What Does the Golf Customer Want -- and Get

By Adam BarrSeptember 26, 2003, 4:00 pm
Sometimes I wonder: Does golf give the customer what he or she wants, or does it tell the customer?
Before we get too judgmental, lets agree that modern marketing is as much about creating desires as it is about catering to them. I had no idea I needed a new sedan until that cars manufacturer informed me I did. (Upon further research, I decided I didnt need one as badly as all that.)
Golf is not different from other discretionary-purchase industries. Did we know we needed Pro-V1s before they appeared on the front page of USA Today? Could Ely Callaway have sold us that newfangled Big Bertha ten years ago without convincing us that we couldnt live without it?
Theres nothing wrong with this approach, so far as it goes. And in this information-drenched age, companies simply cant compete on product merit alone. The best whatzit wont sell if we dont know what it does, and why we might want it.
That said, I wonder if desire creation sometimes crosses its own wires. On a very large scale, the Industrial Revolution solved a lot of problems (employment of a lot of people, uniform product quality, accumulation of funds and time to spur research). By the same token, it created a number of problems (workplace safety, separation of craftsmen from the entirety of a product, a generation of labor unrest). On a smaller scale, desire marketing may have created some unintended problems in golf.
These arent insurmountable problems, but they have created perceptions that arguably have stunted the growth of the game. Lets review a few:
Speeding technology. Perhaps no sport has better research and development talent than golf. Once the aerospace industry cooled off with the end of the Cold War, a lot of top scientists went to golf. (Much of defense aerospace was in the San Diego area; so is much of golf equipment; it made sense.) After all, a driver is a streamlined mass speeding through the air, so of course these guys and gals could contribute.
But are they too good? They move so fast that there is always unbuilt technology waiting in the pipeline. Be it through business pressure or the desire to compete, companies bring out driver after driver, sometimes every year or so. Whats an avid player to do? Budget $600 per year for a new driver and $6,000 for marriage counseling? What chance does a club have to become a cherished old friend that carries ones game over decades before being passed down to a child?
Of course, the aerospace-golfer-geniuses mean no harm. They want us to have their best. But golfers I meet often complain to me of a mild form of computer obsolescence disease. You know the symptoms: You bring home the latest computer, driver, juicer, you name it, feeling as if youre on the cutting edge ' and six months later you see something that claims to better. The cutting edge no longer cuts it.
Here, quite innocently, the customer has been told what to want ' and just as unintentionally, he ends up feeling at least a little dissatisfied.
(In fairness: One good step to counter this has been trade-in/trade-up programs, such as Callaways.)
Speeding to be important. Its hard to class up a pickup soccer game. The grass on the field may be a little thicker in New England than in New Mexico, but what it boils down to is a bunch of kids running around and having a good time.
Not so golf. The sports history offers a fertile field for perpetuating ' or eschewing ' elitism. We see it every day in the persistence of single-gender clubs or the over-the-top opulence of some upscale daily fee courses. On the flip side, we see no-frills municipal tracks where regulars play hardscrabble golf on turf they are proud to endure.
Somewhere along the line, aided by well-produced television broadcasts of the turf paradises demanded by modern pros, many in the hardscrabble crowd came to believe they were playing some sort of substandard golf. (Last I checked, a stroke is a stroke anywhere). Then the disease spread like poa annua to people whose courses had admirable turf throughout, although it may have been brown around the edges or damp over there by No. 15 where weve always hade trouble with those fairway drainage tiles.
Bottom line: Someone always thought the grass was greener, and someone felt a little dissatisfied.
Of course, one bears a lot of the responsibility for happiness with what one has. And nobody is trying to upset anyone by building nice courses. But for every guy who says (and means it), I like my courses rustic look, there are 10 who say (at least to themselves) I wish our course was more like Augusta National.
Speed of play. Time to face it: This problem is unsolvable. Mainly its because of an unwillingness of the games chief example-setters to set the right example. To that, touring professionals say (and its hard to argue) that theyre making their livings, and they cant afford to rush a stroke that could cost them thousands, even millions.
But whatever the reason, pro behavior gives many the impression that slow is the way to play golf. Many U.S. golfers will never get to Scotland, where speed is nearly religion, and where visitors realize that the game is better when played at a healthy clip. (Their pleasure in the surprise is always fun to see. Turns out that what my editor at Golfweek told me before my first trip was true. Youll hit your ball, he said, and as you bag your club, shoulder your bag, and take a step, youll hear a ball landing behind you.)
So we have the game divided into two camps in this country: The leisurely (or in some cases, downright rude) crowd, and the jackrabbits. There is only one first-group-out time per day per course, and oh, how those slots are coveted by those who want to sling it around in 150 minutes.
But the lingering dissatisfaction arising from the now-entrenched custom of slow play is this: Newcomers think golf is slower (read: more boring) than Major League Baseball (regardless of whose fault that might be), and avid players think a quick, exhilarating round is a thing of the past. Either way, you have dissatisfied customers who have been conditioned to expect other than what they got.
These are just a few examples, and of course they arise from my view, not necessarily gospel fact. But what we should take away, agree or disagree, is an unerring customer focus. Because in this day and age, there are too many other choices to allow folks to be dissatisfied, no matter what the reason.
Email your thoughts to Adam Barr
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Tiger Tracker: 147th Open Championship

By Tiger TrackerJuly 22, 2018, 2:30 pm

Tiger Woods is under par in the final round of the 147th Open Championship and stalking the lead. We're tracking him on Sunday at Carnoustie.

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Watch: Full replays of The Open coverage

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 22, 2018, 11:00 am

NBC Sports and Golf Channel are showcasing nearly 50 hours of live coverage of the 147th Open. Missed anything? Well, you can catch up right here. Click on the links below for replays from Carnoustie, broken down into daily segments:

Saturday, Day 3 (Times ET)

7AM-3PM (Watch): Jordan Spieth fired 65 to move into a three-way share of the 54-hole lead, while Tiger Woods (66) played his way into contention. Click here or on the image below to watch. Also, click here to watch the full replay of the marquee group: Rickie Fowler and Thorbjorn Olesen.

4:30-7AM (Watch): Sunny skies and birdies were on the menu early in Round 3, as Justin Rose made his way around Carnoustie in 64 strokes. Click here or on the image below to watch. Also, click here to watch the full replay of the marquee group: Henrik Stenson and Bryson DeChambeau.

Friday, Day 2 (Times ET)

8:20AM-3PM (Watch): As the skies cleared on Friday afternoon, defending champion Jordan Spieth made a run to try and regain the claret jug. Click here or on the image below to watch. Also, click here to watch the full replay of the marquee group: Jordan Spieth, Justin Rose and Kiradech Aphibarnrat.

1:30-8:20AM (Watch): On a rainy Friday morning at Carnoustie, Rory McIlroy shot 69 to reach 4 under, while Zach Johnson fired a 67 for the early lead. Click here or on the image below to watch. Also, click here to watch the full replay of the marquee group: Brooks Koepka, Ian Poulter and Cameron Smith.

Thursday, Day 1 (Times ET)

Noon-4PM (Watch): Tiger Woods was up and down in the afternoon, as winds picked up a little and no one could catch Kevin Kisner. Click here or on the image below to watch. Also, click here to watch the full replay of the marquee group: Woods, Russell Knox and Hideki Matsuyama.

1:30-8:25AM (Watch): Defending champion Jordan Spieth got off to a good start, while Kevin Kisner (66) set the early pace. Click here or on the image below to watch. Also, click here to watch the full replay of the marquee group: Rickie Fowler, Jon Rahm and Chris Wood.

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How to watch The Open on TV and online

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 22, 2018, 8:30 am

You want to watch the 147th Open? Here’s how you can do it.

Golf Channel and NBC Sports will be televising 182 hours of overall programming from the men's third major of the year at Carnoustie

In addition to the traditional coverage, the two networks will showcase three live alternate feeds: marquee groups, featured holes (our new 3-hole channel) and spotlight action. You can also watch replays of full-day coverage, Thursday-Sunday, in the Golf Channel app, NBC Sports apps, and on GolfChannel.com.  

Here’s the weekly TV schedule, with live stream links in parentheses. You can view all the action on the Golf Channel mobile, as well. Alternate coverage is noted in italics:

(All times Eastern; GC=Golf Channel; NBC=NBC Sports; GC.com=GolfChannel.com or check the GLE app)

Monday, July 16

GC: 7-9AM: Morning Drive (stream.golfchannel.com)

GC: 9-11AM: Live From The Open (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)

GC: 7-9PM: Live From The Open (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)

Tuesday, July 17

GC: 6AM-2PM: Live From The Open (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)

Wednesday, July 18

GC: 6AM-2PM: Live From The Open (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)

Thursday, July 19

GC: Midnight-1:30AM: Midnight Drive (stream.golfchannel.com)

GC: Day 1: The Open, live coverage: 1:30AM-4PM (www.golfchannel.com/theopen)

GC.com: Day 1: The Open, Spotlight: 1:30AM-4PM (www.golfchannel.com/spotlight)

GC.com: Day 1: The Open, Marquee Groups: 4AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/marqueegroup)

GC.com: Day 1: The Open, 3-Hole Channel: 4AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/3holechannel)

GC: Live From The Open: 4-5PM (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)

Friday, July 20

GC: Day 2: The Open, live coverage: 1:30AM-4PM (www.golfchannel.com/theopen)

GC.com: Day 2: The Open, Spotlight: 1:30AM-4PM (www.golfchannel.com/spotlight)

GC.com: Day 2: The Open, Marquee Groups: 4AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/marqueegroup)

GC.com: Day 2: The Open, 3-Hole Channel: 4AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/3holechannel)

GC: Live From The Open: 4-5PM (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)

Saturday, July 21

GC: Day 3: The Open, live coverage: 4:30-7AM (www.golfchannel.com/theopen)

NBC: Rd. 3: The Open, live coverage: 7AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/theopen)

GC.com: Day 3: The Open, Spotlight: 4:30AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/spotlight)

GC.com: Day 3: The Open, Marquee Groups: 5AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/marqueegroup)

GC.com: Day 3: The Open, 3-Hole Channel: 5AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/3holechannel)

GC: Live From The Open: 3-4PM (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)

Sunday, July 22

GC: Day 4: The Open, live coverage: 4:30-7AM (www.golfchannel.com/theopen)

NBC: Rd. 4: The Open, live coverage: 7AM-2:30PM (www.golfchannel.com/theopen)

GC.com: Day 4: The Open, Spotlight: 4:30AM-2:30PM (www.golfchannel.com/spotlight)

GC.com: Day 4: The Open, Marquee Groups: 5AM-2PM (www.golfchannel.com/marqueegroup)

GC.com: Day 4: The Open, 3-Hole Channel: 5AM-2PM (www.golfchannel.com/3holechannel)

GC: Live From The Open: 2:30-4PM (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)

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Schauffele just fine being the underdog

By Rex HoggardJuly 21, 2018, 8:06 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Following a breakthough season during which he won twice and collected the PGA Tour Rookie of the Year Award, Xander Schauffele concedes his sophomore campaign has been less than stellar, but that could all change on Sunday at The Open.

Schauffele followed a second-round 66 with a 67 on Saturday to take a share of the 9-under-par lead with Jordan Spieth and Kevin Kisner.

Although he hasn’t won in 2018, he did finish runner-up at The Players and tied for sixth at the U.S. Open, two of the year’s toughest tests.

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

“Growing up, I always hit it well and played well in tough conditions,” Schauffele said. “I wasn't the guy to shoot 61. I was the guy to shoot like 70 when it was playing really hard.”

Sunday’s pairing could make things even more challenging when he’ll head out in the day’s final tee time with Spieth, the defending champion. But being the underdog in a pairing, like he was on Saturday alongside Rory McIlroy, is not a problem.

“All the guys I've talked to said, 'Live it up while you can, fly under the radar,'” he said. “Today I played in front of what you call Rory's crowd and guys were just yelling all the time, even while he's trying to putt, and he had to step off a few times. No one was yelling at me while I was putting. So I kind of enjoy just hanging back and relaxing.”