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Tuesday, September 10, 2013
Golf course promotion backfires

By Darren Rovell
ESPN.com

A Wisconsin golf course will remain open Wednesday despite a 9/11 promotion that went horribly wrong, even drawing death threats and claims to burn down the facility.

Tumbledown Trails Golf Course, located roughly 10 miles from Madison, bought an ad in the Wisconsin State Journal offering a deal for the "12th Anniversary of 9-11."

"To commemorate this we are offering 9 holes with cart for only $9.11 per person or 18 holes with cart for $19.11! 9/11/13 Only," the ad read.

But after a picture of the coupon hit social media on Monday, course officials -- confronted with angry people calling their promotion "pathetic," "cruel," and "callous greed" -- were wondering whether they should even risk being open that day.

Owner and general manager Marc Watts told The Associated Press on Tuesday that the sheriff's department has posted a deputy at the family-operated public course after he received death threats and threats to burn the course.

Phone calls to the course Tuesday were met with this recording: "We are no longer accepting tee times for Wednesday, 9/11. Please accept our sincere apologies. Our attempt to remember the tragedy of that day has been met with negativity and now even death threats. We ask that you please take a moment to reflect and remember those we lost that day, which is what we were trying to do."

After being confronted by those who felt that referencing the terrorist attacks that killed nearly 3,000 people to sell anything was wrong, Tumbledown Trails officials stayed on the defensive, taking to Facebook to say that the course had done this before to help "remember those who were lost & those who survived tragedy."

Management then changed course, saying Tumbledown Trails would donate the day's proceeds to the 9/11 Memorial.

"We hope that everyone will now see this as a positive as we really meant it to be," the course posted on Facebook. "Again we do sincerely apologize for offending anyone & hope that you do accept our sincere apology."

"We're a little hurt by the fact that people are putting such a negative context on this," Watts told The Associated Press. "I thought people would appreciate it."

This was not the first time that promotions tied to 9/11 have drawn criticism. Last year, the Coeur d'Alene Casino Resort Hotel in Worley, Idaho, offered hotel rooms for $91.11 and a food voucher for $9.11 as a "Thank you to our heroes."

Two years ago, New York Sports Club offered 9/11 first-responders cheap memberships, drawing outrage from some who were targeted for the discount who said it a shameless use of a national tragedy to make money.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.