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Three Newsmakers

By: Nancy Berkley


May 10 represented a first for the golf industry - a one-hour nationally broadcast program aimed at making golf easy to learn and play for ordinary people. The program is the official national launch of the industry's "Get Golf Ready" that is built on a platform of five affordable lessons. When watching the program, you will see one of the brightest lights in women's golf, Suzy Whaley, a PGA and LPGA professional. She will be one of the instructors working with the new golfers.

The Get Golf Ready program comes at a critical time for the industry. Rounds are down and many golf clubs are struggling. It is easy to blame bad economic times for the industry's problems. But actually, the industry got there all by itself.

Golf is a game managed by gatekeepers. You just can't go to a park and play golf. You must be let in and most of the time it's the PGA professional that opens the door. For the last 15 years, gatekeepers spent most of their time managing a pretty good tee sheet and waiting for customers to just walk through their doors. But now, they need to know how to get the golfers there in the first place.

Golf professionals need new skill sets that include teaching in groups and teaching people that have not grown up with the game or don't even know the vocabulary or culture. In fact, they may not even own golf equipment.

The bittersweet news about this economy is that golf owners and professionals really have to learn those new skills or they will be out of job or lose their life savings. The efforts by the World Golf Foundation, the PGA and the LPGA (plus other industry contributors) to motivate the gatekeepers to learn the new skills could not have come at a better time.

Programs like Get Golf Ready have existed previously but they have never had this kind of broad national industry support. Although the program is branded as a PGA Play Golf America offering, it really got jumpstarted through the efforts of the World Golf Foundation, now headed by Steve Mona, one of the best leaders in the industry. For more information go to http://www.playgolfamerica.com/ggr. There you can use a zip code search to find a facilities near you (there are about 1,000 facilities registered in the Get Golf Ready program) that is offering the five-lesson for $99 package. If you are not around this Sunday afternoon, tape the show. Let me know what you think about it.

The Newest Book about the Struggles of a Junior Golfer

See "Shooting for Tiger: How Golf's Obsessed New Generation is Transforming a Country Club Sport" by William Echickson. I know the author and have been following the research for this book over the last couple of years. A major focus of the book is Vicky Hurst, age 18, who is now trying to make a name for herself on the Tour. Bill knows about junior golf up close and personal as his son is an avid junior golfer. So he knows the role of parents and the genetic and personal quest that comes with raising a Tiger. The book became available May 4, and I promise you a review.

The Newest Belt in the Industry & Anthony Kim Wears It Where does Tour player Anthony Kim get those sparkly belts he wears? The quick answer is Elevee Custom Clothing. Here's how I know about them. I went to the PGA Merchandise Show in Orlando at the end of January and walked the aisles of apparel and was not excited about anything I saw. I decided to take a break and sat down at one of those round tables of strangers in the refreshment area. I struck up a conversation with the guy to my right - from Los Angeles - of all places.

Then his friend sat down and I heard the story of Elevee from the designer and VP. Basically, they custom design clothing for people who can afford it. (I always thought those floppy jackets that Jason Timberlake wore were not just off a rack.) Most of their clients are stars of one sort or another and from different industries with a heavy sprinkling of athletes. Check out their website at www.elevee.com. But they also do an amazing thing for a men's member guest: they will custom-make trousers for all the men. They will take the measurements the day of the event, have the men choose among their beautiful fabrics and designs and then make them up and send them to them. How's that sound for a unique event gift? Something different! I looked at the belt buckles at the show and think I could wear them also. Maybe they will bring me the same kind of golf luck they have brought Kim! Worth a try.

Nancy Berkley, President of Berkley Golf Consulting, is a contributor to Cybergolf. She is an expert on women's golf. Her book, "Women Welcome Here! A Guide to Growing Women's Golf," published by the National Golf Foundation, is an industry reference on marketing golf to women. She is a resource for golf-industry trends and marketing advice on her website www.nancyberkley.com. She chaired a panel at the World Scientific Congress of Golf in Phoenix, Ariz., in March 2008 and was a guest speaker at the Northern California Business Women's Conference held at Poppyridge Golf Course in Livermore, Calif., in June 2008. Nancy also consults with golf facilities on how to attract more women golfers. She was a contributing editor of Golf for Women magazine and is the Chair of the Advisory Board of Golfer Girl Magazine where she also writes a series about careers in the golf industry. Her articles also appear on www.ladiesgolfjourney.com. Nancy provides a Free Help Line on her website (for those seeking marketing advice in the golf industry.