Don’t look now but the Golf Guardians are here to make golf putting surfaces the best they can be around the world. Debuting at the Jack Nicklaus-designed Reflection Bay Golf Club, the Golf Guardians videos play on golf carts during the round requesting golfers to fix their ball marks … or else. —By Brian Hurlburt, Founder, lasvegasgolfinsider.com
Local Las Vegas golfer and marketer Kenny Atcheson is the creative mind behind the witty, edgy, meaningful, memorable–and successful–videos.
Once he fine-tuned the idea, he quickly earned buy-in from Eric Dutt, Reflection Bay’s director of operations, and Jon Openshaw, the course’s general manager and an actor in the videos.
The first video shows two golfers walking off the green with one asking if the other fixed his ball mark. The second golfer thinks it is no big deal to not fix it, but all of a sudden a football player bursts onto the scene and levels the second golfer, “urging” him to fix the mark. Plans are for additional videos highlighting other areas to be released over time.
Since the first video’s debut in summer 2022, Openshaw has noticed a substantial decrease in ball marks and also heard nothing but positives from golfers.
“From the operator side, what I really like about the video is that it is a new, creative, lighthearted way of asking the golfers to do the same thing that every course has been asking them to do over the years without a lot of success,” says Openshaw, golfer number one in the video. “I played two new courses in St. George and the typical screen popped up on the cart on the par threes reminding golfers to fix their divots and ball marks. It was the same old, boring message that nobody pays attention to anymore. What we’ve found is that there is a real interaction with the new video because it catches people’s eyes. They’re like, ‘Oh, this is clever, this is new.’ And we have heard comments that they are hilarious and it gets people laughing, which is always a good thing.'”
There is more information at GolfGuardians.com
The professional videos are well done, funny and get golfers talking amongst the group. But do they really make an impact?
“We’re definitely seeing a difference in better conditions and less ball marks,” Openshaw says. “People realized, ‘Hey, they’re putting a little bit more effort into getting this message out and now the golfers want to do their parts and help us out. We have observed the improved course conditions, which was the main goal, and people are telling us to keep the videos coming.”
Atcheson first hatched the idea when he played a local Southern Nevada country club early in 2022 and noticed that even that the greens of the high-end course was showing the wear and tear of ball marks. If a course at that level had issues, there was little hope for other clubs. He wondered aloud to the member about what could be done. Soon, the Golf Guardians were born.
“The goal was to improve the game of golf and it seemed a good way to do that was to try and help solve some ongoing issues in a fun, new way,” Atcheson says. “I said to my friend that day, ‘There has to be a solution to this, somebody just hasn’t thought of it yet.’ Then the idea came to me: what if we had a golfer walking off the green after not fixing the ball mark and then the golfer gets drilled by a football player who screams, ‘You better fix your ball mark!’ I went home that night and the story ideas just came to me and I kept writing and writing.”
Atcheson’s hopes are to license the videos to other courses in Southern Nevada and around the country. Course managers and owners can utilize the videos in cart messaging, social media, on their websites and vie email communications for a nominal fee, which can be quickly recouped by improved conditions and less labor costs. The videos can also be a marketing tool in addition to an educational tool.
The golf galaxy is the limit, so to speak.
“For about the cost of one foursome at most courses, club management and ownership can get involved and the videos will more than pay for themselves,” Atcheson says. “Jon and I calculated what it would mean to a course’s financial bottom line if there was a savings of a couple hours a day from the maintenance crew due to not having to repair ball marks. We also asked a lot of people in the golf business what the percentage of ball marks that got fixed was. The highest we heard was 33 percent, so it is a major issue. We estimated there could be a savings of thousands of dollars annually using the success that Reflection Bay is experiencing as an example.”
Openshaw hopes the videos catch on with other courses and he looks forward to the roll out of additional videos at Reflection Bay covering a wide variety of issues.
“it’s a great way to tell these old, stale messages that all golf courses need to communicate,” Openshaw says. “I think it’s something that could be used at any club. The bottom line is that any course can benefit from these types of videos. It’s a new message that everybody can utilize, whether it’s on your golf cart, in a newsletter, an email or it could be part of your tee time confirmation process. There’s a lot of ways you could incorporate them. We have started doing all of these and we definitely see improvement.”
Reflection Bay Golf Club at Lake Las Vegas is also the home of the High Performance Golf Institute and annually hosts several college golf tournaments. The course plays on the shoreline of Lake Las Vegas.