May 1, 2018​

Golf Digest this past winter interviewed top 100 teacher Claude Harmon III. Son of Butch Harmon, grandson of Master’s Champion Claude Harmon. Though born into a golfing family, the golf bug never bit him till much later in life, now he teaches the likes of Dustin Johnson and Brooks Koepka, not too bad. Unlike many of the full time Tour Pro teachers, Claude still teaches “Joe Average”, though given what he charges, maybe a 1%er Joe Average. As a lover of analogies, he said something in a recent interview I had to share with you… "I teach a lot of successful people. Golf is a game that confuses a lot of smart people, and often I thought if they ran their companies the way they run their golf games, they’d go out of business. No plan or clear picture of what they are trying to do. Bad fundamentals. Trying a bunch of different strategies, hoping one sticks. When a 15 handicapper shoots 78, they’re more confused than if they had shot 92. They have no idea how they did it. I tell them, golf-wise let’s get your  golf company to where it isn’t losing money. Once we stabilize things, we’ll take stock, then tackle one thing at a time”. Pretty sound advice, and maybe you never thought of things like that. We make golf a lot tougher than it needs to be, because we rarely stick with what works in the search for something better. It’s a good lesson for life, for business; and it’s really good for golf.  

July 2018

When you read about any kind of struggling or flatlining industry, pundits generally claim that the business / industry must reinvent itself to regain its former glory. Critics conclude that it’s the TRADITIONS of the business that have grown tiresome, that people who like the industry are bored, and new consumers that you would like to pull into the industry; can’t engage with the “archaic ways” of doing things. Amazingly, the people inside those industries often call this former passion; "loving tradition". When did traditions become a negative? Our entire civilization is based on handed down tradition, but now tradition just “doesn’t do it for people anymore”. Think about it, we hate tradition. Where we get our news, its not the traditional place anymore. Team basketball, I don't think so, it's an isolation game now. Remember when people aspired to work for the country's "Big" companies, now big business is the enemy. Heck, there's a lot of people who don't even want the Constitution, talk about traditional.  Seems you can’t like golf for what it was /is either: exercise, appreciating the outdoors, certain ways of dress, certain ways of conduct, certain language, a love of history, arguments over method, an evolution of agronomy, the list could go on forever. Instead business / industry experts now believe that pulling in opinions from people who know nothing about an industry is the way to breathe new life into the game. Somehow, an expert in the sport of curling, could provide the formula for what ails golf. A grocery store manager will transform the way golf operations run, or the way customers are taken care of.  There’s this idea that if we do things completely different than the current traditions, that miraculously the floodgates of popularity will open. What about all the people who currently like the traditions? Is it not plausible, that they are actually became interested: because of the traditions? If you take everything they like and throw it out the window, isn’t it possible that two things could happen. 1) You get rid of all your current consumers, 2) Your 180 degree ideas don’t actually attract the consumers you were trying to attract by your changes. That leaves no one! At my core, I’m very much a traditionalist. I know why I’m in love with the game. How can you disagree….the game has been awesome for hundreds of years. Right now it's in vogue to rip anything traditional. Think about the USGA, they went 100 years with no issues, now they can't even run their own golf tournament. I rest my case. 

Tales From The Tall Grass 

May 8, 2018​

Golf is simply better when you are playing “a game” within the game. The stakes don’t have to be high, but you want your decisions and your shots to have meaning. One of my go-to games when we have a foursome is “Vegas”. I highly recommend it because it’s the complete game. Vegas is a foursome game, you break into 2 two man teams. You can play scratch, or add in handicaps, simply playing off the low man in the group. In Vegas, the score or (net score) you make is “combined’ with your partners score. Always putting the lower score as the first digit, higher number as second digit. You make a 4, I make a 5, our score is “45”, the other team makes a 5 and a 6, their score is “56”. The difference between 45 and 56 is 11 units, so my team is up 11 units. A unit can be anything, nickel, dime, quarter, dollar games can get scary, and here is why…In Vegas there are two scenarios that can lead to huge leads, or massive comebacks. If one of the players makes a double or worse, then you must put the big number first, instead of the low number. Let’s say, we make two pars, so we have “44” and the other team makes a 4 and 7. Because it’s a double or worse, their number is “74”, a difference of 30 units, ouch!!! So in this scenario, we have played two holes and we are up a total of 41 units, here is where it gets interesting. On the third hole I make a double (6), my partner makes a par (4), so our number is sadly “64”, big number first. The other team makes a birdie (3) and a bogey (5), there score is “35”. Birdies double the units! So instead of them winning 29 units, the difference between 64 and 35, they win 58 units because birdies are a doubler. So now, walking of the third green we are down 17 units. We were up 41 units, then they won 58 units, now we are down. As you can tell it’s a very exciting game. Forces all players to finish holes and really each hole is an opportunity to swing the match. There can be huge comebacks, and I always establish a max beat down number on the first tee. Maybe saying, the most you can lose is $20. You all want to leave friends. What happens in Vegas….  

Articles From The 

Wandering Mind of 

​Nick Stephens, PGA

May 15, 2018

May 22, 2018​

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