Welcome to Golf Industry.net, a geek’s guide of sorts to the global golf industry. Before I tell you why I created this site, let me give you a brief introduction about myself so you’ll know how far back my interest goes in this game and in the enormous industry that supports it.
My parents were married in Dublin, Ireland, on June 20th 1960. The church was called St. Andrews Church, which was a clue in itself, and they spent the rest of that week on their honeymoon at the Canada Cup in Portmarnock. This was the precise period of golfing history that was described by Curt Sampson in his book, The Eternal Summer, revolving around Ben Hogan’s final throw of the dice at the US Open in Cherry Hills on June 16-18th, the peak of Arnold Palmer’s rise to power with his charge to victory from 7 strokes back – having also won the Masters two months previously – and the emergence of a fearsome young amateur by the name of Jack Nicklaus who almost snatched the victory away from both of them. The Canada Cup was a stop-over for Palmer on his way to the British Open in St. Andrews two weeks later, where he was expected to complete the third leg of the Grand Slam but was denied by a single stroke by Kel Nagle despite another late charge. My father often spoke about how he remembered seeing Palmer and Sam Snead emerging from an enormous throng of people at the 15th tee, a spectacular par-3 along by the shores of Dublin Bay, and how Slammin’ Sam gazed out over the waters at the lonely rock in the distance known as Ireland’s Eye and asked; “Is that Alcatraz?”, a remark that brought the house down. My mother had no real background in golf, though she did meet South Africa’s Papwa Sewgolum* at North Berwick the previous year on his way to playing in the Open at Muirfield. At Portmarnock her role was mainly autography hunting, and she did quite well at that, nabbing virtually the entire field including Arnold Palmer, Gary Player, Bobby Locke, Stan Leonard, Al Balding, Harry Bradshaw, Eric Brown, John Panton, Harry Weetman and Bernard Hunt for a start, along with Peter Thomson, Roberto de Vicenzo, Dai Rees, and a whole host of others whose names are now lost in the mists of time. So from an astrological point of view it was always likely that I was either going to become a golfer or else be locked away in a long-term penitentiary. Thankfully for me it was the former, not the latter, though of course there’s still time for that as well.
Anyway, I grew up in South-West Ireland and started playing golf with my parents at the age of 2, and between then and my late teens I must have played or practiced almost every day. The photo at the top of the page is the 2nd hole in Ballybunion, a hole I first played during the Munster Boys’ Championship in July 1976, the famous “Long Hot Summer”. I remember trying to thread my drive between the bunkers to set up an approach to the green nestled in a bowl at the top of the dunes, a hole designed by God. I was 14 years old, handicap 11, and shot 81 that day, and was feeling pretty good about myself until I got my first sight of another young lad of about the same age, Philip Walton. A future Ryder Cup winner, Philip was already playing off 3 and could hit the ball 20-30 yards further than the rest of us. He was a phenomenal natural talent and when he struck down on his irons you could feel the earth move.
Later that evening we all gathered in the clubhouse to watch the highlights of the British Open from Royal Birkdale and discovered that leading the tournament after the 1st round (alongside Christy O’Connor Jr. and Norio Suzuki of Japan) was another young lad by the name of Severiano Ballesteros. None of us had ever heard of him but there he was, driving the ball colossal distances and scrambling his way around the course from the most impossible positions. He captivated the entire golf world that day and by the end of the week, when he got up-and-down at the final hole with a fantastic chip shot to tie for 2nd spot with Jack Nicklaus behind Johnny Miller, I realised I still had a long way to go before I could ever be called a golfer!
I persisted though, and eventually even got to represent Ireland at under-18 level alongside that same Philip Walton and Ronan Rafferty, another future Ryder Cup star, although that was as far as it went for me because soon afterwards I had to quit competitive golf due to study and work commitments. However, as you know, once the golf bug bites it never goes away, so I’ve always kept practicing and have stayed in touch with what’s going on in the game and my interest has never waned.
This site is my personal golf industry directory and it came about by accident because I was researching the golf industry for a project and needed a way to keep track of all the sites I was visiting. With so many sites to track, bookmarking them wasn’t an option so I decided to compile a directory. Old habits die hard, I guess, because “back in the day” in the late ’90s and early 2000s every website had a links page or curated mini-directory of useful sites for people to explore. It was part of the sharing philosophy in those times and how we discovered new sites, before the search engines that now dominate the internet came into being, and before peoples’ preoccupation with not wanting to share traffic or give away “link juice” took over. The most famous directory on the internet was the DMOZ-Open Directory, a huge, human-edited directory that was the Holy Grail for any business to be listed in.
Directories allow people who are interested in a particular industry or niche to drill down and discover real sites and businesses that, while never having the clout or financial resources to rise to the top of the search engines, still provide important products, services, employment, and a sense of community. Directories are also a form of “clean search”, whereas search engine results nowadays, it seems to me, are nothing more than multiple links to the same small group of mega-corporations plus a dog’s breakfast of ads, videos, tweets, social media and forum posts and random articles from the broadcast and print media. Much of this is just noise. The web is much more useful than that and while search engines and their computer algorithms are all well and good for doing the heavy lifting, we geeks can still play a role in organising things within our own particular niche. That’s what I’ve tried to do here. It’s a work in progress but hopefully when it’s done it will help you discover new sites and new aspects within the golf industry that will enhance your pleasure and knowledge about this wonderful game we play.
All the best,
*If you don’t know who Papwa Sewgolum was, look him up. It’s a fascinating story.