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Interview with Debert Cook, publisher, African American Golfer’s Digest

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This interview took more than a while to consolidate.

Have a look at the timeline:

  • Sometime in February: I send an email to Debert Cook
  • April 23rd: Debert responds that she would like to participate
  • June 2nd: I finally get the questions to Ms. Cook
  • Today: our interview goes live

As one who initiated a smallish golf publication/website in the early 2000s (BuffaloGolfer.Com) I can relate to the steps and stumbles that Ms. Cook has endured along the way.

A publication that speaks for a people and a culture is especially important to golf, and this is what makes Debert Cook such a worthy personage for this introspective.

Time to step out of the way and let the light shine on Ms. Debert Cook.

1. You are Debert (pronounced DAY-bear or DUh-bear) Cook, the publisher of African American Golfer’s Digest. Please tell us a bit about yourself, outside of the story of AAGD (we will get to that story, we promise!)

DC: I am the grand-daughter of a West Virginia coal miner who lost both of his legs in a mining accident at age 22. In our home, two pictures hung on the wall: Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and President John F. Kennedy. I worked my way through college playing trumpet and alto saxophone in a R&B band and auditioned at Detroit’s Motown. Love to travel: I’ve traveled to six continents, nine African countries, met 5 African Heads of State and will be in Antarctica in Nov. 2021.

2. Now it’s time for the story of African American Golfer’s Digest. The magazine is 17 years old. What compelled you to start a magazine in 2003, and what was the beginning like?

DC: I opened my company, Event Planners Plus NA Inc. in 1998, after working 20-years in corporate America as a meeting planner, and started receiving invitations to charity golf outings. Recalling how my previous bosses had received some of these same invites and returned with hands-full of business cards (for me to input into their sales databases), I decided that attending may also be good for my new business and help me to get business leads.

So, I signed up for six weeks of beginner golf lessons at Chelsea Piers in New York City. After learning the basics, buying a set of ladies right-hand clubs, glove and balls at K-Mart, I packed up my gear and headed off to a Meeting Professionals International Golf Tournament in Las Vegas. There, I had a great time, met some nice people and yes, returned to my office with a stack full of business cards! Making calls, some of those new contacts turned into advertisers in my magazine.

It was thrilling to learn this new game, because I have always been active in sports like tennis, softball, basketball and even won third place in our city track meet at South High School (Youngstown, Ohio, 1976) for discus…my golf instructor told me that this is one reason my long drive wins at many tournaments.

3. Is publishing a magazine in 2020 at all similar to what it was like in 2003?

DC: Heck no! Digital is king (queen) nowadays. In 2003 everything was paper, print, paste-up, copy, fax. These days, none of that is a part of our business operations. Yet, my readership, which skews older (70% age 50+) are adjusting to the digital landscape, and to our digital platform—yet still calling me to renew their print subscriptions at $48/annually (previously $18).

4. Define your audience for us. It is too simple to look at the title and restrict your readership. Let us know more about whom African American Golfers Digest seeks out.

DC: Yep, it 89% African American readers. Others are either Hispanics, Asians, or curiosity seekers.

5. At what point did AAGD get into the internet game?

DC: We launched our website in 2003, about four months before the first magazine was even printed. I knew there was going to be demand, because subscription started coming in as soon as the website went live.

6. What have been the greatest success stories of African American Golfer’s Digest?

DC: No. 1: I count being a PGA of America Diverse Supplier as one of our greatest achievements.

Second…Our Diversity Pavilion that exhibited for six years at the PGA Merchandise Show & Convention in Orlando, Fla. It attracted over 300 visitors daily and helped connect and network like-minded individuals, from that, the PGA started holding “diversity roundtables” and featuring a diversity and inclusion component in the annual Show. I guess I showed them, “Look, there is an overlooked audience in the midst of this now $84 billion industry.”

Third, good success has been seen for our annual group destination travel programs which have taken over 400 people across the globe for golf, culture, and enjoyment, to places such as Ghana, South Africa, Cuba, Costa Rica, Hawaii, Alaska, Panama, Martha’s Vineyard.

 

Stay tuned for part 2 of our interview with Debert Cook!

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Ronald Montesano writes for GolfWRX.com from western New York. He dabbles in coaching golf and teaching Spanish, in addition to scribbling columns on all aspects of golf, from apparel to architecture, from equipment to travel. Follow Ronald on Twitter at @buffalogolfer.

1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Brandon

    Jun 8, 2020 at 9:30 pm

    Good read…thank you

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What makes a golf ball curve? (GolfWRX explains)

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At some point, every golfer has asked the question “Why did that shot slice? Why did that shot hook? How did that shot go straight?”

The simple answer is physics, but the actual reason is a little bit more complicated and has to do with the relationship the golf ball has with the golf club as it approaches contact, but that’s why we’re here to explain why your golf ball travels where it does.

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It’s all about spin axis – AKA “sidespin”

Spin Axis – Trackman Golf

Side spin is the commonly used, but incorrect way to describe the spin axis of a golf ball as it travels through the air. Rather than try and define it myself, I will refer to the experts at Trackman to help me explain what’s really going on.

“Spin Axis is the tilt angle relative to the horizon of the golf ball’s resulting rotational axis immediately after separation from the club face (post impact).”

“The spin axis can be associated to the wings of an airplane. If the wings of an airplane are parallel to the ground, this would represent a zero spin axis and the plane would fly straight. If the wings were banked/tilted to the left (right wing higher than left wing), this would represent a negative spin axis and the plane would bank/curve to the left. And the opposite holds true if the wings are banked/tilted to the right.”

Unlike a plane in the example used by our friends at Trackman, a golf ball has no propulsion system, and all the force that causes it to move comes from the golf club. Depending on how the club makes contact with the ball will result in how the ball will fly. It’s no different than how a tennis or ping-pong ball travels through the air after it is struck with a racket or paddle – a golf club is just a “paddle” with a much longer handle length.

Why does a golfball curve right and left?

There are 2 main factors of the impact that influence how a golfball will curve;

  • The direction the clubface is aimed relative to the target line at impact
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  • The direction the club is moving at the moment of impact
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Face-to-path – How to hit a draw

So now that we have a better understanding of why the golf ball curves in one direction or the other, the video below from TrackMan and Martin Chuck does a great job explaining the relationship of face to path, and how to hit a draw.

How to hit a straight golf shot

Being able to hit a straight shot is one of the most difficult things to do in the game of golf. The reason professionals don’t intentionally hit straight shots very often is that when it’s not executed properly it can create a shot that misses both right and left and if there is one thing professionals and low handicap players like to see is a golf ball that misses in one direction.

Face Strike Point

Beyond the relationship between the clubface and path, hollow golf clubs also have another factor at play, and that is the bulge and roll – curvature of the face from top to bottom and side to side. This curvature combined with the gear effect of hitting a shot outside the sweet spot results in the club imparting a higher measured spin axis and as a result the ball curves even more.

Check out this video below by TXG demonstrating how strike location on a driver has an effect on how the golf ball curves.

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