18 Holes' Worth of Brandmarking History
A recent Saturday morning found your intrepid correspondent boarding a pre-dawn motor coach bound for a ritzy golf course in the oil-rich suburbs of Dallas, Texas.
It’s called Tour 18, and it’s one of a growing chain of courses at which every hole is a life-size replica of a hole from some other well-known course that is steeped in PGA Tour history. At the Dallas Tour 18, for example, the ninth hole is a virtual carbon copy of the island-green No. 17 at TPC Sawgrass, where the best golfers in the world routinely plop wedge shots into the water during The Players Championship. The three finishing holes at the Dallas course are replicas of Augusta National’s infamous “Amen Corner.” And so on.
So what, you ask, was I doing on this pilgrimage? Simple: conducting legal research.
The first Tour 18 course opened in 1992, and soon became the subject of (what else?) a lawsuit. The plaintiffs were the owners of the renowned Pebble Beach, Sea Pines, and Pinehurst golf courses, who felt that their “trademark” holes were – well, were their trademarks. The courts disagreed, which is why the original Houston course has since been joined by similar tracks in Dallas and elsewhere.
This rich legal history made Tour 18 the perfect venue for an outing sponsored by participants at the 2013 Annual Meeting of the International Trademark Association, attended by almost 10,000 branding professionals, including yours truly.
I can’t tell you my score, because we played as teams rather than as individuals. I can, however, tell you that these golf holes didn’t become famous for being easy, and that if I had played my own ball my score would have been stratospheric. As it happens, my team won, but I had very little to do with that. (I did, however, safely land my ball on the ersatz TPC Sawgrass island green. Take that, Sergio!)