Editor's note: The story has been updated, adding an interview with one of the golf course owners and also a poll on the subject.
Is it acceptable to use the anniversary of a deadly attack on America to try and increase business? Tumbledown Trails, a small, family-run business in Verona, Wisconsin, is learning that it is probably not a good idea. The course is getting a lot of negative attention for its efforts to generate more traffic on its fairways with a coupon that advertised a discounted round of golf on Wednesday, September 11th:
The ad reads:
The 12th Anniversary of 9-11 - To Commemorate this we are offering 9 holes of golf with cart for $9.11 per person or 18 holes with cart for $19.99! 9/11/30 Only!
Images of the ad started appearing on Facebook pages and Twitter. And many people visited the Facebook page of the golf course, leaving angry and threatening messages. At first, the company tried to apologize and even offered to donate money to the 9/11 Memorial:
Despite the apology, angry calls, notes on Facebook, and postings on Twitter were not slowing down:
An additional apology was posted. This one included a mention of Tumbledown's support for local charities and discounts offered to local police, fire, and military personnel:
However, the outrage did not stop. There were reports of physical threats to the staff and talk of damaging the golf course. These threats prompted the management at Tumbledown to post a third apology and a notice that the course may be closed on Wednesday:
TheBlaze spoke with Mark Watts, one of the owners of Tumbledown Trails on Tuesday morning. While discussing the newspaper ad, Watts admitted that "maybe we didn't put enough thought into it (the ad)." However, he also told us that his family-run business has been offering the discounted round of golf for three years without a single complaint from his local customers, claiming that many thanked him for finding "a unique way to keep the memory of 9-11 alive."
The $9.11 discount golf promotion at Tumbledown reportedly started in 2011, for the tenth anniversary of the attack. Tumbledown Trails did not print a coupon that first year. Instead, the course relied on word of mouth to let local players know about the $9.11 round of golf. And according to Mr. Watts, "anybody who plays golf knows this is not a money maker for us." He also told TheBlaze that there was "absolutely no malice intended here." Adding, "If anybody knows our family, you know we support the military, local police, fire department and emergency crews. Everything we do is based on family and country."
The Watts family has apologized twice on Facebook and Mark has stated that there will not be any additional apologies, adding, "I can take criticism and admit when I'm wrong, and I've done that."
Due to the number of violent threats against the golf course and its staff and owners, local police have been patrolling the area overnight as well as in the daylight hours. Mark Watts considered closing the course on Wednesday, but has since decided against that, telling TheBlaze, "Not opening tomorrow is a sign of weakness."
(H/T: The Sporting News)
Follow Mike Opelka on Twitter - @stuntbrain