On December 5th, 2004 I wrote my first golf blog post. Little did I know that I’d still be at it 14+ years later. I had no idea how many great friends and associates I would make in the industry, how many of the world’s greatest golf courses I would play, how many of the worlds best golf destinations I would visit, and how many great pieces of golf gear I’d review.
People say I’m “lucky” to have these great experiences and opportunities. I disagree. Luck has nothing to do with it. It’s all about hard work and dedication.
There have been hundreds of golf blogs over the last 14 years which have come and gone. People think running a quality blog is easy. It isn’t. I work hard to produce original, quality, honest content. I take pride in capturing my own pictures for 99.9% of my features, whether it is a fantastic golf resort in the Bahamas or a bag of golf tees. I spend a lot of time testing equipment. Weeks. Months even. I don’t do the “three swings on the practice range” type of reviews.
Perhaps that’s why HOG is trusted by its patrons.
Without a doubt the best part of my 14 years of golf blogging, is the tremendous friendships I’ve made. From tour pros, course pros, equipment makers, PR people, fellow bloggers, to caddies on the Old Course in St. Andrews, I’ve got special friends all over the world I would have never met had I not started this humble blog back in 2004.
I’m anxious to see what the future holds for HOG. What new countries will I visit this year? What new world class golf course will I review? Who will I have the pleasure of getting to know next? What groundbreaking golf gear will I test out this year?
To you, my patrons (not readers… you know, like the Masters), I greatly appreciate your loyalty and patronage.
My long distance golf buddy John Duval from IntoTheGrain.com gave me some custom logo Bridgestone B330’s earlier this year. I love it when golf buddies are in town traveling and have to “leave” me great golf balls because they don’t want to pay the airline’s excessive overweight baggage fees. Thank you. Come again.
At the rate I’m using these balls they’re going to last me until 2019 though. This ball simply refuses to die, and I some how can’t find a way to lose it.
I’ve gotten a couple of these nice emails in the last couple of weeks. Yes HOG has won yet another award. My digital shelf is full of them. Glad it’s just digital. This one quoted below is very typical. I receive an unsolicited email from some person and site I’ve never heard of who has this top 10 list or top something list, and HOG is on it. I’m supposed to get all excited about it and post my award, and of course the LINK BACK to the list. That’s the key right there, the link back. This is just link trolling. I’m not a fan of links trolls, so to speak.
Hi Hooked On Golf Team,
My name is Anuj Agarwal. I’m Founder of Feedspot.
I would like to personally congratulate you as your blog Hooked On Golf Blog has been selected by our panelist as one of the Top 100 Golf Blogs on the web.
I personally give you a high-five and want to thank you for your contribution to this world. This is the most comprehensive list of Top 100 Golf Blog on the internet and I’m honored to have you as part of this!
Also, you have the honor of displaying the following badge on your blog. Use the below code to display this badge proudly on your blog.
Out of curiosity I decided to look at the list. Between popups asking me for my email address I was thrilled, yeah right, to find out that I was in 31st place! I had no idea there were even 31 golf blogs in existence. A deeper look at the list had me laughing. Let’s look at a few:
#1 on the list is Golf Channel’s Golf Central Blog. To me this does not qualify as this is a major golf media outlet. Same with #3, ESPN.
#3 is Reddit? Really? That’s not a blog.
#5 is the “Rules of Golf” blog? I’ve never heard of it. They have a whopping zero facebook followers and 635 twitter followers. Impressive. And their Alexa Ranking (more on this later) is 743,000.
Golfsmith is in there. Not a blog.
My Golf Spy is in there. Not a blog. It’s a forum.
GolfNow.com is in there. Not a blog. It’s a discount tee time platform.
“Turf Diseases” comes in at #9. Yes, the widely popular blog Turf Diseases. LOL.
The Golf Channel’s YouTube channel came in at #17 with an Alexa ranking of 2. Well, that’s YouTube’s Alexa ranking but who’s counting?
Other companies in there who simply sell products but are being called blogs include Odyssey Golf, Your Golf Travel, Ben Hogan Golf Company, Northern California Golf Association, Hyde Park Golf and Country Club Grounds Department, Shipsticks…
Funny thing is that one of their criteria is Alexa ranking. Sounds great except the only computers that have Alexa on them are ones in which the user has specifically installed Alexa, and it only works on Internet Explorer, which now has roughly 1/4 of the browser market. The only reason IE has any market share at all is because Windows machines come with IE as the default browser.
Part of the criteria other than the faulty Alexa one is Twitter and Facebook followers. Well I have over 8000 followers, but they show HOG has having ZERO.
If you take away all the golf club companies, travel companies, sports entities like Golf Channel and filter out the list to true golf bloggers and filter out all the noise, HOG moves up to #1. Probably a tie with Golf Blogger really. Neck and neck.
Happy 12th blogiversary to the rock solid golf blogger known as… well… Golf Blogger. About eight months before Hooked on Golf Blog was founded John Retzer (Golf Blogger) founded GolfBlogger.com. GolfBlogger.com is likely the longest running independent golf blog in existence, and certainly one of, if not the best golf blog in the universe. It always has been. That’s because John has passion and dedication to golf blogging, he knows how to spell, and he loves golf. The spelling part is a really big deal to me. I know as well as anyone that running a serious blog in any category isn’t easy and running one at the quality level and frequency of John’s posts only happens about 1% of the time or less.
When I started HOG I looked up to Golf Blogger in admiration and with inspiration. There were a couple of other golf blogs which started in 2004 too, which are now long gone. There are many hundreds, if not thousands of golf blogs which were started and abandoned over the last 12 years. The net is a blog graveyard of people who thought they could do it with little to no effort.
I’ve said many times that the absolute best, and unexpected part of running this blog has been the fantastic people I’ve met and become friends with. John and I have played many rounds of golf together and have established a great friendship. In fact, we’re golf blog brothers.
I’ll forever be tailgating Golf Blogger as one of the first kids on the block. I know he and I will be around for many years to come because we do it for the love of the game and to express ourselves, not for the big money that bloggers make. Yeah, right.
Hats off to you John. I look forward to another 12 years from you buddy. FORE!
A fantastic golf blog related Twitter discussion happened a couple of nights ago. There was some tremendous discussion and a few important points I thought I’d talk about today. Here’s the tweet that started it below. Click it and follow all the commentary. It is great.
I’m not saying it doesn’t happen but its been awhile since I’ve read a negative review from a golf blogger re: products they get for free.
People have a misconception about me, and bloggers who work hard to build a reputation and following who trusts their opinion. Often people say to me “you’re lucky you get free stuff sent to you all the time.”
Lucky? Puhlease. Like Gary Player says, the harder I work the luckier I get. I have to chime in because I have a very strong opinion on this. I’ve worked my ass off on this blog for over TEN years. I’ve spent thousands of hours and tens of thousands of my own dollars on web hosting, design, travel, trade shows, software, computers, photo gear… all things I use to produce what I hope is entertaining and original golf content. When I go to the PGA Show in Orlando I pay my own way. The PGA Show costs me thousands in airfare, hotels, rental cars, food. The biggest cost is being away from my super wife and my little 2.5 year old boy. So when I come back from a golf trade show with a new pair of shoes, a bag of tees, and a dozen golf balls, that is far from free. Dollars for dollars the last PGA Show netted me a $3500 pair of $129 shoes and a week’s worth of constipation.
I do not review these useless things…
If I receive a box of golf balls, a shirt, a driver, a book submitted for review here the stuff is NOT “free.” I spend HOURS researching, testing, writing, painstakingly taking photos, working on web content. At the hourly rate I charge my day-job web design and development clients that $29.99 box of golf balls would cost hundreds in my time. If it was free I might as well quit this blog thing and just spend the $29.99 and save myself 5-10 hours of trouble.
Why Little or No Negative Reviews?
If you saw my house you’d know I’m not full of it when I say I can’t go to the bathroom without tripping over a golf accessory or some golf gadget. Seriously. It is out of control. I’ve experimented with having other writers here, but I prefer to have this blog be MY blog, good or bad. Therefore it is not possible for me to review every item I receive. Maybe I could do it if I snapped one photo with my camera phone and wrote two sentence reviews about the products, but that’s not how I roll. I like to get into the products and try to translate my experiences in much more depth.
It is because of that time factor that I can’t review everything. So what do I choose to review what what do I abandon? I made the decision to try and limit most of my reviews to products I believe in and can convey a positive message about. So any product I feel is junk, crap, irrelevant, useless, or not well made or poorly designed gets no airtime.
That said, in every review I write I try to put in a critique paragraph or two if I can. I try to point out product weaknesses or ways the product could be improved.
Blogs Who Mail It In
I do have a beef with crappy and lazy bloggers who mail it in. You know the ones. They are the golf blogs who spend NO time on their reviews. Their content is a copy/paste of the PR firm’s materials and the photos are stock PR photos, or shitty photos they took in their kitchen with a couple of rotten pieces of lasagna from last night’s dinner in the background. Their poorly lit photos have the ratty carpet in focus and the product out of focus. They never played that club or tested those golf balls! They never REALLY tested it for a MONTH or more on a real golf course like I do. They’re mailing it in.
PR firms and golf companies love those types of blogs. Whatever PR stuff they send gets automatically posted. It’s like a free advertising outlet. Those sites are easy to spot because their content is the same as the others who are doing the same thing. Sorry, not here.
I have my reasons for keeping my reviews positive as I stated above. When it comes to others is that the same reason? If so, great. I suspect however that those sites are AFRAID to post a negative review for fear that their golf gear gravy train will run out.
Unfortunately the digital golf world is flooded with these sites which dilute the space and hurt the search rankings of good sites, making it even tougher for them to survive. I know. I’m one of them.
Many golf blogs come and go. Most don’t have the balls, time, or dedication it takes to keep it going and to produce ORIGINAL content. That wedge I reviewed last month was not free. I spent dozens of hours testing it on a real golf course, taking photos, and writing about it with a passion for what I’m doing.
The day that passion is gone or does not translate to an entertaining, original, and informative outlet is the day I leave. Could be tomorrow. Could be in a decade.