Archive for July, 2012
This years Ryder Cup is approaching and that brings my friend and Georgia Tech golf team mate Stewart Cink into my mind. As you might know Stewart is a 5-time Ryder Cup player and the 2009 British Open Champion, in other words, he already has an amazing golf career. I am privileged to know him, one of the world’s best golfers. And I do have much to learn from him. I though that sharing the story about our friendship might be interesting for some of you. Behind the star player, there’s a man with big heart.
It all started at Georgia Tech in the early 90’s. Stewart and I played together on the Georgia Tech golf team between 1992-95 and graduated in June ’95 with his wife Lisa. We were quite successful and achieved, for example, two ACC Championships (Atlantic Coast Conference) and runners-up in the 1993 NCAA Championship with David Duval on the team as well. Enjoyed that time enormously!
Life took its paths for both of us, and then back in 2007 when I was building a golf startup, GameBook, with my friends, our paths joined again. Stewart joined the GameBook Team and has been our advisor and ambassador since then.
Stewart has also given valuable input in the GameBook Research & Development with passion, and it was put to a test e.g. during our pilot program in 2008 in South Carolina and final event at Chateau Elan Resort in Georgia. We received a great feedback for the further improvements and also got new ideas from him. Very valuable indeed.
In March 2010, we organized a GameBook Media Invitational which was hosted by Stewart Cink in Orlando. The work continued with him, and the feedback was again very good.
The Future of Golf
With Stewart’s invaluable help we are building something we believe will have affect on the future of golf. Yes, golf must change, here’s what I wrote about this topic earlier:
“I believe that the traditions and the new innovations can be combined – and actually must be combined – for the common benefit of the golf industry and all of us golf lovers. We need to make the golf experience more social (more than between the four guys on the course), we need to make it easier to share, to pep each other, trash talk, or what ever you like. Despite of the time and place. Or age, HCP or gender. I hope you agree with me. The traditions and the future of golf must shake hands.”
I met Stewart very recently at The Open Championship 2012 in Royal Lytham & St Annes in the UK, and wrote about the tournament journey, and about the future of golf. You can read the story here.
I must say Stewart Cink is a great gentleman and also respected by Tour peers; proved by him being a past PAC (Player Advisory Council) Chairman and Board Member of PGA Tour. Despite of all that success, he always finds time to meet me as a friend, to organize tickets for The Open, and taking inside the ropes whenever possible. A great ambassador for golf and a super-nice guy to talk to…now he is getting embarrassed… : )
Cink has long been one of the more likeable guys on the Tour, in part because of his honesty.
Golf GameBook Cup 2012 – Stewart as the Captain
On the 30th of July Golf GameBook Cup 2012 starts, and Stewart Cink will the Captain for the Team USA. I am very proud that he was willing to join this exciting tournament.
Finally, I will continue to follow and support my friend. He is right now making some swing changes, although not at his very best during last few years, I’m convinced that he will still be in contention soon! I wish him all the luck in golf, and starting next week, as the Captain in the Golf GameBook Cup.
@MikkoRantanen in Twitter
PS. More details about the Golf GameBook Cup can be found here: www.golfgamebook.com/cup
It is open to all golfers in the USA and in European countries. The captain for the Team Europe is Johan Edfors, European Tour player.
Here below nice old pictures I found from the Georgia Tech golf team time!
On the top: ACC (Atlantic Coast Conference) tournament after talk (1994), Mikko Rantanen expaining something to Stewart Cink, his wife Lisa Cink and to coach Puggy Blackmon. In the picture on the bottom: Georgia Tech ACC Champions 1994, The Team and Mikko Rantanen as Individual Champion. From left: Mikko Rantanen, Carlos Beautell, coach Puggy Blackmon, Brian Newton, Jason Walters, and Stewart Cink. Those were the times!
Well, my prediction for The Champion Golf of the Year was G-Mac, Graeme McDowell, who finished respectable Tied 5th, but stumbled pretty badly yesterday. My colleague Mane‘s favorite – Tiger Woods – had an interesting bunker-adventure on number 6 and then caught a bogey train much like G-Mac on the middle part of the round.
Adam & Ernie
Both G-Mac and Tiger had an opportunity to win knowing now what happened in the end to Adam Scott, but at the end of the day, all we can do is congratulate Ernie Els on his 4th major championship title. Awesome back nine with 4 birdies and no bogeys.
I must say that after Adam Scott birdie the 14th hole to go four ahead and looking in total control; I thought the game was over. Even after his bogey on the tough 15th hole I didn’t see him messing this one up.
But the 3-putt on the short and simple 16th hole made the difference, as he seemed to get more nervous. Under the ultimate major championship pressure, the faults and weaknesses show and looking back, he pulled shots (and putts) left on each of the 4 last holes resulting in the fateful bogeys.
If he can learn to control his nerve and those pulled shots under the greatest of pressure, I believe Adam Scott will win couple of majors in the next 10 years or so. What a great ball striker!!!
Still slightly disappointed that had to travel back home for the weekend. Next time I will make sure to stay until the last putt is holed and play a few links rounds myself during the mornings before the leaders tee off.
Next – Kiawah Island & Golf GameBook Cup
Looking forward to the PGA Championship in three weeks time at Kiawah Island, South Carolina where I’ve had a chance to play twice. That is an interesting US links type of a golf course best known from the 1991 Ryder Cup. This course can be brutal if the wind blows and depending how long it will be set for the players.
All the best and make sure you get ready for Golf GameBook Cup which starts July 30th.
Here below one more picture, me and Mane at the Kiawah Island Ocean Course, hole 17.
My colleague Mane wrote about our The Open Championship 2012 experiences and already shared some details for everyone who is planning to attend the event. Some of you already asked for more details, so here’s some.
Any idea to attend when the practice rounds are played?
Yes, at least for us it was. The practice day on Wednesday was a great opportunity to get autographs from your favorite players, photos and watch how the pros prepare for a tournament.
You should go to the range and chipping green to follow the routines – you’ll learn a lot!
For example, it was fun to see Tiger Woods show up on Wednesday afternoon to hit a few balls. Absolutely awesome how low he can keep the wedge shots, none finishing more than 10 feet from the target pin. Enjoyable to follow.
What does it cost?
Many of you wondered if the fun costs a fortune. No, it does not, the daily ticket price for adults was GBP 70 and for the concessions (evening hours between 16-21) GBP 30.
Reasonable for a top event like this.
The Overall Organization and the Audience
Volunteers are very friendly and always smiling especially when the sun was shining. And the tournament organization does a great job to facilitate big crowds – no wonder having 141 years of experience organizing a major event.
Exactly as Mane wrote in his earlier post, everything was well organized and the atmosphere was warm (despite of the weather). People in general respect the game of golf and are very knowledgeable about it.We met several interesting people and heard them share great stories from their golf history.
The overall culture around golf in the UK seemed to be very balanced, respectful and warm.
Ah, a classic subject in the UK! We were fortunate to enjoy mainly calm and sunny conditions, but the course and spectator areas were already muddy and wet. If there is any more rain, make sure to wear appropriate shoes to walk around the swampy rough. Waterproofs are a must – forget the umbrella.
Predict the Winner?
After watching the practice round and several groups play the first hole on Thursday morning, our favorites to win the Open are:
Mane says > Tiger – Mane was most impressed about TW’s controlled fade on #1 resulting a birdie.
I say > G-Mac – looks in total control and comfortable in this new clothing line.
In the GameBook office we have a nice photo wall of the many great golf professionals and the real golf legends that some of my colleagues have had an honor to meet.
Speaking of legendary persons brings the topic of legendary golf events into my mind. Especially the classic, the Ryder Cup. During my professional golf career one of my biggest dreams was always to be part of the Ryder Cup Team. But I didn’t make it, that time. Since then I have been dreaming to do something very special. And now my GameBook Team and I can proudly announce the first Golf GameBook Cup, the largest ever arranged USA vs. Europe match. In the spirit and for honor of the original Ryder Cup.
The mission of my company, Golf GameBook, is be one of the forces that develop the game we love to be more social.
Golf deserves to be even bigger sport it is and I believe that it requires that we need to change. The change that is now needed is good for every golfer: Golf is going digital and the tournaments will be global.
From that perspective 30th of July (and the following six weeks) are special for me, and hopefully for many golfers in the USA and in Europe. This first global Golf GameBook Cup is open to all golfers in these two continents and I believe that it is going be great fun.
On July 30th I will tee off very early in the morning in order to be one of the first players to join the historic match. I am more than honored to be part of the European Team.
Finally, I do hope that you join me and invite your friends to join the Team, Team Europe or Team USA!
During the last nine years I have spent quite a lot time on the golf courses with junior golfers. An annual series of events, called Free Drop Junior Golf, was born already in 2003, when Kalle Väinölä and I decided to offer young children and teens free golf holidays in several golf courses in Finland. Our goal was simply to organize events where the participants can get as nice memories as we two have from our early days with golf.
Another idea behind our Free Drop Junior Golf events was also to demonstrate golf club managers how they could take the idea further and develop regularly activities for the younger generation.
As in any sports, it’s important to have active junior teams where both the future stars and the ordinary golf lovers will be found.
And as you probably know, we have unfortunately seen some declining stats recently for golf as a hobby.
I have had several excellent discussions with the local club management about the new kind of ideas, sharing and collaboration that are needed within the golf scene. The management often sees the problem, but the tools and the shared vision have been missing.
Simultaneously with our discussions and ideas, PGA of America have announced earlier this year a special program called Golf 2.0, the main objective being retaining the core players, bringing former players back, and attract new golfers. The theme of Golf 2.0 is Fun, Family and Friends, meaning that we must widen the reach. Simply, to attract more people. Excellent initiative and a very important topic – also a hard challenge. I am trying hard to make a difference, with a little help from my friends and our mobile & social golf app.
My colleague Kalle wrote about Golf 2.0 earlier, you might like to read his post as well.
All in all, in the Golf 2.0 spirit, many new ideas and means are needed in order to get more people, young and senior, to fall in love with golf!
More love stories!
PS. One nice example is a series of event Audi Finland runs in Finland this summer. Audi 24/7 Golf Challenge is designed to be easy to join, fun and social event.
This is my first personal post in our brand new blog! So I better choose an important topic. I will later on continue to write about this big theme, but of course, also about ordinary (read: less serious) golf topics.
PGA of America’s initiative called Golf 2.0 is indeed very welcome. They describe Golf 2.0 as “the new comprehensive, strategic plan that is designed to retain and strengthen core players, bring former players back, and welcome new golfers to the game”. The chosen theme slogan for 2012 is “Friends, Family, Fun”. Sounds good.
This makes me glad as this is exactly what Golf GameBook is all about. When we were founding our company we had discussion of this kind with my co-founder Mikko Manerus. We care about this game and wish to find a way to support the future of golf. The important question is ‘what we need to do to save golf?”, in other words, golf needs to change.
Why is that? Millions of people love golf, but the statistics are not looking good. Only in the USA golf lost 4,6 million people in 2010. The European figures are going down as well. And at the same time less and less woman start to play golf, or quit quite soon after trying it out. At about 20 percent of the golfer population, ladies remain underrepresented in golf.
Golf is inherently social; we enjoy playing together and sharing the success and bad times. The sad fact is that this joy is often shared with four golfers playing together and writing the scores on cards. And perhaps celebrating at the clubhouse afterwards. Not easy to share with the other golfers in the network.
What can be done? A lot. To discuss about this is one thing and, of course, there are many other ways. The idea that we have is to support the growth of the global golf community with the latest mobile technology combined with social media. With a little help from the technology we can bring players together – despite of the time and place – and this way enable more social golf experience. We need to share more and have the doors open.
One of my heroes, Jack Nicklaus is one of the brains behind the Golf 2.0 initiative, and he says it so well in a PGA interview:
“I care about this game; it’s given me so many great things for me and my family through the years. This initiative is not a PGA of America initiative; it’s not a Jack Nicklaus initiative. This is a golf industry initiative, because it is a golf industry issue. We all have a stake in this. Whatever happens is because of all of us. It’s our future.”
Indeed, “whatever happens is because of all of us. It’s our future.” I have nothing to add.
Article about Golf 2.0 on the PGA website
Inspired by the legendary golf tournament the Ryder Cup, the GameBook Cup launches as the first transatlantic golf challenge of its kind ever. And of course, experienced team captains have been nominated; Team USA has British Open Champion Stewart Cink as the Captain, and Team Europe is led by European Tour golfer Johan Edfors. Great to have them onboard!
For the first time all golfers in the USA and in Europe can enjoy golf together, regardless of age, gender or HCP. The six-week GameBook Cup, is open to all golfers from the two continents and can be played on any course in the world.
Here below the first comments from the supporting team:
“I think this is a wonderfully innovative idea. In honor of the Ryder Cup year I think it is appropriate to expand the joy of golf with a truly global approach. And, I think that GameBook team’s creativity in utilizing social media and the latest technology is exceptional. Golf tournaments are fun and social, but they can be so much more with this new golf app. I will do my best to build to great Team USA.”, praises British Open Champion Stewart Cink.
“I had an opportunity to test this golf concept last year in a tournament between two nations, Sweden and Finland. It was very engaging and an extremely fun experience. I will recommend my fellow pros to join this contest. My vision is to have a diverse Team Europe, professionals and amateurs playing together.” says Johan Edfors, Captain of Team Europe in the GameBook Cup and three-time winner of European Tour events.
“Both in the US and in Europe we value the important landmark tournaments. The encouraging and inspiring culture deserves to be further embraced, and that’s what we are doing. GameBook Cup differs only by the fact that anyone can participate. And to make things more interesting, we will throw some nice prizes to random participants each week.” says Mikko Rantanen, CEO of GameBook Inc.
“We have managed to fine-tune our golf app and the supporting mobile technology into such good shape that we decided to put it to a real tough test. And of course, we wanted to offer an unforgettable golf experience to all golf lovers in the USA and in Europe.” says Kalle Väinölä, Founder of GameBook, PGA pro.
So, we are very excited about this idea and challenge we’ve developed. It is indeed the world’s largest golf challenge by far (let us know if we’re wrong…). As soon as it starts, we will write more about the progress and the results of course. Good luck!
The challenge will be held between July 30th and September 9th, 2012, and it is free for golfers and golf clubs.
If you’re European or American golfer, please join the Team Europe or the Team USA.
Check out the details about the GameBook Cup here: