March 22nd might not be the day that any of us thinks organically about a social organization, devoted to golf. It should be, for all the reasons that optimism is an integral part of the human spirit and experience. We know inherently that better is ahead. We trust that things should improve, if only slightly. For those reasons, it is important to present John Osberg and his Bad Golf Business School-Buffalo chapter, to the BuffaloGolfer.Com faithful. The BGBS works with the WNYPGA, but more importantly, it works with each other. Members assemble for a variety of reasons, with golf at the core. John relaxed for a time in February, and answered our usual spate of questions. For when we see each other again (directly, not remotely) here is what makes the Bad Golf Business School an indispensable part of western New York’s golf scene.
- Bad Golf Business School: so many ways to deconstruct that name. We’ll get to it. First and foremost, who is behind it? Tell us about yourself.
So many ways, indeed! Catchy, too – eh? So this group/concept was borne by Program Director of Techstars Buffalo & WNY/Buffalo Startup Community Collaborator legend – Clark Dever – in June 2019. Clark tapped me (John Osberg) and fellow startup/entrepreneurial ecosystem collaborator, John Kappel, over the summer to take the reigns on this proof of concept in order to bring the group’s vision to life before end of the outdoor golf season.
Johnny Kappel is a startup & community organizer enthusiast along with being a Partner at highly specialized & cutting edge local 3-D manufacturing company called Innosek that is doing big things!
I, John Osberg, on the other hand am also a deeply passionate startup/community focused business professional and am a Director at a local Risk Management firm Hoffman Hanafin & Associates led by golfing legend, Scotty Hoffman (he and his father John Hoffman were heavily involved with the Porter Cup up in Lewiston NY for 25+ years).
- Is the golf bad? Is bad golf the business? Does the school have class? Tell us more about the group.
The quality of the golf is in the eye of the beholder! For our, “class members” the main goal is to connect with & empower fellow classmates at each, bi-weekly Bad Golf Biz School (“BGBS” for short…) Session. The golf component of our events is a networking tool or catalyst, if you will, to help disarm people while getting to know new friends/connections in addition to reconnecting with colleagues & friends. And yes, the golf can be bad (sometimes very bad ?), but that’s totally OK because our group’s focus is on the power of authentic relationship building, learning a few new tips from our participating local Bad Golf Biz School PGA Pros – thanks to Steve Bartkowski at the PGA of WNY / PGA REACH – and ultimately, connecting people to causes/companies that resonate with their personal values/aspirations. We have so many use cases from 2019 and now into the 2020 of these exact things happening – new friends being made, business opportunities being explored, new jobs getting landed, strategic partnerships, the launch of new businesses & much more while participating in our Bad Golf events.
- Where do you hold forth? Is this a movable feast, or is there a hangout?
Because of Mother Nature’s current mood with our climate up here in WNY, we are indoors at the local golf domes. We started at The Paddock Golf Dome at our 2020 kickoff event – with its beautifully renovated & improved features – such an awesome hub/HQ for my friends at The First Tee of WNY, for PGA HOPE which supports Military Vets through the game of golf in addition to Cindy Miller, her husband Alan Miller, who have an absolutely incredible golf instruction & business leadership academy – in partnership with the Golf Channel – we are so fortunate to have the Miller golf family in WNY! – and that inaugural 2020 indoor series event was held near the end of January which drew in north of 30 class participants.
Everyone had a blast but there was a trend of several requests to hold our, “class” at a venue that provided what golfers refer to as, “swing oil” in addition to having access to small snacks or bites to eat while being able to hit golf balls (in the same area). Thus, we relocated to The Dome WNY for the last 3 sessions where such amenities were readily available while golfing at the same time. We’ve seen a steady increase each bi-weekly session in attendance to as much as 70+ class attendees participating during our February 20th gathering. That was a special night seeing so many engaged & community focused people making swings, enjoying refreshments & building relationships or forming brand new ones!
- Who can join? Is there an entrance fee? An initiation rite?
As we at Bad Golf Business School Buffalo like to say, our group’s mission is simple -> to CONNECT & EMPOWER folks from ALL industries, skill levels & walks of life regardless of business, civic, or life aspirations while centering around the game of golf! Therefore, the phrase, “Come one, come all” definitely applies here. One of our steadfast goals is to break down the barriers of the game of golf so that everyone and anyone can enjoy what golf affords to its players. I often say both in person and in my social media posts that it’s rare you can find a game/sport that allows for an 8-year-old to fairly play an 80 year old thanks to the scoring system developed by golf’s governing bodies.
We have not yet required an entrance fee to join as we have worked to build critical mass and raise awareness in our community. Although, our participants frequently volunteer to me that they’d be willing to pay x amount of dollars to partake in our activities.
That said, we are in talks with/working with local golf focused social impact organizations (groups that do inspiring & impactful work with military vets, youth & diverse populations) that will benefit from our bi-weekly class sessions as a result of a future “entrance fees” per event which will grant our class attendees golf balls to hit on the range, a beverage or two (aka “swing oil”) of choice or potentially a snack / hand held bite. It’s important to note that a portion of proceeds from every event will go directly to the aforementioned types of social impact organizations which will be TBA soon. Lastly, we at Bad Golf Biz School are close to announcing a big event come early April that will act as an official launch of the group & brand!! Stay tuned!
- What are the goals of the BGBS?
Another great question here. Attending Bad Golf Business School will allow our group members to accomplish the following:
To LEARN –
How to golf, network, build relationships, mentor/receive mentorship, how to practice inclusivity, how to break down barriers, how to empower community & people
To CONNECT –
With like-minded professionals, new & old friends, companies, causes, groups, initiatives, potential job opportunities, golf instructor professionals & more
To SUPPORT –
The #giveFirst call to action (a mantra from Techstars (the parent organization) as mentioned earlier that Techstars Buffalo was the place/forum in which this concept was conjured then developed), additionally… to support each other, diversity, our communities, companies & soon to be released specified charities/causes/groups.
- Does the Bad Golf Business School operate on social media? What can we expect from that?
Bad Golf Business School is now live on LinkedIn, Twitter & Meetup – with other platforms to go live soon, too. Proud to say our followership in such a short time has been explosive! And while I have the chance, a huge shoutout to our buddy and friend of Bad Golf Business School Buffalo, Ryan Spady, a graphic designer and a very good “stick”, for designing a set of incredible logos & signs for our group! Just beautifully & thoughtfully designed having such power and meaning behind the logo’s design!
That said, you can expect to get updates on and from our events, cool content & relevant information from leading golf publications that are focused on breaking down the barriers of the game, media from our events, special guests who will be in attendance at each session, the causes that Bad Golf Biz School is supporting & much more…. Give us a follow & connect with us!!
- What sort of outdoor events can we anticipate from this organization?
So because this group gathering concept was founded in June 2019, we had a handful of outdoor sessions last year (8 to be exact) at Bob-O-Link down in Orchard Park NY… every Tuesday, under the lights around 8 or 9pm. Our attendance typically varied from 10-25 people with one gathering bringing in 30 “Bad Golfers” – that was a lot of fun!
For 2020, we are working on identifying courses who can be home to our bad golf biz school class members. A few ideas in mind would be Glen Oak Golf Club which has been under the incredible leadership of Timmy Fries since early 2018 — one of our area’s most respected & honorable golf/civic professionals. We are also in talks with Frontier Golf Club thanks to a recent invitation to collaborate from friend Jake Tyno who’s a bad golf biz school participant and is crushing it at their club as the membership director… Of course Delaware Park will be a great choice given its proximity to the city / central location & it’s open concept/playability. Potentially some opportunity to host an event or two at the prestigious Park Country Club as some of their members have participated in our gatherings (+ a shoutout to their recently minted COO/GM Mike Reilly who is just a phenomenal human, leader & golf / business mind – Mike has actually come through a Bad Golf event in recent time)… And finally, we’re still looking at the addition of a few other local tracks to our outdoor season course roster as we’ve generated a lot of interest and excitement related to the concepts & mission that Bad Golf Biz School is focused on.
- Retention is a massive thing in golf. Depending on whom you read/listen to, golfers are giving up the game in droves. How will the BGBS retain and increase its membership?
This is a doozey of a question. Good one! I’ll respond in this way and hopefully it says your ask —
Much of why golf has been portrayed to be struggling are because of the perception that it takes a long time to play, it’s expensive, it’s difficult, it’s rigid in its etiquette parameters & a few other reasons. With Bad Golf Biz School experiencing strong growth and interest it’s my belief that the reason for such engagement is that our group’s mission is to break down the barriers I mentioned above, to peel back all of the layers, the preconceived notions of what golf is all about, what it takes to participate, fighting the fear of the unknown sometimes and just going out there, know that you’re in a safe place while at Bad Golf Biz School and that you can ask for support when needed. Whether your call for support deals with your golf game, civically or in your business life, our class members are rest assured that our fellow bad golfers /resources & partners will be there to support you.
In closing, what we do is welcome people/professionals from startups all the way to large enterprises / entrepreneurs / community organizers and everyone in between or outside of those realms so that we can CONNECT & EMPOWER these folks regardless of their business, civic & life aspirations while centering around the game of golf.
- What questions haven’t we asked, that is critical to the going-forth of the BGBS_Buffalo? Ask it and answer it, please, and thank you for your time.
You were pretty thorough! So, it’s important to know what our plans are between now and when the outdoor golf season does arrive.
Bad Golf Business School has a list of exciting announcements/updates for the community that we are working on and for starters, the announcement of welcoming golf instructor professionals from the PGA of America/PGA of WNY to this Thursday’s Bad Golf Business School class is an exciting one.
Our plans are to continue on a bi-weekly basis this month… so 3/5, 3/19 but come April 2nd, we will take a week off in prep for something that we are working on for April 9th.
Because WNY weather is unpredictable, we plan to remain indoors until May and then assess the forecasts / condition of our local golf courses. Once we do transition from the indoor to outdoor season, we will maintain a bi-weekly schedule but our goal is to feature a 2 different courses per month to host our events. More information on this as we are talks within the community.
All in all, we ask that folks spread the word about our organization, follow-us and connect with us on social media and when possible, attend our events & bring your friends!
Thanks again to BuffaloGolfer.com for taking the time to conduct this interview and for your interest in Bad Golf Business School!!