I read a story about Malcolm Butler and the New England Patriots published Friday Dec. 11, 2015 as part of ESPN The Magazine’s Ideas of the Year Issue – It reminded me of the development story for REALiTEE GOLF, with a slight twist. The original article takes place entirely in the past, whereas the story of REALiTEE transitions from past to present to future vision. For more on the original article, visit espn.com/IdeasIssue. Let’s Master the Experience…Together! – Dave.
This story will be published in the Friday Dec. 14, 2018 issue of ESPN The Magazine – part of golf history, for now and evermore – a look at the people, moves and moments that changed sports, and specifically golf in 2018. For more, visit REALiTEEGOLF.com, (or ask a friend if they have played golf at REALiTEE!)
The story of the Greatest Revolution in Modern Golf History begins, like so many American success stories, where you’d least expect it. You can’t raise the curtain and see the circumstances leading to the inspirational idea, nor subsequent challenges founder Dave Shultz overcame to make REALiTEE GOLF a reality because that would be cheating the story. It would be like watching the last five minutes of The Usual Suspects without seeing, and understanding, how we got there.
We begin instead with the desire Dave felt to change his career trajectory. Utterly frustrated with corporate America, the economy, the outlook, the job market, being turned down for GM and other senior leadership positions that were seemingly a perfect fit, being told ad naseum that he is “too entrepreneurial” – he still believes, against all odds, that he’ll find a way to live life more fully and to give back to society.
Ethan Shultz, Dave’s son, could have had a bad day on the golf course. But, it was his 21st birthday and St. Patricks Day, so karma was on his side. Dave could have played better, but he was rusty from too few rounds over the years due to a busy schedule. After losing, a random outburst from Dave, “Why can’t golf be more like tennis?” (requiring less time to play/practice and being available at night.) Something about that idea embeds itself in his head. The next morning he wakes up and declares at breakfast that he is going to create the future of golf, sealing the idea on a napkin sketch. Something permanently changed in Dave’s mindset that morning, not fully understood until reading Napoleon Hill’s Think and Grow Rich several months later. And so the treasure hunt begins!
“Am I crazy or am I right?” It’s one or the other…
These are the words etched in Dave’s mind as he applies 20 years of product development and corporate leadership experience with a singularity of purpose previously unattainable. If he creates an amazing and massive greenside experience, and couples it with play in a golf simulator as a means of shortening the playing field, will people love it? (The answer lies in an amazing and proprietary transition between the two phases of the game.) Will the commercial equation work? (Comparisons to K1 Speed, Sky Zone, and TopGolf, definitively tip the scales in REALiTEE’s favor.) Shultz tries to convince himself he’s crazy, to give up on this ludicrous idea, but he can’t let it go because he knows he is right.
“Am I crazy or am I right?” It’s one or the other…
Witnessing The Special Olympics, live is a joyous experience.
That’s what Dave Shultz was thinking late in the the summer of 2015 while carrying the bag for Oliver Doherty, Team Ireland’s ace and watching the best players in the world compete. Approaching the 72nd hole of competition, Oliver had just fallen into bronze medal position with an uncharacteristic 3-putt on the 71st green. Dejected and miserably hot, Oliver turns to Shultz and apologizes for “letting him down.” After giving him some space, Shultz approaches Oliver with an ice cold towel and a pep talk. “A birdie is all we need – you’re due for a big putt!” Doherty – with an eagle putt from 50 feet and above the hole – is focused. He lets it roll, and to the crowd’s amazement, it tracks into center cup. A celebration ensues! Shultz thinks… REALiTEE can help bring attention and attendance to this joy.
Virtually no one will remember it, but the unsung heroes of REALiTEE are the multitudes of people who encouraged Shultz to continue his journey during periods of self-doubt.
Albert Wong provides $75K in seed money just to fuel the dream. Friends and relatives take time to review endless revisions of the same story, providing reassurance throughout the process. The legendary Keith Lane Creative Group listens, challenges, and ultimately delivers a brand worthy of supporting a new industry. DWL Architects agree to use their business development budget and assign a brilliant team to design the venue. Investor Brian Seals, after a 45-min conversation with Dave over drinks pledges $50K saying “this is what I’ve been waiting for.” Ed Colson agrees to sponsor Shultz with enough money to carry the project forward several years. Robert Trent Jones, Jr., designers of U.S Open course Chambers Bay, agree to design the first authentic REALiTEE golf playing field!
Shultz can now sense the future of indoor golf. He can see and feel the whole experience in his mind’s eye, recognizing that many around him still think he’s off his rocker. But in that moment, as Shultz considers the future – as he watches an amazing supporting cast convert ideas into solutions – REALiTEE’s founder does something most have advised against. He shares with anyone willing to listen.
His own sideline is frantic. Don’t you realize the implications? People might steal! But he counters: The golf world needs REALiTEE, and the fastest way to deliver it is to share. Shultz ignores the buzz around him and continues to spread the word because he believes people are inherently good.
Finally, the decision. In February, 2016, REALiTEE will celebrate the future and share with golf course owners in San Diego.
The next big call is where to build the world’s first REALiTEE GOLF course. There is energy in the UK and South Africa. But Shultz wants to build in Seattle, coinciding with the 2018 Special Olympics USA Games, bringing his inspiration full circle.
Will golf course owners adopt REALiTEE GOLF; recognizing that it will make obsolete practice facilities as they are understood today? Practice now becomes fun, as it should be.
How do you calculate the probability of a sports miracle? There is a beauty to viewing our games through the lens of science and statistics, in attempting to explain or predict outcomes with numbers. REALiTEE GOLF has been run through the numbers ringer. All indications are of a winning solution, according to win probability analytics. But game changing solutions require believers.
Steve Jobs said “You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backward. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something – your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.”
Swami Vivekananda said “Take up one idea. Make that one idea your life – think of it, dream of it, live on that idea. Let the brain, muscles, nerves, every part of your body, be full of that idea, and just leave every other idea alone.”
And Bruce Lee said “The successful warrior is the average man, with laserlike focus.”
Dave Shultz has taken these messages to heart, and is relying on 50 years of life, business, and leadership experience to carry this dream to the finish line.
SCENE VIII: (THE FUTURE)
It’s 2030; the next up-and-coming golf superstar hails from Turkey, or India, or Pakistan and she credits her neighborhood REALiTEE GOLF for making her dream come true.