Friday, February 17, 2012

Craig's Crossing - EzLocator, Fashion Week in the Netherlands

Most of what I have researched about Jon Schultz starts with a 19th-hole story. I listened to Tony Leodora interview Mr. Schultz on Philadelphia radio station WNTP and Tony started the discussion by pointing out that pin placement was always a topic after finishing a round with he and his buddies and that typically it’s the hole-location that makes the least sense that gets the most attention.
In mid-2003, Jon Schultz finished a round of golf at Dallas Athletic Club (DAC) and was settling wagers and swapping lies with his regular golfing group. “Someone mentioned that the holes were in the same locations as the previous Sunday,” Schultz recalls. “The discussion became very heated and lively — everyone had an opinion about how holes were placed at the club.” Jon consulted with the Greens superintendent and went to work developing ezLocator.
I am immediately attracted to and love to talk about any aspects of managing a facility that are in fact manageable and particularly those that impact the image of the facility. Ironically I met Jon Schultz in the bar at the Peabody, considered by many to be the 19th hole of the PGA show, two gin and tonics later he had me.

Jon, it is a pleasure to have an opportunity to speak with you today. Perhaps we could start with expounding on the Dallas Athletic Club story and telling us about Jon Schultz.
My Dad taught me to play golf when I was only 10 years old. I played on my high school golf team and considered myself a pretty good player until I went to the University of Texas. There I was introduced to Tom Kite and Ben Crenshaw, and decided I’d better pursue an engineering degree.  After college, I continued to play amateur golf and taught my first wife the game.  As our family began to grow, it was only natural to raise our three sons on the golf course.  Playing golf together gave us an opportunity to spend quality time together and every Sunday became Schultz Family Golf Day.  As our boys grew older, the competitive juices began to flow and it was only a matter of time before I went from number one to number five on the family team.  Over the past 35 years I have been fortunate to play tournament golf, caddie and participate as a tournament chairman at the highest amateur level. I wanted to recreate the same excitement I experienced in tournament play, every time I played a casual round of golf.  That is when I decided to utilize my technology background to create a pin placement system called ezLocator®
I quickly realized I wasn’t the only person who wanted that exhilaration of a challenging game every week.  While sitting in the 19th hole after our Saturday golf games, my buddies and I would complain about the silly pin placements and would either be asking “what crazy person put the pin there” or say “those pins are in the same place every Saturday.” That is when I knew a little technology could make the game a whole lot better. The Dallas Athletic Club (DAC) graciously became the guinea pig for my computer software program I designed. I knew I was on to something when the greens superintendent told me the complaints he received on a weekly basis turn into thank yous. Soon I was taking my creation to golf courses all over the country and that is how this whole thing got started.

 I mentioned that I felt your service improved the image of the course, and it is interesting to me that I am just recently starting to think of hole-locations in those terms.
I believe the most precious asset of a golf course is the greens.  Every golfer wants a perfect putting surface, tournament like pin placements, and information at their fingertips, like the pros.  With a single click of the mouse, ezLocator offers an infinite number of pin locations and presents the golf course like a professionally run tournament. Each day a player can use a professionally designed pin sheet just like a tour player.  Additionally, superintendents rave about ezlocator as the “goto” tool to proactively manage and improve the green condition, and enhance communications with the pro shop and club members. 

What are some of the other major features and benefits of EzLocator?
1.       Creates a new course every day
2.       Reduces maintenance costs
3.       Improves putting surface quality
4.       Utilizes the entire putting surface for pin placements
5.       A method that eliminates hole placement errors and guesswork
6.       Daily pin placements can be downloaded using ezLocator iPhone app

Would you explain the basic logistics of implementing the product and its day-to-day use?
Our system implementation is very simple.  We offer a turnkey solution that starts with the mapping of the greens to find the optimum number of locations per green. We provide the club staff with it’s own web portal of their course greens so the daily holes can be customized from any computer anywhere. Creating the pin sheet is as easy as a simply click a mouse. Within two weeks of our on-site work our customers are up and running.

Everyone in today’s economy is rightfully concerned about and has to justify ROI. This seems to be one of the most compelling aspects of your story.
Many superintendents spend a minimum of at least 4 to 6 hrs. per week working pin placements.  They are either deciding where to put them, managing the placement process or answering member questions about the days pin locations.  The “cup cutter” spends an extra 15- 20% of his time trying to decide and find a good location on the green.  Often times they are put in the same area because that is the only reference point they have.  Additionally, ezLocator fully utilizes the entire puttable surface so fewer chemicals and fertilizers are needed to maintain a healthy green.  With the time savings, reduced green wear and reduced material cost our customers are seeing about a 4-6 month ROI.

I know you have this service in place at some of the better clubs in Dallas but that the launch is relatively in its infancy. Tell us if you would of some other of your placement and their significance?
We are very appreciative of the rapid acceptance of our product and how it has helped many of the top clubs in the country.  Several of our customers are ranked nationally and internationally. St. Georges Golf and Country Club hosted the 2010 Canadian Open and Westchester Country Club hosted a PGATOUR event for 41 years and hosted a Champions TOUR event this past August.
A partial list of elite clubs includes: 
Golf Digest Top 100 U.S.
      Wade Hampton-- #29
Cashiers, NC
      Old Sandwich Club-- #38
Plymouth, MA
      Dallas National Golf Club-- #59
Dallas, TX

Golf Digest Top 100 International
      St. George’s Golf and Country Club-- #27
Toronto, Canada

Golf Digest Top 100 Best Modern Courses
      Lost Dunes Golf Club-- #63
Bridgman, MI
Golf Digest Top 100 Best Classic Courses
      Westchester Country Club-- #93
Harrison, NY
One my most memorable customer experience occurred on a sales call at a Canadian club. We were discussing the many benefits and features of ezLocator, when the topic came up of ezLocator’s ability to isolate damaged areas of the green due to disease or vandalism.  The club’s superintendent quickly chimed in and said they have wild bears roaming the area and he asked if we had an answer for bears “grubbing” on their greens?

When I play with my two sons pin placement is always part of the post round chatter. In fact just recently we played a course in Jacksonville and the pin placement on 17 actually was ridiculous to the point of probably not being within whatever rules govern such things, my oldest who it turns out is an aficionado of such things made the remark that there must be sadists running the facility. I don’t usually pay that much attention as my handicap is significant but it drove home to me the importance of this feature of the round and the impression it leaves on the total experience is in the scope of things.
Jon Schultz is the only man I’ve ever met who has thought this through and has a solution that makes sense. He can be reached at  972-231-4040 or, please tell him you read it here and that Craig says hello.


Golf Fashion Week to debut in The Netherlands.

Den Bosch The Netherlands will be the place to be for all global golf insiders from March 5th-11th who understand that golf clothing is becoming an essential aspect of the future of golf. Co-chairman Auke Hempenius lived in the United States for 26 years and was fashion analyst for The Golf Channel and fashion editor for GolfWeek. A recently signed partnership with the Ladies European Tour has given Golf Fashion Week some serious clout with it’s first edition.
The week kicks off Monday March 5th with the GFW Invitational, a golf tournament - named Dressed to the 9’s - unlike any other. The 9 hole tournament will be played by nine US Kids Best Dressed Award winners, nine amateur Best Dressed Award winners and Dutch touring professionals Chrisje de Vries en Lawrence Möger. During the entire 2011 golf season Best Dressed Award tournaments were held all over the country, where the Best Dressed player received an invitation for the GFW Invitational. The participants will play nine holes and post their net score. The “back” nine score will be given by the celebrity fashion judges for their golf attire. So the player that is the Best Dressed has a chance to win the tournament not playing the best golf….it’s about the clothes remember? The GFW opening cocktail party will follow play.
Tuesday will be reserved for radio- and television coverage. Wednesday there will be special coverage at and Thursday will be social media day with Golf Fashion week on twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.
Friday night at 8 Pm in The Brabanthallen is the VIP Golf Fashion Runway Extravaganza a runway show where all participating golf fashion brands will showcase their Spring Summer 2012 collection. Holland’s top fashion couturier Addy van den Krommenacker, who is based in Den Bosch will open the festivities. On Saturday and Sunday the runway show will take place at 3 Pm.
The inaugural Golf Fashion Week has garnered global attention with coverage in South-Africa, Spain, Japan, United States and the UK. You can find more info at or at where Auke Hempenius will post updates in English as well.
For direct inquiries e-mail  on twitter @golffashionweek.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Craig's Crossing - Reinvent, Refresh, Revive

One of the most rewarding aspects about working in the golf industry is the interesting cast of characters that one gets to meet on both sides of the counter. Ken Bauer of Bauer International, Inc. is a world traveler with a family history and background that by itself is the grist for an incredible book. Early in his career he traveled to the far corners of the globe and garnered the moniker the “Indiana Jones of Antiques”. 

Ken is a philanthropist who was deeply involved with helping Charleston, SC bring back its maritime heritage through the building of the tall ship, The Spirit. When you enter the offices of Bauer International, in a very industrial neighborhood in Charleston, you are transported to a world which reflects the mystique and international attitude of the owner whose philosophy is to utilize the best and most unique designs and workmanship the world has to offer. This philosophy, encompasses all facets of his enterprise including his catalogs, one of which won a Benjamin (named in honor of Benjamin Franklin) recognizing excellence in independent publishing.  It is here in Charleston that Ken designs and creates golf shop fixtures and will reinvent your locker room while providing incredible conversation.  

Ken, I am a huge fan of the quality, functionality, look and feel of your product and services. Explain if you would some of the principles your design staff brings to the project to create and/or renovate retail space in golf shops?

If we are asked to be integrally involved in creating or renovating any part of a clubhouse, be it the locker rooms, dining rooms, meeting rooms and/or the golf shop, we want first to thoroughly understand the vision of the GM, the Pro and their membership. We need to get to know as much as possible about the history of the club and its demographics. We do not want to recreate the shop down the street. Our reason for being there is to accomplish as economically as possible a renovation that provides a distinctiveness that reflects the flavor and theme of the facility and its members. We want to build and add to the image of their ‘brand’. With this in mind I like to personally follow up on all project opportunities so as to assure we are heading down that path.

What are the design inspirations behind the “Fixtures by Collection” concept and when do you suggest custom planning?

Craig, I’m going to answer the second part of your question first. We typically suggest custom work when we need to match the details of the architecture or the subtleties of the building. Also, occasionally the theme-based requests require either total customization or a variation on an existing collection theme which could include a different color story or a particular wood or finish on existing collection pieces.

Our three major themes include:
  • The Hampstead Collection – inspired by 19th century British and Dutch colonial furnishings. Hand-crafted of solid mahogany and veneers with exquisite hand carvings, utilizing the same century old woodworking techniques as the originals.
  • The Stiles Brothers Collection- evokes the spirit of adventure from the early travelers to the far corners of the globe. Derived from those original shapes and form this collection is hand-crafted of rattan, leather and brass fittings.
  • The Emerald Isles Collection – has a southern contemporary sophistication. It is rustic, authentic, distressed and casual, utilizing recycled mahogany and brass.

Given the economic climate. what is the thrust of the marketing plan going forward? It is obvious that there is a lot of golf retail that needs your type of help to differentiate itself but there has to be some of the “What comes first the chicken or the egg” that potential customers  experiencing.

We have partnered with the Ranier sales-force to meet with prospective clients in all regions of the country to take existing relationships and explore the possibilities of Bauer International helping with any capital improvements from redesigning the clubhouse to adding a four-way. We have had to navigate the stormy seas of the last few years like everyone else. While our commitment through this downturn has been to streamline some of our cost and become as value driven as possible we still focus on customized differentiation and quality.

What would you say to the owner of a golf shop who is on the edge about spending the money it costs to remodel?

It is an obvious fact that a well designed, well thought out, well-merchandised shop increases business. A shop is not, however, just a vehicle for selling merchandise – it is an extension of your club/resort/facility’s brand. The heart and soul of most clubs that both members and guests or players and friends see first and often remember most are the golf shop and locker room.

Ken – thanks for your time and enlightening us on some of the important aspects of your business which I don’t believe to be well understood. Is there anything that you would like to add to this entry?

Craig, thank you. We believe that all business needs to constantly move forward to thrive and the phrase that we have adopted as a mantra and that you have used as the title of this interview is “Reinvent, Refresh, Revive”. This is the thought that I would most like to leave with everyone.

Ken Bauer describes himself as a wood jockey. I would describe him as a craftsman with an incredible passion for the detail and quality of what he does and the people he does it with and for. He employs people in remote villages to take specific advantage of hand-carving and caning. Ken tells how he brought electricity to two villages in Java and how an entire village in Ghana is busy making hardware he designed, using the ancient technique of “lost wax” brass casting. “Business is not a one-sided situation, it has to be mutually beneficial. I look at everything long term. I want my relationships with these people to continue and prosper.” 

Click the banner to the right for the Bauer International golf page slideshow. If you speak with Ken please give him my best.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Craig’s Crossing - Orlando Notes

Orlando is always fast-moving and it is difficult to focus on specifics as there are approximately 1100 exhibitors hosting a projected 40,000 PGA professionals, retailers and industry leaders. It is Mecca for the industry and interesting this year in particular for its array of new products, ideas and services. Obviously FootJoy and AddidasPeter Millar and Fairway and Greene  had a huge impact and Demo day always produces incredible buzz. I always look for the details others may have missed when I come home to write a recap.

Here are a few of my topics of note, some of which I will be expanding on in coming weeks.

  • Barrington (Gifts of Distinction) has an e-commerce concept and program which I will be talking about in detail shortly. They also have a convincing “social responsibility “story that is worth becoming familiar with. Wes Boyd is the contact and an engaging conversation.

  •            Ralph Dunning Sportswear had Jimmy Glass (National Sales Manager) giving presentations that could sub as product knowledge seminars which I talk about often as necessary educational stratagems for golf shop staffs. I asked Ralph to video this excellent presentation and allow me to post it here so as to create a forum for this much needed retail tool.

  •            John Ashworth’s Innosoft cotton jersey is a true luxury leisure fabrication that will give Linksoul incredible potential going forward and as always John’s mantra is “more a philosophy than a brand” which makes for intriguing marketing. More from John later also.

  •            EzLocator is innovative software from Jon Shultz that scientifically helps maximize the placement of pins on the green. I met Jon quite accidentally in the bar at the Peabody and was wowed by his passion for his service. We will be interviewing him shortly and give him a chance to tell this fascinating story.

  •            Debbie Forest from the east coast of Florida and one of the best reps in the country when it comes to helping shops understand their ladies' business took me to meet the principles at the GGblue booth. I was impressed with the product and hopefully we will be taking a harder look at both this line and merchandising to women in general going forward.

  •            There are so many new shoe styles and brands that it would be impossible to mention them all but they ranged from MartinDingman’s handsome leather traditional to Dawgs molded plastic touted as the lightest weight shoe in the industry.  I was thrilled to finally be able to meet  Mr. Dingman. Steve Mann and Greg Stafford of Dawgs launched what they explained to me was the lightest weight golf grip on the market. Allen Edmonds Golf shoes are outstanding also. The Double Eagle is picture here.

  •            Charlie Burgwyn of Eritage had a booth for his new vintage headcovers. The company is called Stitch and the product is made in the USA. Charlie explained to me over coffee just before the doors opened on Thursday the design concepts and how he ended up making it in the states. I circled back many times wanting to take a closer look and hear the rest of the story and could not get close to the booth.

  •            I ran into an old friend Roger Mack (Universal Golf tournaments) at the David O’Keefe Art booth and met Wayne Curtis (managing partner) who describes their incredible pieces as PoP culture icons, probably the best known of which is the Bill Murray Caddyshack pic. Roger and I were blown away by the unique pieces in the booth. 

  •            Bauer International always has an incredible show presence as they have unique fixtures  of the highest quality and they are clearly the leaders when it comes to helping your shop and locker room create the image and ambiance that your facility is attempting to project. We will be interviewing Ken Bauer very soon and he is incredibly good conversation.

  •             Pukka’s “design your own hats party” concept is a terrific opportunity for your staff to better understand not only how to talk about headwear but to buy in to the inventory they helped design. Pretty cool concept that we will be discussing further with John Bond in the future.

The show has been criticized for being too long and now we start tearing down booths at noon on Saturday. I, for one, hate to see it go – I could hang out longer- It’s like ripping down Mardi Gras for me.
I would be remiss in not congratulating Greg Norman on their wonderful party at the Peabody on Friday evening. It was intimate enough that you could catch up with old friends and actually hear what they were saying. I don’t need a rock concert in the middle of my Mardi Gras.