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Suck it up, millennials

I find it amusing that golf has to kowtow to millennials in order to get them to play (“Millennials to golf: Entertain us, or else,” Jan. 17, Maybe it's different in other parts of the country or maybe it's an issue common to private country clubs, but local public-access courses here in Washington state have no problem filling tee times.  

However, given the perceived nature of the new generations, I can understand their lack of interest in golf. Our generation gave them everything they wanted, and now they expect to get everything they want, and they expect to get it without working for it. Golf takes patience. We hear it every day from pros being interviewed during tournaments. Millennials were not taught patience, and they don't know how to get it.

Topgolf is not golf. It's a business no different than a bowling alley. It's a driving range where you can play games. It builds “driving-range hitters of golf balls.” Nothing more. Golf is much more than that, and without understanding golf, the game cannot be fully appreciated.  

Several factors explain the millennials’ lack of interest:

  • It takes too long. Millennials just don't want to spend 4-plus hours playing golf. Back to the patience thing.
  • Time commitment to become decent at the game. It's not just the 4-plus hours to play, but golf requires an investment of time more than playing a couple of times not to suck and learn to control the ball.
  • No mentors. When we grew up, we learned to play from family members who played golf, or we found someone at the course who took us under their wing to learn the game and its rules. For the most part, young people today don't hang out with their parents, and they go to the golf course or driving range with their buddies. Rarely do they understand the game or its history and honor.
  • Golf is expensive. That's a cop out. Yes, an investment is needed, but the latest and greatest equipment is not necessary. Good-quality used clubs are available, and public courses can be inexpensive. More money is spent on other “lifestyle wants.”

Golf is going through the same cycle now that it did 30-40 years ago. Back then, when we were young, we had other things to do. However, fewer golf courses existed, and many were private, so the change to the new generation was not so noticeable. With the emergence of Tiger Woods, more golf courses were built, and now the industry is trying to fill them with players. Many have since closed. Hopefully, as the millennials age, they will see golf for the game that it is: a game that can last a lifetime. Maybe they will learn the patience needed to play golf.
Until then, “Get off my lawn!”

Ken Byers
Kennewick, Wash.

Jug saw it coming

The game has become one of long ball and gouge, with no end in sight.  

Many years ago, the late Jug McSpaden, a 17-time PGA Tour winner who today’s players in all probability don’t know, built a course in Kansas City, Kan., called Dub’s Dread. The layout could be stretched to more than 8,000 yards as McSpaden foresaw the day when the players would require courses of such length.

Time has proved him to be a great prophet. The course is still in play today, and it remains a great test of skill.

I don't see much being done to slow down the game relative to length. Perhaps somewhere down the road land costs will be prohibitive to build and maintain courses of such length. Until then, bombs away.

Golf ball manufacturers are not going to reduce the distance that the ball travels. What would they advertise? 

Golf has indeed changed. For the better? Who knows.

Jon E. Jacobson
Blue Springs, Mo.


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