Why Cobra Golf?

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Last week I attended the PGA Merchandise Show in Orlando, FL.  Trade shows can be educational, enlightening and exhausting events and this one was all that.  This year I approached The Show with a new attitude.  Instead of visiting booths and picking up product brochures, listening to sales pitches and filling a bag with free convention gifts that I never get around to opening once I get home, I decided to use social media to post pictures, observations and ask for interviews from people who seemed interesting.

The first day of The Show always takes place at Orange County National driving range. Product lines extend 360 degrees around the range.  Bubba Watson and Lexi Thompson did driver demos so you know the range itself is deep.  This is a golfer’s paradise as we can test almost every manufacturer’s clubs, shafts, grips, listen to some of the best teaching professionals in the world as well as try out teaching aids, ride golf bikes and “surf” on golf boards if we like!

The first observation that I shared was from just outside the Cobra Golf  booth.  I haven’t hit a Cobra club in 10 years. For the most part, I’ve played PING irons for almost my entire professional career (about 25 years). I’ve been to the PING factory in Scottsdale twice, am a certified PING fitter and think their quality is second to none.  In a nutshell, it is much easier to recommend and sell a product that you believe in and if you are playing it, generally speaking, you must believe in it.

So what was it that drew me to Cobra?  Well, it could be that they had a DJ spinning records, Lexi Thompson doing a demo, colorful marketing all over the place and more energy exuding from their staff than you can possibly imagine.  At first I thought it was just me, but I grabbed a few of my friends and the following day I got them to stop by the Cobra booth.  They said they felt it, too.  They really seemed to care about their product in a way that went beyond selling.
Customer service is often a top down thing.  Every person I came across from Cobra was welcoming, helpful, and excited about sharing their product and knowledge with me. They nailed customer service 101 on the head!  Everyone greeted me with a hello. Everyone tried to see if they could help me in some way.  Not just a few of them, all of them.  I was dressed in Under Armour head to toe.  I was complimented on my outfit and was asked if I would like to see their Puma line.  That’s how you sell product!

Here’s the thing–the PGA Show is geared towards men and buyers.  I am an LPGA Teaching Professional and not responsible for buying for our course.  That didn’t matter, the Cobra people just wanted to share their product with me.   I did a brief interview with Tom Olsavsky and when I turned off the record button, he said,”Is that it?”  We proceeded to talk about Cobra club innovation for another 10 minutes.  Just me and one of the top club R&D guys in the world!  I wish I would have kept the camera on.

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And when I wanted to test a few irons and drivers, Design Engineer Steven Mitzel explained why various club designs might work better for me at this stage in my career. He was patient, thorough and full of knowledge and I would have bought a set of clubs from him on the spot if that was an option.

So, is this the year I change my brand loyalty?  Probably.  I still have a little more testing to do and saying good bye to my PINGs won’t be easy.  Does it matter to Cobra whether the Director of Instruction at a Golf Academy in Baltimore plays their clubs?  I can’t say for sure but they certainly made me feel like they cared.  What I saw, felt and will remember was what set Cobra apart from other manufacturers I visited.  It is not just the clubs we are buying or selling, it really is the experience.

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Coach J Social Media Posts from the 2016 PGA Show

Julieta’s Social Media Links from the 2016 PGA Show

Cobra R&D VP, Tom Olsavsky
Larry Rinker demonstrates the Putting Stroke Teacher
Focusband Explained by Sam Goulden
Julieta’s YouTube Overview
Interview with Kim Braly of KBS
David Hutsell Shares his Thoughts
Annika Sorenstam on Bunkers

​Click here to see photos from The Show

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The Junior Girls’ Golf Butterfly Garden at Pine Ridge

I recently took an online class from The University of Pennsylvania called Better Leader, Richer Life taught by Stewart Friedman.  One of the assignments was to complete a project that would tie together the four domains of your life (home, work, community, and private or spiritual) and try to make your world a better place for it. Striving for a four-way win in all areas was the goal.

After a few false starts, I decided upon planting a pollinator garden at Pine Ridge. The news regarding bees has been bleak of late so any little bit we can do to help them is a positive.  I’ve had a fascination with bees and butterflies for a long time and studied to become a beekeeper but just haven’t found the right spot to keep hives.  Being passionate about this project seemed to be the key to it getting off the ground.  Obstacles and difficulties are much easier to overcome and solutions easier to come by when you believe deeply in what you are doing.

We have been running a Junior Girls’ Program for several years at Pine Ridge. Planting a Butterfly Garden would provide a great opportunity for the girls to learn about pollinators, teach them the importance of using native plants and create an experience that would allow them to beautify a place where they recreate.

Pine Ridge Golf Course is one of five courses the Baltimore Municipal Golf Corporation manages.  We are a non-profit and finding money in the budget for something like a pollinator garden isn’t a high priority.  So I drew up a colorful web page with the help of Elsie Davis, our webmaster, created a budget for the garden, programming for the season and set out to find someone to help fund it.  Who can resist little girls and butterflies???

Having taught quite a few people who work at McCormick and Company over the years, I thought I’d forward my request to them and hope they’d guide me in the right direction.  I felt like a butterfly looking for the right place to land and I certainly found the right place!  Kelly McCaffery who is Vice President of HR& Global HR Operations (and a fine golfer!) walked me through what would be needed to get funding.  I learned a great deal from Kelly in the process and we are all grateful to McCormick and Company for their generosity and sending volunteers Donna Hartley and Laura Scott who help us keep the program organized and energized.

We needed a design for the gardenRick Kingsbury is a landscape architect who is heralded in Mt. Washington.  Rick donated his services and drew us up an amazing plan. He made sure the native perennials would be deer resistant, drought resistant, and thought to include some herbs to pay tribute to our sponsor.  Blue Water Baltimore who operate Herring Run Nursery (located adjacent to Mt. Pleasant Golf Course off Hillen Road) supplied the plants at a reasonable cost and Vince Vizachero the nursery manager was very helpful in making sure we got healthy, beautiful plants.

So that left us with the planting of over 100 plants!  On Saturday morning, May 23 we had a planting party.  Mike Schwartz who is one of the hard workers on our maintenance staff at Pine Ridge spent much of the week preparing  the space for us.  On planting day, he showed up to help us out as did Rick Kingsbury, Jill Yonowitz (one of our Board Members) and a dozen junior girl golfers and their parents.  A big thanks goes out to Mike Miguel and Megan for bringing their auger which helped a great deal.  Rick has also made the plants he chose and plan itself available to anyone who would like to replicate a butterfly garden of their own.

There are already flowers blooming and the garden has received rave reviews.  Soon the butterflies and pollinators will arrive.  I’d call it a four-way win if ever there was one!    We have many more projects that we need help with and we’ll seek creative solutions and partnerships with community businesses and our patrons to help us.

Julieta Stack is the Director of Golf Instruction at The Baltimore Golf Academy, part of The Baltimore Municipal Golf Corporation.

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