Monday, February 22, 2010

What Tiger Woods Should Do Next?

After watching Tiger Woods’ press, err, prepared statement conference, on Friday, there’s little doubt his head is probably spinning with all the advice he’s been receiving lately. After all, the audience in that weird room with the blue curtain and wood lectern appeared to be full of corporate and sports rep types who probably had a hand in orchestrating the entire performance.

Up to this point, I’m convinced Tiger and his advisors have made nothing but bad moves in dealing with the biggest crisis in his life.  I strongly disagree with the current structured approach by him and his handlers, which seems like a desperate attempt to hang on to his crumbling corporate image. Let’s face it, too many corporate entities have a vested interest in returning Woods to his lofty perch among America’s most trusted athlete endorsers.

Once Woods matriculates from rehab, I suggest he turn his back on all the corporate hangers on and everybody else making money off of him. If I were Woods, I’d build an entirely new life that would enhance the possibility of solidifying his family life and build on his already regal golf legacy. Here’s my multi-step process I suggest for Mr. Woods:

Move to Sweden—The only way to keep the celebrity websites, newspapers and television shows away from your family and your personal life is to leave the premises. These people know how to hide in bushes and pay off bartenders and cocktail waitresses so Tiger will never have any sense of freedom here in the U.S. His kids will grow up in relative anonymity in Sweden and his wife will be near her family, which should help his marriage and be a minor payback for the turmoil she’s had to endure. Swedes are essentially private people who won’t invade your space and Stockholm is a cosmopolitan city of 2 million residents so it should be a nice easy going lifestyle, though he will need a couple of parkas during the winter. During the summer, daylight lasts till 10 p.m. so there’s lots of extra time to play with the kids and practice nine iron approach shots.

Dump all Endorsements Tomorrow—Get rid of all your endorsements and corporate agreements and start all over. Tiger won’t be beholden to anybody and he’ll have a sense of freedom. The only person he’ll have to answer to everyday is the person in the mirror. Instead of having a bunch of yes men who’re dependent on him for their next paycheck, he’ll control his own destiny and image.  Tiger needs to become his own man, not one beholden to Corporate America. Woods is the best golfer on the planet. He can make more than enough prize money to have a good life. Instead of doing obligatory corporate meetings and promotions, he can spend more time with his family and practicing golf. He should downscale like the rest of America and sell his real estate holdings, yacht and other toys. Instead of chasing money, he should put the emphasis back on developing a simpler more enjoyable life for his family and winning golf tournaments. Sucking up to corporations for endorsement dollars and doing silly television commercials is a fame and fortune trap he doesn't need anymore.

Play Golf Globally—To stay out of the limelight in the U.S. and to escape the tabloid media, play the world’s major tours in Europe, Australia and Asia. Woods is a great enough golfer that he can earn enough money to have a decidedly upscale lifestyle without having to play the PGA Tour and be constantly harassed by the press. With no endorsement contracts he won’t have to play a certain amount of events. Plus, his name still sells tickets and there will be more than a few tournaments offering large appearance fees.

Play Only the Majors in the U.S.—The only tournaments Woods should play in the U.S. are the four majors, which would still enable him to reach Jack Nicklaus’ record. If there’s one thing Woods wants to accomplish in his career, it’s Jack’s Major championship record. Just play the four big ones each year and be done with it. With the British Open, that would mean Woods would only have to play three tournaments a year in the U.S. The more he stays away from the tabloid websites, blogs, newspapers and television shows the better.

Become a Coach—With no corporate responsibilities and a limited PGA Tour schedule, Woods will have more than enough time to coach his kids’ sports teams. He can serve the same role to them as his father did to him. Tiger will quickly see it’s a more fulfilling role than that of a corporate shill and he’ll build a great relationship with his kids that will last a lot longer than any of the toys he can buy with his corporate bucks.


Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Five Ways To Attract more Golfers to Resorts

With a few golf resorts filing Chapter 11 and others singing the low occupancy and diminished rounds blues, I’d like to offer a few suggestions to help them once again hear that magic phrase “Cha-Ching”.

Here are five suggestions to get more golfers to visit your resort:

  1. Stop with premiums on your headliner course and drop the price so you can introduce the course to others that have previously been shut out. I’ve played hundreds of golf courses around the world and with the exception of Pebble Beach, Shadow Creek and a few others, no course has an entertainment value worth more than $300. These days, if I have to choose between taking my wife out for a three or four hour dinner at a top restaurant or spending three or four hundred dollars on a five hour round of golf, I’ll choose the dinner. I love golf, but in this economy you’ve got to identify your priorities, or, better still, your wife’s priorities if she doesn’t play golf.
  2. Let people walk and give them a discount if they do. For too long, resorts and other golf courses have gotten hooked on the easy money generated by cart fees. These resorts are like addicts that can’t stop renting carts.  Interestingly, some of the most successful golf resorts right now, places like Bandon Dunes Resort, allow walking. If people want to walk, let them.
  3. Don’t charge kids under 17 if they’re playing with a paying adult. Too many resorts give lip service to junior golf and then sock it to them and their parents on greens and cart fees.
  4. Treat your returning customers royally. Find out who’s still coming to your golf resort even in the bad times and put a gift in their cart (like extra sleeve of premium golf balls, towel, hat, etc) with a hand written note letting them know how much you appreciate their business.
  5. Pull a Vegas. Attract golfers to your resort with extra low room rates, cheap breakfasts, big spa discounts and other attractive amenities. 

Sunday, February 14, 2010

My State of the Golf Travel Business Address

My fellow golf travelers, why lie? The golf travel business is in the dumper. Occupancy is down. Rounds played are down. Revenues are down…

What is extremely troubling to me is the decline of the corporate market, which is such a large part of golf travel revenues. I write frequently for the corporate and incentive market and all I hear is nothing but gloom and doom. Corporations are now afraid of the golf course, so to speak. Afraid they’ll be labeled as wasteful and uncaring spenders during tough economic times. From the AIG fiasco last year at a golf and spa resort in California to President Obama lambasting destinations like Las Vegas, the corporate market is taking more hits than Rocky Balboa. Incidentally, that resort AIG had booked, the St. Regis Monarch Beach Resort, was foreclosed upon by one of its lenders.

How bad is it?

Some resort operators are so scared of the perception problem that they’re dropping the word “resort” from their names. Among those who’ve dropped that oh so perceptively bad “resort” from their official names are Westin Stonebriar Hotel in Dallas, Loews Lake Las Vegas, Loews Ventana Canyon in Tucson, Loews Coronado Bay and Ballantyne Hotel & Lodge in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Everybody is paranoid these days. Now, event planners have to worry about arranging too good of a time for their clients. This is loony.

Adding to all the negative vibes corporations are experiencing with meeting and conventions are increased airline baggage fees, fewer flights, airport security hassles and a general malaise that the economy is not improving and you better horde a few bucks.

Wake me up, when this nightmare is over.


Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Tiger's First Tournament Back

The speculation about Tiger Woods returning to the PGA Tour has ramped up the last couple of days and it got me thinking about what will be different when he tees it up again.  Here are a few thoughts:

  • Rest assured, Woods will be on his best off-the-course behavior. He’ll be so squeaky clean he’ll make Tim Tebow look like a party hound.
  • Don’t expect any major mea culpa or press conference where Tigers spills his guts. It’s just not his style.  How about a staged, well orchestrated event where Woods is in control with no reporter's questions? Woods is all about “scoreboard”.
  • While some players have lost respect for Tiger as a husband and a father, I guarantee they still regard him as the best golfer in the world. Woods has been playing the game since he was two years old. I don’t care how long he stays out, he won’t forget how to play and he won’t forget how to win.
  • Get ready for the tabloid press to be lurking behind bushes and in trees everywhere. Forget about Lindsey Lohan and Lady Ga Ga, Tiger Woods is, arguably, the biggest celebrity in the world and there will be an army of paparazzi at the first few tournaments following Tiger’s return. After all, don’t we all need something new? How many times can we see that photo of Elin Woods coming out of the Thai restaurant in Orlando?
  • I look for the golf media to be a little more daring in their questioning, but I’m not holding my breath. Even an image injured Tiger is imposing and intimidating.
  • I predict golf television analysts will play up the big comeback from sex clinic story. The American public absolutely loves stories of redemption and if they bought it from Kobe Bryant and Bill Clinton, they’ll surely buy it from Tiger Woods.
  • To be honest, I can’t wait till Tiger’s first tournament back. The sports world has never seen anything like this before. With the exception of Ali’s return to the ring, I can’t recall an event that had more anticipation surrounding it.
  • I hope the best for Tiger Woods and I’m cheering for his redemption. I believe he’s a good person who made some absolutely horrific life choices.  But, if Russell Brand and David Duchovny can make it back from sex addiction, I guess Tiger can too.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Golf Musings


Tiger Woods might not be in Mississippi. Despite the tabloid reports that Woods is in a sex clinic in Hattiesburg, I’ve heard several rumors to the contrary. At the PGA Merchandise Show in Orlando I talked with a couple of well-connected types who told me Woods has been in a clinic in Arizona since the beginning of the year. Apparently, the photo of the guy in a hoodie and baseball cap in Mississippi that was captured by the tabloids was just a plant to throw everybody off. It makes sense in a way. Woods and his handlers had to know there were telephoto lenses pointed into the Mississippi sex clinic compound, so they sent a look-alike out for a stroll with a cup of coffee. They’ve been very coy in hiding Tiger so far, so why would they march him around the grounds for an easy photo? When this thing plays out, it’ll be interesting to see where Tiger has been the past 90 days or so.


The latest report by an Australian newspaper that Tiger will play in the upcoming Accenture sponsored WGC event in Arizona is a curious one. If believed, that means Tiger will compete in an event where he will reward a sponsor for dumping on him. Just from a business perspective, I don’t see Tiger competing in this event. Furthermore, unless he’s been sneaking out for some sort of midnight rate at a lighted golf course, I’m not sure if he’s tuned up to play.


I’m always amazed at the wild and wacky products I see at the PGA Merchandise Show every year.  My nominees for, shall we say, most unusual 2010 products I saw are:

The Golf Flip Flop- Billed as the world’s first golf flip flop, the company called Golf Gators says in their promotional material that the “Spackler” offers golfers “ease, style and laid-back swagger”. Hey, we can all use a little swag on the links, but I’m not sure if I’ll rely on the flip-flops to do it for me. If you think differently and want to check them out, go to

Eiffel Tower Golf Tees—The originators of this product essentially turned the Eiffel Tower upside down and claim it makes the perfect tee. It’s made of some sort of plastic composite and is available in four colors. If you want to go ooh-la-la after every tee shot, go to

Welded Golf Sculptures—Jeff Diamond, an innovative artist, takes old golf clubs and recycles them into unusual sculptures. They’re very different and certainly are conversation pieces.  For more information, you can reach Mr. Diamond at 561-379-9367.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Golf Travel Trends 2010


While Scotland will always be a favorite international golf destination for Americans, there are a number of destinations vying for American golfer business. Foremost among the international competitors are China and Thailand. Both of these countries continue to build golf courses and resorts that appeal to American tastes. Not surprisingly, the Asia-Pacific region has overtaken North America as the world’s largest travel market with 647 million passengers in 2009, according to the International Air Transport Association (IATA). In early May, the first Southeast Asia/India Golf Merchandise Exposition in Bangkok, modeled after the PGA Merchandise Show in the U.S., will debut.


Back in 2008, AIG, which received $180 million in taxpayer assistance, was exposed for planning a high-end sales retreat at the St. Regis Monarch Beach Resort in Dana Point, California. That debacle set the stage for criticisms from government officials and others about luxury conferences. Suddenly, and wrongfully I might add, the word “resort” became a bad name, one that implied needless and opulent spending for business groups. The result is some properties are dropping the word “resort” from their official name. Among those who changed their name are Ballantyne Hotel & Lodge in Charlotte, North Carolina, Loews Lake Las Vegas, Loews Ventana Canyon in Tucson, Arizona, Loews Coronado Bay near San Diego and Westin Stonebriar Hotel in Dallas.


Golf course construction is flat in the United States. With the exception of a few courses that debuted last year, the Pete Dye Course at French Lick Resort in Indiana and the Waldorf Astoria Golf Club in Orlando come to mind, there aren’t going to be a lot of new resort layouts to play this year. One worth waiting for is the fourth course at Bandon Dunes Resort in Oregon, the Old Macdonald, which is scheduled to open in June.


France is quickly making its mark as a top golf destination in continental Europe. Several of its courses consistently make it into Top 10 lists, including Morfontaine, Les Bordes, Chantilly (Vineuil) and Golf National (L’Albatros).


The International Association of Golf Travel Operators (IAGTO) recently announced its 2010 rewards. The envelope, please: Undiscovered Golf Destination of the Year: BRAZIL; Golf Destination of the Year-Asia & Australasia: THAILAND; Golf Destination of the Year-Europe: PROVENCE & COTE D’AZUR; Golf Destination of the Year-North America: ORLANDO; Golf Resort of the Year-Europe: DOONBEG, IRELAND; Golf Resort of the Year-North America: KIAWAH ISLAND GOLF RESORT, SOUTH CAROLINA; Golf Resort of the Year-Rest of the World: RAFFLES CANOUAN, THE GRENADINES.