Young golf entrepreneur gauging distance to success

Seth Damsgard, of Brooklyn Park, Minn., practices for the Little Peoples Golf Championship Monday, June 19, 2017, on the seventh fairway at Westview Golf Course. Damsgard is one of several out-of-state golfers in town for the two-day tournament, which begins Tuesday morning at Westview. | H-W Photo/Phil Carlson
By Herald-Whig
Posted: Jun. 20, 2017 8:25 am

QUINCY -- Seth Damsgard has figured out the secret to surviving an 18-hole round of golf.

"The key on one of the last holes is super hot Cheetos," Damsgard said. "It wakes you up."

When you are used to only playing nine holes at a time, a pick-me-up late in the round is necessary.

"It's going to be a long and tough round where you get really, really tired," said Damsgard, a 10-year-old from Brooklyn Park, Minn., playing in his first Pepsi Little People's Golf Championships this week at Westview Golf Course in Quincy. "You need something."

Damsgard understands the need for a competitive edge better than most golfers his age.

And having spawned his own company, the junior golfer is providing that to amateurs throughout Minnesota.

With the encouragement of his parents and some help from his siblings, Damsgard has created Golf by Numbers, which creates yardage books for courses throughout Minnesota and hole and greens drawings for courses nationwide.

"It gives you a map of the hole so you can see if there's a tucked-away sand trap or a false front on the green," Damsgard said. "If you're hitting a blind shot, it gives you a good picture of the hole and the yardage which tells you which club you should hit."

In the last year, Damsgard has created yardage books for 11 courses in Minnesota and one in Iowa. He also has partnered with Scott Brady, a former professional caddie and owner of Precise Yardage Books, to provide hole and greens drawings for courses nationwide.

So far, Damsgard has done drawings for 65 course, including Panther Creek Country Club in Springfield, Ill., which is the site of this week's Lincoln Land Charity Championship on the Tour.

Damsgard and his father, Chris, will make an appearance Thursday at Panther Creek during the first round of the event to talk about the yardage books.

"We never guessed that it would turn into all of this," Chris said. "I said to him up front, ‘I don't care of this succeeds or fails. Just try something new.' We like to try fun stuff and adventurous stuff. This was one more adventure that just took off."

It has provided quite an education as well.

"With home education, it's on us to figure out what we're going to teach them," said Chris, who with his wife, Lacinda, homeschool their four children. "There's nothing better than the practical. Since it's something he already loves, it makes for the best education."

The money earned is being reinvested into the game and future education.

"It pays for all of my golf events," Seth said. "I wouldn't even be here without it because it's a lot of travel and pretty expensive. It's going to be paying for my future golf clubs and lessons and tournaments. And I'll have some extra leftover I can put toward a car or college."

All because he wanted a better view of where he was hitting the ball.

"I was playing in smaller tournaments (on the Minnesota Jr. PGA beginners and transition tours) and I was only 8, and it was hard for me to hit over ponds and water," Damsgard said. "So my dad and I would write down what the hole was like and how I could get across."

Those hand-made drawings were the start of a yardage book for the Damsgard's home course of Gross National Golf Course in Minneapolis.

The Damsgards used the drawings and viewed the course using Google Earth, pinpointing the yardage plates typically found in the fairways of most holes. They then used a laser GPS to measure distances from sprinkler heads they could not see on the internet.

Those measurements and drawings were used to create a computer-generated yardage map.

"I created a template for him," Chris said. "He was able to do all the artwork for the books himself."

Seth employed the help of two of his sisters with the computer graphics and artwork, but the measurements were a father-son project.

"Whenever we go to the course, it's me and my dad," Seth said.

The sense of pride in his son's work is evident in Chris' never-ending smile.

"His commitment and work ethic has stunned me," Chris said. "I'm not sure where it comes from, but it's been fascinating to watch."

Seth savors the advantages of his business.

"Well, I get paid," he said.

He also gains a competitive edge.

"I get my own books for free so I can use them in my tournaments," Seth said. "That's pretty cool."