Kelley Brooke: Reimaging Golf Amid Coronavirus
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She spent over thirty years in the industry she was named the two thousand eighteen. Lpga golf professional of the year then is the director of golf at the bethpage. Golf Course in New York Kelly's episode was a listener favorite for that reason because so much in sports has changed since we last spoke. We want us to check in with Kelly about how she's adapting her game amid Kobe. Nineteen welcome Kelly. Thanks so much for taking the time. Thanks for having me for. This is great our pleasure I how are you doing? Great healthy you know it's like everyone Spending a little too much time eating and drinking. But you know that's the way it goes. If that's the worst thing that comes out of this for me I'll be in good shape. It's great before the coronavirus fully closed down golf courses on Long Island on April tenth. How did you adapt the Bethpage? Course to accommodate the need for social distancing well like all other courses. We took precautions. Obviously we Marked the floors that everyone had to stay Six ten feet apart. We only allowed so many people on the pro shop. At a time. The Ti- times are spread out every other SOS every fifteen minutes versus every seven. Eight minutes. Cartwheeling loud one person per cart. The cart sanitized after each use. And basically just tried to maintain social distancing. We also we made where you can touch the pen. We put foam in the holes. Your Balden go down into the hole so you touch the whole took the breaks out of the sand traps that kind of thing. How are you coping financially and emotionally with all this? I mean emotionally. It's it's been hard you know. It hasn't been so hard for me in the sense that you know. I'm the owner. I'm GONNA always probably survive. Although you funds are definitely low at this point But you know it's it's hard emotionally to put All of your employees out of work for this period of time. I don't think anybody knew. This is GonNa last this long amount of time. We thought it was going to be a month. Maybe two months and we're seeing that this is a much bigger problem than anyone ever anticipated Thankfully the government did step in I didn't get P P P funds the first round second round. I got some people be fun. So we're starting we just got it this week. So we're starting to bring employees back and creating projects for them to do and Just trying to keep everyone busy. We you take back to the moment that you found out you just got relief. Money some of that stimulus money. Well it was a relief. I felt so blessed that I was able to get it because so many people. I'm one of the only people that I know of. That runs business that they got it so and it was just throw in for me because my main concern always is employee ease and because we're seasonal and It was killing me that employers were staying at home and it wasn't like they're going to build make this money up because we are seasonal and so it was just such a relief that I could look at them and say you're coming back to work so. The task is causing many entrepreneurs to be even more innovative than they usually are. How are you adapting Your Business? Well in the beginning of March I would say we saw that. This was coming. I think as any entrepreneur must do in life and business and As you have to anticipate the future so we really started examining what could happen for example? We have junior golf program minutes. A subscription type of a program where the kids pay X. amount of dollars every month and they come to the chorus. They have fitness classes. We take them on the course we have instruction we saw potentially The social distancing was going to stop program so we rushed and we put everything online so we use zoom like everyone else's to run fitness classes three times a week with our sports. Dr One of my pros and I film every week The instruction and we give them skills we give them drills so basically they're following our program just doing it at home it's neat in addition to running the bethpage course. You're also often on tour as a pro golfer any sense when the LPGA and PGA towards may start up again especially given the fact that some states are reopening. It's unfortunate because you know I'm I'm a little older. I'm fifty two just turned fifty two. I don't WanNA age myself too. High into the fifties but Most of the senior tournaments because they're only handful or are being canceled For this year even the senior. Us Open canceled the LPGA Regular tour where it's looking like. It's probably going to start mid July end of July same thing with the PGA tour. There have been rumors that golf tournaments might start up without spectators. How is that going to affect athletes and sponsorships? I don't know how many people attend an average golf tournament for the PJ PJ but really. That's not where the money is. The money is in the TV sponsorships. So I don't think having spectators there learning going to affect it one way or the other to be honest with you. It might even improve a ratings because everyone's at home. No one can leave the house so you know the viewership might go up and as a result stock will be a lot more happy as golf courses including your own start to reopen. What do you think the Game GonNa look like and do you think people are going to be able to afford to play a round of golf given the tough economy? I'm very fortunate. I survived the two thousand and eight recession surviving. This because golf is really resilient and it's something that people love to do and relatively inexpensive. I mean I don't know many activities where you can go spend four or five hours for forty or fifty dollars so it's really kind of recession proof for me as a business but for players. It's really a wonderful sport that you don't have to play with another player it's It's by nature their social distancing. You know people don't hit the ball in the same spot You know I know for quite a while. We're going to have to eliminate one person golf cart. But that's not a big deal. We have more than enough in our fleet. I don't see the Gulf is going to change a whole heck of a lot if anything. I think. Golf is going to get more popular. You know you're not going to go to concerts for a while. You're not going to go to basketball games. Football Games Baseball Games. So people are GonNa be flocking to the golf course just to get out of the house and do some sort of physical activity so I think it's going to help golf. What else has this whole experience taught you about entrepreneurship? I mean you know. The thing is that as an entrepreneur. You have to always have a plan in mind. You have to Pivot you think you're going you know on one course. For example you know we had last year the PGA Championship at Bethpage. So we were closed for two months and we were so looking forward to this year because we felt that there was going to be a big rebound because we had a major there and we were going to You know take in some revenue this year and make up for last year and unfortunately our biggest quarter is the second quarter and we're into that right now and we're making literally no money so You have to put it. You have to figure out alternate streams for revenue. You've got to once people come back. We need to figure out a way to maximize every dollar to upsell to try to make this up in some way which is not such an easy feat because we are seasonal is part of your personal starting an online channel as well. You know I had this idea in November The LBJ was found seventy years ago and so naturally the original thirteen founders have been passing away we have to left and I said this is such a shame because women's golf is going to die if we don't get some of these ladies on camera interview them so it was a passion project which now is turned into a full fledged business model where I went to Nancy. Lopez Amy Alcott Michelle. Mcgann a handful. The ladies and I said. Would you all like to start a women's streaming golf channel with me but since this this pandemic happened I realized that it. It's really a good idea because there's not enough content out there. I don't know about you but I've watched every single thing on Netflix and Hulu and HBO. And there's just not enough content out there. And I I understand now that the demand for at least short form content is there so I think this idea is really going to take off. we hope to launch the middle of July. And we're excited about it. We're GONNA take a quick break but when we come back. Kelly's going to share what she learned from the psychology of Golf. And what it's like to be a woman in the game her encore episode when we come back when the world is at a standstill. Facts can move us. Forward facts help us make decisions and bring us together. Even were apart. The Wall Street Journal has the facts in these uncertain times. Get the latest on the corona virus outbreak with free coverage of the crisis and its impact on the economy politics culture and daily life. Find the clarity. You need with America's most trusted new source visit wsj.com and stay informed so Kelly when you were around thirteen. A you're on an all boys soccer team and you had a formative experience during some of the game. So can you tell us about that? Absolutely well I grew up playing sports with the boys in the yard. I played football baseball basketball the whole bit but I was on the boys travel all star team and I was the leading goal coincidentally and there was A game very important game. I had scored a couple of goals and the the goalie was getting a little tired of me. I was getting under his skin. And I don't know if you've ever watched soccer but you challenge the goalie some standing in front of the goalie about I don't know four or five feet away and staring him down. He looked at me in the eyes and he dropped. That ball. Punted it right into my face at knocked me backwards about six ten feet. My feet were off the ground and I was in a complete days. My eyes are watering. I got up and my nose is bleeding everywhere. You've broken my nose and so I just shrugged it off and I play the rest of the game scored a couple more goals and I felt like that was a lesson in life for me in general and that's kind of how I've lived my business life where You know gotten kicked in the face. I've gotten punched. I've gotten you know kicked in the gut and you just have to get yourself back up. Brush it off and move on with the game of business in the game of life. Did that kid got trouble now. It's part of the game and I was playing with the boys so I deserved it. And I was being a little bit of noxious and you know and I was challenging him. He treated me like any other boy. You know he treated me like I was just one of the gang and I was competitor. And that's important for life to know that you know you're not going to be treated differently as a woman. We all want quality but you have to learn how to shake it off when you're treated like one of the guys are you saying though. We should put up with the level of rudeness to get that equality. I don't know if it's rudeness. You know I think a quality I I think it's competitiveness. I don't see business as rude. You know male behavior women to behavior. I see this competitiveness and you know you have to if you WANNA play in this game you're going to have to take it like like every other man takes it. Had you know you WANNA be a Pro Golfer? Well my mom and dad put a putter in my crib when I was born so I don't think that I had any choice. I was going to be a pro golfer. My mom was city champion. She was a great athlete. Great Tennis player Great Golfer. My Dad was an entrepreneur. So I got that Entrepreneurial competitive side from him and basically you know I was I grew up a golf course and I play golf every single day and it was not. It was a choice clearly but my dad said to me at a young age. Listen you know. Your friends are getting jobs at McDonalds. There working at the mall. You can do that also if you want. But how about this? You're going to get a scholarship later in life. I'M GONNA pay you to go practice. I don't know if I ever actually saw the It wasn't like I got punched in and out but my job growing up was to get out of bed and go practice while everyone else was working and I got an allowance for it and you know it all paid off in the end because I got a college scholarship for golf. How did he know you were going to be good at it? He you know you can tell at an early age of a child is going to be good at golf and I clearly was good. I mean I was beating the boys. I was beating the girls. I was beating everyone. I mean I played my mom in our club championship and the Women's Club Championship when I was twelve or thirteen and I beat her and she was the reigning champion for many years. So we knew you know at an early age that I was going to be good. I played in tournaments from the time I was six or seven on and I was finishing in the top ten and so it it was Something that we knew I was always going to do so. Can you elaborate a little bit more on what it's like to be a woman in such a male dominated sport well you know? I'm lucky because I'm kind of guys girl. So what do you mean by that? Is You know I've always been good at sports. So I learned so much from sports. I learned competitiveness Sportsmanship I learned integrity but I also learned because I played with guys how to be around guys so basically you know I I mean I hate to say this but sometimes I Swear too much. I smoke cigars on the golf course. I drink bourbon afterwards. So I'm kind of a guys girl and And so I kind of lived in their world. It's a challenge though because you know I wanna be feminine at the same time and I don't want to be seen as one of guys all the time so it is a fine balance between Being one of the guys and still maintaining your femininity at the same time. How do you strike that balance with the guys? I think that they respect me. You Know I. I've gained a lot of respect in the last thirty years in the business world because I did enter the male dominated area when I came to New York City from Iowa in Nineteen ninety-two It was There was a company called American Golf. They were running all the golf courses in New York City It was a publicly traded company. I can't remember Salomon brothers someone was Operating it and basically it was all men. There were no women to be seen in in that. Were running the golf courses and I got here and I saw that there were so many holes and gaps. I came from Iowa Gulf was mid West. Golf is very big. There was no junior golf in New York City. No women's golf there was no Even mention of of Golf Psychology. There were all these holes and I said to myself boy. This is such a shame when in the biggest city in the country and there is no organized golf so my goal was to fill those gaps and as I fill those gaps. I started to get a little bit more respect. Although they fought me every step of the way because they didn't want kids and women on the golf course they wanted full pain men on the golf course and you know it was an uphill battle. There were many obstacles that I had overcome. But I've found the right team to help me overcome those obstacles and you know at the end of the day I gained a lot of respect and I think that's the key in the business world. Is You have to have their respect. You can't you have to know what you're doing. You have to talk the talk. You have to walk the walk but at the end of the day. You really need to know your stuff. So how did you deal with those guys who are like women should not be on this courts? Well you know what I went about it. Kind of subtly so the The sports writer in the staten island for the staten island. Advance friend did me. And we became very very close and I wanted so badly to to start this not for profit junior golf club and American golf and in different organizations the men's group they were really fighting me on it so I put together a team like a board of directors and I found and I had the media on my side. Which was Tom Flanagan? I had The President of the Women's Club there I had An attorney that played golf. I had a very high powered Male Golfer bought into my vision and as it team we were able to get around any barriers that they were putting me Kelly Brook in front of D-. You feel like the golf industry has changed for women over the years. Oh it's definitely changed the. Pg of America has something like forty thousand members. I would say ninety. Nine percent of them are male the LPGA is a thousand members all female. There's one female member Named Suzy Whaley. She became the first ever president of the PJ of America so this one woman overseas almost thirty nine thousand men. So the has definitely changed. And I'm seeing it's changed Just across the board I mean I am in a unique position where I'm the director golf and the head professional for a championship. Golf course I don't know any other women in the world that hold my position so it's been quite a journey for me and I've seen a lot of change. I think we have a long way to go. I think that women still feel and this is my plight right now in my life is to educate women that they can get to where they want to be that they don't have to be the junior golf director or the women's Day director for the rest of their lives. They can actually be the head pro at their golf. Course they can Have World Famous Golf Schools? They can run their own facilities if they want to. But women in the golf industry have been made to feel like second-class citizens for so long that they don't even realize that those opportunities are out there so my objective for the next couple years is to educate my fellow female golf professionals that they can have what I have. A lot of people want. Women set goals but big goal. Sometimes but they don't achieve them. So what's the secret of actually achieving the goals you set? I think the secret is that you have to check in with your goals on a daily basis. Your short term goals. That are getting you to your long term goal. I would put that posted that card on my my mirror inside a look at it every day and I would have to check in with myself and Sarah did you chief any short-term goals today that you know we're going to get you to your long term goal and if you want it enough you're going to get business manages. The bethpage course winches one of the top public courses in the US. How did he beat out the other competitors for this contract well you know? I've always been in golf for the right reasons. I enjoyed it and I wanted to spread the word and so I think that I ended up beat the PGA tour. I beat some major Golf Management Companies and. I think I did it because of all of my philanthropic work that I did grow in you know in my say growing up and I was only twenty one when I came here so I really did. Grow up here I you know I I was always in it for the right reasons and I feel that I was recognized for that You know in all of the the properties that I've won and operated. It's not all about the bottom line in life. It's about who you helping. And if you're in things for the right reason and you're helping people then you'll always be rewarded. So what can women learn from the psychology of Golf? Oh Gosh I'll tell you I'll tell you what they can learn so I joined the LPGA in nineteen ninety two ninety three something like that and the first thing we we're taught as all PJ golf instructors is to understand people's learning styles because there are no bad students only bad teacher. So I could give you A. I could give a chipping lesson to five to four different people. Let's say and I can give it four different ways based on your learning style so I'll interview you at the beginning. I'll figure out. Are you left brain right brain? Because a left brain person's very detail oriented. They're very auditory. They're very sequential and They're very objective. I'm a right brain array. Brain person is very creative. Very big picture can't get bogged down in details vary visual and so when I learned that other people have learning styles I reflected upon myself and in Business. I am a better business person because I understand who I am. I am very right sided And I think that that's a very important thing for women to figure out. Are they the left brain personnel there? The right brain and you you tailor your leadership style and your business style to what you are. I know that I can't get bogged down in details. I'm not auditory at all the fact that you didn't give me any questions ahead of time really is freaking me out because I need to prepare visually because I'm not auditory So I will Sit in a meeting and I will need a powerpoint. I need to see things or when I give a presentation. I can't give it auditory. I need to do it through a powerpoint I prefer to communicate through text or email versus phone calls because I know that that's my learnings on how I function best. I also know that I'm not a detail person of big picture person so I hire people that are detail left brain people and so that I can focus on the big picture and I can focus on growth or whatever you know. New Programs were developing so for women. I think it's Or people in general. It's really important that you understand how your brain works and you Tailor Your Business Management Style to how you learn best. Do you say a Mantra Yourself? Like I'm GonNa win this or when you're out there well you know what I got so much into the mental side of golf in the last year and a half and I use it as a metaphor for life. I I have this opti brain that I put on my head and I put on my students heads and we can measure where the The brain waves are stimulated in your head. And this is what I'm talking about with millennials. Again they love the stuff they eat this up if I say to them can I get inside your head and I'm like yeah sure and I put this on and so i. I've taught my students for two years. How to quiet the brain and live in the subconscious and live in this zen place and so I decided to try it out for myself. So my advice to myself. As if I were teaching someone would be next week when I get there. I'm going to just try to live in the moment. Take each shot as it comes tra- not to overthinking stimulate my prefrontal CORTEX and live in my subconscious. We all know the world is changing every day. Since we spoke with her two weeks ago Kelly found out that she's allowed to partially reopen bethpage and she's adapting like we all our listeners. Let us know your secret feeling resilient during this pandemic texter call our hotline at three one. Four two hundred five nine four seven. We might use your comment on an upcoming show. If you'd like to hear more secrets of wealthy women you can find us on apple spotify Google podcasts or your favorite audio provider. If you like US subscribe share on social media and give us a review. This episode was originally produced by tiny bustos. Today's version was produced by train. Nori are executive producers Qatari Yoakam additional help from personal finance editor Bray Lamb Veronica dagger hanging their secrets listeners. You've got this thanks for listening.