Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Why the USGA and R&A still don't get "it"

This morning the governing bodies of golf, the United States Golf Association (@USGA) and the Royal and Ancient Golf Club moved forward with a ban on a putting stroke using any sort of "anchored" position (Information can be found here Once again these two organizations have shown they simply don't get "it" when it comes to the future of the game of golf.

Over the course of a year I teach some 300 adults and kids who are new to the game of golf. At the beginning of each instruction program I ask these groups what they think are some of the reasons the number of golfers in the United States is declining. Nearly every single one of them says it's because the game is too difficult or frustrating along with being too time-consuming for today's much more fast-paced society.

So if I was someone considering learning the game of golf why in the world would I want to make an effort to play a game that is continually becoming more shackled by its rules? Most beginners don't even know what "anchoring" the putter means, but they don't need to, because all they take away from this sort of thing is that the game is now being made more difficult for them.

After teaching for nearly seven years well over a thousand juniors and adults I can without a doubt say the USGA should be doing everything it can to make the game of golf easier if it wants to sustain or encourage some kind of long-term growth. Allow manufacturers to make drivers as hot as possible, or wedges that spin like a top, and any other way to provide more fun to the average golfer. Don't force them to stop making clubs that generate interest and excitement. At the same time limit the restrictions that are currently being levied upon all golfers to just those on professional tours (sans anchoring of course which is just a knee-jerk reaction).

I could go on and on about all the statistics showing that belly and long putters in fact have no real advantage yet just provide a different method for making a stroke at the golf ball, but that's not what this post is about. What this is about is the USGA creating the appearance of a much more restrictive game of golf, one that does not get the average golfer excited to play. Golf is no longer a game of growth, it is a game of decline and has been for the past several years (see: Would it be so bad if everyone felt like they could shoot 70 without being handcuffed by the type of club they can use? What if the belly putter got 10 golfers this week so enthused about trying something new that they each went out and played a round of golf they otherwise wouldn't have? Wouldn't this be good for the game? Conversely, what if this rule change turns someone away from the game by making it more difficult for them?  This rule change is without a doubt bad for the future growth of the game. The governing bodies of golf have lost touch with the average player and this is why they simply don't get "it."

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Black Friday 2012

I seem to have taken on the reputation of being able to find good deals on a variety of's almost a hobby of mine. Ask any of my closest friends and they will tell you I have a habit of making sure I get the absolute lowest price on any major (or heck sometimes even minor) purchase. It's pretty much like the show "Extreme Couponing" on TLC but without all the crazy people with hundreds of coupons at checkout. I get asked a lot about my methods but it's really tough to show friends and family exactly how I do it without having a computer around. So with Black Friday just around the corner I thought I'd share a few of my favorite techniques . While some of these do require a bit of research (and sometimes a lot of reading) it is almost always worth the extra effort.

During the weeks leading up to Black Friday, I find myself perusing most often to locate BF deals and also find leaked ads for all the different stores having sales. This is good for both the buyer who knows exactly what he/she wants or the buyer who just wants to see what the best deals are. On the homepage you can either search for a specific item at the top of the page or find a specific store's adscan on the left side of the page. I try to avoid any sales that are in-store only as I'm not a fan of crowds or lines so I stick to the ones that will be available online as well. However, if you enjoy all the excitement of standing outside in 30-degree weather waiting for doors to open be my guest.

My favorite deal-finding site during other times of the year is (or just "Slickdeals" as I call it). Slickdeals is a website of avid deal-searchers like myself who post discounted prices they find on particular items and then other users can participate in discussion. Let's say, for instance, I am in the market for a new washer/dryer set and wanted to find out if there were any good deals available. I would go to the Slickdeals homepage and in the search in the top right corner would type "washer dryer." This will instantly bring up all recent posts containing deals on washer and dryers. I used this particular method last holiday shopping season and was able to score an awesome, awesome deal on a set from Best Buy. It required a couple of steps (price-matching to a sale at Sears, being at Best Buy at a certain time) but they were all laid out in the post (including an additional step that netted us a $100 Best Buy gift card too).

Other tips to save money on online purchases:

You'd be surprised to know you can earn cash back just by routing through one online site to get to another. Microsoft made this a big deal a couple years ago when they launched "Bing Cashback" (now deceased). But new sites such as and allow you to search for an online retailer and earn cash back if you make an online purchase from that retailer after using their sites to get there.

For instance right now FatWallet is offering 5% cash back at The Home Depot. So let's say you find a great Black Friday deal on a tool set that can be purchased online from The Home Depot -- make the deal even better by creating an account on FatWallet, route to The Home Depot's website through, and then make the purchase. It will take about a day or so for the transaction to be verified and then you can request a check by mail or even have the rebate sent through PayPal. Bang. It's that easy.

This post could go on and on about all the different methods I use to save money whenever I can but really it just comes down to research. If you spend a little extra time on the web, you can save yourself tons of money and be more informed when making the purchase as well. As always, if you have any questions or want more info, just leave a comment! Happy shopping.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Monday Notes:

Election Eve:

  • It's election eve and I've been thinking about something Elyse said over the weekend. She mentioned feeling that the current way candidates campaign seems antiquated in that there are much easier ways of reaching large audiences now. Why haven't either of the two candidates tried more frequent use of web-conference techniques as opposed to traveling to four different states in a day? I vaguely remember one YouTube event with President Obama but that's it.
  • The Twitter accounts of the candidates are about the biggest farce and most impersonal things I've seen. Unless you've been living under a rock it's plainly obvious neither of the candidates has tweeted a single thing.
  • The current election process as a whole seems antiquated. The electoral college is still around in 2012? Come on, surely we should have changed this to a popular vote election by now (just like ALL other elections). This would give states like Oklahoma (100% Red) and say California (100% Blue) the opportunity to feel like they have some participation in the process. When was the last time the GOP or Democrat nominee for President came here to campaign? I can't remember one in my 28 years other than maybe Bill Clinton once.
  • In the end we are all still Americans and I'm pleased to have some very good friends who don't share the same political affiliation I do....
After several years of suffering through the character limits of Twitter and poor formatting of Facebook, I have finally broken down and created a "blog". And by "blog" I mean a space where I can post random thoughts -- some a page and some just a sentence or two -- about interesting things I stumble across on a daily basis.

So why the title "The Maxwell Mark?" Well Merriam-Webster defines "mark" as "a point under discussion" in addition to "a lasting or strong impression." Those that know me know I'm always up for a good discussion and thus the first definition. The things I will be posting about will be things that catch my eye or just strike me as unique and thus the second definition. Hopefully for the readers of this blog, both definitions will apply.

Now I cannot promise any regularity in my posting (I apologize to all 3 readers in advance) but I will try to do my best to keep the loyal following up-to-date. Once I get this thing going, please don't hesitate to fire some constructive criticism my way (or destructive if you're feeling feisty). That should do it for my intro but be looking for the first post soon.