The media has tainted golf with a bad image this last year. Corporate sponsors of tournaments or executives playing golf with clients to deepen their business relationships are targeted as extravagant, wasteful spenders. In reality these corporations and executives are using golf as a tool to maintain, and even strengthen, their client relationships during our troubled economic times. If clients continue to use golf for business, it would be foolish for businesses and executives to stop doing so.
One way that the PGA Tour has responded to the heightened criticism of corporate sponsorships is by creating the Tour Club. It is a yearly membership that gives an insiders' access to tournaments for its members. At the Northern Trust Open, for example, its members got to set pins with tournament officials and attend a breakfast meeting with Jerry West, the famed basketball player and the Tournament's Executive Director. At the Masters, members will have dinner with a Master's legend, and at the Players Championship, members will tour the Golf Channel broadcast location. It sounds like a great experience for executives and high-worth clients to enjoy together.
Another response to the negative media attention is a coalition of golf organizations called "We Are Golf." The group represents club pros, course superintendents, course owners and club managers, and aims to convince U.S. policy makers in Washington that golf is an important, job-creating industry that ought to be supported, not denounced. The coalition's central point is that golf is responsible for roughly two million jobs in the U.S. paying $61 billion in wages.
I'm responding to the attack on golf as well with a series of interviews (that I'll be launching soon) with golf and business celebrities about how they use golf for their personal, professional, and financial abundance. For the uninformed, golf may look like a silly game. But for those who use golf as a business tool, it's part of their repertoire to building their businesses and success.
I'm glad to see the industry is starting to bolster golf's image.