Gambling on Golf
By Jacob Baynham
Patrick Brown has always been ahead of the game. He finished high school a semester early. He earned a bachelor’s degree in business at Xavier in 1985 after only two and a half years. He went through law school and had his own practice by his mid-20s. When he tired of the negativity in the legal system, he turned his attention to business, “where everybody wins.”
By that time it was the late 1990s, and the dot-com bubble was just forming. Brown was early on the scene when he created an online jewelry business. “It was great,” he says. “All hell was breaking loose.” Soon he created a website to manage bets on horses, merging his Internet business skills with a personal interest in horse racing.So if past success is any indication, then Brown’s next venture is sure to be a hit. In 2010 Brown was named CEO of The World Series of Golf, a unique sporting event that combines the betting style of Texas Hold ’Em with the original rules of golf.
The World Series of Golf hosts a championship in Las Vegas each year with 120 golfers. Each participant starts out with a stake of $10,000. Bets are made before tee-off, then raised, checked or called for subsequent shots. It’s a three-day battle of nerves with the winner taking home up to $300,000. With these stakes, the game is played as much in the mind as on the fairway, so winners need more than a clean chip shot. “A good golfer who’s comfortable gambling can really put the heat on another player and force them into mistakes,” Brown says. While his knowledge of golf and gambling is useful, Brown is also learning new skills. “A big aspect of this business is putting on an event,” he says. “You become a big wedding planner.”
But Brown does plan to do something with the game that he’s more familiar with—put it online. The World Series of Golf recently won a patent for replicating this model of play in virtual gaming. Brown sees it as an opportunity to grow the company exponentially—and, as always, keep himself ahead of the game. “There’s only so many live events you can put on,” Brown says. “Online, there are no limits to what we can try to accomplish.”