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Breezy Point

Local Golf
August 22, 2017

Ontal Golf - Corporate Wellness Programs Hit A Hole In One!
By Paul Seifert

Russ Gorman left the corporate world as most know it 25 years ago. He was tired of traveling, and as a former college golfer and coach, he wanted to do something related to the game. For years he helped hundreds of clients and friends learn to play. Witnessing the rewards golf brought his students; a unique business concept took form - one that has built up tremendous energy as the decades have worn on. Russ's concept allows organizations to bring golf instruction in to the work place as part of their corporate wellness program.
Owner of the Milwaukee, WI based RAM Group, Rick Marino has teamed up with Russ and their Director of Collegiate Development, Dan Webb, on the program under the brand name Ontal Corporate Golf Wellness (OCGW).
Gorman, Webb and their growing team work with staff and their families from outside companies to prepare them to enjoy the game of golf without the intimidation, whether real or self-imposed, that beginners face.
Already, Miller Brewing, SC Johnson, Quad/Graphics, Briggs & Stratton, Anchor Moving, Northwestern Mutual, Great Lakes Packaging and others are regular customers of OCGW, and as the enterprise continues to gain momentum others across the country have been signing up at a breakneck pace.
The company employs 25-30 teachers at this time, and expects to have two to three times that many by the end of the year. The program allows teachers, many of them PGA and USGTF Golf Professionals, access to a new and recession-proof customer base: people with jobs. It also gives them access to an extraordinary offering of golf equipment and attire, including all major brands as well as Ontal's own premium line of golf and athletic attire.
If you are reading this, you probably already enjoy the game of golf, and chances are you have witnessed firsthand the terrific benefits that are enjoyed by golfers in the business world.
The Milwaukee area alone has over 700 annual golf outings, and participants in these and other golf-related events are typically rewarded with a minimum of four hours to bond, set the stage for business and build camaraderie with customers and colleagues, alike. Research by The Economist even suggests that executives who golf earn 17% higher wages per year.
This is just one of the areas where Ontal Corporate Golf Wellness can help. Every organization has that stellar sales partner who misses out on client golf events because he or she never learned to play - not only will Ontal's Corporate Golf Wellness program teach them the game, but it prepares them for a lifelong hobby that can be enjoyed with family, friends and business associates.
When Don Draves of Miller Brewing asked Russ to teach employees the game, he considered one key question, "How do we get new golfers?"
The answer they found was to teach in-house, and to take away excuses. "I'm too busy with work and don't have time," many people say. To counter this, Northwestern Mutual allows employees to participate in the program while on the clock. 36 of their first 40 program participants are women, mostly new to the game.
Skyrocketing insurance rates have corporate America's keen eyes set on ways to lower costs. Qualifying health programs like OCGW's have become an integral way for companies to attract and retain top talent while elevating their image and earning positive health rebates.
One company that has done this as well as any other for decades is SC Johnson. An acquaintance of Russ's, Jim Nord is the Manager of Recreation and Wellness at the company. Jim knew of the great work and progress Russ was experiencing at Miller Brewery, and asked him to expand the program to their facilities in Racine, WI. The expansion was highly successful, and his unique golf benefits concept became one of SC Johnson's most popular employee programs.
I reached out to Jim to hear how the program has affected SC Johnson's wellness program. "I have been here and began the [Wellness] program 37 years ago. When I first started working I was in the camp that running, swimming, weights, etc. were the most important activities for health. However, today there is so much evidence that there are far more factors involved in Wellness. Golf includes many beneficial factors including physical activity, social activity, challenge, mental stimulus, some strength, and most of all keeping the participant off the couch.
Our golf program under Russ has been very popular and helped many participants both young and old to enjoy the activity of golf far more than they did before. It is a lifetime activity that may well continue in to their 80's and beyond.
One more benefit for us is that it gets people out to our facility that might not come otherwise, and they often find more activities they wish to get involved with. The way Russ runs the program, there is really no downside to a company that gets involved."
The program at SC Johnson has been so successful that the company now provides both an indoor and outdoor range, as well as a putting green for employees to practice on.
Likewise, Miller Brewing (Russ's first customer) progressed from one net to nine within six months en route to their corporate golf wellness program becoming one of the organization's most popular recreational activities. Most employee beer stores also sell pro shop quality golf products to their employees.
One of the keys to the OCGW program's success is that instruction is typically done indoors. Hitting balls in to nets allows participants to learn and develop their games without the disappointment of seeing where shots actually end up. Anybody who's played golf can understand how that can be disheartening.
Instruction focuses on simplification: Teach the motion and help participants get the ball in the air, flying straight.
The program can teach all aspects of the game, though, from the swing and short game to rules, etiquette and everything in between. How much participants want to learn is up to them.
In addition to lessons, OCGW is a true one-stop shop for corporate golf needs. Through its sister company, Ontal, companies can procure golf balls, clubs, shoes and logo apparel.
Ontal is known for its top-notch quality performance clothing. Only premium fabrics are used and an acute attention to detail is just one aspect that sets Ontal garb apart from the rest of the industry.
Ontal clothing is entirely custom. No inventory is kept, and every shirt, skirt, skort and pair of pants is spec'ed by the customer. Unlike the black, white and blue Adidas shirt my friend, Ross, and I have both worn several times while golfing together ("Did you guys call each other this morning?"), Ontal doesn't make an Ontal, Nike, Adidas or any other standard shirt - they make a "Paul shirt," or more specifically a shirt for you.
If you are tall and athletic, for example, shopping for a shirt from most golf apparel companies is tough; nothing ever seems to fit just right. Ontal features standard sizes from XS-8XL, has cuts for long and tall, short and athletic, and of course regular cut. There are 8,912 SKU's for any men's shirt, and the result of their customization process is a shirt that fits its owner like a glove.
Rick Marino, attends frequent fabric shows around the world to scout the newest and best technologies. One fabric that took him two years to source, in fact, he calls "Mantequilla" - it feels like wearing butter. Their fabrics wick expertly, and characteristics like tee pockets, coordinated belt loops and PGA slits make Ontal clothing feature-rich. Structured shoulders and a printing process that alters the entire fabric helps make apparel ultra-durable. Their clothing is even guaranteed against fading, cracking and color transfer.
Standard lead times are three weeks, and in-house production featuring superior technology and processes means they can handle orders of any size. Ontal is the number one apparel provider for Major Softball, the Milwaukee Admirals, MASL (e.g.: Milwaukee Wave), the American Family Insurance Championship, and they hold numerous collegiate licenses including the University of Wisconsin, Marquette, UW-Milwaukee, Maryland and others. They even build MMA octagon mats and sponsor a title contending professional boxer.
Ontal Corporate Golf Wellness is on the cusp of their national reveal, and part of that reveal will involve a massive Milwaukee area event that is sure to headline the area's 2017 golf season (be listening for the announcement!).
With 25 years of experience building a unique benefits program already behind him, Russ Gorman has successfully brought the corporate golf wellness concept to fruition. I for one look forward to seeing what the future has in store for OCGW, and hope my own employer will consider adding it to our benefits program, as well.

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