MyGolfSpy is working on some cool new features, and it’s stuff we think you're really going to like. To help get you ready from what's to come, MyGolfSpy staffers Dan Mann and John Barba had a sit down with MGS owner and guiding spirit Adam Beach. In today's Part 1, John and Dan will share with you Adam's journey, and how and why MyGolfSpy became what it is today.
“Power to the Player unless there’s a kickback...”
This reader comment popped up after when MyGolfSpy published the results from its 2017 Most Wanted Game Improvement Iron testing. The writer was apparently suspicious of the results and thought he would voice his opinion - uninformed as it may be.
We won’t belabor MyGolfSpy’s official response (you can read it here), but suffice it to say it was pure unadulterated and unapologetic MyGolfSpy.
And even though he didn’t personally write the response (MGS Editor, Tony Covey, did), if you know anything about MyGolfSpy founder Adam Beach, you’d understand that the response was totally, completely, and perfectly in character.
Adam wouldn’t have it any other way.
“I’m as straight of an arrow as you’ll find”
“If people really f***king knew how much I cared, they would never say these things about MyGolfSpy getting paid off. It really breaks my heart,” says Adam. “It’s hard to swallow because I’ve given up a lot to do this, and for someone to question why I do this, or to say I do this for a particular reason, or to just bash my company? Dude, I’m as straight of an arrow as you’ll find.”
Adam Beach is an old 40, meaning he’s endured more, experienced more and accomplished more in his 40 years than many folks twice his age have. What he is today is an amalgamation of his life’s experiences, with plenty of sharp edges surrounding a passionate entrepreneur who may very well be one of the most direct people in the golf world today.
“I don’t know any other way, and I don’t see how people do it any other way,” says Beach. “It seems like it would be so difficult to me to keep up with all the bulls**t you’ve told people. I can’t imagine it, you know?”
If you want to know why MyGolfspy is the way it is - a no BS, #Datacratic, consumer-oriented golf website that’s unique in that it takes ZERO dollars from the big OEM’s - you need to understand what makes Adam tick.
If you have a few minutes, it’s a worthwhile read.
Both Sides of the Tracks
Let’s put this out there right now, Adam Beach is uncomfortable talking about himself. It took considerable prodding from both of us to get Adam to open up. But once he did, there was a gestalt-like outpouring of personal experiences, passion, points-of-view and various moving pieces that leave no doubt as to what he thinks and where he stands.
You may not always agree with Adam, but you’ll always know what he thinks and why he thinks it, and he’ll often punctuate his opinions with a simple and declaratory “That’s the way I see it.”
Not to make light of Adam’s life circumstances, but he is the archetypical product of his environment: a dad who left, the divorced mother raising three kids by herself and a revered Grandmother who taught learning disabled children.
“My Dad left us when I was 3. My Dad was wealthy in terms of money, but my Mom was broke,” recalls Beach. “I was abused by a step-dad who was a biker gang guy, a drug dealer who beat my Mom, beat me. You don’t want to come home sometimes, that’s for sure.”
“As a result, I gravitate towards people who are at risk of being taken advantage of, and I feel that somebody needs to stand up for them. Back in high school, most people would have probably labeled me as a badass, nobody wanted to f**k with me. Just don’t treat people the wrong way. I don’t know where it came from, but I guess it’s in my DNA.” - Adam Beach
Adam’s nose for business comes from his father, with whom he stayed connected through youth sports. “I remember when I was 8 or 9, I wanted to have my own business. I had a whole bunch of business ideas, and I would ask him what he thought. He’d always shoot them down and tell me why they wouldn’t work. I spent 15 years of him shooting down every idea I had.”
Not one to be deterred, Adam kept swinging away with ideas until one finally connected with the old man.
“My biological father was a member of a country club, and I was as broke as a joke,” Adam recalls. “But I got to play with him at his club. So we’re playing one day as I was getting ready for college, coming up the 18th hole and he asks ‘what are you going to do? I know your wheels are always spinning.’
“So we’re walking up the 18th fairway, and I said ‘I have a good one. I’m going to start the very first Internet Golf Pro Shop.’ He looked at me - and this was back in the wild, wild west days of the internet - and says ‘Huh. That’s a good one.’ That’s all I needed.”
Lots of 18-year-old kids have ideas. Not many of them actually do anything with them. But after being shot down for so long by the Old Man, Adam wasn’t going to let this opportunity go by without a fight.
“A couple of days later I did some research and found there was this thing called the PGA Show. So I scraped together enough money to buy my very first computer and a flight. I stayed with a long-lost family member I barely knew in Florida and went to the show. That’s how it all started.”
Adam got a hold of the show guide, which back then published the e-mail addresses and phone numbers of every CEO and big-wig in golf. Adam called every one of them and told them what he wanted to do.
“They thought I was crazy,” he remembers. “One guy even said ‘how do you plan to get the money through the computer screen?’ I said we got that figured out.”
Adam did build his website, but he wasn’t the first. Two sites - igogolf.com and chipshot.com beat him to the punch - but a 20-year old with a $700 website made it to the arena and competed.
“I ain’t playin' golf”
You'd think golf was always the sport at which Adam excelled, but you would be wrong. Before golf, he was something of a baseball prodigy.
“Anybody that throws 90MPH and has a no-hitter in his first high school game gets looked at, I guess. I didn’t have any guidance at the time, I had an awful high school coach, but people were coming to look,” recalls Beach. “I didn’t want to go to college though. I was a rebel, smoked a lot of weed, rebelled a lot without a dad, but colleges were looking at me, even a scout for the LA Dodgers and the Mets. That type of story.”
Beach did play college ball, but college was as far as it went.
Adam says it was during his high school years his friends caught his attention with another sport.
“My dad was the number one rated running back in the state of Virginia - he played college ball and all that. He was my football coach, but I didn’t really want to play anymore because I wanted to get away from my dad. A bunch of my buddies said why don’t you play golf?”
“Golf? I ain’t playing golf” Beach scoffed, “Then they said I could chew tobacco out there. I said ‘Shit, really?’ I chewed Skoal as a baseball player, so I gave up football for Skoal and golfing with my buddies.”
“I want to change the industry for one reason.”
As many a doubting-Thomas reader can attest, Adam gets downright prickly when anyone suggests MyGolfSpy takes payoffs, or in any way shills for any equipment company. Adam’s upbringing, his experiences as a youth and his disposition simply won’t allow for it.
“Money means nothing to me, it really doesn’t,” he explains. “I want to change the industry for one reason - because it’s the right thing to do.”
“Obviously I’m in business and I have kids to take care of, so I’ve got to make enough money to survive, don’t get me wrong. But the last time I checked I’ve turned down upwards 85% of the people that come to us to advertise - and it never has anything to do with money. It’s got to fit the brand. It’s got to be a product that performs.” - Adam Beach
Any product you see advertised on MyGolfSpy (Google ads notwithstanding) has to pass muster at the MGS Testing Facility in Yorktown, VA. You may never see any write-ups on these products, but if the item doesn’t do what the manufacturer says it does, it won’t make it to MyGolfSpy readers.
“I believe in building authentic, real relationships with consumers, and that’s not done by just telling them how great a product is,” says Adam. “You gotta prove the shit first. And once you do, you have an opportunity to build a relationship with my readers.”
Adam calls it a Circle of Trust.
“My theory is if you’re a MyGolfSpy reader and you buy a product that advertises with us, there’s a 100% guaranty that you’re going to go ‘wow, they weren’t bullshitting!’ And now you’re trusting me a little more today than you did yesterday.”
A perfect example of this Circle of Trust is the Evnroll putter. Guerin Rife wanted to advertise with MGS, saying his new putters would beat everything we’ve ever tested. Adam went right for the jugular.
“ I told him to put up or shut up,” says Adam. “The only way we’re going to know is if I put them up against the best in the business - the PING Ketsch and the Odyssey 1, period. That’s it. You’re not going to tell me it’s the best and bullshit me.”
You know the rest of the story. Evnroll blew away both the Ketsch and the Odyssey in 2016 and then swept the 2017 Most Wanted Mallet and Blade testing.
“When a brand performs, we love it,” says Adam. “We create a few things with that. First is that Circle of Trust with our readers. But we’re also starting to get rid of the shitty products in golf. Hopefully what will be left will be performance over marketing, and only products and brands that help golfers play better golf.”
“Everything, and I mean everything - should come down to this: does it make you a better golfer? I get it - there are putters out there that make you feel warm and fuzzy. But at the end of the day, does it make your score go down? If it doesn’t, and you can’t prove it, I’m doing a disservice to my customers, to my readers, to my employees, friends, and family if I say anything different.”
Where Is The Line?
It certainly would be easier - and more profitable - to be like other golf websites and simply take OEM money, write nice, generic fluff pieces on equipment and cash some checks. But if you’ve been retaining anything over the past several paragraphs, you know that’s just not going to happen.
“It’s hard for the average reader to understand where we draw that line, I totally understand that,” says Adam. “The big guys - TaylorMade, Callaway, Cobra, Mizuno, Srixon, Cleveland, the others - none of those we’ll take.”
Basically, MyGolfSpy accepts $0 advertising dollars from any of the major golf manufacturers. MyGolfSpy does, however, allow small and medium-sized golf companies that maintain a proven track record of performance to advertise. We believe this benefits both the consumer and the industry. It helps level the playing field by giving small budget companies with above average performing products a place to compete. It also helps expose the golfing consumer to a wider array of brands and products.
The more you probe Adam about why there’s a line in the first place, the more you hear the Adam who wouldn’t let anyone mess with the learning disabled kids at his high school, or who rebelled against abusive or absent authority figures and can’t stand seeing people being taken advantage of.
“I’ve been in this industry long enough to know that some of these small to medium-sized guys were not only creating some of the best products, but they were also getting their ideas ripped off. On top of that, they weren’t business people. They were designers or entrepreneurs - they didn’t really know how to run a business. And you see this big gap between a Callaway and a guy like Guerin Rife. Guerin is never going to work for a big corporation. He’s not that guy."
“So how is he ever going to get the word out to millions of golfers if he can’t spend what Golf Digest is charging, even if he has a product that performs? The big guys have every avenue to get their names out. The small to medium-sized guys that have a product that performs? Well, we try to level the playing field a little.”
Adam Beach is real people, and he just wants what's best for everyone. He's got a big heart but won't stand for anyone's BS. At the end of the day, once you get to know him, you'll see him as we do and how easy it is to call him a friend. Championing the little guy is who Adam Beach is, with grand visions of changing how the golf industry works for them and that's what we're going to introduce you to in the next chapter of Adam's story.
For the rest of the story, read Part 2