Tumbledown Trails Golf Course plans to stay open today despite numerous complaints and threats after a promotion that offered nine holes of golf for $9.11 in honor of September 11th spread through social media. It is the third year in a row that the Verona, Wis., golf course has offered the promotion, and the owner said it has been well received in the past.
The owner of Tumbledown Trails Golf Course, who advertised nine holes of golf for $9.11 to mark the anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attacks, apologized Tuesday but said he would keep the club open despite a backlash that included death threats, the Associated Press reported.
The Verona, Wis., golf course advertised the special in the Wisconsin State Journal newspaper on Monday, saying it was intended to commemorate the 12th anniversary of the attacks that killed nearly 3,000 people. The discount, which also included 18 holes of golf for $19.11, was good for the anniversary on Wednesday only, the AP reported.
News of the offer spread on social media and the golf course’s Facebook page was overrun with negative comments. Owner and General Manager Marc Watts said he received death threats and threats to burn down the family-operated public golf course. The sheriff’s department sent a deputy there Tuesday and Watts said another officer will be back on Wednesday, the AP reported.
“We’re a little hurt by the fact that people are putting such a negative context on this,” Watts said. “I thought people would appreciate it.”
The promotion actually began two years ago, Watts said, and until now was warmly received as a way to ensure people never forget the tragedy. This year, after the newspaper ad circulated on social media, Watts said the club’s phone has been ringing off the hook, the AP reported.
Watts apologized Monday night on Facebook and was personally fielding calls on Tuesday, saying there was no intention to cause offense. He considered closing the 20-year-old golf course Wednesday because of safety concerns, but decided to keep it open despite the threats, the AP reported.
“We could close, but then all these people with their negative attitudes, they win,” Watts said.
Watts also won support from golfers such as Colleen Savage, who said the whole thing was a misunderstanding, the AP reported.
“I’m quite shocked,” Savage said after playing nine holes on the course Tuesday. “I definitely think it’s blown out of proportion.”
While offering a reduced price on September 11 is more apt to offend someone than doing the same thing on Veterans Day, the Wisconsin golf club promotion could have been much worse, said Kathleen Culver, associate director of the Center for Journalism Ethics at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, the AP reported.
“You have a small business that’s woven into the community, they were doing a promotion, thought they were commemorating 9/11, they ran it and it blew back on them,” Culver said. “They apologized. Really, does the story need to go any further?”
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