According to the latest edition of the Morrison County Record (November 30, 2008 print version), the Board of  the Little Falls Golf Course is hosting a contest to name the Golf Course restaurant.  (I’d link to the article online, but it doesn’t appear when I search for it.)  Yippee!  A contest!  What a great way to get the community involved, but there’s a catch.  According to the contest rules, the name must have the words “Mississippi River” included in it because the Golf Course is situated on the river.

Talk about hamstringing the contestants.  If the Golf Course Board is so wedded to the words “Mississippi” and “River,” why doesn’t it figure out its own name?  The board is half to two-thirds of the way to a name already.

The Golf Course Board has also set a few other rules.  (And I’m paraphrasing here.)  The name must position the Golf Course restaurant in the minds of visitors and residents.  It must be brandable and easy to market.  It has to be distinctive in comparison to other golf courses (or is that golf course restaurants?). And, it must be an easy-to-remember name, which I guess hearkens back to that positioning rule, because it’s hard to position a restaurant that no one remembers.

When it comes to marketing and branding, long names are unwieldy for customers unless they are very, very memorable and catchy.  Now take the word “Mississippi,” which is already a mouthful, add the word “River,” and then add some other word or words to create the name.  If the name gets too long, I guarantee that customers will find a way to shorten it.  If the name itself is too difficult to easily shorten, the place will probably be referred to as the Golf Course restaurant and that will be that.

Along with saddling contestants with already-chosen words, the Board has decided not to reveal (or, perhaps, overlooked revealing) what will be served at said Golf Course restaurant, as though everyone in the community has already been there and knows what’s on the menu.  What is the ambiance of the restaurant?  The name must accurately reflect that ambiance in order to properly position it in the minds of customers.

According to the Record article, “Additional contest rules are available online and entry forms may be downloaded at http://www.littlefallsgolf.com. Entry forms may also be picked up at the Little Falls City Hall . . . .”  I sure hope City Hall has those entry forms, because when I went to the Golf Course website to check on a menu, I could find no entry form or information about this contest at all.  As the contest deadline is December 19, will there be time to get this online?

Methinks this contest could have used a little more forethought.

Trapped in a water hole,

Phineas F. A. Pickerel