Adam Barr has covered golf and the golf industry for nearly 17 years, first as a freelance writer, then as a full-time business editor for GOLFWEEK magazine. From print, he expanded to broadcast, joining The Golf Channel when that network was just two years old.
While there, he covered events on virtually every major professional tour, as well as many top amateur tournaments. His experience as a lawyer helped him guide viewers through the legal and rules issues that have intersected with golf, including the Casey Martin golf cart case, which Barr followed to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Although he has covered many aspects of golf, Barr’s core competency has always been the tools of the game. His relationships on the tours and with equipment manufacturers have enabled him to show fans and players how to enjoy the game more through equipment. This work has taken him from Hong Kong to Helsinki and hundreds of interesting stops in between.
Adam has transitioned this expertise into Web 2.0 and I know you’ll value his insights about his exciting new venture and golf.
What are you up to now?
I have created a golf site Adam Barr Golf. I understand that there are plenty of strong golf sites on the Web. However, they are not full of rich video, highly visual content. After almost 13 years at the Golf Channel, I have developed a great expertise and experience in visual content creation, so I have created a site that is highly visual with a clean presentation and design that is very appealing on a computer monitor. I understand that folks are interested in equipment and especially what the pros are playing. I feel it is most compelling to see it versus just reading about it. Video is dynamic and today’s technology allows me to present stories in a very entertaining and informative way. I want fans to view my site and know more about equipment features and how pros are thinking about them. I expect these insights to be valuable for players with 3, 13 or 23 or higher handicaps. Eventually, I expect my site to be a great advertising venue for golf brands and organizations, leveraging my reputation and unique content.
What challenges have you faced with this new venture?
The challenge has not been developing content. Initially, I was challenged by developing a good production work flow that meets my high standards of being informative, comprehensive and attractive to golfers. It’s also been important to produce pieces that are new and are reliably posted at least every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. I now have managed to do what meets my standards. Next is the important and valuable task of sales or marketing. So far, I have used my experience and reputation to connect with major golf brands and organizations. Now, I need to show commercial value in delivering qualified and committed buyers (eyeballs and viewers) to convince those brands to support Adam Barr Golf. Distinctive, rich and expert content will attract viewers.
What are you doing to generate audience for your site?
To generate audience, I have offered giveaways like the current TaylorMade driver giveaway on my site. I’m researching how to best develop an SEO campaign. I have launched a social media campaign including Facebook and Twitter. My colleagues in television, radio and print have been helpful in getting the word out. I’m grateful for their support.
What has surprised you so far?
For first time in my life, I am not associated with the law firm or corporation. There are no layers, no one to blame and I’m very nimble and creative in making things happen, so that change has been very good. What I enjoy most is that I can wake up with ideas at 6am, some make it past 10am, and then many even make the cut by 5:00pm. So, aside from the shock of managing my own enterprise financially, it’s been exhilarating to be able to create and execute great ideas.
What can you uniquely offer?
I am probably the only person on the Web who can walk up to a pro like Zach Johnson and ask him about the sole on his wedges, and then present our conversation in a highly professional, authoritative and credible way. That’s what my reputation and expertise groomed from the Golf Channel and GolfWeek can uniquely provide.
How can your site be more effective versus mainstream media?
My site and the Web are the definition of On Demand news, information and education. It’s interesting to see how the major network and cable outlets have been searching for infrastructure and systems for immediately accessible news and information on a simple and powerful basis. It’s already been there on the Internet. That’s what I’m leveraging and it’s particularly valuable when you have golf as the world’s premier sports “league.” Additionally, I have been doing this for 17 years, so I can bring that reputation, expertise and successful experience now to the Web in an impactful and clearly differentiated way. I’ve got tremendous competitive advantages.
How this is going to play out?
The current site is now the basics and we will provide more enhancements in the future. I feel the economy is getting better and that ad spending will be increased which portends well for my site. I also think there can be satellite sites for any sport — baseball, skiing, etc. After all, the “stuff” of sports is what's fun. Golf has some of the best stuff, so for now, I will concentrate on that sport.
How has social media transformed golf media?
I don't think we have seen its real power yet. There are efforts now to share scores and experiences, but being there with the other three members of your foursome is still much more important for golfers and the golf experience. So, the jury is still out. Social media is an invention that people are naturally enamored with, but no invention takes care of everything. Like the dishwasher, it cleans dishes but you can’t drive anywhere with a dishwasher. Even so, social media gets people talking more and the business, brand and marketing can be driven by conversation. And recent National Golf Foundation research shows that golfers are getting more into Web 2.0, including social media for news and information.
What about Web 2.0 and its affect on golf media reporting?
Well, if you consider that many great expert writers are now retiring or losing their positions (see this Golf Week Jeff Rude story), the expertise, the deep knowledge of golf is eroding. Or put another way by Phil Mickelson, everyone is the media now. So, there seems to be less respect for specific knowledge, as we all report to each other. Therefore, we risk losing those who study, regularly experience and understand golf. That will be a huge loss for viewers and readers. What’s frustrating is that fans are not even scratching the surface of golf or any news let alone searching for analysis and interpretation. Facts are imperative, but rather than just knowing that Jason Day hit punch a seven iron in his Nelson win, I believe that people will want to know how he did it, what was his strategy for his next shot, this round and for the tournament. I’m afraid that insight and interpretation will disappear without a strong core of golf writers.
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