One of the last and most amazing things about the world is that you can find a golf course at literally any place, from a desert in the middle of nowhere to a city street.
The JCB card, which is what we use here at Fall Golf Travel Deals, is a British credit card that you can use at any store or restaurant in the world. It’s not just for shopping. You can use it anywhere; it doesn’t matter if it’s a small shop in China or a large store in London.
It’s also not just for food and drink. You can use it to pay for most things: rent, utilities, phone bills, plane tickets, even your golf-course fees. You don’t need to keep track of all the different prices; all you have to do is swipe the card, and it will run all those charges through its built-in chip reader and you’ll get back an amount that includes all the discounts you have been offered on everything you’ve bought with it.
It’s always risky to make an investment. But some things have a lot of risk and little payoff, and some things have a lot of payoff but not much risk. The best investments are the things that have the right balance.
Use your JCB card to get you the best deal on Washington, D.C.’s best golf courses.
When a new golf course opens, the first call is usually to the local golf course operator. This person coordinates the course’s ongoing maintenance, and ensures that when the public is there, it’s not at an inconvenient time of day or week.
More often than not, this person will ask for a fee or commission to work on the place. But if you’re a JCB card holder, you know that JCB won’t pay him or her. In fact, right now there are hundreds of golf courses in America without a single employee who gets paid by JCB.
The golf course operators don’t mind. They’re thrilled to have someone willing to do their job for free; they may even be grateful to someone who doesn’t expect payment up front. They notice that people like you who don’t have a JCB card don’t like them any more than they need to: they take forever to answer the phone, they don’t keep appointments, and so on. As I write this article in nearly empty Washington National Golf Club in Rockville, Maryland, I am surrounded by equipment worth over $2 million that belongs to one of these people – equipment that already has its own specialist operator, but would cost around $600 an hour if I were to hire my
I grew up in Washington, D.C., and I played golf there all my life, but I don’t remember ever seeing a JCB card anywhere. When I came to New York, I wondered if I’d ever see one. Then one day I noticed that the restaurant below my apartment was advertising “JCB Golf Course.” Gee, it seemed like a good idea to take a look.
It turned out to be a small course on the river bank. It looked like it had been built sometime in the 1960s or 70s. The tee boxes were raised above street level by about two feet, which made for interesting tee shots (at least for me). There was no clubhouse, just some picnic tables and benches near the green.
I can’t say it was a fantastic course; it had some problems that only an expert would notice. But it was certainly better than what you’d expect from a JCB Golf Course. And as much as anything else, that is what made me want to blog about it.
The JCB card is an old-fashioned product, an ATM card that can be used at any retailer that accepts it. But it seems to have been more successful recently than you might expect.
JCB has a couple of advantages over other cards. First, its logo is distinctive, a cheery little cartoon of a rugby player with a JCB cap on his head and a wrench in his hand. It’s very recognizable. And second, it is free. You can get one by opening a current account at any bank that accepts the card. In Britain it’s called the “Corporate Card” and you can use it anywhere MasterCard or Visa are accepted; in the U.S., before September 11, when MasterCard banned travel to Saudi Arabia, it was called the “American Express Card.”
Writing golf guidebooks is a great way to get rich without having to work. But writing them is hard. Unless you’re absolutely ruthless, you will spend more time writing about which courses to avoid than about which ones to play. The best golfers in the world have made their living off of other people’s bad ideas; why should it be different for hacks?
The more you write about something, the harder it becomes to write about anything else. A lot of professional golf guides are miserable because they’ve written so many books on golf that they can’t think of anything new to say about it.
So unless you want to spend the rest of your life as a professional golfer, there’s a third option: find your niche and stick with it.
The reason golf is such a popular game is that it is both complex and simple.
The complexity comes from how hard it is to play well, and the simplicity comes from how easy it is to learn to play. It’s the same with software development: if you want to get good at writing books, start by writing your own book.
The reason golf is so simple is because you can’t make up rules as you go. You have to figure out what the rules are ahead of time and make sure everyone else does too; if a rule isn’t in the rules, then you have to invent one.
There’s no such thing as discovery in golf: you have to know already what’s going on when something new happens. That makes it a very predictable game; if you do everything right, well over ninety percent of the time, you’ll win. But that doesn’t mean it can’t still be fun. And if you keep learning, the things you don’t know will become less important and fewer things will be truly unpredictable; like being able to hit a shot into a bunker or breaking 100 on your home course, where everyone knows what they’re doing and there are no crazy local rules.