Friday, July 10, 2015

Reinventing Golf - Can We Get The Game in the "Green" Again?

You can look at either side of the fairway to determine whether or not golf is in the red or black - is the sport as a whole declining or is there hope for more participants and new course openings?

Many say that golf is in decline due to several factors - cost, time and frustration. On the flip side, golf could be making a comeback with new initiatives set in place by golf course owners in response to falling numbers...but, in the long run, will these initiatives help, or hurt, the game?

USGA Executive Director Mike Davis believes that the sport is not dying but understands that "golf has its challenges, we are acknowledging those, but we think that the future of the game is very rosy."

Conversely, as written in The Sun News, "Golf Holiday statistics show the region (Myrtle Beach, golf meeca of the USA) has dropped from more than four million rounds annually to about three million rounds played." In my opinion, it looks like golf, and the courses it is played on, needs to reinvent itself.

Organizations like HackGolf are looking to find ways to "make golf more fun for everyone". In doing so, the website has allowed average golfers to comment on problems and offer "solutions" ranging from special rules for recreational golfers, relaxed dress codes and cross-purpose golf course memberships.

Although my interest level peaked as I read through some of these suggestions and initiatives, I could not help but wonder if taking some of these ideas to the next level might hurt the game even further by separating it from its roots.

Other ideas currently being experimented with, from larger golf holes to night golf with lit fairways and glow balls, seem to be helping introduce a wider variety of people onto the golf course - to tempt youngsters and beginners to want to learn the game in its original state.

As for the "bigger golf hole" debate, there are two sides to the dilemma.

On one hand, an eight or fifteen inch hole is great for gaining confidence of beginners and children. The problem is that a golfer might get used to playing that way and that is not the way the game is played - any putt you make is tarnished because the hole is bigger so there's never that putt you sank from 20-30 ft looking at it with the thought that "any pro would have been proud to hit that shot".

Golf courses that are suffering are also looking into utilizing the course to attract folks not necessarily interested in hitting a small white ball for four hours on eighteen holes. Foot golf and Disc Golf are already being successfully integrated and even uncommon ideas such as Geocaching are being considered as millennials are being courted to the greens.

After reading my blog, "Creative social media strategies to increase rounds on the golf course." Erica Brockway, Communications Specialist at Hampton Golf, emailed me about her avid interest in geocaching, an outdoor recreational activity using GPS to find hidden caches, or containers.

Her idea? Why not "give the clues on a handout to paying customers from the clubhouse or starters. Maybe within the container hidden somewhere on the course or cart path, insert a free voucher for a beer or appetizer after a round or something along those lines."

Where I like the idea, I suggested that she try a "Geocaching Night" after rounds are played, so as not to disturb the golfers on the course. Post the event in the Clubhouse, on the website and on social media channels that families are welcome to join in the fun to search for golf-related prizes.

So how do we help improve visibility for golf and get golf courses to thrive? Trying new initiatives, seeing what works - and what doesn't - spreading the word via social media and joyfully introducing beginners into the sport that can be played for a lifetime, is a great way to start!

Voice your opinion on Twitter @Golf4Beginners and on this golf blog!



Unknown said...

Perfect article, Stacy. Doesn't have anywhere near all the answers; but, it is perfect in introducing "outside-the-box" expansion of thoughts to help the industry and to satisfy the hopes of a huge group of interested golfers who currently cannot afford to golf.

Unknown said...

Sorry. My above comment did not carry my name from Google sign in. I am Glen Osborne of Vancouver Island. I am on Facebook and Google+.

Wayne Halm said...

Aloha Stacy,

Good piece. I applaud your efforts to expand the “grow the game conversation”. I approach the issue from a different direction – I blog about golf being FUN.

On the Internet I see lots of post urging me to buy the latest golf gadgets, urging me to bow to some PGA God, and urging me to get out of the way of faster players – but I see very little about golf being fun.

Most of the posts on my blog ( ) are about people having fun playing golf. I think there needs to be more of that. Do you agree?

A Hui Hou,

kedelai said...

I hope this problem to be gone.. golfing is fun, isn't it? It usually requires a lot of space for a golf ball to fly. said...

Golf is played for the lowest number of strokes by an individual, known as stroke play, or the lowest score on the most individual holes in a complete round by an individual or team, known as match play. Stroke play is the most commonly seen format at all levels.

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Baseball said...

Awesome post!Two of our warriors shared that they had never played golf until after they were injured. Their injuries forced them to embrace new hobbies and new sports. Both love the game of golf and play whenever possible.Thanks!