The Rose Factor - Want to get into the Golf Business?

Let’s face it, the economy stinks and you’re tired of your job. But you do love golf, playing it, watching it, everything about it? That was my story in 1989. I was 20 years as a stockbroker, having seen the ups and downs of the business, the oil embargo of 1974, interest rates of 20 percent in the early 80’s, the real estate crash in ’87. There were bull markets too. Being a broker had many benefits. I worked hard and earned a good living, was able take time off to play golf tournaments, locally, nationally and internationally. And the networking opportunities through business and golf proved invaluable then and even more so now.

So how did I end up in the golf business? In 1989, one of my clients was Nelson Cohen, former program director at KYW Radio, now the newly named PD at upstart All –Sports radio station WIP. We had lunch one day, discussing business, and his new job. I asked him if WIP, being all sports, would be doing a golf show. He said yes, that they had a sponsor, but with Bill Campbell not interested, they were looking for a host for their two-hour weekend show. He knew I was an avid golfer and I told him I thought I knew what local golfers would be interested in hearing. He invited me to be a guest the next week on Bob Vetrone’s Saturday night call-in show. Set for a half hour segment, the phones never stopped ringing till the show ended 90 minutes later, at which point Bob said, “you’re going to be our golf guy.” And so I began.

For four years, I hosted a two-hour weekend morning show, with help from Tom Brookshier, Gene Hart and many more. I covered the Shoprite LPGA live above the 18th green at Greate Bay, with then WIP rookie Rich Lerner, now Golf Channel’s top MC. Rich and I were joined by World Series hero Ray Knight, as we watched as his wife Nancy Lopez won the tournament. The show was a fan favorite until 1993, when new PD Tom Bigby arrived, announcing that WIP was no longer all sports, but now an entertainment station. Out went all the other, what I call, non-football sports. The Eagles would dominate, even though the station broadcast the Flyers and 76ers. But Bigby knew what he was doing, and the rest is history.

But golf was not dead. I moved on to 1210 WCAU, now doing all sports, and renamed THE GAME. I was there for four years before their sports format folded. But again I continued on, to WSSJ, WWDB, WCOJ and since 2006, 950 ESPN, now also broadcast on FM on 97.5 FM The Fanatic, the No. 1 rated sports radio station in PM drive time. Along the way, I moved onto TV, starting in 1996 on PRISM/SportsChannel hosting Philly Golf Week with Scott Graham. From 2001-2005, I was Lou Tilley’s golf reporter for Comcast’s CN8 Network. Along the way, I branched out to print media.

In late 1995, I got a call from Golfer Magazine, a national company that produced regional golf publications in 20 markets around the country, mostly in the golf destination markets of Myrtle Beach, Hilton Head, five Florida markets, Las Vegas, etc. They wanted to start markets in other strong regions for golf, Philly and vicinity among others. They had heard about my shows and contacted me. I didn’t know anything about the publishing business, but I did know that our area was among the best for golf courses, golf history and more than two million golf hungry golfers. Their magazine, with its convenient digest size, seemed like a winner. What the hell, I’ll give it a try. I went to their training program and off I went, attempting to sell advertising and publish a golf magazine. My first issue would come out in late March of ’96. If memory serves, you’ll recall the “Blizzard of ’96,” a record 31 inch snow that didn’t leave the ground till late April. Somehow, I got the magazine out, 28 pages, not bad considering. I’m happy to report that in the last 15 years, many other golf magazines have come and gone, with Golfer’s Guide continuing to be the region’s most popular and most widely distributed golf publication, going to more than 400 golfer targeted sites in PA, NJ, DE and MD. Who would have thought?

Other opportunities arose. With me writing my “Rose Factor” editorials, I was told that I was eligible to join the Golf Writers Association of America, which allowed me to get media credentials for almost any golf event, including the Masters, as the GWAA held its annual meeting at Augusta National on Masters Wednesday. In 1998, I joined the GWAA and went to my first Masters, what a thrill. I’ve been back there several times, along with going to many other majors in the U.S. and Europe. In 1999, burned out in the brokerage business and eager to do some golf coaching, I left Merrill Lynch. I would be poorer but also less stressed and much happier. The luck of the Rose Factor came almost immediately, as the job of golf coach opened up at Penn State’s Abington campus, and they were happy to have me. I spent five great years there, leaving to pursue the many events on the senior amateur tour.

It’s been a great run over the last 21 years. I’ve met and interviewed Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player, Jim Furyk and most of his all-pro guests at the Exelon Invitation, including great young stars like Sean O’Hair, Anthony Kim, Adam Scott and many more. I had a great time this past year co-hosting “Greenside with Mike and Mike” with my great friend Mike Brown on 950 ESPN, where we had a slew of big name guests like Freddie Couples, Andy North, Dan Hicks, Jimmy Roberts and Annika Sorenstam. This year looks like it’ll be even better, with the majors at Augusta, Pebble Beach, St. Andrews and Whistling Straits. There’s also the Ryder Cup and the arrival of the AT&T Invitational coming to Aronimink. Love those media credentials. But I’m getting a bit older and am looking to improve my golf game for the Super Senior circuit. I’m considering giving it all up if I find the right buyer. Has your job and the economy got you down? Want to play more golf, be less stressed? Maybe you’re interested in getting into the golf business. It’ll change your life for the better. Give me a call.

 

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