The Professional Golf Association (PGA) of America has initiated an important program focused on addressing golf’s biggest problem.
In 2010 statistics showed that golf had lost 4.6 million players. Golf is no longer a game but a business, and one that has been declining since 2005. People no longer make time for the game and therefore golf must change with the times.
There are many reasons why this is occurring. First is the obvious, golf on average takes more than four hours to play. Second, golf has gotten expensive. Getting the latest equipment, taking lessons, and paying your greens fees are more costly than ever. Finally, golf is a hard game and is frustrating when you are not hitting it well. Why spend your precious free time doing something that is not fun. A program has been created to address these problems! It is called Golf 2.0
Golf 2.0, which ironically sounds like a Microsoft download, basically aims to accomplish three goals. Retain core golfers, re-engage those who have left, and create new players.
So what specifically is Golf 2.0 doing to avert the demise of the game? Leaders of the program are focused on training golf course operators and PGA Professionals to address the wide range of reasons for the decline. Anyone who is willing to listen can learn the essentials about retaining customers, enhancing customer service, courting women, and ways to make golf more feasible.
My opinion on the problem is that golf is not a family game. As a working father and a husband I know my free time is precious and I have very little time, if any, for myself. I think this is the case with most families. Women are wearing the pants and driving the bus and if we, (The PGA) can court the mothers and give golf a family atmosphere, weekends can be spent at the golf course. Women represent a real opportunity that the PGA must address in order for Golf 2.0 to become successful. So what is keeping women away from playing the game? Women have the perception that they are not welcome at the golf course and cannot be successful playing the game. If you go to your local public course on a weekend morning you will rarely see a group of four women teeing off. And if you do, you will see a number of men in a panic. This needs to change. Women need to feel that they are welcome and that they can bring the whole family. PGA Professionals need to help solve this problem by teaching etiquette, giving lessons, and providing the hospitality to change perceptions.
If the PGA can help educate and train professionals and owners to create a family atmosphere, mothers will start thinking the golf course is a place where everyone can go spend the weekend. Golf needs to change with the times and Saturday and Sunday mornings need to include more families. My wife and I enjoy playing together and when my daughter is old enough I plan to introduce her to the game so we can make it a family affair.
Happy Mother’s Day to all mothers and I hope that golf will be something in your family’s future.
Darren deMaille is the Head Golf Professional at The Bridge in Bridgehampton. Prior to The Bridge, Darren worked at The Bear’s Club in Jupiter, FL and The Country Club of Fairfield in Fairfield, CT. Darren has had many top 100 instructors influence his philosophy but most of his principles are based on Jack Nicklaus’ way to play golf.