Sunday, June 25, 2006

Online Golf Groups: The Top Five sites

As my faithful fans know, I am on a quest to find the best Online Golf Group.  Why?

Because it seems only right that if I am going to spend any of my valuable online time in a group site I am going to use it being part of a site, or sites, that do not SUCK.  And it seems that there are a lot of sites being created just to lure people into their web so they can attempt to make a BUCK,,, which is real close to SUCK.

From my survey of friends who golf and strangers I have met on the golfer course, all of them (Yes all 75 of them)  said they would be interested in joining an online golf group if they knew that who they were talking to was a real person and they were not going to get SPAMMED to death.  They also would be more than excited to join a group If it did not take all day to register and filling out a useless profile.  They are not interested in advertisements on equipment or off the wall golf services.  But they are interested in articles that talk about the worthiness of one piece of equipment or comparisons of equipment.  They are not remotely interested in posting their scores or any other statistics on their play.  But they are interested in talking to friendly people about issues concerning golf.  They are not interested in finding a course.  They use the golf finding sites for that, but they are interested in reading reviews on courses and then asking someone who played the course what they thought.  They are interested in sharing information on a course they have played and warnings on products that are low quality.  They are interested in HUMOR and not boring lectures.  They want to spend their time having fun or learning and not wading through endless ads to get to something worth their time and while.

From what I am seeing on most of the sites, most all of the creators have fallen for someone’s analysis of the market that reports that these golfers want something other than what I have proved.  Maybe they need to revisit their marketing strategies if they plan on gathering more members. 

Now my definition of Online Golf Group i is a site that you join as a member to chat it up with other members, form a group for a specific subject or join in forum discussion set up by the site for specific interest or issues to discuss.   A online Golf Group is not a web-site that is set up to p-lay the numbers and has 90% of the membership one-time members who sign up and never return.  That is a site that is trying to wow people into thinking hey are REAL good because they have so many members.  The Online Golf Sites I am and most people are, interested in is a site where they are dozens of golfers frequently talking to one another.

What I consider in my ranking of the sites was:

It has to be very, very user friendly.  Where you don’t have to log in every dang time you hit the site, where it does not take wading through menus to get to your inbox or forums.  The easier it is to get on the site and to the message box or forum list or wherever the action is, the better I like the site.

Encourages or makes it real easy to discuss issues or chat with other members.

Is a site that is Free for all services.  Why should Golfers be charged for bring to the site’s creators the almighty and valuable ‘Content’ and be part of the ‘numbers game’ these sites use to market their sites?  These sites are looking to gather as much content as they can so the search engine spiders will make frequent visits to their sites which generates more traffic to their links to advertisers.  They want to get millions of members so they can say we have the most members of any site so you need to advertise with me….

And (most importantly) does not over use advertisement. To have more than 10% of each screen or page of the site covered with advertisement is very insulting to the viewer’s intelligence. 

Now, I totally understand that the creators of these sites invest a lot into their sites.  I have a site and I know the costs associated with setting up a descent site.  I also know that most of these golf sites with lots of advertisements are being gauged pretty badly by their web-developers who want to make their million today which requires the costs of these fancy sites to be passed onto who????? You got it, the golfers who are joining the site.  If the creators are web-developers and they are flooding their site with advertisements and/or charging a membership fee…well shame on them for double dipping the golfers for coming in, setting up shop and rattling the chains of the internet to get more attention drawn to these greedy sites.  These type of sites with the membership fees and glamorous amounts of advertisement will not be on my (or probably anyone’s) list of best sites.

So, the Best Sites on my list are managing their sites as they should be, with little, if no, advertisements, No membership fees and are user friendly.

There are a number of Online Golf Groups.  Really, I was surprised at the number of groups out there.  Some are real cute with lots of color and golf designs and pictures of models swinging golf clubs (amongst other things).  And other are very sterile with nothing by different size boxes  Some have been going for a while and some are still trying to get going.  And, yes, some are better than others.

I did not include the online groups that are inside other mega sites, like Tribe.net and other more social or dating sites…. Not that there are anything wrong with these, it is just not a dedicated Golf site like the ones I have reviewed in this article.

So, enough of all this, here is my top five golf online groups.

#5  GolfPunkOnline.com

Here we go ‘Mate’!  (OH, wait, that is Australian)…anyway, The Golf Punk.  Here is a truly online version of a Golf Magazine from the UK…  The Homepage get to its bottomline…Bunker Babes…  Yep, demean the women of golf to get the ‘ol Boys’ involved in the spin of things.  But, I have to admit, that if you are going to fly the ‘Womanizer flag’  then you need to do a great job for the visually incline golfers. And GolfPunk did a real good job.  It’s a love hate affair for me on this site since I really like the flair and the color and the presentation,  but I can’t go for the womanizing…  To keep from getting into it right now, I’ll leave it to those of you who want to know my stance on this un-equalization of golf for both sexes going to my blog site.  I have to give it to the Brits to see things differently.  A very good active and current forum from people from all over the world with subjects ranging from golf to whatever was on a person’s mind…Since I am not bold enough to register fro the GP Club (where the Golf Porn looked to be pretty heavily covered) I can’t tell you what goes on there.  I can just only imagine that since the registration picture just shows two young ladies wearing a pair of very short shorts and a tactfully placed towel that there probably is a lot going on there that has nothing to do with golf.  There are not a lot of members signed up yet (which I find surprising) (I am sure there are more members now that I have told YOU about the Bunker Babes) I just waded in to my ankles and joined the Forum…What an adventure in humanity, but a fun one…’Buggar’  This one is for the bold at heart and golfers who are totally bored…  I’ll keep you posted on this

#4   GolfSpinner.com

A big Hassle, but interesting.  The creator of this site needs help or a better understanding of what golfers are looking for.  I have sent a few of my friends to the site and we all agree that this site is loosing traction due to having to re-log into this site each time a member leaves the site and returns.  The elaborate profile on clubs you play and questionable information being asked to furnish on the profile is pretty typical of all of the sites, but asking where in the fairway you hit and the trouble shots?  The statistics on a member’s game is for someone who would really need to be playing golf professionally before it would be of any use.  BUT!, I find myself going back to this group and finding my username and password, and getting back into see what some of the people in the blogs have to say.  Some real interesting conversations being had that keep me entertained.

#3   TheGolfSpace.com

Close! But No Cigar.  This site has good intentions and is pretty deep with links off to never-ever-land.  But this site is really trying to be all for everyone and is getting pretty spread thin with covering all of the bases.  This site is for golfers looking for golfers, opinions on golf equipment, photo of other golfers (and totally off the wall non-golf photo’s), blogs from alleged golfers, scorekeeping, chat room and contest entries.  The creator has got a good start and has captured a few members, but keeping them is the challenge. 

#2  MyGolfGroups.com

Very, very clean site.  Yes, they have the ever present Adsense and Google ads, but they keep them at the top and the bottom to inflict only a minor nuisance.  This site gets right to it and lets you see a photo of the person who is a member.  And then gets you right into meeting people and talking to people about golf.  No nonsense re-logging in each time you go to the site and then getting to a page to browse the membership for people with common interest.  Just crank this puppy up and get to find your interest in golf.   The very new site is still growing and has huge possibilities if they stay focused on what golfers want and not what sponsors want.  I would keep an eye on this one…it could grow to be another refreshing view.

#1  Golfwrx.com 

Very innovative, refreshing way to cram as much interesting content on a Homepage as possible, but still keeping both the visually incline and the plain text hounds entertained.  So much content it doesn’t fit on the entire width of the page.. The ads are very, and sometimes interestingly, discreetly placed on the page with an emphasis on the sites sponsor instead of the incessant internet tag ads.  The newsletter style home pages makes it easy to scroll to something that hits you eye to read.  And for those who insist on not trusting the article style of homepage, they can scroll down to the very bottom of the homepage.

The Golf Talk takes you to forums of golfers in different states and country.  The other menu items will keep you totally entertained for months.  Golfwrx.com has tremendous possibilities…

Others in the mix…

Now I can’t get away without mentioning the other sites in my review.  Some of these are probably going to turn into some real good sites once they see groups like Tribe go under because revenue is not the magic formula to keep members.  I am sure there are more groups coming.  Heck I might even try to launch one someday when enough of the members of the groups that really SUCK decide they have had enough.

These groups caught my eye and were worth mentioning.  I will be going back periodically to see what they are up to.  Some of these groups have really not gotten started and have told me that they are going to launch something and haven’t.  I give them a chance to rank in my stable of sites once they show me what they are made of.

Here are the other sites I reviewed…

Golfbb.com

Seemingly launched in 2000 this site is founded by a group of Brits with members from all over the world.  Not an easy site to use.  Some of the features are very old and you have to really read a lot of the descriptions of buttons closely to understand where you are going.

Golf.about.com

From the mega site About.com, the golf.about.com site is really cluttered up with more advertisements than is needed.  Pretty typical for a site that is part of another none-golf related site.  Brent Kelly seems to the man in charge and reports his mission is to provide golfers with tips on learning the game of golf and equipment.  Seems one of the tips he needs is to move some of the ads off the page so golfers can read what he has to say and not what someone wants us to buy.  Seems no matter how many times you go to the Forum section of the site (where you find out who the heck is reading the stuff on this site) you have to sign in…very aggravating. Once in the forum it looks lively and I was surprised that there were so many people participating in the discussion, especially with all of the hassle you have to go through just to get to the forum.  If this enthusiasm could be moved to a site that was really COOL, and didn’t suck by having so much advertising, I could see Golf.about.com moving up in the rankings.   There is a LOT of golf stuff crammed into the page along with Stuipd.com videos and Sponsored Links (a thin veil for Advertiser).  Most of which is written in blog form, that is OK, but seems to be written by the same person.  The most important part of this entire endeavor that someone at About.com went to some effort to create is the forum where golfers get to read what other golfers (or alleged golfers) have to say… If you can get to this page, you are now cooking.  And I would say the forum section should be the homepage for this site. 

Teed-Off.com

A web resource for ‘Club Golfers’. Great concept.  At least it sounds like a good concept.  Being a Club Golfer I would find it interested in visiting with other Club Golfers on what is happening in their club.  Of course, I take it that Teed-off.com’s definition of club golfer is a golfer who is a member of a golf club, country club or golf association.  The home (or promotional) page is very tight which if this held true for the rest of the site would make this site a good candidate to make my list. I see that there might be a need for this concept, but for now, we will never know since Teed-off.com has had their site offline for a while.  Maybe someone got Teed-off and decided that the site was not going to make it.

GolfBuzz.com.  

This site has been saying that they are going to blow everyone away.  The June 23rd press release reports what their mission is and they did release their course finder feature.  But other than that, the features are not really provided members the ability to visit with the 13,000 members they say they have.  It looks sharp, for now they are holding the advertisements to products used in contests to lure someone to join.  This site has some possibilities of being able to jump to number one, but timing is very important.  What is happening now and will continue is most golfers are not going to change to another site once they have set up house at another site due to the time it took them to create their profiles and downloaded their photo’s and listed all of their stuff and get to know people. 

MyGolfBuddy.com

Started off Good and then turned south.  Partnered with Golfwrx.com, the homepage gives the impression that this site is going to control the advertisements by keeping them below 10% of the page and only at the top and very bottom, but that changes REAL quickly when you register and fill in the profile information.  There are two aggravating registrations you have to go through to get to the Forum which it looks as though a large number of people are not registering for the forum section and just entering the forum as a guest.  The activity on the forum page does not seem to be too active or current.  This site requires a lot of time and may fit into someone’s timeframe if they have lots of time to spend online.

 

 

Scot Duke

President

Innovative Business Golf Solutions, LLC.

scot.duke@innovativebusinessgolf.com

www.innovativebusinessgolf.com

 

‘My Blog’ http://businessgolf.blogspot.com 

http://businessgolf.wordpress.com 

 

Author of: ‘How To Play Business Golf’, From The Boardroom To The Fairways…

The best investment you can make for your business…

http://www.innovativebusinessgolf.com/business_golf/cb_order.html

 

 

 

1 comment:

Tony @ thegolfspace.com said...

I guess 3rd place isn't too bad for being open 3 months.

Now I'm off to create some links that go to "never-ever-land" (not to be confused with "never-never-land"...

Tony

:-)