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A former D1 college golfer built a million dollar business in one year

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Where do you go when you want to buy, say, a simulator or a launch monitor online? Chances are, if you fire up Google and do a search for your preferred product, you’ll see Rain or Shine Golf in the first page of results.

And if you haven’t shopped for said product in the past three years, you likely have no idea what Shawn Foley’s (no, not Sean Foley) business is. That’s because Foley, a former Division I golfer, didn’t launch his ecommerce golf business until August of 2016…and it’s been massively successful.

As the name suggests, Rain or Shine Golf specializes in every variety of indoor golf product: mats, nets, simulators, GPS watches, rangefinders, launch monitors, putting greens, putting aids, analyzers, etc.
As a Wisconsin native, Foley became accustomed to an environment in which he could only play golf three or four months per year. He was introduced to indoor golf products when his father, a scratch golfer himself, bought the family an indoor putting green.

After college, Foley says

“I worked in insurance for a few years, and I found myself becoming a little bit distanced from the game…working the nine-to-five grind.”

Still, his passion for golf remained strong, and among the many business ideas he considered, one building on his experiences in Wisconsin’s harsh winter. He was kind enough to answer a few questions about starting and sustaining Rain or Shine Golf.

What was your thinking in starting the business, and how did the business develop?

“The main motivation wasn’t even golf necessarily as a starting point, it was more wanting to challenge myself…so I started doing this as a side hustle, so to speak. I started an online business with a friend of mine, and we decided after looking into about 25 different industries. Golf wasn’t the first idea, and we spent essentially a month or two trying to almost prove it wrong, and we kept thinking, “This might really work.” And as we got further along in the process, we just decided we were going to run with it. I’ve been able to stay in an industry that’s so exciting and has an extremely passionate following. That’s helped us see a lot of success.”

What was the decision to pull the trigger like? 

“Getting a business off the ground floor, at the time, seems like the most grueling thing in the world. I’ve had the opportunity to start a couple of other businesses, and it’s so intimidating to think of how much time, effort, and money it took to get into this position. It’s a very difficult and slow process.”

What was it like when you started to get some traction?

“I still remember our first sale…it was one of the coolest feelings of my life. I think it took us about a month. We had an ecommerce skill set, my partner and I, we decided we wanted to do golf. We knew we wanted to be in retail…not in wholesale. We were just trying to grind our way into visibility through Google and through social media, and it was a lot of money to get to that first sale.”

“The last year-and-a-half, we’ve been trying to stay out of our own way. The business has grown…I think we saw about 1,000 percent growth in the first year. We’re just keeping our heads down.”

“Starting the business on the side…after we got to Black Friday, I had the feeling I couldn’t keep up with it anymore, and I felt it was time to pull the trigger and do it full time…but I eventually made the decision in April of 2017.”

Tell us about your approach to retail, what’s working, and your approach to stocking products

“The toughest part for us is we are in the high-dollar side, so the toughest part is getting that customer on the front end, so we have to fight to provide the best service and retain every customer we can. We’re almost following a backward model of selling the higher dollar amount item and supplementing it with lower ticket items…we really had to claw our way in and buy our way in with a lot of advertising.”

“As the president of the company, I’m still very involved in the customer service process. We try to provide the best service out there…that’s vital to retaining customers. But we have picked up a lot of one-time customers thanks to our education materials, and we acknowledge the education barrier in golf technology. On the whole, our focus is the long-term customer.

Why the specialization in the product areas you focus on?

“We made the decision to start on the indoor golf side of things, the reason being, my business partner and I both live in Wisconsin. We have been surprised with the amount of traction we’ve gotten with customers who want both the winter experience, but they want the convenience…like customers out in California who don’t want to take the time to go to the course. But we do plan to expand in the future.”

You can find Rain or Shine Golf’s website here.

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  1. MAGA

    May 5, 2018 at 2:24 pm

    Make America Golf Again … 😀

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GolfWRX Morning 9: Pro overcomes bad math to win | Koepka | Rory may not limit Euro Tour schedule after all

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By Ben Alberstadt (ben.alberstadt@golfwrx.com)

December 13, 2018

Good Thursday morning, golf fans. (featured image credit: PGA.com)
1. Overcoming bad math
Craig Dolch writing for PGA.com with the details of, a computational error that ultimately worked out in a club pro’s favor at the PGA Tournament Series.
  • “It’s a good thing for Matt Borchert he’s better with his putter than with his math…Borchert thought he had shot a 69 Tuesday and finished a shot behind Bob Sowards until Sowards told him they both had 68s. Borchert re-checked his scorecard and realized his mistake. They were tied at 8-under 136.”
  • “Ten minutes later, Borchert drained a 20-foot birdie putt on the first playoff hole to win Event No. 4 of the PGA Tournament Series at PGA Golf Club. It was the first PGA Tournament Series victory for the PGA Professional at Isleworth Golf & Country Club near Orlando.”
  • “It was too long of a day on the golf course,” Borchert said of the scoring issue. “I was trying to figure out where I stood on 18. I thought we both played great. Bob was solid. I was just lucky to sneak a few more putts in.”
2. Papadatos!
Meanwhile, early at the Alfred Dunhill Championship…
  • EuropeanTour.com report...”Dimitrios Papadatos opened up a one-shot lead over defending champion Brandon Stone as round one of the Alfred Dunhill Championship got under way at Leopard Creek Country Club.”
  • “Papadatos is playing on an invite after narrowly missing out on gaining his card via the PGA Tour of Australasia and made four birdies in his first 12 holes to move to four under.”
  • “Home favourite Stone was also bogey-free after nine holes to sit a shot ahead of Spaniard Adri Arnaus, Scot David Drysdale, Swede Robert Karlsson, Welshman Stuart Manley and South African Erik van Rooyen.”
3. Brooks on top, chip on shoulder
Eamon Lynch examines some of the criticism of Brooks Koepka and the reality as he sees it.
  • “He became the first man in almost 30 years to successfully defend the U.S. Open. At the PGA Championship, he joined Tiger Woods, Jordan Spieth, Rory McIlroy and Padraig Harrington as the only players in the last two decades to win two majors in a season. He was voted Player of the Year, an honor he promptly celebrated by winning the CJ Cup and ascending to No. 1 in the world.”
  • “Anyone else, they’re on the cover of a Wheaties box,” said Claude Harmon III, Koepka’s longtime coach….There won’t be a Wheaties box, of course.”
  • Also…”The lazy rap against Koepka is that he doesn’t win often enough on Tour. The 2015 Waste Management Phoenix Open – the first of his five Tour wins – is his only non-major victory in the U.S. It’s an anomaly that puts him in rarefied statistical company with Andy North as players who have more wins in majors than in regular tournaments. It’s not a ledger imbalance that troubles his team.”
4. Rory to remain European Tour fixture?
Despite suggestions to the contrary…
  • “The Forecaddie is pretty certain Rory McIlroy won’t quit golf’s European Tour in 2019, despite what he said during the DP World Tour Championship, Dubai.”
  • “European Tour chief executive Keith Pelley has taken steps to make sure his star player keeps his status.”
  • If it were to be that I don’t fulfill my membership next year, it’s not a Ryder Cup year so it’s not the end of the world,” he said…Not the end of the world for McIlroy, but pretty close to it for the European Tour and Pelley, The Man Out Front thinks.”
  • “Pelley wasn’t about to hang around to let McIlroy make a decision detrimental to the tour. Pelley jumped on a plane to Northern Ireland and McIlroy’s home in Holywood for an emergency meeting with his star player.”
While nobody knows what was said, it seems Pelley was pleased with the result.
5. Highlights from Valentino Dixon
A few of the best sections of Michael Williams’ excellent interview with Valentino Dixon, who served 27 years in prison for a crime he did not commit – and took up golf course-related artwork as a hobby during that time.
  • On getting started doing golf course art…”Right. Well, I was known as the artist in Attica. I spent, out of the 27 years, I spent 25 of those years in Attica. So over the years I had publicity on my case because the local newspaper had came to believe in my innocence, but there wasn’t a judge in Buffalo that would do anything about it. So the warden and the officers in Attica knew that I was innocent of the crime and would always check in on me and look in and see if I was all right and everything like that, but they knew that I drew also. So the warden came to me one day and asked me could I draw his favorite hole, which was Augusta, the 12th hole at Augusta.”
  • “I’d never golfed before. I mean, I’m from the inner city. So it was like all right, I guess I can do it. I knew nothing about golf. I drew the Augusta 12th hole. He loved it. Other inmates loved it and one of the inmates encouraged me to draw more golf holes. I said, “What are you talking about? What for? That doesn’t even makes sense.” He says, “I love the golf course, I think you should draw more.” He planted the seed.”
  • “A week later I went around and I got some old golf magazines, Golf Digest magazines, and I start pulling out the pictures that I loved. The guy gave me some really old ones that he had in his cell. So I start pulling out the ones that I liked, the ones that I thought was pretty and then from there I started drawing them. Whenever I put my mind into something, I just go in and really hard. So for months and months, all I did was draw golf courses. Okay. “
  • “Eventually I started reading the columns out of the Golf Digest magazine and I came across Max Adler’s, called Golf Saved My Life. I kind of put the two together because it was like golf was saving my life because being there was really, really stressful and hard and every day was a challenge. I have friends that committed suicide. I didn’t know if I was going to be the next person that my mind was going to snap.”
6. The Rexys!
Rex Hoggard handed out his (annual?) Rexy Awards for outstanding achievements in the world of golf.
Here are two
  • Enigma Award. It was an eventful year for Patrick Reed….He won the Masters for his first major and unabashedly torched his former team partner Jordan Spieth and U.S. captain Jim Furyk following the Americans’ loss at the Ryder Cup….”The issue is obviously with Jordan not wanting to play with me,” Reed told the New York Times, adding, “For somebody as successful in the Ryder Cup as I am, I don’t think it’s smart to sit me twice.”…You know the deal; it’s not me, it’s him. But if we learned anything about the former “Captain America,” it’s that there is definitely an ‘I’ in Patrick.”
  • “Armageddon Award. Just after 8 a.m. on Jan. 13, a quiet Saturday in Hawaii was shattered by an emergency message sent to cell phones across the islands: “BALLISTIC MISSILE THREAT INBOUND TO HAWAII. SEEK IMMEDIATE SHELTER. THIS IS NOT A DRILL.”
  • “It would take 38 minutes for officials to confirm to the public that the message was a false alarm. For those preparing for the third round of the Sony Open, it felt like an eternity…Jordan Spieth said he hid in his bathtub for a few moments before giving up on his “shelter” plan. “I just felt stupid,” he admitted.”
  • “But the award for having the best attitude when faced with the end of the world goes to Charles Howell III, who told reporters, “We sort of looked at one another. Part of you thinks you grab a Mai Tai, go to the beach and grab a front-row seat. Part of you thinks what are you going to do?”
7. GolfTV signs European Tour deal
Sports Pro Media report...”The wide-ranging deal with European Tour includes international multi-platform live rights, in selected territories, to all European Tour events and the next two Ryder Cups, as well as Discovery collaborating to further grow the golf body’s digital platforms. The partnership will bring coverage of the European Tour and Ryder Cup together on GolfTV.”
“From January 2019, Discovery will hold exclusive European Tour linear and digital rights in major markets including Italy, Romania, Russia,and Turkey. Additionally, GolfTV has digital streaming rights in Germany, Austria and Switzerland.  Portugal, Balkan countries, Eurasia, India, Latin America, Indonesia, Thailand, Singapore and a number of territories in Asia.”
8. The Ryder Cup is never over
Shane Ryan points out the competition has swelled in scale, as has the hype. Is this a good thing?
  • A morsel…”There are approximately 20 phases to a modern Ryder Cup cycle-scholars disagree on the exact total-and while I won’t bore you by listing them out here, I will say that somewhere around Phase 9 or 10, there is a three-day golf exhibition. The rest of the phases revolve around this event, and they range from aimless speculation to strategy to pre-tournament second-guessing to shock to dread to post-tournament second-guessing to lengthy evaluations to national hand-wringing to dramatic but ultimately feckless reform … and back again.”
  • “The cycle lasts exactly two years, and although the 20-ish phases encompass an impressive and diverse array of existential conditions, there is absolutely no phase called “nothing is happening right now” or “hey, the next Cup is two years away, why are we worried about this?” or “seriously, we’re not talking about the Ryder Cup for at least a month, please leave me alone.” It’s rumored that such a phase existed once, in the fog of history, but in the current golf climate, the Ryder Cup is as ubiquitous as an American election-it’s never over, even when it’s over. Especially when it’s over.”
9. Maybe stagger the announcements, Rolex/PR folks?
(also, earthquake) The below via D.A. Points on Twitter.
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Kevin Kisner reveals the level of hatred former college teammates have for Patrick Reed

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Patrick Reed hasn’t made many new friends recently after he was the fulcrum of the messy fallout after the USA’s heavy defeat in the 2018 Ryder Cup. Reed’s outspokenness at the time didn’t provoke Tour players to voice their personal opinion on the current Masters Champion, but this week Kevin Kisner aired a stark revelation of how the Texan is view by his former college teammates.

Speaking to Golf Digest, Kisner talked about the level of animosity that Reed’s ex-college teammates still have for him, stating

“They all hate him — any guys that were on the team with him (at Georgia) hate him and that’s the same way at Augusta. I don’t know that they’d piss on him if he was on fire, to tell you the truth.”

In a book written in 2016 by author Shane Ryan, it was revealed that there had been cheating and stealing accusations leveled against Reed from his teammates at Georgia while he was playing for the university. Reed denied the claims, though was subsequently removed from the team in 2009.

It’s worth noting that, Kisner, though a graduate of the University of Georgia, did not attend the school at the same time as Reed, and none of Reed’s teammates from his time in college, including Tour pros Brian Harman, Harris English, and Russell Henley would confirm Kisner’s view to Golf Digest.

Kisner’s revelation comes after an anonymous member of the U.S. Ryder Cup side told the New York Times after this year’s team event that Reed “is so full of shit” and that the 28-year-old “has no clue how to play team golf”.

Reed held his tongue following those incendiary remarks, but whether or not he will do the same after Kisner’s statement remains to be seen.

 

 

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Valentino Dixon on his time in prison, his golf art, gratitude, and hope

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Valentino Dixon, who served 27 years in prison for a crime he did not commit — and took up golf course-related artwork as a hobby during that time — joined Michael Williams on the 19th Hole podcast.

While the full interview doubtless represents one of the most important and impactful GolfWRX podcasts to date, we wanted to present a few excerpts for the more textually inclined.

On the events that led to him spending 27 years in prison

Valentino Dixon: “This was Buffalo, New York…I grew up in a bad area, a drug infested area, a lot of violence and stuff like that and these guys pull up, they start shooting, they shoot a friend of mines and another friend of mines return fire, ended up killing the guy. Anyway, long story short, when the shots rang out I was inside the deli across the street and I actually ran out afterwards and ran to my car, I pulled off.

“Shortly thereafter I was pulled over and taken into custody and questioned and ultimately charged with shooting three people.”

“I knew that I was going to be cleared or at least I felt I was going to be cleared because there was 80 witnesses. So I said, there’s no way that they’re not going to straighten this out and I’ll be out the next day, but that didn’t happen. Two days after I was arrested, this friend of mines turned himself into police, told them what happened. Actually the physical evidence matched his story, they found the dead guy’s gun on the scene and they disregarded him, told him that they didn’t believe him. Seven witnesses came forward, they disregarded those witnesses.”

“I found myself going to trial ten months later, my lawyer promised the jury that he was going to call these witnesses and introduce this confession and did not do it, and this is all on public record. I had a public defender and the jury found me guilty. I didn’t know that later on the jury foreman went to the judge and asked the judge, “Hey, why his lawyer didn’t call the witnesses he promised us?” The judge told him not to worry about it, to go home and sleep well and the judge never revealed that this happened.”

“It was our local paper that went to the foreman and said, “Hey, what happened during the deliberations?” He said, “Hey, I went to the judge and told him I didn’t feel right about this, that something was wrong here.” Anyway, the judge denies that that even took place. I was given 39 years.”

On getting started doing golf course art

VD: “Right. Well, I was known as the artist in Attica. I spent, out of the 27 years, I spent 25 of those years in Attica. So over the years I had publicity on my case because the local newspaper had came to believe in my innocence, but there wasn’t a judge in Buffalo that would do anything about it. So the warden and the officers in Attica knew that I was innocent of the crime and would always check in on me and look in and see if I was all right and everything like that, but they knew that I drew also. So the warden came to me one day and asked me could I draw his favorite hole, which was Augusta, the 12th hole at Augusta.”

“I’d never golfed before. I mean, I’m from the inner city. So it was like all right, I guess I can do it. I knew nothing about golf. I drew the Augusta 12th hole. He loved it. Other inmates loved it and one of the inmates encouraged me to draw more golf holes. I said, “What are you talking about? What for? That doesn’t even makes sense.” He says, “I love the golf course, I think you should draw more.” He planted the seed.”

“A week later I went around and I got some old golf magazines, Golf Digest magazines, and I start pulling out the pictures that I loved. The guy gave me some really old ones that he had in his cell. So I start pulling out the ones that I liked, the ones that I thought was pretty and then from there I started drawing them. Whenever I put my mind into something, I just go in and really hard. So for months and months, all I did was draw golf courses. Okay. “

“Eventually I started reading the columns out of the Golf Digest magazine and I came across Max Adler’s, called Golf Saved My Life. I kind of put the two together because it was like golf was saving my life because being there was really, really stressful and hard and every day was a challenge. I have friends that committed suicide. I didn’t know if I was going to be the next person that my mind was going to snap.”

On the positive reception his art got in Attica

VD: “Well let me tell you this. Right. Like I said, there’s so many guys … I mean guys that done killed three, four people were stopping at the cell saying, “Wow, I love that golf course.” These are guys that had never golfed before. So I’m saying if these guys love the golf courses that I’m drawing, I can only imagine how golfers would feel, because I mean these guys never golf. Maybe one out of 10 have golfed. You know what I’m saying?”

“So it really gave me the boost, the determination it gave me and inspired me to keep pushing it. I felt like, wow, this is something that you really like doing now because I got satisfaction out of other people looking at my drawings and loving them. This is what motivates me.”

On how he spent his time in prison

VD: “Well the thing is, is this. God was always with me. I prayed a lot. I prayed every day. Okay. And I just stayed positive. I read hundreds and hundreds of self help books, motivational books, anything to fill my mind with positive things and energy so that I wouldn’t become negative or fall into that whole negative thing that you see. I’ve seen a lot of prisoners fall into where they lose hope, they become bitter, angry, upset with the world and all that other stuff. I was determined not to allow that to happen to me. So I had to push my willpower to the max.”

“At the same time, I was drawing up to 10 hours a day. So I was really like, listen, if I got to become the best artist in the world in order to get my freedom, then that’s what I’ll do. And this is why I mean I pushed myself to the limit. I’ve done some golf drawings that were … these are all drawings now, not paintings. I’ve done some drawings that people have never even seen. I got a 60 by 90 drawing.”

On his artistic style

VD: “…I had to develop my own style over a course of I would say 20 years. Just every day I had to learn from error. I didn’t have no teacher, so I had to learn through trial and error of what to do, what not to do, how to blend colors, what worked, what didn’t work, how to layer everything on top of each other. My goal has always been to make the drawings look like a painting.”

“Take the whole paper out of it. So when you look at it, you’d say, “That ain’t done on no paper.” That’s the whole goal there. So I had to put so many colors on top of each other to get that painting effect and then drawings are so much more strenuous than paintings because I know how to paint also. But drawing is so much more strenuous because there’s no shortcuts. You got to sit there for … I might sit there for two hours and just do one little corner because you got to get all the detail in there. You know what I’m saying? So it’s way more work that goes into what I do in regards if I was painting. I mean if I’d had done this stuff in painting, I would have thousands of golf painting.”

On gratitude and his perspective

VD: “I’m a very grateful person. I don’t want to sound too religious or anything like that, but we should always be grateful to the creator for what the things that he’s given us. So I mean, I was in a bad situation. I’m sitting in the cell and I’m looking at the people around me and the people around me is doing 10 times worse than me and I had to be grateful. So that’s how I look at it. We had these little eight inch TVs that we could buy on commissary for like $149. Okay. So, right. Yeah, they would beat us on every level that they could. So I’m watching this TV when I can and I’m looking at the world. I’m looking at what’s going on with people out in society.”

“I hate to say it. I was in the worst prison and I’m in a six by eight cell and I felt like I was more blessed than a lot of people on the outside, but people are really struggling out there and doing really bad. Here it is, God preserved me, he kept me in shape, he kept my mind sane, he gave me this talent, he gave me a loving family.”

“So I had to count all those blessings and say, “You know what? I could really be twisted up in here and messed up. So you know what, don’t be bitter, don’t be angry, don’t complain, don’t cry, count your blessings, push your willpower to the highest level. Just push, push, push, push and be the best artist that you can be in the world.” That was my goal.”

You can find the full podcast here, or click here to listen on iTunes, or here to listen on Spotify.

All images via Valentino Dixon’s website. His golf art is available for purchase here.

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