The WOW Factor by Barney Adams

The WOW Factor: How I turned one great idea and my unbridled enthusiasm into a golf revolution by Barney Adams

Normally I’m on top of what’s hitting the book stores, but somehow this one got past me and I’m really upset with the suits in New York for not doing a better job getting the word out. It’s a tremendous story and I need to thank my good buddy Bob for bringing it to my attention. This book is truly one of a kind and friends, if you harbor any desire to ever start your own business, you owe it to yourself and the ones you love to find this MBA-on-Rails and give it a read. Regardless of whether or not your venture is golf related, Barney Adams’ tales of failure and success teach tons about what it truly takes to build and run a business. Adams faced every mistake in the book – literally – but driven by sheer passion miraculously succeeded. And, this book, written in his own high spirited and matter of fact words, is how he did it.

Barney “Barnyard” Adams entered the golf equipment business in the early 80s and failed. But rather than quitting, Adams gathered up the remaining assets, used the experience as a learning opportunity, and tried again. He established a custom club fitting business whose odyssey eventually ended up in the Dallas area. For ten years he teetered on the verge of bankruptcy as he used everything from maxed out credit cards to venture capital to finance and build the company. He threw himself into the business, used his passion to convince people to believe in him, and spent countless hours on a driving range observing.  He watched thousands of shots hit by players of varying handicaps and realized that certain designs, when properly fitted, consistently gave players of all skill levels exactly what they wanted – good ball flight. He tirelessly refined his designs and the result of his efforts was the development of prototypes for the modern hybrid golf club. These prototypes eventually became the Tight Lies product line and launched the tiny Adams Golf Company into competition with the biggest corporations in the industry.

Weighting in at about 250 pages of large print, this book is easy to read, funny, and captivating. But, unlike most other books we’ve reviewed, this book is not about playing golf; it’s about Adams’ experience inside golf’s equipment industry. You’ll read how he associated himself with successful people such as Dave Pelz, Nick Faldo, Hank Haney, and Tom Watson, how he harnessed the power of television through infomercials, how he leveraged the PGA Merchandise Show, and how he interacted with the USGA over club design. You’ll read sage advice about how to develop a winning corporate culture, treat employees and customers, and how to use the “Wow Factor” to measure the success of your product. You’ll read about how equipment is marketed, distributed, and sold through pro shops and retail outlets within the USA and around the world. But, you won’t find much about playing golf; this one gives a whole different perspective on the game.

While I read the book, one particularly cool thought was constantly in the back of my mind – the way it was taking me back to the 1990s. Adams Golf hit its stride and took off in the mid-90s riding one of the greatest economic booms in history. It was an exciting time for start up companies of all types and in today’s uncertain economic times, it was refreshing to sit back, relive the days, and soak up the story. Put some effort into finding and reading this book – I’m guessing you’ll say “WOW!” when you’re done – I did.

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