I would like to
share my thoughts as a PGA Professional on the health of the game of golf. I
hear so often that golf is not healthy. I would disagree with that statement.
There are so many people that want to either learn to play or want to come back
to the game.
There are a few
issues that are keeping these people from playing. One is time. Golf has become
a time consuming sport. Five hour plus rounds, long waits to get tee times and
long commutes to courses. Golf on television has made golf very slow. People
watch the pros on television throw grass in the air to check wind, walk off the
distance to the flag and changing clubs two or three times before deciding to
hit the shot. Keep the game moving by playing “ready” golf. When it is your
turn to play, be ready. Get your distance to the hole and decide what club to
hit while your playing partner is hitting their shot, this will make your game
faster and more enjoyable and it will also allow the players behind you to have
a better time. Golf does not have to be so time consuming. Play fewer holes. I
would like to see courses come up with rates for not only 9 or 18 holes, but a
fee for 4 holes. We as golf course operators need to be creative. We need to
think “outside the box”. The setup and design of a golf course serves as
another factor in the length of time it takes to play. Long holes, long rough
and fast greens. All of these factors add time to a round. As golf course
operators, it is our job to set the golf course up so the patrons will be able
to play faster and have more fun. If the course is set up fair and friendly the
rounds of golf will be more enjoyable.
Growing the game
is an important issue to the PGA of America. As a PGA Professional, I know that
in order to grow the game I need to make golf fun and accessible. Here at the
Country Club of
Petersburg, I have done a couple of things to help grow the game at my
facility. First, I have started an unlimited lesson package. This package is
priced to entice my members to take as many lessons as they can to improve. I
have set a max number of people who can get this package to 20. Once they are
on the lesson plan they can schedule as many lessons as they want for the
calendar year. This plan has increased activity at the club. My students are
practicing more and that means they are spending more time at the club. The
more time they spend, the more people they meet, the more they play. It becomes
a “snowball” effect. Another program that our club has done to insure the
health of the game is making our club accessible to juniors. We have started a
junior membership for high school age juniors. The Country Club of Petersburg
sees a real benefit to junior golf in growing the game. Furthermore, a strong
junior program brings more families to the facility. Our junior membership is
designed to attract young players that don’t have parents that play golf.
Younger families with young aspiring golfers want to have someone for their
kids to play golf with. Junior golf is the future of the game. These kids are
the next generation of members at clubs or green fee paying players as they
graduate from college and enter the work force. I would encourage any club or
course to make their facility easy for kids to belong. Kids get their parents
involved. Family golf is important at my facility and an area that needs to
always be improving. Golf is a great way for families to spend time together.
It is one of the few sports that the whole family can be together and play at
the same time. I remember the time I spent with my parents and my own kids on
the course. As a family we had so much fun. I still spend time with my kids on
the course and I wouldn’t trade those times for anything.
Let’s grow the
game through juniors and families. Get people involved. The next time you plan
to go to the course ask someone that doesn’t play to join you. You will get a
great sense of enjoyment introducing some new people to the greatest of games.