Thanksgiving in Golf

   As seen in Golf Business November/December 2023   

jk.jpgBy Jay Karen, NGCOA CEO

Thanksgiving is my favorite of all the holidays we tend to celebrate. Why? Because of its humility and simplicity. And because it doesn’t involve decorating the exterior of my house. Seriously though, when we turn our attention to gratitude, even for a day (or just a moment if you are reading this), something changes in our minds, our energy and even our behaviors. Practicing gratitude requires a pause, and in that pause you are taking stock of what you are receiving or have received. 
People tend to be grateful for the abundance they may be receiving, in whatever form or whatever size it might be. And yet we can even be grateful for scarcity, and the lessons it can teach. There is a wonderful video on social media of Stephen Colbert expressing gratitude for the suffering he has had in his life. Find it and watch it. 
Connecting the dots to golf and the golf industry, I want to use my pulpit and column inches as 2023 ends to lift up someone in this industry who is the embodiment of gratitude. If you don’t know Kevin Carpenter, your task is now to find him on LinkedIn and get connected. Kevin’s alter ego is the “Gratidude,” and if you’ve had the good fortune of spending time with KC, you know very well how on-brand that is. The man left behind a successful career in the technology and golf car space to take a risk on gratitude. In a world where more and more scarcity, poverty (of all kinds), strife, conflict and nastiness is being experienced or peddled, Kevin is the chief hedge fund manager of something that is strangely counterculture. Gratitude.
What Kevin knows and preaches, we already know: there is something inherently special about the game of golf and what it does for the people who play it and the people who work to serve it up to the people who play it. It’s a vessel for more charitable giving than any other activity. In a world where you do your best to avoid even the person sitting next to you on an airplane, golf will make strangers fast, and even life-long, friends in minutes. In a concrete world, it brings us the relief of nature. The list of attributes, features and benefits could go on and on. What I love about Kevin and the Gratidude’s mission is that it is about getting to essence of the game, which is not the game itself, but what the game can do. It’s reminiscent a bit of the mission of The First Tee, which is not about growing the game (per se), but about growing people through the game.
The Gratidude is experimenting with programming and messaging and growing a humble business around it. In an industry that likes to play it safe and try to just hit it down the middle, Kevin is taking us on a circuitous journey to make sure we stop and smell the roses, open our eyes to the possibilities of solar energy, connect yoga with golf, recognize the importance of mental health, and so much more. Gratitude is what we can feel after a satisfying walk with a bag of sticks slung over our shoulders. When we pause and think about how much truly went into allowing us to have that experience. The owner who took a risk on the business. The architect for the mastery of beauty. The superintendent for demonstrating care and custodianship. The golf professional for helping to run the business and curate the hospitality. 
Kevin recognizes that gratitude is much more than a feeling; it is something worth harnessing and using as a new source of fuel to spread increasing goodness among people. I’m here for it and encourage you to open your minds, pause and be there for it too.
Happy Holidays to the NGCOA family (members, sponsors and our amazing staff) and to the rest of the industry.





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