All Hat No Cattle

Cattle Drive, Red River, All Hat No Cattle

The men I respected most when I wrote about the golf business — and being the golf business they were mostly men — were course superintendents. I loved talking with them, because they more than nearly anyone else wanted to be there simply for the grass and the golfers, and in that order. And this appealed to me because it was a care and concern for the thing itself, and for the people who would soon be enjoying it. They were honest and direct — and if they could answer my question they nearly always did.

Second on my list, though, were the golf executives, including even some of the money men. These were the presidents and EVPs of golf management companies, that had recently assaulted the golf industry. This was in the 1990s, and Wall Street and others had turned their attentions to the 15,000+ courses in the U.S. Now there are nearly 20,000 courses, though far fewer management companies, and the money, as it does, headed elsewhere.

But while it focused on golf, I talked with guys in charge of running the companies it was flowing into, companies that hoped to attract more of it, and some of which wanted both.

And the best execs with the most respect were the ones who wouldn’t answer my questions.

Contrary to golf course superintendents, when they could answer they only sometimes did … and sometimes did not. But if they couldn’t, they didn’t. And by couldn’t I mean they wouldn’t talk when the deal wasn’t done. They didn’t say something would happen or — worse — had happened, if it had not.

This was expressed by one when he said, “I don’t have a deal until the check clears.”

This behavior is definitely in the minority, and an even smaller one now that it’s easier to talk about nothing. We had an entire show not that long ago, that was a show about nothing. We have social media whereon people can beg others to look at their blogs like so many poets only reading an echo chamber of other poets, in electronic instead of print form. Even the 15 minutes of fame has shrunk to maybe 15 seconds — and we’re happy, ecstatic to have it.

It’s a far cry from, say, George Mueller, who helped more than 100,000 orphans, among other accomplishments, in London in the 19th century. He did thousands of — literally — remarkable things, and reportedly (no pun intended) said few words about them. I suppose we could count all those times he preached about them, but in this day, it’s notable that he never directly asked for money. That’s a cardinal error in fundraising, and Pastor Mueller made it for more than 70 years.

Because even Christians these days wdn’t get very far with Hudson Taylor’s life slogan, To move man, through God, by prayer alone.

What a rube. What a poltroon.

Would that he were hero to all.

In fact, I’m not even going to mention this post. Not anywhere. You’re allowed to continue reading it, and I hope you do, but I won’t mention it in all the usual places. Nor even in the unusual places.

Don’t hear what I’m not saying.

Don’t make this what it is not.

I’m not saying we can never talk about anything we do, not ever, not anywhere, not no way, not no how. The point isn’t that we ought never do such things — though for many it’d be a great idea. We could do a lot worse. We could try the Mueller-Taylor approach just for kicks, for laughs, for funs. Try it for not trying to get anything else from it. Heck, just do it for a month or so. See how it feels.

I plan to keep writing, for instance, and I want people to know, to find the books and ebooks, blogs and essays. The list will grow, and the electronic has no “backlist” and no out-of-print. So it will be there. I can talk briefly about such things if people ask, and I’ll keep using social media to get that word out.

But not this time.

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