The Local Knowlege

Growing the Game

The golf industry gets behind a new golf website for women

A new golf website for women, GolfForHer.com, has just launched. The site is the product of a long list of partners: the LPGA, the PGA of America, the PGA TOUR, The First Tee, the USGA, ClubCorp, the Executive Women's Golf Association, Golf Digest and GOLF 20/20, a subsidiary of the World Golf Foundation. This huge chunk of the golf industry has gotten together to make sure accessibility and information are not the things keeping women from playing the sport. Together, these companies have created a home base for women to find out information on all things golf.

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LPGA star Stacy Lewis is one of the new site's ambassadors: "We're all so quick to jump on the Internet these days for answers, so this site makes perfect sense. Anything we can do to get more women into the game and to help them be more comfortable on the course is great."

This pretty much sums up the mission of GolfForHer.com. It's no secret that there are fewer females than males playing golf. This website is going to work as a source to answer questions female players may have about the game.

From beginners to competitive players, the site serves golfers of all levels. It functions as a way to get more women involved in the game, by providing information about networking opportunities, golf outings, and beginner programs. It also has information about female-friendly courses and female instructors.

Along with information about rules and etiquette, the site is also a resource for equipment coverage and instruction geared toward women. It will include golf culture content coming from social media feeds pertinent to females as well.

"The focus will be fresh, organized information while also embracing the emotional and human interest side of the game," Steve Mona, CEO of the Golf World Foundation said.

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Growing the Game

Here's what I'm asking Santa for to help get golf going in 2015

It’s that wishing time of the year. We wish for gifts. We wish for golf. We wish for different relatives. And so on. 

My wish list is really short. And it’s very altruistic. These gifts that I ask for, Santa, I ask for not for myself but as just one member of the great golf family. For the game we love.  I’m Tiny Tim praying, “God bless us every one!” In golf clothes.

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I leave it up to you then, but try to get to as many of these blessings as possible. It’s pretty important. 

1. The McSlam. Rory McIlroy holds title to the last two majors of 2014. I wish as hard as a person can wish that he wins the first two of 2015 -- his first Masters and his second U.S. Open. This would be cooler than an igloo. Then, as the world of golf treks to St. Andrews, the home of golf, we anticipate a feat no one has ever accomplished--- five consecutive majors. Then, and this just too much to ask for, the PGA Championship becomes Rory’s chance to complete the Grand Slam and make golf the coolest sport in the world again. It would also establish a different standard for “greatest player of all time,” shifting from Jack’s 18 majors to The Slam, whether it be the Tiger Slam, the McSlam, or the Grand Slam. Not even Jack has done that. So the debate over who is the greatest player of all time would continue even if no one reaches Jack’s 18 majors, and that’s a good thing. 

2. The Return of the Tiger. If Rory does not win every major next year, I ask that Tiger win one. Santa, Tiger was naughty, and now he’s trying to be nice, and he should be compensated, err, rewarded. Plus, no one stokes the rating like he does. He’s had coal in his headcovers for about five years now and how sweet would it be for that major drought to end and the whole world to watch our sport again. If I may push my request just a bit, I also ask that, upon receiving the trophy he says, tearfully, “I just went back to playing golf. Just like I did as a kid. I gave up all the technical stuff. It’s a game, right?” We're all excited to hear that Seth Rogen will do a fake interview with the major winner. 

3. The National Foursomes Championship. In a surprise move (not to you, of course), the USGA adds this pure alternate shot championship and insists that competitors play as fast as the format can be played -- in about two hours. It’s a model for a new kind of golf, and all over the country clubs add foursomes tournaments that revive a sport that has curdled into the Bataan Death March. “Honey, I’ll be home for breakfast,” replaces “While We’re Young” as the USGA motto.  Other formats are also tested. The Met Golf Association expands its promotion of Stableford -- it already uses it on its member “play days” -- and other groups follow suit. 

4. Playability. This one should be easy, Santa, because it’s kind of already started. You know how we all got into thinking it’s fun to shoot 106 and spend a month’s rent at a new course that’s a “really great test of golf?” Well, it’s dawning on architects that maybe that wasn’t such a good idea. They acknowledge they got all into Resistance to Scoring until someone said, “Wait, who wants to resist that?” One of them even said  “stern test of golf” was just jargon for “too darn hard.” So now they’re talking about Playability as the thing golf courses really need, and that’s a good thing, because, as one of those architects said, “If we kept designing courses like we did in the 80s we’d all be out of business.” Golf should be about fun, especially for new golfers, who need a bit of success to stay with it. Could you speed things up a bit in this department? Wouldn’t it be great if courses and clubs did renovations to make their courses more playable, not tougher? It’s a slippery Slope, I know. But who knows slopes better than you?

5. A new handicap system. Most people don’t use it anyway, but for those who do, the USGA handicap system is a second tax code. Clever people work it. Other people get worked by it. And it’s a great excuse to get bogged down in numbers when we should be playing a game. To quote Mr. Hogan, the only shot that counts is the next one.  With a new system play would move faster because only certain rounds  -- tournament or monthly “medal” days—would be recorded, and no one could record more than a double bogey. Differentials would be built on Stableford scores, so there would be fewer conversations beginning, “I’m not sure if that was a 9 or a 10. Let me see….”  Handicap rules like this seem to work in places like Ireland. You know, home of the McSlam. 

So that’s it, Santa.  I expect if you’re able to grant some of these wishes you’ll be getting a whole lot more golfer mail this time next year. 

Happy Holidays!


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Gear & Equipment

Sergio Garcia and Justin Rose get to see what it's like when the hole really is as big as a bucket

By Ashley Mayo

TaylorMade's push to spread the word on the potential benefits of courses using 15-inch holes continued Monday when CEO Mark King, along with PGA of America president Ted Bishop, co-hosted a tournament at Reynolds Plantation in Greensboro, Ga., using the wider cups.

Among the participants were TaylorMade tour pros Sergio Garcia and Justin Rose (below), who shot 30 and 33, respectively, for nine holes (while playing in about 1 1/2 hours).

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"Traditionally, we've been a sport that has driven people out of the game," Bishop said. "We need to start giving people choices."

Indeed "choices" is the key word. Just as there are three or four (or five!) sets of tees on every hole, a second, much larger cup on each green would offer golfers options. They're not at all meant to replace conventional cups.

The tournament was meant to highlight the potential of 15-inch cups as a way to attract new golfers to the sport by making it less difficult to initially learn and more fun to play. Over the next two weeks, 20 courses will add 15-inch cups to each of their greens. By the end of May, 80 additional courses are expected to use them, according to TaylorMade.

Rose says that he's having a hard time getting his 5-year-old son, Leo, to pick up the game. He wonders if the larger cups might help. "He's rejected golf because it's very hard for him," Rose says. "Fifteen-inch cups might be perfect for him."

Follow @AshleyKMayo

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News & Tours

Why grow the game? Here's why

By Bob Carney

Why grow the game?
 
It's a good question. Every time we suggest golf needs help, it comes up, usually with a fair amount of consternation. Enough already! Who cares?
 
A competitor of ours once told a "Future of Golf" panel: "We should make golf accessible, and if people want to play, they will." I thought: Sort of like the president of Mercedes saying, we have stores. We have nice cars. Come on in if you're interested.
 
Yes, some of the folks talking so passionately about "growth" are also talking about growth of their company's capital. Not everyone's pure of heart here.
 
But even those guys -- Wally Uihlein and Mark King and Cindy Davis and going back Ely Callaway and the Hansbergers and John Ashworth and Bob MacNally and thousands more -- they all loved this game. Still love it.
 
Which is why, at the very top of the pyramid, you saw guys who played golf at the highest level, for themselves, for money, but all the while weren't happy unless we came along.
 
Beginning, of course, with Arnie. Not just the swashbuckling '60s Arnie, but Arnie ever since. Why has Arnold spent three quarters of his life promoting the sport?

Tarde: Anything on a course or with a club, we call golf

Why has Gary Player said yes to virtually every opportunity he's been approached with to get more people watching or playing or visiting the Hall of Fame. Why did David Fay want the U.S. Open to be played at Bethpage Black? Why did Bill Davis and his buddies build a golf magazine? Why bother.
 
Maybe for the same reason men like Mike Keiser raise millions for the Evans Scholars program, the caddie scholarship with a $12 million annual tuition bill. Or why tens of thousands of people volunteer at events large and small or organize their course's junior club championship or march around watching 6-year-olds play their first three holes.
 
Why does Billy Payne give a damn if kids in Singapore play golf? Why did William Powell build a golf course with his own hands so African-Americans near Akron, Ohio, could play the game?
 
Why did the member we caddied for in high school give us old Macgregors so we could learn to play? And why did thousands of other "traditionalists" tolerate me, my brother and our crazy caddie buddies when we showed up at their golf courses on our days off and made a mess of things? Why did they take the time to show us the way?

Why?
 
Because they love a game that's worth loving.  
 
And because they want others to know why it is so enriching, and feel the connection themselves. They want to return the favor -- many favors, really, thousands of favors -- that people did for them to give them golf.  
 
If there is a mistake in our approach these days it's that we've strayed from the core. By core, I mean not only the 25-rounds-a-year hackers, but also the courses they fell in love with the game playing. The On-Ramps. Easy courses, a lot of them nine-holers, with a few bunkers and lots of low rough and a chance to break 100. Courses that cost $15, that you could walk, that gave you a hot dog if you played at the right time and set you thinking you could get pretty good at this. They're still out there, but they're dying off.

Sirak: What the USGA should do to grow the game
 
We in the industry are out of touch with those places and players, sometimes with the sport itself. Try to set up a game at an industry conference and most folks don't have time. When they do, they're offered access, deals, equipment prices that ordinary golfers never see. After hearing a dozen golf writers rave about a great new Florida resort, I had to check it out. No special deal, off the rack rate. The bill for green fees and caddie came to $300. A friend of mine stayed for two days at the lodge and spent $2,000 over a weekend. Great place, but he thinks he might not go back. Who has that kind of money?
 
So maybe we've lost what it was that brought us to golf. Not rules seminars. Not checking off courses on the 100 Greatest. Not knowing the difference between a Fazio bunker and a Dye. Not a 150 slope. Not the $1,000 fitting system that tells us the ball-spin off our 3-hybrid. Not the bagpipes or the valets with knickers. None of that.
 
We came for the golf, a sport we grew to love and wanted to share.
 
And if this sport (game, industry) shrinks and becomes again a kind of private enclave, and we did nothing to stop that, then I think we'll feel sorry.
 
Not for us. For the kids we used to be.

That's why.


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