If you weren’t able to attend our recent Proponent Group Summit you missed hearing the intriguing dialogue that came out of our Entrepreneurs Panel, featuring Karen Nicoletti and David Ogrin. Both Karen and David have built businesses beyond just coaching. Below are the responses David Ogrin provided to questions we submitted to each panelist. The full session will be posted to our members website in the coming weeks.
You took on the responsibility of owning and operating a business (a traditional driving range operation) when you could have stuck to just teaching the game. Why?
My background in playing the PGA Tour for the greater portion of my adult life meant always having my income at risk. I got accustomed to being fully responsible for my livelihood. I’ve always had a coaching gene so I when I quit the tour I went down that path, doing apprenticeships along the way. One year at Rivercity Range—which is now my place—one year as interim GM at two OB Sports courses, three years as seasonal coach in Wyoming, two years at Topgolf, and two years at the Alamo City Golf Trail. All together it was a nine-year learning curve. When the opportunity to open David Ogrin Golf Academy finally came I was ready.
What has been the scariest part of building a business beyond just coaching?
That question is all about risk and risk management. When I got a loan from my regional bank, Frost Bank, I was suddenly on the hook for almost $200,000. And once you own a business you have exposure to business-related lawsuits. Golf being a game of flying projectiles that risk is always there. The risk and responsibility of having employees is there as well.
How much do you teach in a typical week now?
Somewhere between 30 and 35 hours. It might get to 40 if I do a playing lesson. That’s divided into 80 percent junior golfers and 20 percent adult golfers.
Businesses are most successful when they are able to differentiate themselves from similar businesses. What is your core marketing message about your business in your local community?
I am unbelievably lucky in that I have a monopoly in a fast-growing wealthy area. Just my existence is a differentiating factor. The one thing I try to do is keep good grass and good balls. The severe drought of 2023 has deferred both for the time being, but people still come out to hit. I also have two grass putting greens which I am keeping as close to good greens as I can, knowing most ranges don’t keep a good green.
Do you manage the business on your own or have someone who assists?
I am 100 percent responsible, but over our five-year run my family members have slowly increased their role in the business. So, my wife handles the bookkeeping. I convinced her that it was her money, so it makes sense for her to watch it. My brother-in-law maintains the grass and machines. My son-in-law does the scheduling and inventory. My son does the hardest work.
What is the biggest business mulligan you wish you could take?
Everything I wish were different involves things beyond my control, so there’s no obvious mulligan. Golf Channel Academy was not in my control. Covid-19 was not in my control. So, no real regrets.
Has entrepreneurship been what you thought it would be? Would you do it all over again?
Overall, yes, being the boss of my own kingdom has been pretty fun. I don’t have to explain my decisions or my weirdness to anybody. I can’t get fired. So yes, I would do it again.