Behind the Pro Shop Desk

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DougE
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Behind the Pro Shop Desk

Post by DougE » Sat Aug 13, 2022 9:08 am

For my introduction to this new thread, a little pre-mumble:

I began working in the pro shop at a fairly high-end golf course in Maryland at the beginning of the year. Eight months in, things have progressed much further than I ever expected. I was signed on initially as a part time pro shop helper. You know, like 16-24 hours per week, for a measly wage. Two or three shifts per week. A nice little semi-retirement job. Check in golfers and answer phones, and a few other minor pro shop duties.

Today, eight months later, I am officially part of the club's overall management team, in charge of running pro shop operations, as well as responsible for all outside oversight when the Director of Operations is not on property or available to do so himself, which is most of the time when I am there....which is often. Lately, five or six days per week, plus multiple hours working on things from home. Today I am working my 6th of 14 consecutive days. Hiring, firing, schedules, events/outings, merchandising, purchasing, receiving, and yes, I'm still checking golfers in and taking reservations. (I hate that damn phone! It rings non-stop. "Did anyone turn in a Top Flight putter head cover. It's green and white with a little...." Yeah, whatever. "No sir, but I'll let you know if it turns up.") My pay scale has gone up, but my golf game is crashing.

Plus, I'm injured again, stopping me from playing golf even if I had the time. Not sure exactly what the problem is, but my right knee is not usable. I'm sure golf brought it on, but there was no obvious point at which it was injured. Initial speculation by others who have had similar injuries includes meniscus tears, ligament tears, and tendon damage. I haven't had time to get an MRI, but that's the next step. However, none of the knee issue has anything to do with my pro shop management experiences, so I'll move on.

I hope to post some interesting, fun and/or informative info here from my experiences running the pro shop. It might be anything from dealing with difficult (or ridiculously uninformed) customers, pace of play issues, unique happenstances, outing/event catastrophes, my dealings with manufacturers' reps, or just about anything else that typically wouldn't be seen from the "other side of the pro shop desk."

I know my audience is small here, but hey, it will give me a place to vent when necessary, or enlighten others to things in golf that may be of interest to those of you who wouldn't otherwise get the opportunity to experience these things themselves. Sort of a behind the scenes view. I hope a few of you will visit here from time to time.

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Re: Behind the Pro Shop Desk

Post by legitimatebeef » Sat Aug 13, 2022 11:38 am

This is a great thread topic. Doug's new foray coincides with mine; I became a range member at the local course in January, and have gotten chummy with the staff. Hard not to get into chit chat with anyone you see 3-4-5 times a week. Definitely getting more appreciation for this particular line of duty. "Golfers treating you alright today?" is a regular greeting of mine. And yeah their phone rings a lot too. I feel so bad whenever I hear 'em have to walk some old fogey customer through the booking process on the website. Overall though I get the sense that it is a (part-time) labor of love, something they're happy to do irrespective of the money.

I like Dougie because he is one of those rare people who only know one way to do a job. The right way. :bawl
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Re: Behind the Pro Shop Desk

Post by bkuehn1952 » Mon Aug 15, 2022 6:56 am

The manager of our local Muni, Mike, sounds a bit like @DougE. A retiree, he started out as a part time clubhouse guy and now I see him talking with manufacturers reps and generally running things. He is #2 to the Director of Golf Operations, who seems to never be there.

I am excited to hear about the other side of the counter. If Doug's day is anything like Mike's, you couldn't pay me enough. And I likely would last about 6 hours ... "Yes sir, you are the Widgely Group. You booked a twosome but four of you are here. And your tee time was 9:20am and it is 9:52am on this perfect Saturday morning. Oh, and you need to tee off immediately because two of you are in a wedding at 2:00pm." :fk :fk :fk :fk :fk :fk
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Re: Behind the Pro Shop Desk

Post by DougE » Mon Aug 15, 2022 9:43 am

I think that Widgely group was here yesterday and the day before. Last weekend too. Man, they get around! Evidently, it's our fault they were late! Some weekend mornings they might even book two or three tee times in a row, suggesting their group consists of 8 or 12 players. Then show up with only three golfers on that busy morning and are annoyed when we pair them with a single to recoup at least a little bit of our loss. And, it's usually that same group who ends up being visited by the ranger every few holes due to being 25 minutes behind pace with multiple calls to the pro shop from groups behind them complaining. I send nasty messages to their carts, but they don't care. Then I will send another which will require they acknowledge the message with an "OK," or else the cart will stop moving. They respond with the required OK, and then go on to be 30 or 40 minutes behind pace.

One big thing I have noticed since taking on this job is that more than just a small percentage of golfers are overflowing with entitlement. Lots of "expect," not much respect for the game, or others.

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Re: Behind the Pro Shop Desk

Post by GBOGEY » Mon Aug 15, 2022 3:12 pm

So in your role, do you supervise rangers? I’m so done with local public courses that I told Ms. Bogey retirement will include a private club close to the house - not negotiable.

Yesterday’s story: my partner and I are walking to an open first tee for a 2:40 tee time. We check in with the starter and just as we are about to go up pulls a cart. The starter says these guys should go first since they’re riding. Then I see their second cart as it’s a foursome. The starter asks their tee time- 2:20. It’s 2:27. They say they’ll be quick. They race to the tee, take several minutes to find balls, tees, practice swings - you get it.

One of them tees off - maybe 50 yards. Then starts for a breakfast ball- starter races to the tee and yells at them one shot only.

They go off. One was an actual golfer, two could hit an occasional shot, one was new, which may explain why they only had three sets of clubs for four golfers. So we followed this with me cursing the whole time what starter puts a foursome in front of a twosome. Fortunately after the first hole they moved up a tee box and switched to some sort of scramble, but it was painful to watch, especially with the sharing of clubs.

At the turn we forced a cut in front of them. The course was backed up so we waited most of the back and only saved 10 minutes or so, but it was much more pleasant.

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Re: Behind the Pro Shop Desk

Post by DougE » Tue Aug 16, 2022 10:46 am

Yes, I supervise all rangers, starters and the bag drop/cart staff. We have some of the most experienced starters and rangers around. They know what they're doing....unlike many from the course at which I am a member, as well as the majority of other courses I have played over the years. Most of my guys are good players themselves and know the game from all directions.

But as you know, in golf, shit happens. And, sometimes things don't go as planned, no matter how good the staff....or how good the player. We have a very difficult course, so pace of play is always a concern and something we try hard to maintain. It's literally one of the responsibilities of my job, not just the ranger's job. I keep close tabs on the cart management system program and am constantly sending messages to carts shown as falling behind. (I can word those messages as sternly as necessary, though the tone of my messages stays calm until after a second message doesn't improve their pace.) I have a clear view of every cart on the course, showing me exactly where they are ....and where they shouldn't be, from my perch in the pro shop watching the monitor. I am quick to send messages to any cart out there when necessary to support my rangers.

Unfortunately, I can't see the walkers. The good news is, most of our walkers are pretty good and knowledgeable about the game, so they are not typically the issue.

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Re: Behind the Pro Shop Desk

Post by DougE » Wed Aug 17, 2022 8:05 am

Last week I met with our Footjoy CSR. Saw nearly the entire 2023 line in person, from shoes to clothing, outerwear and accessories and now have the catalogs in hand. There's some really nice stuff coming out.

We discussed the plans for delivery drops from now until the end of next season and the supply chain issues of the past season. Eg. we received our winter gear in March of this year. As much as I am a Footjoy loyalist, that was unacceptable. Consequently, the director of our club was ready to close the FJ account. I was able to make a strong case against that idea, knowing how regarded the FJ brand is to the serious golfer, particular at a high end club. (We offer other brands, but nothing sells as well as FJ at our club.) Our CSR was quite apologetic, explaining how they have their supply chain issues now under control, having moved all operations and warehousing to their Fairhaven MA location, along with building their own embroidery operation, rather than using an outside source.

The rep was quite happy to hear that I have been a loyal Footjoy supporter for my entire golfing life and that I had a very thorough understanding of the whole line of offerings and history of the brand due to my background doing some customer service work on the FJ consumer site a few years back. Suffice it to say, we hit it off. He even offered me a new pair of 2023 shoes as a thank you for my support, both in the past and in my new role. Any shoe I wanted. I graciously declined the offer. As much as I would love another pair of Premieres, I felt it might be a little early in our relationship for him to own me. There'll be plenty of time for that. You wanna offer me a shirt or some gloves, fine, but not a $250 pair of shoes a few minutes into our new relationship. Honestly, though, it was a good meeting and I feel positive about the outcome on a number of levels---delivery schedules being one at the top of the list. Down the road, I'm sure there will be plenty of opportunity to pick up "complimentary" FJ stuff. And surely, I will.

One other note from our meeting. At one point we reviewed all the small special orders made by our pro shop over the last four or five months. The vast majority of them had P.O.s starting with the letters DOUG. He noticed, looked at me, raised his eyebrows and all I said was, "What can I say, I'm a Footjoy addict." Maybe that's when he figured I was his.

On my agenda at 11 am today is a face-to-face meeting with our Titleist CSR. Should be fun. ;)

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Re: Behind the Pro Shop Desk

Post by legitimatebeef » Wed Aug 17, 2022 1:37 pm

DougE wrote:
Tue Aug 16, 2022 10:46 am
Yes, I supervise all rangers, starters and the bag drop/cart staff. We have some of the most experienced starters and rangers around. They know what they're doing....unlike many from the course at which I am a member, as well as the majority of other courses I have played over the years. Most of my guys are good players themselves and know the game from all directions.

But as you know, in golf, shit happens. And, sometimes things don't go as planned, no matter how good the staff....or how good the player. We have a very difficult course, so pace of play is always a concern and something we try hard to maintain. It's literally one of the responsibilities of my job, not just the ranger's job. I keep close tabs on the cart management system program and am constantly sending messages to carts shown as falling behind. (I can word those messages as sternly as necessary, though the tone of my messages stays calm until after a second message doesn't improve their pace.) I have a clear view of every cart on the course, showing me exactly where they are ....and where they shouldn't be, from my perch in the pro shop watching the monitor. I am quick to send messages to any cart out there when necessary to support my rangers.

Unfortunately, I can't see the walkers. The good news is, most of our walkers are pretty good and knowledgeable about the game, so they are not typically the issue.
Wow. Rangering from a central brain command center, that is fuckin cool. I've been to some fancy courses with cart GPS but never seen or heard of anyone actually utilizing the technology to improve actual operations.

Eventually even the walkers will be tagged and monitored. Although on second thought, the walkers are never the ones who need supervision. :fuckall
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Re: Behind the Pro Shop Desk

Post by GBOGEY » Wed Aug 17, 2022 10:59 pm

legitimatebeef wrote:
Wed Aug 17, 2022 1:37 pm
Wow. Rangering from a central brain command center, that is fuckin cool. I've been to some fancy courses with cart GPS but never seen or heard of anyone actually utilizing the technology to improve actual operations.
Funny but the city in the last two years bought fancy gps carts for its courses. One of the starters told me the key reason/benefit is that they can restrict the carts from operating on certain parts of the course.

Of course I’ve never used a cart at the two muni’s I frequent. Never thought of being a walker as being off the grid but I guess I am.

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Re: Behind the Pro Shop Desk

Post by DougE » Fri Aug 19, 2022 12:29 pm

GBOGEY wrote:
Wed Aug 17, 2022 10:59 pm
legitimatebeef wrote:
Wed Aug 17, 2022 1:37 pm
One of the starters told me the key reason/benefit is that they can restrict the carts from operating on certain parts of the course.
Very often, I will get phone calls in the shop from golfers out on the course telling me their cart battery is dead. I ask what cart number they have. They tell me the number, I look at our cart management screen and typically reply, "You are in a place you are not allowed to be. When the cart first slowed down, it was warning you of that fact, in case you missed the sign that says ' "No carts past this point." So, put the cart in reverse and back out of there, then keep the cart where it's allowed and you should have no more issues. Enjoy the rest of your round."

Maybe we need to do a better job of explaining this feature to our patrons, since this happens often. I'll put that on my list.

On the other hand, the cart GPS actually ALERTs them when they move into a restricted area, so really, I guess maybe it's just oblivious and/or asshole entitled golfers who need additional training.

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Re: Behind the Pro Shop Desk

Post by bkuehn1952 » Sat Aug 20, 2022 4:39 pm

All this has been a fun read. More, please.
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Re: Behind the Pro Shop Desk

Post by GBOGEY » Sun Aug 21, 2022 8:44 pm

I desparately needed to be at Doug's course yesterday. Another tee time disaster. Once again, as we are getting ready to tee off at 12:30 we are told we need to wait for the 12:20 group to go off. Except they don't show up until 12:25. Then fumble with balls, tees, etc. Dad, grandpa, and a kid. At least they look like they knew what they were doing.

Totally wrong - none of them had an idea how to play. By the second tee we had a group waiting behind us and another on the first green. The group behind us decided to skip the 2nd hole. They finished the 3rd before the threesome finished the second. At this point I called the clubhouse as it was 40 minutes for two holes. The ranger came and spoke to them and they promised to speed up - they did for about three holes and then drudgery again. They were carrying their bags, which were too heavy for the kid and grandpa. None could play, extremely slow walkers and most infuriating they kept placing their bags down on the far side of the green away from the next tee, so when they finally finished four putting, they had to slowly walk across the green to their bags and then back across to the next tee box. 2.5 hours for 9 holes.

Fortunately they stopped at nine and fortunately the two guys my buddy and I were paired with stopped as well. We played the back nine in 1.5 hours and never caught the people two in front of us despite the tee sheet being totally full. Making the retirement club justification easier every week.

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Re: Behind the Pro Shop Desk

Post by DougE » Tue Aug 23, 2022 1:43 pm

My job is paying off at multiple levels. As I mentioned earlier in the thread, our Footjoy rep offered to get me a 2023 pair of FJ shoes. Any pair I wanted. No cost.

Also, I have already been comped--or set up to BE comped--at almost every club within a 20 mile radius.

Then, last week, while meeting with our Titleist rep, my benefits increased again. During the course of our discussion, I mentioned I needed a new large pocket panel for the custom Titleist Mid-Staff Tour bag I purchased a couple years back for myself. The bag is still virtually new, only being brought out once in awhile on special days to show off to special groups. It is embroidered with my name, the Team Titleist logo and Worthington Manor GC, making it truly MY custom bag. SInce it is basically new, I believe I could get a lot of cash for it if I were to try to sell it down the road, except for it having my name and club embroidered on it. Hence the "plain" panel request. The TT logo however, adds value. (Titleist loyalists will pay big money for that logo on anything, just take a look at the crazy prices people pay for gear with that logo on Ebay.)

So anyway, I was hoping I could order a plain black panel to replace the embroidered one. First the rep said, he didn't know how simple that would be, but then he said, "You know what, why don't I just get you a new staff bag with the same embroidery, but with the PB Dye logo instead?" I told him that was not necessary, but he insisted. He apologized that it would be the newest model, as the one I presently have is 2 years old and no longer available. He was thrilled to hear what a Titleist loyalist I am, and this is his way of saying thank you. I guess I won't be selling either bag now.

The benefits grew. Later on he asked me which ball I like best. I told him I love them all, but after his recommendation to try the 2022 AVX a few months back, I have been playing that one with great results. It's perfect for me. He said he'd send a "few" dozen to me, then added, "and we'll get you fit for the new TSR drivers being launched this fall. You should have one of those in your bag." (I already have the most recent model, the TSi 3, in my bag now.)

Now my gripe, which should be saved for the Grumble thread. Due to a knee injury, of which I am not sure how it happened or exactly what it is yet, I have not played golf in over two weeks. But worse, based on an ER visit and assessment last week after the knee gave out, this could be something that will keep me off the course for many months. A ligament tear was their initial suspicion. I saw my chiropractor who is also a sports physical therapist two weeks ago, before the knee actually gave out completely, and he too suggested it could be ligament related. I see an orthopedic surgeon today and hopefully will be having an MRI in the near future to determine the severity and treatment. As of now, I have been on crutches since my hospital visit. So, I expect to find out soon what's next. If it turns out as the ER and my chiro speculated, all these great perks of my job will not be doing me any good this year.

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Re: Behind the Pro Shop Desk

Post by bkuehn1952 » Wed Aug 24, 2022 7:41 am

DougE wrote:
Tue Aug 23, 2022 1:43 pm
...this could be something that will keep me off the course for many months.
Ouch. At least you have an interesting job to fall back on during the down time. Still, months away from golf sucks.
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Re: Behind the Pro Shop Desk

Post by legitimatebeef » Wed Aug 24, 2022 4:02 pm

Dougie, what happened? :bawl Did you injure it on the course?
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Re: Behind the Pro Shop Desk

Post by GBOGEY » Sat Aug 27, 2022 5:36 pm

DougE wrote:
Tue Aug 23, 2022 1:43 pm
Now my gripe, which should be saved for the Grumble thread. Due to a knee injury, of which I am not sure how it happened or exactly what it is yet, I have not played golf in over two weeks. But worse, based on an ER visit and assessment last week after the knee gave out, this could be something that will keep me off the course for many months. A ligament tear was their initial suspicion. I saw my chiropractor who is also a sports physical therapist two weeks ago, before the knee actually gave out completely, and he too suggested it could be ligament related. I see an orthopedic surgeon today and hopefully will be having an MRI in the near future to determine the severity and treatment. As of now, I have been on crutches since my hospital visit. So, I expect to find out soon what's next. If it turns out as the ER and my chiro speculated, all these great perks of my job will not be doing me any good this year.
Sorry to hear - I think the key as we get older is to fully heal before going really playing again. Rushing back is bad, especially for the older set.

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Re: Behind the Pro Shop Desk

Post by DougE » Sun Sep 04, 2022 2:45 pm

On Friday, a guy checks in and says he is playing in a member's foursome, so I need to give him the 20% member's guest discount. His English is not great, but I can understand him. I charge him the discounted rate and he walks away satisfied, off to the range, while waiting for the others in the group.

A little background on the particular member he says he's playing with. I am quite familiar with the guy, who is always doing shady things and acts like his membership gets him carte blanche. It doesn't. It's a limited membership. In the past he has come in and requested a large bucket of balls (which he is entitled to as part of his deal) then gives them to his brother, who is not a member. I have seen this same member on a number of occasions out playing on the course in a cart, yet he never checked in with me. He is supposed to pay a $20 cart fee whenever he uses one. His membership only covers his green fee and range balls. I have also seen him with his brother out there, who didn't check in or pay to play either. I don't trust him, but he schmoozes with many of the long-time outside staff and knows he can get away with things like that. His brother is just as bad. I've seen Brother out walking the course multiple times without ever checking in or even getting a tee time. Total theft. He has also tried to get range balls from the pro shop by saying he is picking them up for his brother, who will be here shortly. This is an upscale course, not some muni. Range balls aren't free unless you are a member. And, it doesn't extend to your brother or anyone else you may want to impress.

Anyway, a few minutes later, two more guys show up for the same foursome and also mention they are playing with the member in the same broken English and request the 20% discount. I asked if the member was here yet. They implied he would be shortly. "Yeah, yeah, he here soon!"

A few minutes later, finally the fourth guy in the group shows up. But instead of being the member, it's another "guest." I asked where the member was? He had no clue. And like the other three, he used the language barrier to pretend he didn't understand what I was asking, though all of them understood "20% guest discount." So I've now got all four players getting a member discount because they said they were playing with Mr. Bigshot Member, who in fact, isn't even here! Rather than create a scene on a busy Friday afternoon, I just let it go.

I'm not sure what pisses me off more. The member's entitled attitude or the fact that he thinks we in the pro shop are too stupid to even notice he's got all his buddies showing up and receiving a discount for dropping his name. I am ready to confront this guy. If it were up to me, I'd pull his membership, but, alas, it is not. But, you can be sure they will hear about it upstairs the next time there's a managers' meeting. I'd say, at the very least, it's time for a nasty letter from the biggest wig we have. Unfortunately, he will need to send more than just one. This happens with many other members of dubious character as well.

One thing I have really been enlightened about by working this job, is how sneaky so many golfers are. I thought it was a classier crowd in general. A game of integrity. You know, like calling penalties on yourself when the rules require it. Trust in your competitors. Respect for the game. Proper etiquette and all that. I guess, being such a golf traditionalist by nature, I was a little naive.

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Re: Behind the Pro Shop Desk

Post by bkuehn1952 » Sun Sep 04, 2022 7:34 pm

Can you shut off his cart remotely? Wait until he is far from the clubhouse, shut him down and then take a bathroom break.
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Re: Behind the Pro Shop Desk

Post by GBOGEY » Mon Sep 05, 2022 10:36 am

DougE wrote:
Sun Sep 04, 2022 2:45 pm
One thing I have really been enlightened about by working this job, is how sneaky so many golfers are. I thought it was a classier crowd in general. A game of integrity. You know, like calling penalties on yourself when the rules require it. Trust in your competitors. Respect for the game. Proper etiquette and all that. I guess, being such a golf traditionalist by nature, I was a little naive.
Doesn't surprise me. Not to stereotype, but in my limited experience (which is really just in TN) with clubs, members at semi-private clubs are often the worse. They want to walk around and boss the staff like they own the place because they are members, but they aren't owners and the only reason they became members is to get a deal. Then they resent the non-members who play there.

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Re: Behind the Pro Shop Desk

Post by GBOGEY » Thu Sep 08, 2022 7:12 pm

@DougE since you are smoozing with your titleist rep and there are at least 5 local titleist fitting days coming up, I think I’m going to bite and do a driver fitting. Can you give me an overview to get started- it’s gotten way too complicated. Heck, even upgrading to a newer cobra has gotten complicated. Appreciate any help.

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