By Jay Karen
This issue of Golf Business happens to fall upon the five year anniversary of my homecoming at NGCOA. Only upon the exercise of reflection am I reminded of the good work we have done. I also can’t help but feel the weight of a few regrets and the work undone. I’m not one to reflect very much, so I tend to forget what we’ve accomplished and just keep moving down the road.
I regret that we were not able to deliver justice to thousands of golf courses that experienced what we believe were fraudulent merchant processing charges by ETS, adding up to millions of dollars. The Department of Treasury wouldn’t take up the case, and a class action suit never sprouted. But last we heard the FBI was still investigating. Injustice elicits a visceral reaction in me, so this is my biggest regret.
I’m proud of the new educational products and programs we’ve delivered, including two technology conferences, the Golf Business Podcast, Golf Business Live, Beware of Barter Guide and the forthcoming Golf Business RevCon and Compensation and Benefits Report. We had a great run with the Golf Business Conference at the Golf Industry Show, and look forward to several years at the PGA Show and a great relationship with PGA Golf Exhibitions.
I regret we haven’t been able to quite yet see a proper environment for the aggregation and selling of tee times online. I do think we have armed thousands of courses with better information with which to make good decisions. But it is largely out of our hands whether or not courses make healthy choices. The entanglements, market control and deep pockets of the one behemoth OTTA in golf represents, in my opinion, one of the greatest economic drains to the public golf course from within our own industry. It doesn’t have to be this way.
I’m proud of the many new vendor relationships we’ve forged and the Smart Buy partnerships we’ve launched. In particular, Yamaha Golf Cars, Rain Bird, First American, Deluxe, GM and Cadillac, GOLFZON, RCS Hospitality, Players 1st, Directv, Benchmark by Sagacity and PGA Career Services. And of course, we continue to be a proud partner with great companies like entegra, Pepsi, Syngenta and Toro. I highly encourage our members to check out Find a Game, Golfpay, Golf Surprize, NGCOA 401k and NGCOA Insurance Services to discover revenue-generating and cost-cutting programs.
I’m proud of having created NGCOA’s first advocacy department, and it’s turned out to be a real jewel in our crown. We’ve advocated for the golf industry in Washington, assisted courses fighting battles at the state level, and have even helped individual courses see huge relief with property tax appeals. I’m especially proud of our leadership and galvanizing force to help keep the golf industry open against the backdrop of COVID-19.
Lastly, I’m proud of the fact that we have overseen NGCOA’s first upward trend in membership since before the Great Recession. My hope is that it reflects the evolving role of NGCOA in the industry, and the increasing value of what we are doing on behalf of golf courses throughout the United States.
I will spare readers the list of initiatives that are cooking now, and the ones waiting to get onto the stove. All I can say is that it’s a lot, and it’s all meaningful. Rest assured that you have a highly-motivated and hard-working headquarters crew at NGCOA, and I’m proud to lead them. It’s been a good five years, and NGCOA is only going to get better.
Thanks for indulging me this month.