Category Archives: Professional/Personal

Final Rock Star (2)

Moving On

Final Rock Star (2)

Career update: I’ve left Maderas. I had a great experience there, but it was time to stop dividing my time and energies to focus entirely on growing my opportunity with Zeb Welborn and 19th Hole Media. I joined Zeb in June and we’ve had great success growing our golf social media marketing business. My time at Maderas was extremely valuable for discovering social media solutions for golf courses to support their various marketing and business objectives. I take all of those strategies forward, and continue to search for new ones, as we serve our current client base and seek to recruit more courses.

A huge thank to everyone who has supported my career and growth up to this point and has watched it grow into EXACTLY what I decided I wanted it to be four years ago. I’m there today because of your encouragement, belief and support. It feels great! I’ve never felt better about where things are going and the opportunities that lie ahead.

Ready for a conversation? Please contact me to find out what social media can do for your golf course in 2017!

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19th Hole Media: 12 Questions To Determine Whether Your Golf Course’s Social Media Strategy Is A Birdie Or A Bogey

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Does your golf course have a social media plan for 2017, or could your current plan use a review?

Before you answer, here are some questions to ask yourself:

– Is your course posting regularly (daily/weekly) and consistently to Facebook?

– Is your course utilizing Instagram to promote your course and reach new golfers?

– Does your course have an adequate supply of high-quality images to promote your facility?

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– Is your course working with video?

– Is your club’s social media plan comprehensive, meaning does it account for and promote ALL of your business entities (golf, instruction, weddings, tournaments, golf shop, dining, events, tourism, lodging, etc.)?

– If your course posts regularly to social media, are they prompt (24/48 hours) in replying to responses and queries?

– Does your course have a blog to drive traffic to your web site and create rich content of value to your clientele beyond it just being a calendar of events?

– Do you value social media as a marketing AND a customer service tool?

– Do you have someone dedicated to your social media who enjoys it and makes it a priority and isn’t overburdened with other course duties?

– Do you promote and sell golf rounds through your social media?

– Are you properly leveraging the investment you’ve made in your web site through social media promotion?

– Do you realize how fast social media is changing and how challenging it is to stay educated?

More than ever, social media needs to be priority for golf courses to relevant and successful in communicating with their clientele. It has to be prioritized as more than hobby. If don’t take your social media seriously, neither with your audience – and quality content counts.

Before the new year, I encourage you to let 19th Hole Media give you an honest and experienced assessment of your current social media efforts. It’s likely we can identify many errors for improvement and tailor a custom plan exclusively for your course that will work and take into account your current resources (staff, social media familiarity, marketing budget, etc.).

If your course is behind in migrating its marketing to social media, this is your chance to catch up. If you let another year go by without making it a priority, it will on deny your course and club the impressive results that social media can provide in this era of new media. And if you’re course is taking out print advertising to promote itself, we definitely need to talk because those are marketing resources you should be taking control of and converting into storytelling and social media channels that work and will inform and entertain your audience and gain you fans, followers and loyal customers.

You can contact either Zeb Welborn (zeb@welbornmedia.com) or Corey Ross (corey.ross@yahoo.com) to schedule a consultation. We’d be happy to share the strategies that are working for our growing list of clients and make sure you have a happy new year on social media in 2017. You can find more information about 19th Hole Media www.19thholemedia.com.

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Tweet, Tweet: Socalgolfblog.com Named One Of 25 Most Influential Golf Accounts on Twitter

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First the blog was named one of the top 100 golf blogs on the Internet. Now we’ve been named one of the 25 Most Influential Golf Accounts on Twitter. Is there a Triple Crown for this stuff? Can we get some Facebook or Instagram love?

We’re joking of course because we’re always humbled, honored and usually surprised to found out we’ve won something. I don’t know how many “Congratulations!” emails you wake up to every day, but it’s now happened to me twice in the last two months. I usually have to track it back to find out what I actually won.

This time it’s an honor from www.360golfholidays.com. You can read the list here. I’ll say this: It’s an eclectic list, from Beef Johnson to Claude Harmon to my San Diego colleague Jenn Harris at www.highheelgolfer.com.

Here’s our listing:

Corey Ross – https://twitter.com/socalgolfblog – San Diego golf and travel writer tweeting on a regular basis. Known for marketing golf courses and author of the socialgolfblog.com.

Yep. That’s us in a nutshell. Feel free to follow @socalgolfblog.com and learn a whole about golf courses in San Diego and particularly Maderas, where I work as the Director of Digital Marketing and Social Media. I also partner with Zeb Welborn to post for 19th Hole Media and our growing list of course clients.

And I have a thought or two about social media in general from time to time. It’s a funny place, this Internet. You never know who might discover you, but I’m glad the people at 360 Golf Holidays did. Thanks for the recognition. We’ll hopefully see you all on Twitter soon.

Socalgolfblog Joins 19th Hole Media

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A career update: In addition to my three days at Maderas, I’ve picked up a second job managing Facebook content for 19th Hole Media, which has a portfolio of clients in OC and LA. I’m excited about this opportunity for several reasons, but among them is that it fulfills my goal of doing golf social media for 40 hours a week and partnering with someone as experienced as Zeb is the ideal opportunity. If your course is in need of social media services, look us up. We know how to get results for courses online.

Below is the press release announcing me joining the team. Thanks again to Zeb for the opportunity and the partnership:

We’re excited to announce the addition of Corey Ross to the 19th Hole Media team.

Corey is the owner of Southern California Golf and Travel blog, contributor to Southland Golf magazine and Director of Digital Marketing and Social Media at Maderas Golf Club. His experience in promoting golf and online content using social media and other internet tools is a tremendous asset to 19th Hole Media.

In 2014, his Southern California Golf and Travel blog won the media award from the San Diego Chapter of the PGA. In 2016, Maderas was named best in social media for Troon Golf’s North American properties. Among other things, Maderas’ social media marketing has been integral in the success of GolfBoard, a motorized scooter that resembles a surfboard.

At 19th Hole Media our goal is to grow golf by helping golf courses and golf-related businesses realize their potential through social media. We are proud to have found someone that will help us do even more to grow golf.

Turn Your Golf Course Into a Social Golf Course

If your course has online marketing and/or social media needs we’d love to sit down with you to talk about how we can use those tools to get you more customers, increase rounds, and increase revenue. We help to your course reach more new players while deepening relationships and increasing rounds with your current clientele.

Schedule an obligation-free consultation to see how 19th Hole Media can help your golf course do better online. Contact Zeb Welborn at zeb@welbornmedia.com or 909-973-9089. You can find more information about www.welbornmedia.com.

xmas

Happy Holidays

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Just wanted to sheer some San Diego style holiday cheer with my readers and followers and apologize for a drop off in posts of late. I’ve gone through a lot of transitions in the last three months. The changes are all for the better but have momentarily left me with less time to contribute in this space.

I’m hoping to resume a more regular schedule in 2016. That’s not saying this space will go vacant the rest of the year, but it’ll be a little sparse until I’m a little more settled in my new situations.

2015 has been an incredible year for me professionally, and I want to thank everyone who has supported me in this endeavor along the way. 2016 will hopefully see another leap for me professionally – and, as we all know, the Farmers is just around the corner so there’s that to look forward to.

Have a safe and happy holiday.

CR

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LinkedIn: Why Golf Courses Should Blog

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Editor’s note: I originally posted this to LinkedIn. It will be part of an occasional series talking about content marketing for golf courses, including blogging and social media. You can find the Maderas Golf Club blog here.

When I tell people what I do for a living – golf and travel writing – they tell me I have a dream gig. And they’re right.

But it gets better.

For two years now, I’ve done golf and travel writing in the traditional sense – for magazines, web sites, etc. – but the unique part of my business is that I actually write FOR golf courses, meaning doing content marketing, social media and blogging. And that order is actually inverted because blogging drives the bus – or golf cart, if you will.

This part of my business came about shortly after I relaunched my career and immediately realized a par 5 of opportunity pertaining to how courses marketed themselves. They were still largely doing it through fliers and static web sites – and, by and large, still are.

Here’s why what we’re doing at Maderas Golf Club, a Golf Digest top-100 course in San Diego, is changing the game and why your course should consider blogging.

I started working with Maderas on its blog a year ago now after previous experience with a course group in San Diego that gave me my first chance to realize the potential of aligning content with the overall marketing and business objectives of a golf course.

My first paid blog work came from courses I’d written about in print who were thrilled with the coverage. Usually you’d had that experience and move on, but I told them the relationship could continue if they invested in a blog. And they did.

I’ll now fast-forward to Maderas because they’re my model and, at present, the ultimate manifestation of the concept. Blogging at Maderas began with us doing one post a week with content that fed into each of its overall business entities: the course, instruction, tournaments, food and beverage and weddings (much more on weddings in a second, btw.).

I also encouraged Maderas, since it has a partial tourist clientele by being located 20 minutes from downtown San Diego, to be a little bit regional in its mentality and basically be the golf magazine San Diego doesn’t have.

That thinking led to the first blog post – the then-recent opening of the PGA Tour Grill in the San Diego airport, something that had been covered rather quietly locally. The GM at the time and I had lunch there. He was impressed with the venue and service and we wrote a post endorsing the experience to our golfer “friends” at Maderas. Their previous posts had gotten around 50 views; this one got 500.

And that’s how a beautiful partnership began that led to posts about Maderas’ caddie services, its course, its staff and a host of other content opportunities. In the first six months, the blog generated around 10,000 impressions. That’s not 100,000, but it’s not 1,000 either. Mostly, it was a start.

We now post twice weekly. We post a video lesson from the Maderas’ Director of Instruction, Chris Mayson, on Monday and come back with something from Maderas’ content rotation later in the week.

One change we’ve made to the content rotation came after a survey of those first six months. I ran the numbers and realized our one weddings post (“The Top Five Reasons To Host A San Diego Wedding At Maderas”) outperformed every golf post in the same time frame. In a record year for weddings at Maderas, the general manager, Michael Flickinger, said, “Let’s make it a monthly.” And we did. And those posts now prove to be popular month after month.
That shows you how blogging allows you to truly take control of your marketing dollars if you embrace the mentality and realize the opportunities – which are everywhere on a daily basis, by the way.

There are many great outcomes and success stories I could share, but I want to cut the point of this post, which is to spin it forward for you and tell why blogging/content marketing/media is smart marketing for golf courses at a time when the industry needs to be embracing change more than ever.

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Customer service/relationship building

The mentality of the Maderas blog planning process is this: “How are we being a friend to our golfers this week?” In short, a few answers: We’re helping you improve your game; we’re talking to you about the PGA Tour (we preview all the majors, btw.); we’re helping you host a great wedding with us; we’re recommending new entree from our kitchen or introducing you to the new fall menu; we’re telling you about the slick hat we just got in the pro shop; and we’re even telling you about that cool new restaurant that’s about to open in town.

In essence, what this is doing: We’re virtually recreating conversations you’d naturally be having on the tee box or in the clubhouse. We’re being their golf buddy. And who do golfers always want to golf with … their buddy.

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Smart marketing

You may have heard about the ongoing drought in SoCal. Those water cutbacks began to impact Maderas this spring – and it was starting to show. The driving range was being allowed to go brown; water was by request only, although the club hadn’t made table tents that told you that and why yet. But Maderas was also taking responsible conservation actions golfers couldn’t see – replacing sprinkler heads with more efficient ones; capturing ice bucket melt water and using it to irrigate flowers.

Rather than let the topic became an elephant in the room, I suggested to the Maderas GM a post giving people an answer about the drought before they asked the question. We wrote “Four Ways Maderas Is Conserving Water” and that got posted on the blog and in their newsletter. It also got picked up as part of an infographic a marketing agency did about California golf and the drought.

Maderas couldn’t make it rain, but it could at least make sure that an information drought didn’t make it worse.

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Reduced print budget/increased exposure

Maderas has largely provided for blogging services by reducing its print advertising, but it hasn’t lost anything in terms of exposure. The blog does steady traffic and tells stories traditional media would never write about them … but stories print outlets find useful, and print-worthy, nonetheless.

In my 18 months of course blogging, I’ve now had 12 posts picked straight up as magazine pieces, including two for Maderas. So if you’re still someone who prefers traditional print exposure, there’s an outcome for you. You’re making it easy for the media by giving them something ready to go … and something you control 100 percent.

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Sales

Sales can be a hard one-to-one to track in a day in age when we’re told we can track everything (FYI, we can’t), but the maturing of the blog relationship is indeed now begetting sales. I put a golf offer out on Twitter last month that at first was greeted with kind replies and retweets before, 45 minutes in, was snapped up for a foursome by an avid competitive golfer, new to San Diego, who follows the blog.

I only expect more of this type of thing to continue has Maderas’ network and its relationships grow and we become better at seizing the day in the new marketing world and leveraging great content with strong social media reach – and it takes both. Otherwise, it’s like playing top-of-the-line clubs without buying golf balls …. Or vice versa.

In sales parlance, content is a warm handshake and everything is a soft sell. So I ask golf course professionals and general managers, “How many hands are you shaking online? How are you being a friend to your golfers today?”

Are you ready to give blogging a try? Who knows? It might just become the best new club in your golf marketing bag.

Six Observations About Chambers Bay and the U.S. Open

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1. “Old” School Is Cool – When I walked onto Chambers Bay for the first time, I immediately felt transported back to my couch in past Augusts at 5 a.m. when the TV greeting of “We’re coming to you live from Royal Birkdale/Troon/Portrush, etc.” would send a giddy chill down my golf spine.

I’ve never been to a British, but it has to feel a lot like this, or at least that’s the impression you get as you start to walk and discover this tree-free (OK, one) and bunkered beautiful behemoth.

It’s an 8-year-old course with the feeling of something much older and ancient because of the aged look of the course and its link to links golf, the birth of the game. Chambers feels like it’s always been here, yet its history is being made in real time. How rare and incredibly cool for golf.

For sports comparison, let’s just say, the first football to fly at Jerry World was probably cool … but not this cool.

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2. Background … Check – Chambers is really two experiences in one. There’s the course and then there’s the setting, which is breathtaking. The Puget Sound background would be awesome all but itself, but the touches of the tree and the train are not only stunning scenery but also incredibly smart visual branding of the course (more on this in a second).

On TV, Chambers is doing for the Pacific Northwest what the Farmers does for San Diego: It’s the best TV commercial it could ask for. Someone on local sports radio said as much yesterday … and that was by noon.

Experiencing Seattle for the first time, I can tell you the representation is spot on. The awesome just kind of keeps on going here. The only way it could be better at Chambers is if they could reposition Mt. Rainier behind a par 3 or put it on a floating barge for the week.

A scenic aside: I saw a sunset here on Wed. that blew me away. The mountains not only reflected pink, but a pink shaft of light seemed to connect the mountains to the clouds. As a sunset connoisseur … wow. My only regret is that I was massively out of position for a camera phone photo.

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3. Three Words: Trains Are Awesome – I’d been on the course for five minutes when the first train came by. I just happened to be on No. 16 and captured the photo at top. How incredibly cool, and what an awesome way to incorporate the culture of the area into the course design.

The use of the train in the framing of the holes is an absolute masterstroke of course design. It evokes the same appreciation I have for California course designers in the way they use the ocean and mountains. There’s a serious art to this, and it’s my favorite thing about the game from a creative perspective.

Moreover, what the train does is give added identity to holes in a way you don’t see on the British courses. Aside from a few holes on St. Andrews (The Road Hole & No. 18), I can’t conjure exact visual reference of many specific holes in the British Open rotation. No disrespect, but I just see a bunch of heavily bunkered and flat generic holes, which is purely my TV perspective.

By the time Sunday is over, I think golfers will have a lot of visual reference of Chambers, partly due to the train. I realized this as soon as I sent the above photo to a golf friend, who texted back, “What hole is this? I can’t wait to watch it on TV.”

The use of the train as added backdrop for greens and tees is equally brilliant. And my guess is if/when the Open comes back here, someone will have bought a branded locomotive. In the old days, that would’ve been a total TaylorMade move.

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4. Nos. 13-18, What A Finish – Watching the holes in progression for the first time yesterday, I was struck by how visually strong this course becomes from 13 (the tough par 4) on. During the practice round near this stretch, I was highly curious how it would translate on TV. The answer: It could scarcely be better.

What I really like is that the visual intimidation factor of the course comes across akin to how it does at TPC Sawgrass. This is made-for-TV golf that totally works and will only become more dramatic and effective as the tournament pressure and circumstances ramp up.

Dear Golf Gods: Can you please send us a Sunday horserace?

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5. TV, Take Two – Aside from greens that aren’t well, green, (I had people asking me what was wrong with them), there’s another problem: The ball and hole aren’t always easy to track here, partly due to the lack of white-green contrast you normally get in golf. “Where’s the ball?” was a common refrain in our viewing session. Golf shouldn’t be like trying to track the puck in hockey, but that’s a bit of what we’ve got here. (Switch to orange balls, anyone?)

As for the hole issue, Fox actually highlighted one with a lime green circle late in the round. That didn’t seem to be the answer, but it was good to know someone had at least identified the problem and was trying.

Otherwise, the reverse angles of the course from Fox Island (and a barge perhaps; can I sign up to run Barge Cam?) are added awesome to an overall visual production full of it.

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6. The Spectator Experience, The Other Shoe – Following this tournament on the ground is a combination of brutal and impossible, more so than just your usual difficulty at a PGA Tour event. This course is walkable in the same way the Himalayas are … it really isn’t. By comparison, Torrey Pines, for example, is a literal and figurative walk in the park.

On the ground, Chambers Bay is a steep, dirty sand box to negotiate with very few places for foot soldiers to get a great glimpse of the action. (That said, I didn’t get to 15, 16, 17, where it undoubtedly has to better than in the higher elevations.)

In what few view areas they are, fans are herded there like wildebeests meaning hardly anyone sees anything. I “heard” Phil and Bubba hit tee shots yesterday but in reality saw nothing. It’s just not very possible here.

I’m not going to drag this section out as to not detract from an overall fantastic experience. From the hospitality suite (the Trophy Room) overlooking the course on Wed., I had a blast, and that’s the way to play Chambers Bay from a fan’s perspective. You pay a little more, but you enjoy it more, are a lot less frustrated and have a perspective on golf unlike anyone other. It’s a lot like what you see on TV, which is what this place is really all about it. That’s not a criticism, just reality.

I’ve seen it before and am happy to enjoy it that way until the day I actually come here and play, which I suspect millions will want to do after seeing the broadcast this week.

The Blog Joins the ‘Army’

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The blog is proud to announce a partnership with the newly launched An Army of Writers, a team of professionals banded together to provide superior content marketing services.

The Army is the brainchild of respected San Diego editor and writer Kimberly Rotter. I’m one of 13 partner writers from across a range of abilities and specialties chosen for the launch team.

You can find out more about the writers and the project at www.anarmyofwriters.com. In short, the Army connects the blog to a company offering a wider suite of services, but with the same core mission of offering outstanding content to help companies connect with their audience and drive business through great exposure and a deeper connection.

The Army begins this process with a consulting conversation, which is a conversation most businesses should be having these days. The Army site outlines the process and provides a road map to results, with great content being the vehicle to a brighter future in today’s multi-media environment.

You can follow the Army on Twitter at @anarmyofwriters. The blog is only too happy to be a soldier in the battle for better content.