U.S. Open

Pinehurst Resort & Country Club (Course No. 2)

The Loop

Golf's Issues: A Rant (cont'd)

March 11, 2008

In case you missed it, here is Kiter's response to yesterday's rant about the industry's ability to grow the game, from someone who worked on one of those Mom and Pop courses I referred to:

Over the past few years, golf has been posing as hungry but not acting upon it accordingly. I grew up on a 9-hole course owned by my father and uncle. There were leagues for every type of player and all members knew Friday mornings belonged to the kids. Junior clinics began at 8am on the range (by age group) followed by 9 holes of play. Here I am, 12 years old and I'm helping my uncle teach the golf swing to 8- and 9-year olds. I loved it. I learned a lot about the swing by teaching it to kids when I was a kid. Not only was it inexpensive, but it helped grow golf in the area. Now, it is difficult to find such a thing at any course around. Couples leagues have turned into a once-a-year tourney and most times you're not paired with your spouse because your spouse doesn't play. Not only should there be a push for juniors to play, but women especially. I'm the tournament director for a regional amateur tourney in my area and we have been having difficulty keeping the women's tournament active because of the lack of participation.

Club pros and course directors--both public and private--have to reach out and make golf a lifestyle again. Help re-sell used clubs to assist the beginners to get started. Hold beginners clinics at least a couple times a month--for all, not just members. Promote partial memberships--10 rounds, 20 rounds, 30 rounds, etc. Offer twi-light rates, "Mondays only" memberships, Junior day, anything along these lines.

Drive home the fact that golf is both sport and recreation and once learned, you can play it the rest of your life. It befuddles me to see so many pompous people involved in what used to be the "gentleman's sport".

Nothing is worse than visiting a course outside of your area only to be treated like an outsider who doesn't belong. Nothing is better than visiting a new course and being treated like a new family member, even just for a day.

When 60,000 people enter a contest to play the U.S. Open course, the sport's in good shape. We just get in our own way sometimes.

--Bob Carney