Golf course closings and club company consolidation are signs of an industry in crisis. The effect of fewer players is wide reaching; fewer clubs sold, fewer rounds played, etc.
The good news is the United State Golf Association and PGA of America have not been idle; creating programs to grow the game with the support of the industry such as the First Tee, We Are Golf and Play Golf America so it’s nice to have something positive to write about.
Specifically these two Associations are promoting an idea attacking how long it takes to play a round, the most frequently cited reason why golfers become former golfers name TEE IT FORWARD.
A TEE IT FORWARD trial in July 2011 was a smashing success so this year it is being recommended to players to use all the time. Golfers following TEE IT FORWARD play from the set of tees commensurate with their ability which gives them a better opportunity of reaching greens in regulation (1 stroke on a par-3, 2 on par-4 and 3 on a par-5). Being near if not actually on most greens during a round may result in lower scores but also importantly helps to remove many of the frustrations recreational players have attempting to play a very difficult game at a yardage beyond their ability.
As an example, for someone whose typical tee shot travels 225-yards (probably the outside distance for average golfers) translates to playing a course at 5,800 to 6,000-yards. If tee shots average 150-yards then a 3,500 to 3,700-yard course is more suitable.
This may be heresy but according to Jack Nicklaus, along with Dustin Johnson and Paula Creamer who are speaking out for TEE IT FORWARD, “We want golfers to know that they can TEE IT FORWARD anytime and anywhere. Average golfers, who are inspired and motivated to play like their favorite Tour players, should not look at where those players tee from but, instead, the results of those tee shots.”
Nicklaus continued, “If golfers, who often play too far back, would move to a more forward tee, they are going to be left with shorter irons into greens, which enhances their ability to score better, and, in the end, makes the game more fun…and that’s what it’s all about.”
Survey after survey tells us golf takes to long to be included in the lives of many living in the modern, fast paced 21st century. The PGA said a survey of golfers at the 1,923 courses participating in TEE IT FORWARD 2011 found 70% had more fun, 47% played faster, 91% will TEE IT FORWARD again and 52% will play more golf.
The USGA related some anecdotal stories from people including a lady golfer making her first hole-in-one and an 85-year-old woman cutting 30 minutes off her round while breaking 100 for the first time in years.
Describing the trial just as successful is not strong enough, outstanding success would be better. Just getting current players to play more rounds is important not to mention luring back former players by rekindling a love for golf that may have been pushed to the back burner and the Holy Grail, attracting new players.