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Golfing in Paradise

There are many places in the world that can claim to be a golfer’s paradise, and the DR (DR) is one of them. One difference between most places and the DR is perhaps that golf can be played here 365 days a year and not just for a few months, although some months are better than other when it comes to the weather and the amount of money you have to spend.The high season for tourism (and golf) begins in November and lasts until the end of April, with Christmas, New Year and Easter being peak periods within the season. The weather is perfect during those months with more breeze and slightly cooler temperatures than in the summer. Courses can be more crowded, though, as there are more tourists around and prices are higher. If you are not an early bird and do not mind an afternoon tee time, you can save a lot of money on some courses which offer so-called twilight rates. These rates are typically available for tee times starting at 2 pm, which gives you about 4 hours to play a round before the sun sets around 6-6:45 pm.Summer and early fall (May until October) is low season. The weather is still great, although somewhat hotter and more humid. There are fewer tourists and golfers around, and the prices are lower as well (the hotels and beaches are less crowded also). If you are around at this time of the year, you may run into some “trouble” as most courses do their maintenance during low season. However, if you are the kind of person who does not mind playing on a course that is not in peak condition, or where 9 holes are closed so you have to play the same 9 holes twice, there may be even greater deals and discounts to get.But there are good golf courses in the DR. Correction; there are GREAT golf courses in the DR. Most golfers have probably heard of Teeth of the Dog (located inside Casa de Campo resort), which has been around since 1971 and has been ranked top in the world. It was probably the course that made the DR famous – along with the resort where it is located which is Casa de Campo.Some golfers simply love Teeth of the Dog and keep coming back year after year to play it. Some say it is a “has been” course with 7 great holes (the ones along the ocean), and the remaining 11 holes could really belong to any mediocre golf course located anywhere in the world. They are insignificant and not worth mentioning, let alone playing more than just once. Pete Dye, who designed Teeth of the Dog, called it his masterpiece as he wrote in his book Bury Me in a Pot Bunker (1999): “The opportunity to carve out Teeth of the Dog was a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Without proper heavy machinery to crack the coral, the tireless Dominican crew used sledgehammers, pickaxes and chisels.” The result was a true masterpiece! According to Dye himself, Teeth of the Dog was “definitely designed by the man upstairs”.Pete Dye designed two other courses at Casa de Campo – Dye Fore and The Links. Dye Fore is a spectacular course and may even be better than Teeth of the Dog, if you ask anyone who has played both. Maybe it is the landscape or the stunning views that you get from playing on a course that is located on the hills around the Chavon River. There are holes with ocean views, holes with views of Casa de Campo Marina and of the Altos de Chavon village and then there are holes overlooking the river with greens so close to the edge you could swear you would have to suddenly develop super-human skills to finish the hole. With 7,740 yards, seven cliff side holes dropping 300 feet towards the Chavon River, gusting winds and amazing 360 degree views, this course will certainly challenge and amaze every golfer who comes across the Dye Fore course.The Links may be the least popular of Pete Dye’s three courses at Casa de Campo. However, it might be nice to play if you are staying at the resort. If you are staying in Punta Cana or somewhere else and have to drive to Casa de Campo, you would be better off playing either or both of the other courses.If Pete Dye is the king of Casa de Campo, then P. B. Dye (his son, Paul Burke Dye) rules Punta Cana. This has become the destination for golfers over the past five or six years when golf tourism began to sky rocket in the area. P. B. Dye has designed some of the best courses in Punta Cana, which include La Cana, Iberostate, a re-design of the Barceló Bávaro golf course and Hacienda (opening 2011). La Cana and Hacienda both belong to Puntacana Resort & Club, one of the first resorts in Punta Cana, which opened when tourism was still young, beaches were mostly deserted, resorts were few and far between and beach front land was abundant and cheap.La Cana is a course, which everyone pretty much enjoys playing. It is friendly, exciting, challenging, and spectacular with four holes playing directly along the Caribbean Sea and 14 holes with ocean view. The famous Dye pot bunker is ever present, and hole seven has a mean cluster of 21. P. B. Dye jokingly refers to this area as “Hecklebirnie”, a type of golfer’s purgatory according to Scottish lore. After a round at La Cana, you will realize why Golf Magazine compared it to Pebble Beach and declared it the “number one course in the Caribbean.”If you are a couple and one does not play golf (which would typically be the wife!), La Cana is the perfect place to spend a few hours while your significant other takes his/her A-game for a spin. The large and very elegant clubhouse has some of the finest facilities of any of the clubhouses in the area. First of all, it is right on the beach. There is a beautiful swimming pool area, a restaurant, a bar and a small place I like to call Heaven, but which is commonly known as the Six Senses Spa. Need I say more?P. B. Dye also designed the course which many claim to be the best inland course in Punta Cana – Iberostate. It is part of the large Iberostar Hotels & Resort, which has 4 all-inclusive hotels and one of the top hotels in Punta Cana (Iberostar Grand Hotel Bávaro). The course is very accommodating towards players at all levels and has lots of mounds, fairway bunkers, devilishly placed green bunkers and big lakes, which will surprise and challenge all golfers. And for those all-inclusive lovers in the world, the Iberostate course is a perfect match as beverages, sandwiches and snacks are included on the course – even alcoholic beverages! Fore!The Barceló Bávaro golf course which is part of another very large resort (Barceló Bávaro Beach Resort) was a sorry experience for golfers for many years. Originally designed by Juan Manuel Gordillo and opened in 1991, it was never kept in good condition, and the golfers who played it as part of their all-inclusive package at the resort were always complaining about it. One good part about the course was the layout, but the lack of maintenance and the general condition of the course made playing it an overall experience not worth mentioning. Then P. B. Dye came along, rolled up his sleeves (as he has been known to do) and began a lengthy process of re-designing and re-creating the golf course. Obviously, the decision to do so did not happen overnight and I am sure a great deal of meetings, discussions, and planning was held before P. B. could get to work. Nevertheless, the end result was a golf course worth being proud of. The first 9 holes opened in early 2010 and the last for Christmas 2010 (although they could probably have used a few more months to really settle in). Some even say that the condition of the new Barceló Bávaro course is as good as Punta Espada…Punta Espada, which literally means tip of the sword in Spanish, is the course to play in Punta Cana. It is expensive as hell, but if you are a golfer then there is no way around it. But with a price tag of US$ 375 (high season 2010-2011), you might have to think twice, although you really should not, because there is no way you can come all the way to the DR and not play at Punta Espada. With 9 holes playing directly along the Caribbean Sea and all…yes, all 18 holes giving you a view of the ocean…well, it is easy to find yourself at a loss for words. It will probably be the biggest “wow” experience of your golfing vacation. Nicklaus said that “nowhere else in the world will the golf experience be like this” and Golfweek Magazine supported that statement by ranking Punta Espada as the #1 golf course in the Caribbean and Mexico ( http://www.golfweek.com/news/2010/nov/02/2011-golfweeks-best-courses-caribbean-mexico/ ).The PGA Champions Tour, which held its first tournament at Punta Espada in 2008 (The Cap Cana Championship), and the media coverage which followed, helped bring the stunning images of a world class golf course to the world’s golfers who in returned came, saw, played and could not stop raving about the course and how truly magnificent it was. The PGA Champions Tour returned for two more Cap Cana Championship tournament in 2009 and 2010. The scheduled tournament for March 2011 was sadly enough cancelled.A second Jack Nicklaus golf course (Las Iguanas) is underway next door to Punta Espada, but until now it is still uncertain when it will be completed and ready for play. In the meantime, Nicklaus also designed the inland course called Canabay which is part of the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Punta Cana.The pioneer of tourism and golf in Punta Cana is most certainly the Grupo Puntacana (Puntacana Group), which is owned by the late Theodore W. Kheel (American), Frank R. Rainieri (Dominican), Julio Iglesias (Spanish) and Oscar de la Renta (Dominican). This group dazzled the golfing community when it opened the Tom Fazio designed Corales golf course in early 2010 (officially inaugurated in April 2010). With a total of 24 golf carts and tee times limited to residents at Corales (home of among other Oscar de la Renta, Julio Iglesias and Mikhail Baryshnikov), a few other members and guests of the Puntacana Resort & Club and Tortuga Bay Hotel, Corales is an exclusive and rare treat for those who actually manage to book a tee time there. A few of the local golf tour operators in Punta Cana (among other Palmera Destination Services) are able to get golfers on the books at Corales.The course “only” has six holes along the ocean, but they are perhaps some of the most dramatic ocean side holes you will find on any golf course. Especially the finishing holes 16, 17 and 18, which are famously known as “the devil’s elbow”, will be printed in the memory of nearly all golfers as the most scenic and toughest finishing holes in the world. A round at Corales is like an adventure where golfers are led through many different environments from brilliant inland holes bordered by lush vegetation to holes playing beside crystal blue lakes and then ultimately along the ocean where the waves crash against the cliffs on windy days. The view from holes 7, 8 and 9, which look towards the coast line and the ocean in front of the Corales residential community, is unlike any other. The ocean stretches as far as the eye can see along the coast, and you might even be able to spot Julio Iglesias’ gazebo on the edge of the cliffs.Corales is run by former PGA Tour player, Jay Overton, who came out of retirement to live and manage the golf course. And he is certainly no stranger to the world of golf with an impressive career that began as the head golf professional at Pinehurst Resort and Golf Club followed by a position as the director of golf at Innisbrook Resort and Golf Club (which he held for 30 years) and also includes 24 Majors (PGA Championships, US Opens, Senior PGAs, Senior US Opens and British Senior Opens), as well as being named the PGA of America’s Senior PGA Club Professional Player of the year in 2001 and 2002. Today Jay Overton still teaches at the beautiful facilities at Corales – lessons start from about US$ 200 to about US$ 750 depending on the exact type of lesson.Sir Nick Faldo came and fell in love with a piece of property in the Macao area (north of Punta Cana) named Roco Ki. “I can’t think of any better place on the planet, Roco Ki’s intoxicatingly beautiful landscape was love at first sight for me,” he declared and left his mark on it in the shape of a very beautiful and tough golf course – the Faldo Legacy Course at Roco Ki. The course takes golfers on a journey from “the headlands poised just above the crashing surf through centuries old mangrove lined fairways”. The signature holes 17 and 18 are destined to instill mixed feelings of wonder and intimidation in the heart of golfers. Hole 17 is a short par-3 with probably the most mind blowing island green in the world set on top of a large cliff. Many have cried as they have witnessed their balls fly into the ocean on that one; carried by the strong gusts of unforgiving winds. Appropriately named “the two prayers”, the dramatic 18th hole requires tremendous precision in order to carry the ball across not one but two ocean coves onto a green that is right on the edge of the cliff. The only “negative” comment that is occasionally heard from players coming off the Faldo course is that it is too difficult.One new course (still underway), which is worth mentioning, is Greg Norman’s first golf course in the DR, Costa Blanca. It is located in the small town of Juan Dolio, which is only about 45 minutes from the capitol of Santo Domingo. Over the last few years, this area has seen a lot of development especially on the real estate front that is conducted by Group Metro. The master plan shows a golf and beach community consisting of luxurious villas, condo towers directly on the beach, Norman’s signature golf course with eight holes on the ocean, a marina, a Chris Evert tennis center and more. It is an area that is said to become the “South Beach” of the DR, where people can get the best of the tranquil Caribbean lifestyle as well as all the hustle and bustle of the big city. Nine holes just opened for play last weekend and they are looking sharp.There are a few other courses around the DR, and the one that is most worth mentioning on a final note is Robert Trent Jones Sr.’s majestic golf course Playa Grande (opened 1997). The last course to be designed by the late Trent Jones Sr., Playa Grande is considered by many to be his masterpiece and has been referred to as the “Pebble Beach” of the Caribbean. It is tucked away on the north coast in the Playa Grande area, which consists of the small towns of Rio San Juan, Pueblito Principe, Playa Grande and Cabrera. The golf course is almost like a hidden treasure in an area that has seen better days when it comes to tourism. It has 10 holes playing on the edge cliffs that drop 60 ft. to the Atlantic Ocean. It’s hard to understand why there are not more golfers on the fairways of this breathtaking course, but perhaps one reason is that it’s far away – from just about everything. It certainly can’t be the price which is only US$ 110 plus 16% taxes for 18 holes (and US$ 30 for a caddie which is mandatory). Supposedly, the property was purchased by new investors who announced that they would close it down in 2010 in order to make improvements on the land. The plan was then to re-open it as a private course and part of the luxurious hotel and property development Aman Resorts.I tried to contact the course (January, 2011), but could not get much information other than a confirmation that it is indeed open. It is possible that renovations on the golf course and its surroundings have already begun – this much I cannot say. If you happen to be in the neighborhood in the months of January, February or March and decide to drop by for a round, you may even be lucky enough to spot one of the thousands of humpback whales who find their way to the warm waters by the DR every year.Wherever your trip to the DR takes you and your golf clubs, I hope you will take the opportunity to play a round at some of the spectacular courses that are available throughout this beautiful destination. Have fun, play well and hit ‘em straight!Enjoy!

The Future of Digital Marketing: Five Trends to Leverage a Small Business Opportunity

Jameson General Store was a historical treasure in the small North Carolina Community. Jim Jameson, the owner, had been part of the family legacy over 100 years old. The company had seen bad times, including The Great Depression. However, their hard work and customer loyalty had sustained the company’s success. Even when a neighboring community got its Walmart’s Marketplace Store, their customers remained loyal. Jim did not believe in utilizing online advertising and social media platforms. He believed that these activities were only a fad. Yet, their customers gradually started shopping online because Jameson General Store was limited in its product offerings. In fact, most of the business that Jameson Store lost was not to local competitors, but online sellers. Jim was adamant about resisting the temptation about shopping online. Yet, when he saw his own 10-year-old grandson purchase a difficult item to locate in the area online at significant costs, Jim had to ponder his current marketing strategy with the changing landscape in the nation.Today’s customers can purchase a variety of items online with minimum effort. Given this scenario, brick and mortar companies are fighting to stay alive with the fierce internet competition. According to a 2017 survey conducted by Square and Mercury Analytics looking at 1,164 U.S. business owners, the following observations were made:

96% of Americans with internet access have made an online purchase in their life, 80% in the past month alone.

51% of Americans prefer to shop online.

67% of Millennials and 56% of Gen Xers prefer to shop online rather than in-store.

Millennials and Gen Xers spend nearly 50% as much time shopping online each week (six hours) than their older counterparts (four hours).

51% of seniors have shopped on marketplaces, 66% at large retailer sites, 30% on web stores or independent boutiques, and 44% at category-specific online stores.

Marketing professionals understand the importance of the internet and how to effectively leverage this power. According to Socialmedia.com, 90% of marketers use social media for their businesses. Sadly, many small businesses do not recognize this fact. Many businesses had opted to bury their heads in the sand in hopes that this ‘internet thing’ will go away. It hadn’t!In fact, e-Commerce is growing more than 23% annually; however, 46% of American small businesses do not have a website according to Square and Mercury Analytics research. This article focuses on how small businesses can leverage digital marketing to achieve greater success and enhance their market opportunities.Digital marketing should be a tool that every serious small business should utilize. Digital marketing goes by many names such as e-commerce marketing, online marketing, and internet marketing. Digital marketing can be defined as “the marketing of products or services using digital channels to reach consumers.” The key objective is to promote brands the usage of the internet.Digital marketing extends beyond internet marketing to include channels that do not require the use of the internet. Some digital marketing channels include websites, social media platforms, email marketing, search engine optimization (SEO), blogging, podcasts, and online advertising to name a few. Beyond technology gimmicks, businesses should know their customers and their core competencies. Digital marketing is not a silver bullet. Digital marketing is a tool for the savvy business professional.Catherine Juan, Donnie Greiling, and Catherine Buerkle, authors of Internet Marketing: Start to Finish, suggest that effective digital marketing requires plenty of careful planning. They add, “The heart of getting real traction out of your internet marketing program is to tie marketing and sales data together, with metrics. Track what you’re doing, track the impact, and track the resulting sales.” Looking at the landscape of technology and internet innovation, small businesses should think strategically about the following five digital marketing trends:• Artificial Intelligence – Some people develop elaborate doom-day scenarios of machines to control the world. However, artificial intelligence (AI) is becoming a way of life in marketing. AI can be defined as ‘the theory and development of computer systems able to perform tasks that normally require human intelligence.’ Voice Activation technology like Amazon’s Echo is bringing AI into public attention. By 2020, customers will manage 85% of their purchases without interacting with a person.• Internet Searching – Buyers are more knowledgeable than ever with access to the internet. In fact, 81% of shoppers conduct online research before making big purchases. Thus, exploring how to utilize search engine optimization and getting your business at the top of searches is an invaluable step.• Mobile Communications – Most Americans have grown accustomed to instant gratification and easy access to technology. Mobile and tablet e-commerce will reach $293B by 2018. Smartphone and tablets are part of this wave of innovation. Mobile will account for 72% of the U.S. digital ad spend by 2019. Marketers recognize that mobile marketing is an untapped business tool.• Social Media – Social media platforms, like Facebook, allows buyers to connect with each other virtually. 65% of business-to-business companies have acquired customers through LinkedIn ads. Marketers realize this value.• Web Content – Good content will attract customers. In fact, customers are more likely to purchase from sellers with good, relevant videos/photos on their website. 52% of marketing professionals globally name the video as the type of content with the best ROI.Faced with the tenants of competition, small businesses need to utilize digital marketing. Some small businesses may be hesitant to explore digital marketing due to their lack of trust and understanding of the internet. Philip Kotler and Kevin Keller, authors of Marketing Management, note “Top firms are comfortable using technology to improve the way they do business with their business-to-business customers.”This article demonstrated that today’s small businesses can utilize digital marketing to enhance their market opportunities. Hopefully, gaining this knowledge will help business owners so that they will not continue to bury their heads in the sand. The internet is here to stay. Pray that you are listening to this message.© 2017 by DD Green

How to Build a Potent Brand? (Six Clues)

It’s just not enough to be brilliant. People must know and remember that you are. Let’s face it, walking around feeling complacent and entitled because you know you’re brilliant is not a viable strategy, right? So if you want to be known, remembered and recognized, it’s critical you build a brand that not only positions you as brilliant – but as irresistible and indispensable, too. How do you do that? You create a potent brand.Potency defined OK. Let’s start with a definition of potency here just to get us all on the same page. The word ‘potent’ means (i) power; authority, (ii) efficacy; effectiveness; strength; and (iii) the capacity to be, become, or develop; one’s potentiality; and (iv) a person or thing exerting power or influence.In other words, the more potent your brand, the more powerful, authoritative, effective, strong and influential you are. The best part? A potent brand makes it easier for your world, so to speak, find you, get to know you and then, want to engage with you (work with you, employ you, salute you, etc.) You get the idea.So how do you start building a potent brand? The world is moving at a staggeringly fast pace. It’s never been more important to get a grip on your brand’s core values, what it stands for and why it’s meaningful.It starts with asking questions. Take a look at the six clues below plus questions. See how willing you are to give your brand a leg up, as they say. It’s likely to turbo charge your thinking. It’ll then, hopefully get you moving forward – and building a brand with potency.1 Be Chief Influential Officer of your Brand• Are you poised to become the Go-To-Resource within your area of expertise Y/N?• How willing are you when it comes to getting out of your comfort zone Y/N?• Are you ready to stake out your territory in a more authoritative way Y/N?• Is your Brand Pulse showing strong, pumping and vital signs? (the last time you checked?) Y/N?• Would you describe your brand as robust and hardy Y/N?• Is the world around you noticing you’re becoming a center of influence Y/N?2 Set the Right Tone for your Brand• Are you clear about the intention behind your brand Y/N?• Are you really communicating you are who you say you are Y/N?• Is your brand’s voice clear, authentic and aligned Y/N?• Are you regularly minding your brand’s behavior Y/N?• Is your brand’s attitude welcoming, empathetic and transparent Y/N?3 Start Seeing your Brand as your Platform• How committed are you to showing up in your brand Y/N?• Would you give yourself a high score when it comes to inspiring your world Y/N?• Do you actually think about changing the world Y/N?• Are you at ease speaking confidently from your brand platform Y/N?4 Pay Close Attention to your Brand’s Emotional IQ• Would you say your brand lands a high score when it comes to empathy Y/N?• Are you aware the world around you has feelings about you and your brand Y/N?• Do you think you might be keeping your world at arm’s length Y/N?• Do you focus on actually creating strong emotional connections in your communication Y/N?5 Focus on Being 120% Authentic• Are you spending much effort on creating a consistent brand Y/N?• Do you know exactly what a congruent brand looks like (let alone feels like?) Y/N?• Would the world around you give you a high score as an authentic brand builder Y/N?• Do you know that feeling when your brand is out of alignment Y/N?(You always know when the wheels of your car are out of alignment, right?)6 Face Facts: The Money’s in the BrandNote: Potent brands are profitable. The definition of business, after all, is about profit, purchases, commerce and volume of trade.• So are you paying enough attention to what your world really needs the most Y/N?• Does your brand consistently deliver what your world is craving Y/N?• Are you willing to let your brand go to work for you Y/N?OK. How potent is your brand feeling right now? P.S. Don’t ever forget that building your brand is always a work in progress. (That’s the good news Y/N?)Author: Mary van de Wiel (aka Van) is best known for her global expertise when it comes to coaxing out the real power in brands to dramatically increase sales. Van is founder and Creative Director of ZingYourBrand.com. She is a weekly contributor to Dan Schawbel’s Personal Branding Blog and the author of soon-to-be-published Dead Brand Walking: A Brand Therapist’s Viewpoint. Follow her on Twitter @maryvandewiel

What Are The Responsibilities Of A Property Management Company

When you own investment property, hiring a property management company to look after your asset is sometimes better than handling everything yourself, particularly if you have more than one property.However, you will want to make sure you feel confident handing over the reins of your hard-earned investment and that you are in fact getting your money’s worth. Here are some of the requirements you should look for when you are considering hiring a property management company:Reports: You should expect financial reports on a regular basis and find out if they intend sending the same monthly, quarterly or annually. These reports should include all of the accounts such as money received, bills paid and any other expenses incurred.The expense report should include maintenance for the property such as carpet cleaning, electrical, lawn care, painting, plumbing and other items like these that are reoccurring expenses.There will be expenses for cleaning a property after a tenant leaves and preparation work for the new tenant to move in.You should receive an itemized report showing all the properties assigned to their care with the unit number if the properties are apartments or office suites.Tenant Management: An integral part of a manager’s portfolio is being able to handle any tenant issues that arise with diplomacy. They will be acting as the liaison party between the owner and the tenant as well as between tenants, should the occasion arise.Some of the complaints that may need to be resolved between neighbours are complaints particularly loud music or noise. The management team should intervene and attempt to handle and resolve the matter effectively without the owner having to be involved.If at first the problem is not able to be resolved through communication, then your property manager should have other steps available to resolve the problem.Maintenance: The property management team will take calls and requests from the tenants for any repairs and maintenance as they are needed.These calls may come any time during the day or night and if there is an emergency situation that requires immediate attention your appointed management team will be able to handle the contingency.Many companies will have their own maintenance crew or accounts with companies and contractors who do various types of repair work. The property manager will assess the situation and determine if their maintenance crew can do the necessary work or if they need to hire a licensed contractor for more specialised services.Fill Vacancies: It is the duty of the management team to keep the units occupied and not let a property sit vacant for any period of time. When all the units are not occupied, the owner is losing money.A well-established property management company will probably have a database of tenants ready to take a unit as soon as a current tenant moves. This database is usually compiled as a result of their efforts at marketing such as online listings, newspaper listings and sometimes as a result of signage posted in various places in the neighbourhood.Screen Tenants:When a potential tenant comes by to inquire and look at property, it is the responsibility of the company to screen them before leasing the property to them. This may include a background check, credit check, rental history as well as personal references. Many companies have a scale of measurement that determines whether an applicant is trustworthy and reliable.Leases: The property management company is responsible for drawing, negotiating and signing leases on behalf of the property owner. This is a legal binding document that holds the lessor responsible as well as the tenant responsible for their part of the agreement.Inspections: The property leasing company should perform regular inspections of the property to ensure all tenants are treating the property within the terms of their lease. The property should be inspected for the condition of the foundations, roof, plumbing, landscaping, etc.Notices: The leasing management company will distribute notices to the tenants frequently in the form of a friendly Newsletter and inform them of any community activities, important issues and urgent matters. Things that could be included here could be upcoming building inspections, pest control treatments, scheduled “water shut-offs” etc.As the owner, you will need to give your permission for the custodian to handle things as they see fit or state clearly any limits and stipulations you may have.