From the President,
The National Golf Foundation reported in 2010 that golf was in a recovery, albeit a slow one. Growing at less than 1% over the past year, the game we all love is alive but less than vibrant.
While the national economy is easy to blame, we should have a closer look within to find an answer. At your course and mine, play is down. In most cases, membership is down, some clubs just barely hanging on, others have been forced to close their doors.
What has driven our members from the game? In a recent informal survey, golfers across America were asked what they liked most and least about golf. Most liked the exercise, being outdoors, spending time with friends, and of course the occasional good golf shot.
In almost every case, the list of dislikes began with slow play. Other factors included cost and difficulty. Difficulty was generally defined as length, as in, too long. In short, the golf experience to many, has become too expensive, takes too much time, and is too hard.
The cost of golf is driven by many factors beginning with equipment. I'll bet most players of my generation never dreamed of paying $600 for a driver or $300 for a putter. The price of a round of golf, whether at your home club, or a public course has risen. We are just beginning to realize the blood has been squeezed out of the golfing turnip and possibly the days of high initiation fees and greens fees are over. Or at least leveling off, and in some cases becoming much more reasonable.
The issue of slow play and hard long golf courses go hand in hand. Let's remember the average handicap of an American golfer is somewhere around 18 or so. A typical drive for this player is 170-180 yards with a fade. Right away any par 4 measuring more than 350 yards would require two driver shots to get home in two. Any par 3 over 180 yards is not reachable, and any hole requiring a carry of more than 150 yards is formidable, if not impossible. It's not fun, and it takes way too long for the average player to tackle the task.
The solution seems simple. Shorter sets of tees for Joe Golf, championship sets of tees for Joe Pro. Our expert course raters can easily provide ratings and slopes from shorter tees, so earning a handicap should be no problem. Joe Golf will be able to drive the ball, play a mid-iron to the green, make a few putts and shoot a score worth bragging about. Any time I've shot a score worth bragging about, it took very little time from tee to green, and I was eager to play again as soon as possible.
If the 1% who are growing the game all have such fun this year that they bring a friend to play in 2011, and another in 2012 and before you know it, golf will have a boom of new foursomes eager to play.
This year, the Ohio Amateur Championship will be contested at the NCR Country Club in Dayton. The Board of the OGA has decided to install a pace of play monitoring system similar to those in use around the country in other competitions. All groups will be timed after nine holes, if out of position without due cause, each player will be charged one penalty stroke. If the group fails to regain their position by the time they finish the round, each player will be charged two additional strokes.
We hope to get the attention of the slow players. I'm confident we will.
See you on the first tee.
Ohio Golf Association