5 Ways to Actually Grow The Game

There’s this big “Grow The Game” initiative, right?  How the hell are we supposed to do that?  Can we even do it?

I think we can.  Before we delve into the ways to grow the game, check this out:

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Image courtesy: The Four Club

OK, let’s cut the bullshit.  Here are my 5 ways to actually grow the game.

One: Golf (equipment) Is Too Expensive  Golf is considered to be an elitist sport/hobby.  It’s unfortunate because it isn’t.  At least, not with the people I play with.  We have guys and gals from all different walks of life: six figure jobs, jobs that barely pay $30k/year.  Stoners, preps, jocks, intellectuals (yes, I meant “geeks”)… all kinds of people.

Yes, some people will just have to have the latest and greatest gear, but it isn’t necessary.  Honestly.  There are people I play with that are using 20+ year old blades, persimmon woods, Bullseye-styled putters that shoot in the high 80’s to low 90’s.  Rarer exceptions shoot high 70’s to low 80’s.  The difference?  They’re there to have a good time.  Golf is supposed to be FUN.  If constantly buying the newest “it” driver is fun for you, cool.  If you just enjoy getting out, cool.

If you feel like you’re not getting the most out of your gear, but can’t bring yourself to buy that $400 driver, don’t.  Look elsewhere.  I can get you into high-quality/low-cost gear; brands like Hireko Golf, Tom Wishon Golf, Diamond Tour Golf and GolfWorks.  You can look at Ebay for slightly older models (get them retrofitted!).

You don’t have to spend $50/dozen on balls.  Get recycled models, or look at a place like MG Golf and their tour-level C4 ball ($20/dzn!).  There most definitely are alternatives out there… we have to do a little digging, but they’re there.

Two: Golf (the game) is Too Expensive:  It depends on where you’re at, I suppose.  Most courses in my area don’t top $50/round.  There are some that are $80/round, but the average is about $35/round.

As courses get hard-up for revenue, they may be willing to offer deals.  Some participate in those coupon books that fundraisers sell.  Check out GolfNow, as I’ve found some half-off deals for courses in my area… the same courses that I feel aren’t trying to bleed me dry.

The Big Dogs, the courses featured on TV, get a lot of attention.  They also tend to cost a lot to play, which negatively effects the Layman’s perception of golf costs.  We know better, but if we don’t, we should know (or now know) to look around for deals, right?

Three: Slow Play is KILLING me!  Slow play goes back-and-forth with cost for the top spot in things that keeps the Powers That Be from growing the game.

How do you increase pace of play?  It’s such a varied problem…  We have golfers that:

  1. say “I paid ‘$X’, I want to see the whole course” (lame)
  2. say “I paid ‘$X’, I can play how I want” (weak)
  3. they have that “I shoot 100 on a good day, but I’ll play from the championship tees” (gag me)
  4. watch everyone in their foursome, waiting for the others to hit… when THEY’RE ACTUALLY AWAY (forget gagging me, just kill me)

Oh, I’m sure there’s more, but I’m depressed now so I don’t want to keep going with that.  The point is, it’s boorish behavior.  Read that last sentence as “people are assholes”.

Many courses have stopped using rangers, and that’s a damn shame.  Of course, they need real authority to kick people off the course that are repeat etiquette offenders.  A simple written agreement at the clubhouse can help enforce pace of play.  Sure, you paid your money, but you also agreed to the terms…

There’s also this kind of golfer:

duffed-the-ball-saying

 Grr…  I think it’s easier to apologize to the group on the green for a career 3w into that par 5 than to get the 15 minutes back for the wasted shot.

Another pet peeve of mine: plumb-bobbing.  Holy damn- watch a guy plumb-bob from 10 different points around the green just to leave it four feet short…  Remember, folks:

SA5dI

Ready Golf

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When in doubt, play ready golf.

Four: Difficulties with the shot  Too many golfers don’t do things like figuring out their average distances.  They hem and haw, asking themselves:

  • Is it a 6 or a 7?
  • Wait… is it a “soft” 6 or a “hard” 7?
  • No, wait: I think I can get there with an 8…
  • Scratch that; maybe I should use a hybrid

You know, if they’d just spend some time on the range and figure out the average distance each club carried we wouldn’t have to have this conversation.  Hell, just do every other club: if you know your average 7 iron carries 140 yards, it’s fairly safe to assume your 8 will go about 130 yards and your 6 will carry about 150 yards.  I call it “The Rule of Ish”; even if your 7 iron carries “140-ish” yards, that’s still more information than “….uhh…”.

Knowing your game goes a long way towards putting yourself in a position to make better on-course decisions.  By making better decisions, you have a greater chance of lowering your scores.  This will also increase your fun level and keep you coming back.

Five: Get fitted for your sticks  Yes, I say this like every other post, but I fully believe that getting fitted will help grow the game.  The reason is pretty simple: a fitting is all about getting you into clubs that allow for more solid, centered impacts with the “sweet spot”, with what you consider an acceptable trade-off between distance and accuracy.       

If you do this, you create more opportunities to, in a worst-case scenario, create better than decent outcomes with your shots.  Similar to knowing your averages, knowing your gear is working for you will empower you.  It’ll give you confidence, which will lead to better results.  Better results will mean wanting to come back for more.

Granted, golf isn’t supposed to be easy, but there’s nothing wrong with trying to help make it just a little easier with properly-fit equipment.

Wrapping it Up

We don’t need to do half-baked ideas like making holes three feet in diameter, or allowing people to soccer-kick their way to the green.  Growing the game can happen by following these five keys.  If you can think of more, add them to the comments section!

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