans to recoup mentally. It makes sense from both a business perspective (TV ratings and tournament sponsorships) and the fans’ perspective (being mentally engaged) that the season be condensed to 6 months or less. Second, the lack of a proper end to the season. The FedEx Cup is an attempt to provide that grand finale we all want, but it’s not working. Perhaps a shortened season will help, but the end to the tour’s year needs to be defined much better than it currently is.

3. The Rulebook
This is tricky because I don’t want to change the fundamental way we play golf. But there are things in the rulebook that are hindering the expansion of the game. There are too many nuances to consider; too many cans and cant’s; too many caveats that require too much referencing back and forth before a complete understanding of the rule can be fully grasped (especially for new players). What we need is a simplified rulebook for casual play. We average golfers do this already (who really walks all the way back to the tee to re-hit after losing a drive)? Let organized tournaments continue to use the present book. But for the recreational golfer…please, give us some relief.

4. The Courses
Specifically, there are too many of them. What the hell is this country doing with 17,000 golf courses? The answer: Wasting space. The reality is we built too many courses over the past few decades and the result is too much supply and not enough demand. The herd could use some thinning and the good news is this thinning has already begun…compliments of the recession. While some watch with a wary eye over the fact that more courses are closing than opening in the U.S., economists know this is ultimately a good sign. Thinning the herd will result in higher quality courses, far better equipped to meet the needs of the individual golfer. And that will bode well for both new and current players alike.

5. The Focus
If there’s one thing we stand for here at GolfStinks, it’s that this game is meant to be fun. But in every corner of the golf industry, the main focus is on making people better players, rather than helping them enjoy themselves. Now I understand that some people can’t enjoy themselves unless they are better than everyone else, but those folks are in the minority. The vast majority intend to have fun when golfing – typically through camaraderie or enjoying the outdoors, with the final score being secondary. Yet the gravitational pull from the industry to consistently focus on becoming a better golfer is hard to ignore. Until there is a shift in focus from “playing well” while on the course to “feeling well” while on the course, golfers will continue to struggle with that love/hate relationship they have with this game.

Life Continues To Get In The Way of Golf

I’m in no rush to get any older.  I mean, I’m pushing the big 4-0 now.  I figure it’s likely all downhill from there.  But one thing I am looking forward to….retirement.  It’s not that I don’t like working.  What it really comes down to is, not working will give me more time to golf.  For instance, I had every intention of golfing this past Sunday.  But as usual…life just got in the way.

Picture this….Connecticut….2014.  It’s mid-April and it’s the nicest weekend of the year so far.  You’re faced with a choice – hit the links on a beautiful afternoon or go into work and bust your hump for six hours doing someone else’s job.  Oh, and might I add that you’re doing it unpaid.  Seems obvious, right?  Wrong.  For reasons that I won’t get into, heading into the office to do another persons job, unpaid, was about as close to necessary as can be without actually being necessary.  I could have chosen to play golf, but I would have paid for it over the next several days at work.  So you can see the dilemma.

It seems for me that things are always getting in the way of a nice round of golf.  Between work, sports and activities with the kids, etc.., it’s a guarantee that I’m going to have to bail out on at least a few rounds of golf per season.  So how bad of a sign is it when I have to bail out on the very first one?!  Is this a bad sign for the remainder of the year?  If I can’t even get out of the gate without incident, then what next?

I guess I should be used to it by now.  It happens to the best of us and I’m sure it will continue to do so.  So again…I’m not looking forward to getting older, but I am looking forward to having more time to play golf.  I’m looking forward to the day when there is no going into the office on my day off.  I’m looking forward to the day when there is no longer “work.”  Now that I think about it, I guess in a roundabout way…I am looking forward to getting older.

Swing ’til you’re happy!