Issue 6

 

LIVE WIRE: Behind the Scenes

The Making of a Golden Tee Tournament
See how it’s done, start-to-finish, from the perspective
of the LIVE WIRE’S Duffer Dan

 

In the world of entertainment, it’s all about “the experience”. Whether it’s a concert, a baseball game, the Olympics or a tractor pull, it’s the fan experience that pushes you to buy a ticket and invest your time to simply be entertained.

So when the time comes for YOU – the fan - to have an enjoyable experience, you increase the level of your expectations. And it then becomes the duty of the tournament promoter to live up to them.

You’ve invested time, money and energy. A show is expected, not loosely knitted chaos. Organization, schedules, signage, rules, support, everything needs to be in place the second a fan walks into the concert hall or stadium.

A Golden Tee tournament is no different. And in the case of the Golden Tee LIVE Regional Championships this past year, hundreds of hours went into the planning of this project so that you could just have fun and enjoy the show!

So during the final event of the tour, the Eastern Open at Turning Stone Resort in Verona, NY, the LIVE WIRE’S own Duffer Dan grabbed his camera to document the process of creating the fanexperience of a Golden Tee tournament from start-to-finish.

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LIVE WIRE: One-on-One
Gary Colabuono Takes on the Worlds

At press time, no issue was hotter in the player community than IT’s recent announcement regarding the new, controversial Golden Tee Team USA selection process. At the helm of this strategic decision, IT’s marketing director Gary “Moondog” Colabuono absorbed the brunt of community criticism and accolades regarding the decision. But in an effort to end the speculation and innuendos that still exist, the LIVE WIRE’s own Duffer Dan threw Colabuono on the LIVE WIRE Hot Seat to ask the tough questions that everyone still wants answered.

Read the WHYS behind the decision in this edition of the LIVE WIRE: One-on-One

Duffer:
First of all, Gar, thanks for taking the time to chat.

Colabuono:

Yeah, Duff. I knew it was only a matter of time before you threw me on your proverbial Hot
Seat. Where do you come up with all this wacky stuff any way?

Duffer:
I’ve learned everything from you, Gar.

Colabuono:
Well just remember who’s the boss here, pal.

Duffer:
OK, I’ll start easy – what prompted IT to start the World Championship in the first place?

Colabuono:
Well, the Worlds was conceived back in 2002
as a means of showcasing the global scope of
Golden Tee. At the time there were games in
the U.K., Canada, Australia and New Zealand.
We hoped that our international business
partners would look on the Worlds as a promotional tool to increase interest in Golden Tee in their home countries. Its dramatic competition and international camaraderie certainly grew the Worlds into our most potent marketing event. It’s generated the most interest by the mainstream media to date. USA Today, The Golf Channel, Sports Illustrated and ESPN have all reported on the World Championship.

Duffer:
So would you say a roster spot on Team USA or the World Team is the biggest honor in the game?

Colabuono:
Without a doubt.

Duffer:
Then why the big change this year in how Team USA is selected? People seemed to really enjoy the old setup.

Colabuono:
Let’s take a step back for a second, Duff. When it came time to hold the first live Team USA qualifier in 2002, we were concerned that no one would show up!

Duffer:
Come on…

Colabuono:
Really. We were worried that players wouldn’t spend the time and money necessary to come to Chicago – knowing only 15 (Sobe was team captain) would make the team. So we piggy-backed the live qualifier onto the Chicago Challenge. This would allow players to not only travel to make the team, but they
could also compete for cash in the Challenge.

This format was used for the next 3 years culminating with the qualifier being held in conjunction with the Southern Classic in Atlanta last year. That was a great tournament! Players still
talk about it today.

But this year the Regional Championships showed us that there are many, many players out there who truly love this game, but have no shot at winning a spot through the conventional means of online and live qualifiers. So we decided to give everyone who considers himself a true GT fanatic the chance to make the
team. All they have to do is play 200 games from January 1 through February 28 – and they will qualify for Selection Day!

Duffer:
Makes sense. But what do you really expect to happen to Team USA? Are they at a disadvantage?

Colabuono:
Not at all. Team USA will be in great shape no matter what happens in the drawing. The core 8 players are a Who’s Who of Golden Tee: Captain and 2-time world champ, Chris Eversole, former world champs, Graig Kinlzer and Jeff Harlow, 5-time Player of the Year, Dean Liakakos as well as regional winners, Matt Estepp, Rod Critchlow, Chris Litzinger, and arguably the greatest player in the world right now, Andy Haas. As Team USA foundation these guys are second to none.

Duffer:
Yeah, but what about the players selected for the final eight spots?

Colabuono:
Our research shows us that players who have made the commitment to play 200 games in 2 months are all very good players. Their average handicap is 22. In fact, only 16 players out of the 157 have a handicap under 19 – the worst being a 13. So they may not be at the level of the 8 core members, but they will be able to hold their own in any competition.

Duffer:
Hey, I’ve played more than 200 games and I still stink!

Colabuono:
Well you’re just a freak of nature, Duff.

Duffer:
So Dean Liakakos, Jeff Harlow and Graig Kinzler. Why them?

Colabuono:
Besides being great players, these 3 men are great ambassadors of the game. Dean and
Jeff went to Australia this summer where they played Golden Tee with local players in
Sydney and other cities. Graig has been the most photographed and filmed player in history. We were very pleased to offer them spots on the team. They certainly deserve it. The World Championship wouldn’t be the same without them.

Duffer:
True. What about Sobe?

Colabuno:
It’s too bad Sobe is on IT’s payroll, he’d beat all these guys with no problem!

Duffer:
Come on, Gar…

Colabuono:
All right. But he’d certainly give them a run for their money!

Duffer:
All things considered do you consider the World Championship the “best of the best?”

Colabuono:
Since the field at the Worlds is only 32 players, and the qualification process in each country is different, we’ve gotten some criticism in the past that the Worlds is not necessarily the “best of the best”. Well, that may be so, but you would be hard pressed to find better players than those in this tournament. Each year our players have gotten better and better and with LIVE the diehards are playing more games than ever before. The level of play will be unsurpassed at this event. It’s going to be very exciting!

Duffer:
That’s for sure. I’ve been to dozens of big tournaments and nothing matches the excitement of the Worlds. Do you remember when South African Riaan Lesch scored the country’s first point in 2004 and helped the World Team win? That’s still one of my favorite GT experiences.

Colabuono:
Can’t disagree with that. The World Team victory in 2004 was a huge turning point in the game.

Duffer:
So who’s representing the World Team this year?

Colabuono:
The 16-man U.S. team will compete against an international squad comprised of 8 Canadians, 4 Brits, 2 South Africans and 2 Australians. Our friends from New Zealand will not be competing this year. We’ll certainly miss 4-time New Zealand Player of the Year, Marty Awatere.

Duffer:
Eight Canucks, huh? Do you think that this could be their year?

Colabuono:
I’ve always said that those Canadian players are a rough-and-tumble bunch! They have the talent and they thrive on competition. Look for strong efforts from every Team Canada member in Vegas. This may be the year Anthony Goertz finally gets it done.

Duffer:
Since we’re talking predictions, tell me the truth – can a World Team member really take the title?

Colabuono:
Every year the international players get better at this game. Last year they just didn’t have the time needed to acclimate themselves to LIVE. That won’t be the case this year. Add 2 more tough Canadians to the mix and you up the chances that this year an international player can win the title. But that being said I think it’s going to be very difficult for anyone to beat Andy Haas. He has the experience, the course knowledge, the shot-making ability and the will needed to win the championship.

I picked the winner in 2002 (Graig) and 2003 (Chris’ first win) but haven’t been right since, so I hope I haven’t jinxed Andy!

Duffer:
Oh, no. Golden Tee’s very own version of the John Madden Football cover jinx. I’ve thought you had a little Madden in you, Moondog!

Colabuono:
BOOM! Watch it, Duff.

Duffer:
It’s too bad you can’t put your money where your mouth is at the Rio Casino sportsbook! Why the big switch from Orlando to Vegas anyway?

Colabuono:
Orlando is a great place for golf. We loved our 4 years there, but when it comes to nightlife and excitement, nothing tops Vegas! We’re going all-out this year and will be holding the event at the Tilted Kilt at the Rio! According to Chris Eversole the Tilted Kilt is
the place
where many World Series of Poker contestants would go to hang out during breaks –
and he should know - he finished in the money at the WSOP this year.

Duffer:
I know that I’m looking forward to it, that place is awesome! Hey, maybe my boss will give me a little extra time to go have some fun while I’m out there?

Colabuono:
Don’t count on it, Duff…

Duffer:
Don’t worry, I wasn’t. But it sounds like a new duffer or two could make the squad. What would that mean to the World Championship if that were to happen?

Colabuono:
The one thing that’s struck me regarding Team USA over the years (especially in 2003 when we opened the team to Silver and Bronze players) is the sense of team spirit and camaraderie that develops immediately when the guys first get together. No matter who gets selected, the rest of the team will welcome them with open arms. Remember, everyone is representing America here. There are no outsiders on Team USA.

The overall goal here is to grow the player community so that it’s strong for years to come. Having some new faces on the team would be a great thing for everybody.

Duffer:
Now tell me a little bit about the Team USA Selection Show scheduled on March 2. What can people expect?

Colabuono:
We want to create some excitement around the Team USA selection, so we’ll be inviting the media to cover the show. It’ll be here in the studio at IT. We’re hoping that Graig and Matt attend and possibly other surprise guests. And we’re planning to make it available as a webcast on Goldentee.com, so everyone around the world can watch from home or work.

Duffer:
That’s going to be very cool! Golden Tee-V!

Colabuono:
We’re very excited about it. It’s going to be really something! As we get more details about the webcast we’ll post them on Goldentee.com.

Duffer:
Well I’ve taken enough of your time today so I’m going to wrap it up with one last question. As IT’s marketing director, what do you think the future holds for Golden Tee tournaments?

Colabuono:
The success of the Regionals showed us that there are literally thousands of players out there who want to take their game to the next level. One of the best ways to improve your game is to compete against other players who are better than you. Look for more tournaments like the Regionals next year – and, of course, the Worlds!

The more players that experience the fun and excitement of a Golden Tee tournament, the stronger the player community will become. Our mission is just that simple.

Duffer:
Sounds good to me – at least I have a little peace of mind regarding job security!

Colabuono:
Not if you keep slacking off to work on this kind of stuff. Don’t you have some real work to do?

Duffer:
Of course, but pestering you is much more entertaining. Anyway, thanks again for chatting, Gar. I’m sure that the LIVE WIRE devotees will appreciate it.

Colabuono:
Anytime. You know where to find me.

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Check Out Behind-the-Scenes Footage on GT-TV

All right, we here at the LIVE WIRE Online Newsletter have a secret – we’re obsessed with YouTube™ ! YT is the leading internet resource for the regular folks of the world to share their videos with millions of viewers. With free service and an easy-to-use interface, viewers can find everything from beautifully made short films to homemade clips of people getting kicked in the groin.

Well, the Golden Tee crew has jumped on the YouTube™ bandwagon! LIVE WIRE staffers Duffer Dan (DuffDood) and Ellen Morris (GoldenTeeGolf) have already posted dozens of never-before-seen Golden Tee clips! From hilarious Peter Jacobsen outtakes to the acclaimed “How to Play the Sobe Way” video series.

Check out Golden Tee on YouTube™ TODAY!

Have a Cool Golden Tee Video of your Own?

POST IT!

Golden Tee fans are creative and full of life! Post your fun Golden Tee videos on YouTube™ and show those uber internet gamer geeks how
real players play. Show off a hole-in-one or your driving skills
– just have some fun!

 

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LIVE WIRE: Question of the Week

 

The Golden Tee World Championship and the big change in Team USA selection is no doubt the hottest topic among Golden Tee players this winter. We want to know what kind of effect YOU think this will have on the outcome of the biggest tournament of the year! Can Team USA defend their title or is it time for the World Team to shine again?

Who will win the 2007 Golden Tee World Championship Team Competition?

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