Lessons Learned During the 2017 Golf Season

It might be easy to sum up your golf season. Me? Not so much.

For me, golf happens on Mondays in January, Wednesdays in April, even Sundays in November. Could you sum up your entire senior year of college? See, it’s not easy!

I didn’t shoot my best score this year. I didn’t make that elusive hole-in-one. I didn’t even play my 10th round until just last week, but as average as this golf year may have been, the lessons learned are what’s important. Here are a few of mine, in chronological order.

Just Go For It

In late January, I was at the PGA Merchandise Show in Orlando, the most expansive golf trade show in the world. It’s intimidating. I leave holding far too many business cards, having been bombarded by far too many salesmen. One of those folks was Bradley Converse.

He’s not so much a salesman as he is an entrepreneur, but he was selling me on his product nonetheless. That product was the Bradley Putter, putters with putter heads made exclusively from burl wood. For those not well versed in dendrology, a burl is a wood deformity. Burls are ugly, until you make them beautiful, which is exactly what Converse does.

He sands, manipulates, and adds weight, color and finish to these burls before slapping them on a putter shaft and selling them as a novelty item. Kind of zany, sure, but that’s not the idea here. His story is what stands out.

I met him in late January, just two months after his boss told him to move across the country or quit his job. That weekend, he came up with the idea for a wooden-head putter made from the ugliest of deformities. One week later he had a company. Seven weeks after that he was tagging along with another brand to use their space on the showroom floor. Three months later, he had raised more than $13,000 and began setting up his new company’s headquarters. Sure, there are more details, but I only have so much space. If we learn anything from him – we can apply this to golf – sometimes you just have to go for it.

Knowing is Everything

As sad as I was to see my work buddy move on, it made sense. He was stuck in an unchanging role. Upward movement seemed impossible. It made sense when he bolted for a company called Arccos, a golf performance tracking app, which uses tiny sensors affixed to your golf clubs to measure shots. Every shot sends data straight to your smartphone, where it is logged to help you help yourself.

At more than $200, it’s the kind of product that only the golfiest of golfers would entertain. Or so it seemed that way. Thanks to my friendly connection at the company, I was able to try Arccos for free. Because of it, I became a better fisherman.

I say fisherman because amateur golfers are a lot like amateur fishermen. We hit some incredible shots or play some incredible rounds and we tell everyone about them. Our 280-yard drive is relayed as 300 yards. Our 20-foot birdie putt is relayed as 35 feet long. It was the longest putt of my life! We constantly embellish like your grandpa constantly embellishes the size of that smallmouth bass.

Thanks to Arccos, I can’t embellish anymore. I know exactly how far those shots traveled; exactly how many fairways I hit; exactly how many 3-putts made me angrily walk to the next tee. It has made me a better, more realistic golfer, but I still enjoy a good fish story every now and then.

Wisconsin Has a Bright Future

It might not sit well with all Wisconsinites, but the state is rapidly becoming a marquee golf destination. Between the courses in Kohler, Erin Hills and the newly established Sand Valley, Wisconsin now has the pieces of the destination puzzle. And not many other states do.

There’s something about that perfect, 75-degree, non-humid summer feel. It’s old stuff to us, but it’s exactly what has folks from all over the country flocking to Wisconsin for their golf trips. What’s more, there’s a proposal for another elite course to be built down in Kohler. The top players in every demographic are playing their professional tournaments here, with their schedules bringing them back year after year. Like it or not, this is a golf state, and in that realm Wisconsin has a very bright future. The only sad part is we won’t be playing much for the next six months!


Sean Zak is an assistant editor at GOLF Magazine and in New York City, where he has learned that writing about golf is just as difficult as playing it. Although he may have graduated to the Big Apple and is falling in love with the city, he’ll know it will always lack one important thing from his adolescence: the Door County sunset.

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