Golf as Religion


Courting “affinity groups” to spark a viral buzz about a new cultural offering has been a mainstay practice for marketers for as long as I can remember. Special pre-release movie screenings to like-minded individuals sometimes even leads to more than just accelerated word-of-mouth. The advance publicity from screening Mel Gibson’s “Passion of the Christ” to church groups, and allegedly the late Pope, led to a firestorm of media coverage, not to mention boffo box office.

I remember showing Alan Alda’s first film “The Seduction of Joe Tynan” about infidelity in the Beltway (who’d a thunk?) to the wives of the members of Congress. It sparked some great press (now on microfiche).

More recently, Disney’s marketing team is screening a film about the virtues of golf to church groups. “Its themes are about family, about not giving up on your dreams, courage,” said Dennis Rice, head of publicity at the Walt Disney Studios. “They are very secular virtues, but they also could potentially be Christian virtues.”

What’s next: penguins who putt?