Don't have time? Can't afford it? It's too hard? Tell us how you would make golf fun.
You love “your” game, but is that enough to keep it going? NJGolfToday.com is dedicated to finding new golfers and growing the game — even if “golfertainment” means allowing soccer balls on the course.
“You can play it forever, the handicap system makes it even for everyone, you call penalties on yourself, sunrise on a golf course is heaven…”
“It takes too long, it costs too much, ‘they’ hate kids, women, and anyone who looks different. Why does it have to be 18 holes? Why can’t I take a Mulligan? And, oh yeah, it’s too freakin’ hard!”
“But look at the birds, feel the breeze in your hair and the sun on your face…”
We can interrupt that blueblood-vs.-regular-folk give and take right there. You are a golfer. You appreciate all the misty blahblahblah about the game’s traditions and vagaries. But you also are a Jersey golfer, which means that, even if you do agree with all of golf’s metaphysical musings, you’re still more inclined to quote Carl Spackler than Herbert Warren Wind.
But guess what? Those who can remember what Ike and Arnie did for golf in America are finding themselves under the fairways, not walking them. The National Golf Foundation paints a troubling picture: rich, white retired folks are playing golf wherever they want, whenever they want. Most middle-income white people aren’t. Neither are middle-to-low-income people of any color.
Kids? Forget it. There are no TVs on the course, texting is frowned upon. Why use an actual sand wedge to blast out of the bunker when you could hit alt+C+esc to have Tiger and other professional golfers do it for you?
The NGF reports that rounds are down, golf is too expensive for many, courses are too hard, many beginners give it a shot, but they’d rather do something fun with four to six hours of their free time.
So, what do we do? Sure, it’s great to have more available tee times, but as golfers we have an obligation to pull more people into the game. We as a community have to realize that newbies need to find their way into the game — and that it doesn’t have to be the same way we got into it.
Do you know what the Old Course at St. Andrews, the Holy Land of golf, is like on a Sunday? It’s full of picnic baskets, Frisbees, sunbathers, wine drinkers — and dogs! It’s a park on Sunday, allowing locals and visitors alike to luxuriate on the course without worrying about clearing the Swilcan Burn or extricating yourself from the Hell Bunker. But maybe more than one picknicker said, “Why wouldn’t I want to give this a try?”
Have you heard of the Federation of International Footgolf? It’s not a formal society for your cheating golf partners who find creative ways to get out of unplayable lies. It is the brainchild of Mike Woods, Head Golf Professional at storied Haggin Oaks Golf Complex in California, and it is as it appears: actual golf holes used by soccer freaks who kick the ball down the fairways before lining it up to sink it into a cup that is 21 inches in diameter. Heresey? Perhaps. But isn’t it better to experiment on a golf course than have it go to waste? (Check it out: www.hagginoaks.com/footgolf to see if it might help get someone you know into the game.)
We allegedly use our imagination to get out of the tough spots we land in on the course? How would you help golf get out of its own tough spot? Six-hole courses, daycare in the snack bar so young moms and dads could sneak in nine holes? Footgolf? Frisbee golf? Fishing competitions following a six-hole match? Young professional mixers on the greens?
NJGolfToday.com is dedicated to getting more New Jerseyans, and those smart enough to visit our great courses. We are just as dedicated as finding ways to keep them there, so help us out. Post a comment or a suggestion. No idea is too outlandish (although we don’t need those you wouldn’t want your kids to see), so let us know how we could create “golfertainment” in the Garden State.