Anchors, Away!


By Michael Williams, Contributor, Golf Business 


I host a podcast called The 19th Hole with Michael Williams. The term refers to the bar or grille at the golf course, a gathering place where golfers come to settle up and to settle down, to recount the stories of the round and to get a couple of rounds in of their favorite beverage.

It’s a place that has good will and laughter, the very definition of a place that everyone can enjoy regardless of who you are or how good or bad of a player you are.

As new audiences are coming into the game, the 19th Hole experience is critical to the overall experience that people have at the facility, especially when green grass facilities are competing for patrons with entertainment forward golf experiences like Topgolf and others.

Recently, I took a new golfer to play golf at an upscale daily fee course. After a very enjoyable round of golf, we went to the grille to have a couple of cocktails and review the highlights of the day. We ordered our beverages of choice and began to chat, but I could tell that something was distracting my friend. As the conversation continued, I could sense their level of agitation rising. I finally asked what was wrong, and they turned and pointed at the TV behind the bar and said, “That’s what’s wrong!”

Both of the television sets in the grille were tuned to a cable news network; I’m not going to name the network because it doesn’t really matter which one it was. My friend’s mood shifted from the satisfying optimism of playing one of the best rounds of their young golf life (“I only lost one ball!”) to a grouchy, grumbling grinch who was immersed in solving the world’s problems (impossible) rather than fixing their slice.

I suggested we move out to the patio where the news program wouldn’t be a distraction. But as I later thought about the episode from the perspective of someone who wants to grow the game, I was reminded that when it comes to creating an atmosphere that is welcoming to all, everything counts. Sure, the on-course experience and the ability of the staff to provide warm welcomes, magic moments and fond farewells are the foundation of the experience. But once the big things are done, the little things also count. In years gone by, tuning a television in the grille onto a news program was almost a public service, helping people catch up with information on what they might have missed while they were enjoying their round. But with social media and political outlets becoming more and more shrill and polarized, facilities really need to consider whether having a partisan message from a bunch of talking heads on either side of the political divide is the most effective way to create a relaxed and welcoming atmosphere. My humble request to all food and beverage managers and staff is to stay away from politics and choose programming that encourages fun, unity or even apathy rather than enmity. If only there was a tv channel where you could watch golf anywhere, anytime…



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** The views and opinions featured in Golf Business WEEKLY are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the position of the NGCOA.**

Michael Williams is a contributor for Golf Business, host of Golf Business LIVE, and is the Executive Director for Cyrano Communications (Washington, DC). He is also a contributor for Voice of America (Washington, DC), a member of the USGA Golf Journal Editorial Board, and a contributor for In 2005, Michael launched his first radio show on FOX News Radio Sticks and Stones, a critically acclaimed show that covered golf, business and politics. Since that launch, Michael has established a reputation as a savvy broadcaster and as an incisive interviewer and writer. An avid golfer himself, Michael has covered the game of golf and the golf lifestyle including courses, restaurants, business, travel and sports marketing for publications all over the world.