18 Holes with Alex Miceli


Every few weeks The Hackers Paradise puts another person in the hot seat for its interview segment entitled “18 Holes With……” This week we had the pleasure of welcoming in Alex Miceli to the chair and had a blast talking all things golf. For those new to the articles, our “18 Holes With……” interview sessions involve 9 questions (holes) that are serious and about the current state of the game, and 9 questions that everybody can have fun with.

Most of our readers know Alex Miceli for his part on the Golf Channel Show “The Approach with Callaway Golf.” He is usually wearing his bow tie and debating and evaluating current golf issues and events. He is often alongside fellow analyst Andrew Magee. You can catch the show each Tuesday on the Golf Channel at 8pm and 11pm EST.

Let’s get to the questions.

Hole #1 – How did you get started in the industry?

AM – I started golf.com back in 1993 and back then there was only something like 10,000 URLs. There was not really a book or anything on the internet. Thought it would be interesting to put something together so that people could go on a bulletin board, which is basically what it was, and people could find out more information. If a guy was going to Dallas in a week, they could go online and find out the courses and information about them that way they knew what to expect and would not have a horrible time. That is basically how we started.

Hole #2 – How did Golf.com emerge from the 1993 bulletin board to the site it has become today?

AM – When we started it, it was not Golf.com because we did not own Golf.com, we started as Golf Data Online. Eventually we acquired Golf.com for a relatively small amount of money. From that point it basically just took off. We sold it in 2000 to Quokka Sports.

Hole #3 – Why did you start Golf Press Association?

AM – We started Golf Press Association with in about 6 months of selling to Quokka Sports. I really wanted to do something else. Again we thought there was a need for what we were going to do. There really wasn’t a vehicle that was delivering all the news to people and again we started slowly like we did with Golf.com. With in about a year any competitor pretty much folded their tent. They maybe did not understand what the business was or maybe they did not understand how to make money at the business. I am not going to say that we knew how to make money at this when we first started but, we felt as though if we worked hard enough at and do the right things, it would work its way out in the end and I think we have done pretty well with it. If I wanted to get all the news and follow people at a place like Twitter, it would take a lot of time, where as for the industry, they can take a quick look each day and get all of the information. It makes life easier and at the same time get the information out.

Hole #4 – What is the next big thing for golf in the world of the internet?

AM – Well they are trying to do all of this social networking and I have to be honest with you, I am going to be 52 years old and I do not understand this whole thing because I just do not see how money can be made with it. There are a lot of things out there, but I am not sure we have seen anything like the next big thing as it relates to golf. I just don’t know what it is. I used to think it was going to be more lessons and always believed that it was going to take off. You could shoot your own swing and send it off and get the same criteria the tour players are getting without the cost. If somebody did it right, it could still work. I just do not know what the next thing is. I wish I did. Keeping track of what is going on with the tours is really crucial. Understanding the players is more crucial. I think all the tours do a very poor job of that. They all think it is about getting people to come to their website, the bottom line is that its not people going somewhere, its delivering stuff to people. You have to get people interested and the way the tours are doing it now I think is a poor example.

Hole #5 – What are your thoughts on the groove rule?

AM – I think that you can’t legislate technology. I think it is a mistake. I think that you have to learn how to design courses, not just lengthen them, in a way that technology does not overtake them. If technology can find a way to deal with golf courses, I think golf courses can find a way to deal with technology. I think the new groove rule is horrible, not because it’s a way to set the better players apart, but its terrible because its trying to change every aspect of the game and the cost peramiters involved are so heavy that I just think it does not make any sense. Our game is so hard to begin with, that the thought of making it harder just because we want to, try and increase the expense of playing just because we need to are just bad for the game. The USGA is doing a horrible job at what they are doing right now.

Hole #6 – What are your thoughts on adjustable drivers?

AM – I think some are good and some are bad. First off, I think adjustability is good, because golfers tinker all the time. The problem is that we don’t have a universal thing going with the tips. I don’t know why the manufacturers do this. Think about this, if I want to buy a shaft and stick it in whatever head I want to whether it be a Cobra head, a Taylormade head, a Tour Edge head, or anything else, I can’t. At the same time, now what it is, is I can’t even buy a shaft from some manufacturers with the tip in it, because I have to buy the club head. Adjustability does not work as well as it should. I’m lucky because I can go to the different trailers on tour and they can do that, and that is what it should be, but most consumers can’t. The manufacturers won’t do that. People should be able to go to any store and say I want this shaft with this head and they can’t.

Hole #7 – If you could be LPGA commissioner for a day what three things would you do?

AM – Wow. I would probably start by getting rid of the entire organization that is there now. The operational staff almost to a person and the board to a person is part of the problem and not part of the solution. So that would be the first thing I do. The second change I would make is to bring in all the best players and sit down with them and kind of map out a goal of what we are trying to do. I don’t think they have a goal. I think the board has always thrown different things at the commissioner and said go after it. Then when they go after it, the board says no, that is not exactly what we are looking for. The players are the ones that got rid of the last commissioner, the players are going to be the ones that live and die by the new commissioner, so I think the players need to sit down and we all need to come up with a plan and execute the plan. I do not really think they have ever done that. The third thing I would do is sit down with TV people. That means ABC, CBS, NBC, ESPN, The Golf Channel, and try to figure out exactly where my predacessors screwed up and how I could get it fixed. At the end of the day, the only way I am going to survive is with television. If they cannot do that, there probably won’t be a tour in the future.

Hole #8 – Twitter and the Tours. Does it work? You have Christina Kim who is extremely endearing to her fans and then someone like Jane Park that is blunt, etc…

AM – I think it is perfect. It is what it is supposed to be. You are getting to be closer to the players and learn what they are like. You understand completely what Christina Kim is like, and you completely understand what Jane Park is like. Don’t you? What else do you want? If you sat down with Tiger Woods you would get politically correct. Do I dislike Jane Park? No, that is how she is. Could she be better at certain things? Probably. You know what you got. I would rather have the person be honest.

Hole #9 – Will John Daly ever contend again?

AM – I don’t know. There is no way to know now. I don’t think it is a mental issue as much as it is a physical one. I do believe he has a problem. Until he can figure that out; whether it’s a back problem, shoulder problem, I don’t know. Once he gets it figured out and he can play, he could, but he may never get it figured out. If he does get it fixed, I think he has a chance to contend again.
Alex TV Crew
Hole #10 – Golf Style. Is it getting better or getting worse?

AM – I think its getting um I don’t think it’s getting better or worse, I think it is getting predictable. If you look at any style it goes in a cycle. The stuff you are seeing now was popular in the 60s and 70s. It is a 20-30 year cycle.

Hole #11 – Why the bow tie?

– I wore a bow tie back when I worked in government. Why? I can’t explain why, I just did. When they came to me with this gig on the Golf Channel it seemed to be somewhat professorial and that is perfect I can wear my bow ties.
Hole #12 – What do you put on a hot dog?

AM – Onions and Mustard only

Hole #13 – Is Meatloaf an acceptable meal or it is just a loaf of meat?

AM – Oh no, it is an acceptable meal.
Hole #14 – Dream foursome to watch on TV? Anybody, not just tour players.

AM – Winston Churchill, Lee Trevino, Bobby Jones, and Jack Nicklaus.

Hole #15 – How often do you want to slap Andrew Magee?

AM – On a daily basis.
the approach
Hole #16 – Other than Tiger or Phil, one golfer right now playing on the PGA or LPGA tour you would pay to see?

AM – [laughs] Ummmm. Alvaro Quiros

Hole #17 – For your last meal, what do you tell the warden you would like?

AM – Fried Chicken

Hole #18 – Should the “get in the hole” guy be taken off the course and beaten?

AM – I don’t know about beaten, but definitely taken off the course.

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