There’s nothing like a leisurely stroll down memory lane — and we thought you’d enjoy hearing just how AVIDGOLFER, well, teed off, if you will.
It’s been five years since the avidgolfer concept popped into my head. And after reflecting on the past five years and 49 issues, I thought it would be fun to recount the story as to how my dream of avidgolfer came to fruition.
I was not a good fit in corporate America (not my opinion, just what I was told). Many would call me a junkyard dog in my approach to work, and working for a mature company where rules were more important than results, I wasn’t very happy.
Fortunately (although I didn’t think so at the time), the company I was working for realized it as well and abruptly ended my tenure.
My first thought was to get another job. I had two young kids at home and I needed a paycheck quickly to keep my family in the quality of life they were accustomed to.
After looking at numerous opportunities, my best option for employment was with a direct mail company in Greenwich, Conn., whose proficiency was marketing to frugal families and active adults. Yes, it was junk mail, but that was my expertise, and given that I was from the east coast, moving wasn’t as horrid as many would think.
And so, on my 35th birthday, I flew up to New Jersey, rented a car and drove to Greenwich to receive the offer. I went to lunch with the president of the company, who made a comment to me that would change my life forever. He agreed that the growth of his company was limited in frugal families and active adults, but if he could ever develop a marketing tool to target teenagers or men, he could unleash the wealth of his company.
So, driving back to New Jersey with an offer in my hand, I cogitated on his comments about targeting teenagers and men. It was at that moment that I hit a fork in the road – I was at the airport in New Jersey, but I could easily drive down to Baltimore and see my folks. It was, after all, my 35th birthday and I did have a new job!
But 30 minutes later, I hit another fork in the road – this one was the Atlantic City Expressway. It was, after all, my 35th birthday and I did have a new job!
On my way to Atlantic City and wearing my best suit, I realized that I needed a change of clothes. So I stopped at the Calvin Klein outlet in Asbury Park to get a pair of jeans. I figured blue jeans and white T-shirt in Asbury Park – Springsteen would be proud!
And that’s where it hit me. I am in the changing room of the Calvin Klein store, and I had two simultaneous revelations.
The first is that I didn’t want to move to Connecticut. I love Dallas, I love Texas, and I couldn’t see myself leaving. And I didn’t want to work in corporate America again, where I ran the risk of upsetting someone in the Human Resources department and go through this process of finding another job again, especially with my family now living in Connecticut.
The second revelation was if you wanted to target men with a high amount of disposable income, the one thing many of them have in common is golf. So why not publish a lifestyle magazine for men where the theme is golf.
I immediately drove to the Harrah’s Casino in Atlantic City, got a hotel room and didn’t leave the room until the business plan for avidgolfer was complete.
You may think that the story ends there, but it doesn’t. What you don’t know is that the original business plan for avidgolfer looks nothing at all like what avidgolfer is today.
In fact, when I look back at it today, it is amazing we ever got past the first issue.
My plan called for inserting avidgolfer into the newspaper. I wanted it to be the Parade Magazine for men. And I sincerely believed that if I inserted it into the newspaper, everyone would read it; and national advertisers, especially ones in the golf world, would start pouring in.
So I continued on with my plan. I printed 325,000 copies of our first issue and intended to insert them into the local newspapers. What I didn’t realize, however, was that the Dallas Morning News considered us a competitor, and wouldn’t allow us to insert into them.
OUCH!! First strike against my plan.
Still, the Fort Worth-Star Telegram had no problem with us, and found some smaller papers in Dallas who welcomed us with open arms, and we persevered.
Unfortunately, very few saw the first magazine. Maybe it was because those newspapers aren’t well read. More than likely, however, it was because the first issue SUCKED!
It was so bad, in fact, that it is hard to look at today. I had edited and designed the first issue by myself, and I realized I wasn’t good at either.
And I also realized that there probably weren’t even 325,000 golfers in the area.
And Titleist, Callaway and Nike weren’t exactly knocking down my door.
So I brought in professionals who knew how to edit and produce a magazine, started to get the magazines directly into the hands of golfers through the local golf courses, and got out on the street and knocked on some doors.
Five years and a lot of hard work later, avidgolfer is now something I am very proud of. But I have learned many things through my journey that I would like to share:
- If you don’t have passion for what you are doing, do something else.
- In a small company, nothing is more important than loyalty.
- Hire people better than you are; and don’t be intimidated by their talents.
- Don’t ever, ever give up, no matter how bad it looks. Don’t make failure an option (thanks to Bob Sambol for that one. There were times failure looked like a pretty good option).
- If you put all your eggs in one basket, be prepared for the basket to break.
- Controversy sells, as long as it doesn’t cross the line. But be prepared to back it up.
- If you’re planning on doing something controversial, just ask yourself, “If you do it, will your mother still love you?”.
- If someone asks you what golf clubs they should buy, what golf course they should play or what club they should join, they generally want confirmation of what they already think. Don’t disappoint them.
- The benefits of following your dream ALWAYS outweigh the pain.
- Change is vital to keeping anything healthy.
As you review the history of our first five years, you can see the changes that we have been through. And starting in January, we will premiere another dramatic change.
Our name, cover and overall look will change. We will debut a new name, with a new cover design that will be reflected through the rest of the contents of the magazine.
I hope that it will take us to the next level of prosperity.
Because I never want to move to Greenwich!