Golf’s growth potential
Thanks to Morning Read for publishing the article about Moon Golf in Florida (“Moonshot: Retailer gears up as college host,” Feb. 20).
The article not only highlights a specific commitment to female golf at the high school/collegiate levels, but also demonstrates that there is great potential to grow the game for and with women. My wife, an avid golfer, often laments the lack of attention paid by major media and merchandisers to women’s golf.
Hopefully, more articles such as this will help create a surge in this largely untapped base.
Plague of the Western Hemisphere
So many people writing about slow play, and nothing ever changes.
A recent round in Florida put us behind a foursome/fivesome with two open holes ahead. Last week, a group from Trinidad playing some best-ball game backed up the course by an hour.
Is it a macho thing that a group of slow golfers seems offended at letting a quicker group through? Did they never learn about respect for the game, the course and the other players, in Canada, the U.S., the Caribbean . . . the Western Hemisphere?
Slow play is a failure by management to inform and enforce two principles: suggested pace of play marks a maximum and playing up to the group in front of you (please no nitpicking about groups of two vs. three vs. four).
A reluctance to offend the occasional hacker, while disregarding the knowledgeable regular. It seems like bad business to me.
In Canada, I play at a course that holds the first six tee times for regulars, who finish in well under four hours. If you bring out a slow golfer, the others are playing through. Unfortunately, playing in the afternoon, due to ineffective marshaling, plays out like a death march.
Stuck in the middle
Basketball is played with the same ball and on the same size playing field. The same with football. As the players improved, organizers had to change the rules.
In golf, the equipment and the balls used are different. When the players improved, the playing field expanded and the layouts were made more difficult to play. The rules remained the same. You get to tee the ball at the start of the hole, clean the ball when on the green, play the ball as it lies along the way, maybe some relief to get the ball back into play. Golf is an individual sport, so while playing with one another, golfers should control slow play. For the rest of us, we are stuck between the group in front and the group behind.
Simple solutions to enjoy the game
Obviously, Harvey Silverman knows better than most that “it takes a lot of green to make things green” (“From the Morning Read inbox,” Feb. 19). Even munis require substantial funds to remain viable. I think the point is missed, however, that to make the game more accessible, golfers require manicured fairways, ice-smooth greens and Spruce Pine sand bunkers. They don’t require full-service clubhouses or any of the many other amenities that make some courses a real treat to play.
It is possible to enjoy a highly satisfying, challenging round on a well-maintained course without country-club conditions. Just ask the guys with whom I play on the Forest Preserve District of Cook County courses. We walk Joe Louis (6,742 yards, 71.4/124 from the blue tees) for $24 or George Dunne National (7,262 yards, 75.4/142 from gold tees) for $50. Some guys ride for a few bucks more. If those two courses don’t work, there are nine other 18-hole choices, some even cheaper than $24.
Not all golf courses are created equally; they don’t need to be.
Broaden the economic base of golfers
Harvey Silverman’s points are right on the mark. There are fixed costs in owning, operating and maintaining a golf facility that unfortunately for the golfers keeps the cost of golf high.
The solution is attracting more golfers to absorb and share the costs, as there is plenty of room on the tee sheets. The conundrum is increasing the supply of golfers without first lowering prices. For years, golf courses have been engaged in lowering prices to attract customers, which only results in growing market share but not increasing the number of players. Golfers need to grow the game the old-fashioned way: by introducing family, friends and acquaintances to the game that we love. The benefits of golf to society need to be extolled. More municipalities have to invest in golf.
With more golfers, the industry should respond, be responsible and provide the golfers with a worthwhile experience at a rate that will support their investment.
La Quinta, Calif.
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