View Full Version : Golf vs. Pool - My Take(LOOOOONG)

04-01-2002, 11:41 AM
In the past, and most likely in the future as well, on this and other boards people have made the comment that they wish that pool would follow the success of golf. I often wondered if this was possible, certainly pool has way too much scum to ever be like golf, but I'm now going to share a story about my golf experience that somewhat translates. Let me first preface this by saying that I like action, lots of action. The more gambling going on the happier I am. Now that I have that piece of business out of the way, time for the tale.

Last year the CPGA, Canada's equivalent to the PGA Tour minus two zero's on the check, came to a golf course only 10 minutes from my house. I'm not a huge golf fan so I hadn't planned on going. But, lo and behold my friend happened to have a spare ticket. Also, as luck would have it, a guy I went to high school with had managed to win a qualifying spot in the tourney. Free ticket + cheering on a friend + beer = a good time.

My first impression of golf was that it would be a bunch of old snotty guys, wearing ugly pants, sitting in lawn chairs, drinking cream soda, clapping every time someone made a tap in for par. Boy was I wrong!!!

About ten minutes after arriving at the golf course my interest was piqued by a group of gentlemen discussing money. I asked my friend, a golf nut, what was going on. He informed me that they were probably making a bet on something, "Happens all the time", he said. Turns out the group were betting large stakes on if anybody could hit the green on the 350yard Par 4 in one shot. Immediately I knew I would enjoy golf.

To make a long story short, there was more gambling going on at that golf course than at any pool tournament I have ever been at. There were two guys betting on every putt being made or missed. One group of guys was running their own mini-calcutta in the parking lot. And two old guys in ugly pants were betting rounds of beer on whether or not people would drive it past the tree they were sitting under, in their lawn chairs of course. The kicker of course came when after his round, my old high school friend informed me he had won a cool $500 bucks by scoring the lowest round in his foresome. So many upscale people drinking and gambling, it almost felt like my neighborhood pool hall.

So I changed my tune. Now when someone says, "I wish pool would be more like golf." My reply is, "I couldn't agree more."

I feel sorry for people who don't drink. When they wake up in the morning, that's as good as they're going to feel all day. Frank Sinatra

04-01-2002, 12:08 PM
I don't foresee pool ever becoming a large audience spectator sport. There are no huge arenas or stadiums for pool, and even if there was, you wouldn't be able to see the action. Even with televison, without the aid of a telestrater, it is hard to see the next shoot. I hope I'm wrong and that someone will find a way, but at the present, I don't see it. I think this is much more of a problem than some less than charming participants. Think for just a moment about some of the participants in other popular sports. Johnnie Rocker types don't seem to hurt them. Dennis Rodman comes to mind too. Think about it for just a little bit.

04-01-2002, 12:54 PM
The reason pool can't be as big as other sports is, because pool is not a product driven business. There is just not enough involved in pool other then a cue and a pool table and a place to play. Other sports have so many peopel making money off them, it is they own best interest to pump money into the various sports. Forget about the image and the gambling and all that. If there was any money to be made, sponsors would be all over the sport. There just isn't.

04-01-2002, 12:59 PM
<blockquote><font class="small">Quote:</font><hr>In the past, and most likely in the future as well, on this and other boards people have made the comment that they wish that pool would follow the success of golf.<hr></blockquote>
I couldn't agree more about the action thing. If I'm not betting something it just ain't real pool or golf. Lucky for me I started to play golf at the same time I started to play pool but unlucky for me I devoted most of my energys to the wrong sport. Bad move money wise. If my level of play were commensurate in golf as my level of play in pool I would be making a living playing golf. Don't get me wrong I love both games and will play them both till I can't wipe my own ass. There is a commercial on TV right now that says "every swing taken by the field in a PGA event means $28 goes to charity" that is an amazing figure and when I think of that number in relationship to my wildest dreams for professional pool I think I must be from MARS. There is no fricking way pool will ever be compared with golf in that fashion.

04-01-2002, 01:36 PM
I don't think anyone ever said there was NO gambling in Golf.

04-01-2002, 10:46 PM
Keep in mind.
The average person looks at the guys hitting golf balls on t.v and thinks "man these guys are great!! I could never shoot like they do." They never have either.

But just about every hack will watch the gents play pool, and think, I have ran a table in my day, I could be just as good as them if I had the time or inclination.

People seem to deem golf very tough, and an almost supernatural feet is required to keep the stick, on plane, with so many other thoughts going through ones head..
But they look at pool, as something that any old fool can do fairly well.

It is not right, but it is true..


04-02-2002, 11:38 AM
"I feel sorry for people who don't drink. When they wake up in the morning, that's as good as they're going to feel all day".
If I was a gambler I'd bet that that quote came from Dean Martin

04-02-2002, 11:44 AM
The first impression you had was exactly the impression the PGA wants you to have...a gentlemen's game. It's all in the marketing. There are golf hustlers who travel from city to city just like pool hustlers, and they get a line on who the big fish is in town, just like pool.

They've done a remarkable job marketing golf. If you've ever been to a pro golf tournament, it's murder trying to see anything. You either have to stand in one spot and watch different golfers hit the same shot from virtually the same place on the same hole over and over again, or you have to run around the course and have to try to jockey for a decent place to stand to see anything at all...and it's always from a distance.

If you think of all the barriers they had in marketing golf and the obstacles they had to overcome to make it appealing to the masses, it would seem almost impossible to do what they did.

As far as it being product-driven, the market didn't really open up for new products until the demand increased, which it did through the pro tour's marketing strategies.

I've been saying this about pool all along. You create the demand from the top-down and it will benefit the entire industry. No one listens.


04-02-2002, 11:46 AM
Calcuttas are as much a part of golf as it is in pool, and has probably been used longer in golf and tennis at country clubs. Gambling is not just pool related. Its just more open in pool than in country clubs.

04-02-2002, 11:52 AM
You are so correct Ms. Crimi.
Golf is marketed only because of the GREATS like Palmer and Nicklaus. Top down. Then the Gary Players, Lee Trivinos and others just reaped the benifits of huge purses.. and it all snowballed because Palmer and Nicklaus were at the top of the game for so long.. and it does help to have cameras on every hole now to see all beautiful screnery of the golf courses. Difficult to compare with pool at any level.

04-02-2002, 12:21 PM
Thanks, Tom. I've been studying the history of golf for a long time, and how it evolved into what it's become today.

Everything happened in a specific order. For example, the cameras on the holes and the beautiful scenery...that came later, after the demand increased. It all started with Palmer's great run, as you said. Unlike players like Strickland, Arnie didn't fight with the spectators. He adored them and cultivated them. They loved him so much they were dubbed, "Arnie's Army," and they followed him from tournament to tournament. Stories about Arnie's Army were in every newspaper and magazine. It was gold for marketing, but it would never have happened if not for the collaborative effort of Palmer and the PGA working together.

Then came the big Nicklaus/Palmer battles where for the first time, someone was challenging Arnie on the course. At first, the fans hated Nicklaus for threatening Arnie's reign and they openly voiced their feelings about that. That was good publicity as well as more articles in newspapers and magazines appeared. Gradually Nicklaus won them over and there became two camps of followers. Now everyone wanted to go to the golf tournemants and check out these two great players inthe heat of battle. The industry got on the bandwagon and pumped money into the tour. Smart move.

The PGA seized the opportunity and marketed Arnie and Jack to the max. The rest was continued smart marketing and a solid business plan that brought golf into the mainstream.

It can be done with pool. We have the Fisher/Coor situation and it should be marketed to the max.


04-02-2002, 04:35 PM
9-ball is too easy, anyone can run racks, this is so unfair. People think they are good when they can run racks, but you have a huge margin of error in speed control.
Add some extra balls on the table and they can't run the table anymore, while the pros still can!
A game with 30 balls is good, run them in order. The humans who watch will think the pros play good then.


04-02-2002, 07:05 PM
Q-Guy,I have to disagree with your post. When I watch a golf tournament on TV, I see very few golf related commercials. The commercials are for autos,airlines,even laundry detergent. What sport is actually product-driven? I can't think of one that makes a living, that sells the products to play the sport. Maybe it relates to what it cost to play the game. It cost a lot more to play golf or tennis than it does to play pool. Maybe the sponsers think that people who like pool, don't have any money. I admit I don't have the answer,but I would think the first step would be to get coverage during the sports section of your local news. When was the last time you heard the outcome of a pool tournament on the news or in the newspaper? My guess would be never. To me,that seems the best place to start. Jim R.

04-03-2002, 12:36 AM
I think you are right, that is their basis for success are sponsors that have nothing really to do with the actual sport. There is a heck of a lot more of those. Pool seems to be in a catch 22. The production quality is so bad it doesn't showcase the product, which is pool. I think a potential sponsor looking at what is currently being done would not even be interested. You have the players practically falling over the camera wires. Having cameras shoved in their faces as they try to shoot. Terrible commentary. The camera pans around to half filled seats. The product, Pool, just doesn't look like much of a product. It is done in such a way, that only a pool player who is desperate to watch some pool would not change the channel. I can't imagine what pitch a promoter could give a sponsor that would make them cough up any money. In regard to what I said about product driven. Many sports are very product driven in that there is many ways to make money from the sport. Golf is big. Except for the main sponsor such as an auto maker or something, most for the commercials are golf products. Everything from clubs to clothes. Every night there are infomercials for golf related products on cable TV. Golfers spend with both hands on all kinds of stuff. It is a complete industry of products. Some of the companies are Billion dollar companies. Tennis, bowling, fishing, cycling, skiing, all are product driven sports industries with billions being generated. Outside of the purchase of a cue, a pool player may not spend another dime except for table time. I don't know, there are a lot of ways to look at it I guess.

04-03-2002, 03:09 AM
who plays good golf vs. the KIND of person who plays good pool.

04-03-2002, 04:04 AM
It is a little like watching close up magic. People enjoy it but don't really know the thousands of hours that went into making it look so easy. Yet David Copperfield does a big illusion that is nothing but clever choreographed junk, and they fill auditoriums to see him. It is all the perception. Golf as compared to pool just has more visual appeal. There is no way to change that. Pool is what it is. People watch golf that have never played, or care to play. It appeals to the non-player. Pool except, for trick shots, can't be made to appeal to the non player. The better it is played, the more boring it becomes to the spectator. Pools ability to keep someone's attention in my opinion is very short.

04-03-2002, 07:32 AM
I never really enjoyed watching golf until I tried playing Golf. This same concept applies to pool. My wife went to a Pro tournament with me. Her first statement after the first match was "This game looks to easy and becomes very boring to watch because they never miss." Her perspective has changed since she has started playing.

04-03-2002, 08:15 AM
Good morning:

Sponsor and advertisers invest their marketing and public relations budgets based on the demographics (e.g.: average age &amp; household income), as well as geographic areas they are interested in. If an activity and/or sport has accurate and verifiable data, compiled by a recognizable organization which conducts market surveys, and this demographic and geographic data fits the target market of the advertiser and/or sponsor they will be interested as long as it is cost effective and will provide them with a reasonable return on their investment.

Remember the old Wendy's commercial? "Where's the Beef"

Well, the same concept applies to advertisers and sponsors. Where is the BEEF and what we will see from our "investment" in your activity and/or sport.

Advertisers and sponsors are like investors, they want a return on their money. Advertisers and sponsors DO NOT give grants!

Just a little more food for thought!

Dr. D.

04-03-2002, 08:24 AM
Good morning Fran:

Words well spoken. However, you forgot to mention that the PGA is managed by professional business people who know how to manage operations, finance, marketing, human resources and the game and the sport.

Dr. D.

04-03-2002, 10:04 AM
Right. I'd be curious to know who were the types on the PGA Board of Directors at the time Arnie's Army came into being, and who they employed to perform various functions.


04-03-2002, 10:48 AM
There has got to be a history of the growth of the PGA somewhere out on the net.. maybe it will tell us how it boomed.. The PGA site doesn't have much.. still searching..

04-03-2002, 10:54 AM
Good morning:

We could always just ask for their input. I am certain they would be proud to discuss the growth and success of the PGA to those who are interested.

Dr. D.

04-04-2002, 10:19 AM
The fish eats from the head down,the tours must lead both men and womens. I am a GM at a private Country club and have been for along time, before Arnold Palmer. Mark Mc Cormick, Palmers agent, became the czar of golf made it happen. Pool has a great product it needs a professional to take over,not another player. Get together behind one entity,Fran you are on the right track. Hopefully we will listen and unite.Thnx EZMark P.S. I own a pool room in S.C.

04-04-2002, 10:51 PM
I requested this information about 4 years ago.. and didn't even get a reply.. Not all organizations are open to sharing information to the public. In business it is even worse. I have found that the majority of 'average' businesses are very protective of any information. The larger (above average) businesses put out so much info it is like OVERLOAD..

04-05-2002, 06:16 AM
Good morning:

Maybe what we need to do is have a Tournament, Professional Pool Players against Professional Golfers. By establishing a working relationship, through tournaments and/or charity events, they would be more receptive to providing us with some guidence.

Dr. D.

Rich R.
04-05-2002, 06:44 AM
Dr. D, I think you may really have something there. Most professional athletes compete in sports, other than their own, for recreation. I believe Earl Strickland and a few other big name pool players, play golf for recreation. I'm sure there must be a few professional golfers who enjoy pool for recreation. Instead of a pro-am team competition, a pool-golf team competition could be set up and all the teams play golf and pool against each other. Something like this would also make a great charity event. I am sure there are Country Clubs with both golf courses and pool tables to host an event like this. Now all we need is some one with the connections to make it happen. LOL. Rich R.

04-05-2002, 10:37 AM
Pro Basketball players, Baseball player, NFL players and even Hollywood stars have had yearly Pool tournaments to help annual charity events. This is nothing new.. its just not that exciting.. nor is it really newsworthy.

None of the above events made it into anything other that local news media and the Pool Rags.. Pool just isn't consider even a minor sport.

Since the 1950s, Pool is nothing more than a recreational game played by lots of people in bars and pool halls. Pool will not be anything more than it is today, which is worse than it was in the 50s and still not a good as it was in the 80s.

There is no way Pool can compete with Football, Basketball,
Baseball, Tennis and Golf.. $pon$er$hip Dollar$. Corporate America is not that stupid.

04-05-2002, 11:10 AM
I agree, Diana. That's one of a lot of marketing strategies that can and should be utilized. The problem I see is that our industry has been too fragmented over the years....a little money for this and a little money for that...no direction and no plan. For example: with all the cable and satellite stations we have now, and the thousands of people in our industry with all their connectins, there should be a pro player on TV every single day, giving an interview, doing a talk show, out there getting exposure. There are so many publicity outlets these days. I see no excuse for them not being utilized. It just seems like a no-brainer. I can't believe that somebody's out there trying, and being rejected by every single cable station to interview a player. I can believe, though, that somebody's not doing their homework.


04-05-2002, 11:19 AM
and when someone does try to market themself, they get slammed by their own kind for being too successful.. duh?Jeanette Lee is the most recognized name in POOL? not because the WPBA promoted her.. or because she is the current Player of the year, or because she has won more championships this year or last year than anyother pool player.. Ms. Lee has siezed the opportunity to make as much from her accomplishments, skills and good looks as possible.. What has the WPBA done to promote pool? What has the BCA done to promote pool?

Good luck in making Pool as popular as Golf.. but it won't be in my life time..

04-05-2002, 12:36 PM
This week in my home town we are thawing out the two City owned minicipal golf courses readying them for the coming golf season. I'm not sure but I would imagine that any city/town of 5 to 10 thousand or more has a city owned golf course whos function is to break even for the year. Does any one live in a town that has a city owned pool hall? I don't mean to be glib but pool and golf are in completely different categorys. Somehow the golf industry has convinced tax payers to support a game which most of them don't even play. The local newspaper will put any and all information(schedules, special events, league standings, hours of operation etc.) regarding the golf course in the paper free of charge; they will not do so for the local pool community. Different animals!!

04-05-2002, 03:59 PM
Exactly. The "somehow" part you mentioned is the answer. How does it get to the point where small town newspapers are willing to see pool differently? Marketing and massive doses of exposure on the pro level is how. Then you'll see people who don't have a clue about pool (just like golf) suddenly become interested. Then it will filter down all the way to the small town newspapers. Do nothing, though, and you get nothing.


04-05-2002, 04:12 PM
Even the very best marketing firms have to have something to work with in the beginning.. Right now.. even in the largest cities.. the local news will not carry a story about pool unless a very large sponser pushes them.. kinda like a vicious little circle here isn't it? There were only small mentions of the tournaments last year that I attended in the local papers. (US Open and Derby City Classic)

Why would any media do a pool story? where is the 'scoop'?

I really hate to be negative.. but from my view point the only people making a living from pool are pool hall owners, pros, manufacturers, large league orgs, and instructors. And when do they ever get together and see what they can do to make more money?

Leagues are just about as popular as the bowling leagues accross the country..and the bowlers don't get that much press, why would we expect pool to do any better?

04-05-2002, 04:22 PM
Tom, you've got me stumped there. I haven't heard one player slam Jeanette for marketing herself. That's the absolute truth.

You're right in that very little has been done up to this point to get pool on the map by players' associations and the industry. But things can change in a flash if the right thing gets done at the right time and place.

While I'm not going to try to predict when it will happen, there's no doubt in my mind that it will, that is unless everyone develops your attitude of "not in my lifetime." Then we're in big trouble! Haha!


04-05-2002, 07:17 PM
Have you actually contacted them ( local news papers ) about upcoming tournaments. Hard to cover them if they aren't aware of them. Maybe they wouldn't assign a sports writer to them but they might be willing to print results / stories of local tournament action if these were written up in a format suitable for print and submitted for publication.

04-05-2002, 07:21 PM
This sounds like a good idea from our ( pool players view )
point of view. Would get good exposure with very respected group ( pro golfers ). But what would entice the golfers to engage in such a tournament.

04-05-2002, 07:54 PM
There certainly seems to be many good ideas floating concerning the promotion of the sport we all love. But the big road block seems to revolve around keeping the non player or not not so serious player interested in it enough
to actually watch the game. Let's face it, without a large audience it's extremely difficult to attract sponsers.

The fact is pool can "look" very easy when performed at a high level. This can be especially true when looking at many of the popular games whether it be 8 ball, 9 ball or straight pool ( non pool players only see the " easy" shots being made with no appreciation of the cue ball control necesary for those " easy" shots.

Maybe there should be some thought as to a game/tournament in which it is readily apparent of not only the shot being made but the cue ball control also.

How about something along the lines of target pool. It would seem to be a game that could easily be scheduled into
the time restraints of television. After all you would know in advance the number of shots each player would be taking.

Just a thought

04-06-2002, 12:09 AM
There are two major newspapers in Cincinnati. There are also some neighborhood papers.

The two times that Allison Fisher and Grady Matthews played at our local pool hall, we sent out media guides to all the Newspapers, local TV stations, neighborhood papers and radio stations. We didn't get one call, in fact we called and asked if they got the media guides. All that replied.. just said they weren't interested..

Local tournaments are not covered. Most players don't want their names in the paper..anyway.

The news media is just not interested. Not in Cincinnati anyway..

04-06-2002, 06:40 AM
Good Morning:

As we all know, newspapers are only interested in the news which helps to sell papers.

You can lead the horse to water, but you can not make him drink. Salt the hay, and he will drink on his own! Just like the bars and taverns, why do you think they have the "salty" snacks on the bar?

Dr. D.

Rich R.
04-06-2002, 07:51 AM
It is not just Cincinnati Tom. The APA held the U.S. Amateur Championship in Laurel, Md. for the last two years in a row. This tournament draws the top APA players from all over the country. Laurel is half way between Baltimore and Washington. Unless I missed it, I have never seen one story in the local papers or on TV about this tournament. This is a sad situation. Rich R.

04-06-2002, 11:02 AM
<blockquote><font class="small">Quote: Doctor_D:</font><hr>
You can lead the horse to water, but you can not make him drink. Salt the hay, and he will drink on his own! Just like the bars and taverns, why do you think they have the "salty" snacks on the bar?<hr></blockquote>

We supplied all the information that would make the story easy to cover. Backgrounds on Ms. Fisher and Mr. Matthews.
Salting does not always ensure the desired results. Your thoughts on this are just too general to apply here. I was talking of specifics. The Media Guides were full of information, black and white pictures, Championship stats for both players, brief histories, city information on leagues and tournaments and places to play in the surrounding areas. We did all the research for them and still got nothing..

If you can offer another type of "salt" please do so..

#### leonard
04-06-2002, 03:32 PM
The Touring players was run by Golfers for many years. Dean Beman was a touring golfer who was elected to head the Touring Pros which is different from the PGA, which is what the home course pros belong to. When Dean retired in the last 10 years a businessman replaced him. The pro golfers learned along time ago to take control of the Golf Tour. I think the Board of Directors consists mainly of touring Golfers. Most sponsors of Golf Tournaments are golf nuts who also happen to be presidents of large corporations. The Kemper Open comes to mind as one. When the President of the Corp is prsenting the prize check at the tourneys end you know he is a golf bug and is enjoying the company of the pro golfers.####

#### leonard
04-06-2002, 03:44 PM
Ladies and Gents and Big Steve Ferraro, Gary Pinkowski ran a pool tourney at the same time as the Endicott Open and the pro-golfers played in a pro am event and that was over 20 years ago. Garys death stopped that event. I played a 2 day exhibition at The Sea Pines Plantation [Home of the Heritage Classic]in 1970 and there was more people in the audience than at a Worlds Tourney. I had lunch with the Manager of the Resort and he told me I had two beers. He knew by the puzzeled look on my face I didn't understand what he was trying to communicate to me. Then he told me if I was a pro golfer being comped the first thing they would have done was order a bottle of every type of whiskey,rye,scotch,etc. Then he said any time I want to return just give him call.####

04-12-2002, 10:21 AM
Rich...The worst part about that, is that the APA is the most "powerful" of any of the 'pool organizations', in terms of member numbers, and dollars generated!...and even THEY don't care enough to force the local media to pay attention to their 'national amateur championship'...which they could do by BUYING some advertising in the local media. Notice that when somebody buys an ad in the billiard mags, frequently there is some kind of article or news item, either adjacent to, or close by the sponsored ad. The APA spends tons of money to promote their own events nationally, and locally, to THEIR players, through their own "media", but does nothing to persuade or attract attention from outside media sources. You gotta pay to play! JMO

Scott Lee