In 2009, where did you go to talk about golf equipment?
Most likely, you were having a post-round beer or three with your buddies, and you were discussing whether the Hot List is legit, Eddie’s new Nickent 3DX RC irons, and whether that square Callaway FT-iQ driver is any better than that Nike oil can-sounding thing Bernie gamed last year.
We’ll be the first to admit nothing beats beer, buddies, and golf talk, but over the past decade, we’ve developed a new venue for, uhh, golf-raderie. Sure, you can still pull up a barstool after the round, but now you can take the conversation home, pull up your desk chair, spark up the worldwide web and continue the conversation online in a golf forum, chat room or message board.
And today, we celebrate the 10th anniversary of what we hope is your favorite, the MyGolfSpy Community Forum.
Now For Something Completely Different
MyGolfSpy as a website first teed off in December, 2007, but the Community Forum didn’t make its debut until 26 months later. MGS Founder Adam Beach says if he was going to do a forum, he wanted it to be different – and better – than anything else out there.
“I wanted to know what the biggest issues with existing golf forums were from readers and golf companies,” he says. “One was the way people treated each other. All other forums had rules, and rules are made to be broken.”
Morals, however, are on you – hence the birth of the Community Forum Moral Codes.
“It basically says just be a good human and don’t be a dick,” says Beach. “That was it, and it works. Our forum is remarkably self-policing.”
The Codes are pretty simple, stuff we all should have learned at a very early age:
- No abusive language
- No political, religious or racial comments
- Personal opinions, not personal attacks.
In other words, don’t be a dick.
The Community Forum launched itself with what to this day remains the biggest golf forum contest ever: an $11,210 golf equipment giveaway. Ten winners were chosen, with first-place taking home $3,940 worth of 2010-era golf gear. Then, as now, MyGolfSpy was very number-specific.
A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum…
With most golf forums, there’s an elementary school playground dynamic going on. Newbies or high handicappers get bullied by the self-proclaimed golf wunderkind who insist they hit it 310 down the middle every time. You have the yahoos telling anyone and everyone that, as a plus-handicap, they know a good bit more about everything than you, and you have the various trolls who can’t resist passive-aggressive political jabs, or telling everyone their SLDR-C with a premium shaft is the best thing ever made.
Yeah, we have those on the MGS Forum too. But mostly, we have really good guys who behave like adults.
Which is kind of remarkable with a membership of over 80,000.
“I remember one early thread, with guys bickering back and forth,” says MGS Editor Tony Covey. “Guys were aggressively weighing in with thoughts, ideas, opinions, and one of the guys said, ‘it’s okay not to know something.’ That’s really stuck with me as a life lesson. We don’t know everything, and we shouldn’t pretend otherwise.”
Several longtime members – many who have been active since Day One – agree the vibe on the MGS Community Forum is just plain different and a heck of a lot more welcoming.
“I’ve stayed because of the members,” says MattF (his forum name). “No egos, great information, and lastly, which really should be firstly, I’ve met some really good friends.”
“I found a community of golfers – and people – who cared about ordinary golfers and people like me,” says RevKev. “They actually valued my opinion, my game, and my life, really.”
“I’ve made some friends and have met a couple in person who are really great folks,” says BigStu. “You can crack a joke and no one gets bent out of shape if you make a sly comment. The staff over the years has been outstanding and do not kiss the big companies’ asses.”
A Day In The Life
Visit the MGS Community Forum and you’ll find ongoing discussion threads on virtually anything and everything directly and indirectly related to golf. You can talk about the newest episode of No Putts Given, brag (or moan) about your latest round in the How’d You Play thread, trash-talk in the MGS Fantasy Golf League thread or chime in with your thoughts on the new Bridgestone Tour B balls.
Equipment discussions generally dominate, but you can also discuss what’s happening on Tour, share drills or fitness tips that have worked for you, arrange a game with fellow GolfSpies, and talk about travel destinations, your favorite beers, cigars or even TV shows. It really is a continuation of that post-round bull-session with your buddies.
“I’m a member of other communities, including larger ones,” says member Undershooter. “This one feels like home.”
“Another forum lost its appeal,” says Chisag. “I found MGS and like it much more than any others.”
“It’s the Staff and members,” says FozCycle, one of the remaining original members. “The integrity here led me to make MGS my home.”
The Community Forum has hosted several online group competitions over the years, as well. The Cobra Connect Challenge, for example, outfits several members with a full bag of new Cobra Gear. They compete with each other using Cobra Connect and ARCCOS, while members compete for prizes for the best comments.
For the past three years, we’ve offered #SpyStaffSlam with Wilson Golf. For each Major, members pick a team, and whoever’s team takes home the most prize money wins a custom set of Wilson irons. We also have Fantasy Football leagues as well as the aforementioned Fantasy Golf league.
And then there’s Forum Testing.
Test, Review & Keep
MyGolfSpy’s Most Wanted Testing is the industry standard for non-biased, #datacratic club testing. If you’re an MGS Community Forum member, you get to join in the fun through the Community Forum Review program.
Each year we work with OEMs to provide our members with anything from a full iron set to drivers, fairways, wedges, putters, balls, bags, pushcarts, shafts, rain gear, you name it. You have to be a Forum Member to apply, and the Forum Team does a good job spreading the love to newbies and veterans alike. If you’re lucky enough to be selected, your job is simple: test it, review it, and then keep it.
The reviews are posted in the Community Forum for all members to read, and the ongoing discussions help members decide if they want to demo the gear themselves. Each review includes a mix of handicap ranges, ages, and abilities, so you should find something that applies to your game.
In the early days, the Community Forum offered maybe five to six review opportunities per year. Last year, that number ballooned to 26. Testers Wanted announcements are posted here on the main website, but all applications have to be made in the Forum, since that’s where the reviews a posted and stored. The process itself is designed to weed out folks who really aren’t forum people. Part of the job of a reviewer is to interact with the rest of the community on your experiences.
Testers are provided with a timeline and a review template to make the process as easy as possible. Reviewing a product is no small task. It requires a full two to three-month commitment to not only use the product but to write a thoughtful, honest, and thorough review and to answer questions from your fellow members. It’s not for everyone, but it sure is fun.
The Next Ten Years
Adam and Tony rarely venture into the Forum these days. Instead, we currently have an outstanding team of Moderators and Directors in place. You’ll know them as GolfSpies Rob, STUDque, Stroker and MPR. These guys do an awesome job making sure the Forum remains true to Adam’s original vision.
“I created this space for golfers to have a place they call their own and to offer an inclusive alternative,” he says. “We hope the Forum will always be a place for golfers to hang their hats and a place where we can involve members in testing.”
“MyGolfSpy.com is by MyGolfSpy for the reader,” says Tony. “The Forum is intended to be by the reader for the reader. We create the templates for consistency, but otherwise, we let the readers do their thing. Our forum isn’t like most others. It’s entirely about building a quality place where golfers can exchange ideas and opinions.”
It’s a fascinating age we live in, isn’t it? Some say the online world is an addiction or a replacement for real life. Perhaps, but ever since the first amphibians crawled out of the slime, we humans have gathered together with like-minded types to share our passion and our stories. Artists find artists, plumbers find plumbers, and golfers find golfers.
So please join us as we celebrate ten years of the MyGolfSpy Community Forum, where golfers talk golf, celebrate life’s milestones, and enjoy each other’s company. Friends? In a way, but as William Butler Yeats once said, there are no strangers here; only friends you haven’t met.
If you haven’t joined the Community Forum yet, here’s a link to register. Get going!!