AL HAMNIK: The $9.11 discount for golfers a poorly conceived promotion

2013-09-10T17:30:00Z 2013-11-26T20:02:05Z AL HAMNIK: The $9.11 discount for golfers a poorly conceived promotionAl Hamnik Times Columnist
September 10, 2013 5:30 pm  • 

We no longer are a sensitive society. Anyone, any topic, is fair game it seems.

Listen to today's stand-up comedians, a term I use loosely. No subject is off limits.

We should be able to laugh freely at several things -- ourselves, the Cubs and White Sox, Dennis Rodman, inflated gas prices, Hollywood, politicians, corporate greed, minimum wage.

It's all a big joke, right?

But no one was laughing when Tumbledown Trails Golf Course near Madison, Wis., advertised a "special" to commemorate the 12th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks that killed nearly 3,000 people.

The course offered a discount, good for today, which included nine holes of golf for $9.11 and 18 holes for $19.11 -- with coupon only.

Bad idea. Terrible idea.

Owner and general manager Marc Watts ended up personally taking calls Tuesday, apologizing and saying there was no intention to cause offense. He also considered closing the 20-year-old golf course today after receiving several death threats and threats to burn down the family-run facility.

"We're a little hurt that people are putting such a negative context on this," Watts told the Wisconsin State Journal, which ran an ad for the promotion. "I thought people would appreciate it."

The most horrific attack ever on American soil left scars that will never heal, and though Watts was trying to involve his community in a promotion, it bit him good.

Watts said the promotion actually began two years ago and there was no backlash then, but this time the newspaper ad circulated on social media and the threats were nonstop. Ugly threats. Vile threats.

"We could close (today)," Watts said. "But then all these people with their negative attitudes, they win."

On the day after 9/11, I went to the Griffith Golf Center on Cline Avenue. I looked for anyone at the driving range. I asked why they were there on that particular afternoon, but I knew why.

They were confused, shocked and angry as hell at the events still unfolding out East.

They needed a release, physically, a way to work off the rage that was building inside them.

They wanted to smack something, anything, and were uttering obscenities with each swing of their club.

I came away equally upset and depressed, but glad these duffers had found a way to vent their anger.

Marc Watts' heart might've been in the right place, but public perception regarding "promotions" has always been basically just another way for businesses to make money.

A $9.11 discount round at Tumbledown Trails was not the answer.

This column solely represents the writer's opinion. Reach him at

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