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We can build golf as an option for every young person in the US

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#1 zakkozuchowski

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Posted 24 November 2012 - 09:10 PM

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We can build golf as an option for every young person in the US

By Jonas Borra

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There are more than 200,000 Little League teams in the United States at this time in 2012.  There are more than 50,000 Little League Baseball fields that these teams and young people play on throughout the year. But how many publicly accessible, youth-dedicated short golf courses are there for young people to learn the game of golf on? Don't know? Neither do I.

There so many fields for baseball, softball, soccer, lacrosse, and football, and tons of gymnasiums available for indoor sports. Yet there are very few areas dedicated for growing the game of golf amongst the youth.

One of the obvious reasons for this is that golf is too expensive. Or is it?

In Queens, NY, the Flushing Meadows Golf Center does nearly year-round business with very little upkeep. It's publicly run and is crowded throughout the year with lights so they can stay open after the sun goes down. The idea is smart, yet this is the only place of its kind in the New York Metropolitan Area in which I reside.

If we are going to grow the game of golf, we need more people to play and we need more people to play it when they are YOUNG. When I was growing up in the Bronx, my options were to play baseball in the spring and summer and basketball in the fall and winter. I was never given the option to play golf because my family didn't have the money to join a country club. But what if I was able to go to one of several pitch-and-putt courses with my dad or even better, be dropped off at a small six-hole course as they have at the PGA Village in Port St. Lucie, Fla., where I could take instruction and learn the game at a facility built for a child-sized me?

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Golf courses, in their current size and state, are an expensive business. Yes, people are still playing and yes, the game isn't getting demolished. But it's certainly not "growing" in the US, at the rate we would like. Why don't some smart people, instead of buying up 10,000 yards of land, try to nab 350 and develop course with some 30-to-60-yard holes? They're fun, they're not hard to maintain and they can make money while still growing the game for people of all ages and all skill levels. Dedicate certain hours of the day for these courses to children between certain ages and boom, you're not only growing the game but you're also starting a successful business venture. Isn't that what everyone wants in the golf business -- financial success and to see the game develop?

The First Tee, as admirable as it is, is a catalyst to help children learn "life skills THROUGH the use of golf."  It is not "learn golf and then life skills." If we are going to really grow the game with children, we need to provide them with facilities that are built with them in mind -- think "Little League" golf courses. Why hasn't someone thought of this? Why hasn't it been done?

When I asked Met golf professional Ryan Ekey this question, he said:


"I have no idea. This is a very smart idea -- but someone with the financial backing and love for the game would need to want to invest."


Bingo, Ryan - you nailed it.

So, with this, a cry for help. Playing hip-hop in the background for Web.com Tour commercials isn't going to attract young people to the game. Catering to those at all levels of the social stratosphere IS!


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#2 generaljhc

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Posted 25 November 2012 - 05:52 PM

A few municipal courses in our area have "junior" tees. Typically 50-225 yards, so current courses can be adapted for juniors.

What they need to add, in my opinion, is a Summer program. Start with a 4 day/half day camp to teach basics, followed up by once a week follow up lessons reviewing a skill each week, and once a week 9 hole events (say $5 walking). They could rotate the lessons/events each week (about 4 courses in our area) to so 1 course doesn't feel the brunt. This would be similar to "rec baseball" and would help develop golfers for the future.

Edited by generaljhc, 25 November 2012 - 06:02 PM.


#3 hoganfan924

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Posted 25 November 2012 - 05:57 PM

Why do you believe that "growing the game" is important?

#4 BrianL99

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Posted 25 November 2012 - 06:17 PM

View Posthoganfan924, on 25 November 2012 - 05:57 PM, said:

Why do you believe that "growing the game" is important?

You beat me to the question.  All this talk about "growing golf" ... it's like the full employment act for golf employees & equipment manufacturers.  Personally, I'd be just as happy if no one else ever considered playing the game.

#5 MadGolfer76

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Posted 25 November 2012 - 06:30 PM

Why would you WANT to? I mean, really?

The difference between golf and baseball/basketball is that the latter have fields and courts that are publicly accessible at no cost in most communities in the country. What are the local muni's going to do? Throw open the doors and welcome all the kids in for free rounds? I don't think so. I think it would be great (actually) if they did, but what is being suggested here is an unsustainable initiative that will go by the wayside after kids grow up and can't maintain access through their own means. The result is that the "industry" benefits, while (most) kids will have a brief introduction to golf at best. The argument will be, "Well, at least they had a chance." Sorry, but that isn't good enough for me.

Seriously, I am tired of comments about growing the game. What "the game" needs right now is for the golf "industry" to die a little. The industry expanded beyond sustainability and now is grasping at straws to keep things as is. Well...tough. Everyone else is tightening their belts - welcome to equity, I say. When business folks get desperate to keep the cash coming, the first thing to go is tradition and principle, which is why we have Jack Nicklaus proposing shorter courses with shorter holes (essentially dressed up putt/putt golf) and suggestions that the game needs a dearth of new players. For what reason, to prop up the golf industry? I say no.

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#6 hoganfan924

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Posted 25 November 2012 - 06:37 PM

View PostBrianL99, on 25 November 2012 - 06:17 PM, said:

View Posthoganfan924, on 25 November 2012 - 05:57 PM, said:

Why do you believe that "growing the game" is important?

You beat me to the question.  All this talk about "growing golf" ... it's like the full employment act for golf employees & equipment manufacturers.  Personally, I'd be just as happy if no one else ever considered playing the game.

Well, obviously if you want to keep playing all of those nice daily fee courses cheaply, new players need to come into the game to take the place of those leaving (or those courses shut down).  

The basic question remains though.  Why "growth?"

Personally, I have no more interest in growing golf than I do badminton or curling

#7 Snufles

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Posted 25 November 2012 - 06:39 PM

View PostMadGolfer76, on 25 November 2012 - 06:30 PM, said:

Why would you WANT to? I mean, really?

The difference between golf and baseball/basketball is that the latter have fields and courts that are publicly accessible at no cost in most communities in the country. What are the local muni's going to do? Throw open the doors and welcome all the kids in for free rounds? I don't think so. I think it would be great (actually) if they did, but what is being suggested here is an unsustainable initiative that will go by the wayside after kids grow up and can't maintain access through their own means. The result is that the "industry" benefits, while (most) kids will have a brief introduction to golf at best. The argument will be, "Well, at least they had a chance." Sorry, but that isn't good enough for me.

Seriously, I am tired of comments about growing the game. What "the game" needs right now is for the golf "industry" to die a little. The industry expanded beyond sustainability and now is grasping at straws to keep things as is. Well...tough. Everyone else is tightening their belts - welcome to equity, I say. When business folks get desperate to keep the cash coming, the first thing to go is tradition and principle, which is why we have Jack Nicklaus proposing shorter courses with shorter holes (essentially dressed up putt/putt golf) and suggestions that the game needs a dearth of new players. For what reason, to prop up the golf industry? I say no.

The problem is that even the courses that were profitable before the mad expansion are going t**** up.

#8 Snufles

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Posted 25 November 2012 - 06:43 PM

View PostSnufles, on 25 November 2012 - 06:39 PM, said:

View PostMadGolfer76, on 25 November 2012 - 06:30 PM, said:

Why would you WANT to? I mean, really?

The difference between golf and baseball/basketball is that the latter have fields and courts that are publicly accessible at no cost in most communities in the country. What are the local muni's going to do? Throw open the doors and welcome all the kids in for free rounds? I don't think so. I think it would be great (actually) if they did, but what is being suggested here is an unsustainable initiative that will go by the wayside after kids grow up and can't maintain access through their own means. The result is that the "industry" benefits, while (most) kids will have a brief introduction to golf at best. The argument will be, "Well, at least they had a chance." Sorry, but that isn't good enough for me.

Seriously, I am tired of comments about growing the game. What "the game" needs right now is for the golf "industry" to die a little. The industry expanded beyond sustainability and now is grasping at straws to keep things as is. Well...tough. Everyone else is tightening their belts - welcome to equity, I say. When business folks get desperate to keep the cash coming, the first thing to go is tradition and principle, which is why we have Jack Nicklaus proposing shorter courses with shorter holes (essentially dressed up putt/putt golf) and suggestions that the game needs a dearth of new players. For what reason, to prop up the golf industry? I say no.

The problem is that even the courses that were profitable before the mad expansion are going t**** up.

If you think that with the increasing costs of running a course that private courses will be sustained by its membership you are just kidding yourself.


#9 MadGolfer76

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Posted 25 November 2012 - 06:58 PM

View PostSnufles, on 25 November 2012 - 06:39 PM, said:

View PostMadGolfer76, on 25 November 2012 - 06:30 PM, said:

Why would you WANT to? I mean, really?

The difference between golf and baseball/basketball is that the latter have fields and courts that are publicly accessible at no cost in most communities in the country. What are the local muni's going to do? Throw open the doors and welcome all the kids in for free rounds? I don't think so. I think it would be great (actually) if they did, but what is being suggested here is an unsustainable initiative that will go by the wayside after kids grow up and can't maintain access through their own means. The result is that the "industry" benefits, while (most) kids will have a brief introduction to golf at best. The argument will be, "Well, at least they had a chance." Sorry, but that isn't good enough for me.

Seriously, I am tired of comments about growing the game. What "the game" needs right now is for the golf "industry" to die a little. The industry expanded beyond sustainability and now is grasping at straws to keep things as is. Well...tough. Everyone else is tightening their belts - welcome to equity, I say. When business folks get desperate to keep the cash coming, the first thing to go is tradition and principle, which is why we have Jack Nicklaus proposing shorter courses with shorter holes (essentially dressed up putt/putt golf) and suggestions that the game needs a dearth of new players. For what reason, to prop up the golf industry? I say no.

The problem is that even the courses that were profitable before the mad expansion are going t**** up.

I know what you are saying, but that is what I meant by letting things die a little. Courses have either found a way to encourage people to spend what few coins they have left or not. I would just prefer to see traditional integrity be the line at which the buck stops, but that is likely wishful thinking.
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#10 Snufles

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Posted 25 November 2012 - 09:40 PM

View PostMadGolfer76, on 25 November 2012 - 06:58 PM, said:

View PostSnufles, on 25 November 2012 - 06:39 PM, said:

View PostMadGolfer76, on 25 November 2012 - 06:30 PM, said:

Why would you WANT to? I mean, really?

The difference between golf and baseball/basketball is that the latter have fields and courts that are publicly accessible at no cost in most communities in the country. What are the local muni's going to do? Throw open the doors and welcome all the kids in for free rounds? I don't think so. I think it would be great (actually) if they did, but what is being suggested here is an unsustainable initiative that will go by the wayside after kids grow up and can't maintain access through their own means. The result is that the "industry" benefits, while (most) kids will have a brief introduction to golf at best. The argument will be, "Well, at least they had a chance." Sorry, but that isn't good enough for me.

Seriously, I am tired of comments about growing the game. What "the game" needs right now is for the golf "industry" to die a little. The industry expanded beyond sustainability and now is grasping at straws to keep things as is. Well...tough. Everyone else is tightening their belts - welcome to equity, I say. When business folks get desperate to keep the cash coming, the first thing to go is tradition and principle, which is why we have Jack Nicklaus proposing shorter courses with shorter holes (essentially dressed up putt/putt golf) and suggestions that the game needs a dearth of new players. For what reason, to prop up the golf industry? I say no.

The problem is that even the courses that were profitable before the mad expansion are going t**** up.

I know what you are saying, but that is what I meant by letting things die a little. Courses have either found a way to encourage people to spend what few coins they have left or not. I would just prefer to see traditional integrity be the line at which the buck stops, but that is likely wishful thinking.

Sucks watching 100 year old tracks being threatened by developers just waiting to get their fat filthy greasy fingers on it. In Canada with a population of 34 000 000 there is no need to rip these gems up for houses.


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#11 MadGolfer76

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Posted 25 November 2012 - 09:52 PM

View PostSnufles, on 25 November 2012 - 09:40 PM, said:

View PostMadGolfer76, on 25 November 2012 - 06:58 PM, said:

View PostSnufles, on 25 November 2012 - 06:39 PM, said:

View PostMadGolfer76, on 25 November 2012 - 06:30 PM, said:

Why would you WANT to? I mean, really?

The difference between golf and baseball/basketball is that the latter have fields and courts that are publicly accessible at no cost in most communities in the country. What are the local muni's going to do? Throw open the doors and welcome all the kids in for free rounds? I don't think so. I think it would be great (actually) if they did, but what is being suggested here is an unsustainable initiative that will go by the wayside after kids grow up and can't maintain access through their own means. The result is that the "industry" benefits, while (most) kids will have a brief introduction to golf at best. The argument will be, "Well, at least they had a chance." Sorry, but that isn't good enough for me.

Seriously, I am tired of comments about growing the game. What "the game" needs right now is for the golf "industry" to die a little. The industry expanded beyond sustainability and now is grasping at straws to keep things as is. Well...tough. Everyone else is tightening their belts - welcome to equity, I say. When business folks get desperate to keep the cash coming, the first thing to go is tradition and principle, which is why we have Jack Nicklaus proposing shorter courses with shorter holes (essentially dressed up putt/putt golf) and suggestions that the game needs a dearth of new players. For what reason, to prop up the golf industry? I say no.

The problem is that even the courses that were profitable before the mad expansion are going t**** up.

I know what you are saying, but that is what I meant by letting things die a little. Courses have either found a way to encourage people to spend what few coins they have left or not. I would just prefer to see traditional integrity be the line at which the buck stops, but that is likely wishful thinking.

Sucks watching 100 year old tracks being threatened by developers just waiting to get their fat filthy greasy fingers on it. In Canada with a population of 34 000 000 there is no need to rip these gems up for houses.

Totally does, and I am not unsympathetic. The golf course that I grew up playing (and will always consider to be my golfing "home") has run into difficulties, adding on storm damage to a declining membership. I would hate to see it go. It is the biggest club and best course in the area, though, and the best run, so I would expect it at least to absorb (cannibalize) the membership from smaller courses who go out before them. I hope it happens that way, but you never know.
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