By Rick Price, Editor
Should we be exploring new and different ways of attracting and retaining junior golfers?
Our current issue is highlighting opportunities for junior golfers. There are many association programs, and golf courses offering a variety of tournaments, clinics, and affordable golf for boys and girls of all ages.
My question to you is if you have children or grandchildren do they play golf? Why or why not? I have talked with many parents, especially PGA professionals and asked the same question. It was astounding that most parents and golf professional’s children do not play golf. The resounding response has been that our kid(s) play Club baseball, softball, volleyball, hockey, soccer and basketball but not golf. What is wrong with this picture?
There are many successful initiatives in growing the game of golf. However, maybe we should look at how some of these other sports are attracting so many of our youth. The common response that I have received from parents is that their son our daughter want to play with their friends on a team.
Another question, should we be exploring new and different ways of attracting and retaining junior golfers? Perhaps golf is just not for everyone, and the tradition of the game is not worth changing. Of course, we would hope that those who enter golf from an alternative way would decide that traditional golf is the next step.
The industry and golf associations have typically been very slow to change any traditions, from rules to playing the standard stroke play format. Another challenge to overcome is the lack of the individual golf professionals’ time or interest in teaching and promoting the game to juniors.
What if an alternative golf team concept was introduced to our schools systems. The objective of “Club Golf Program” would be to grow the game of golf through team participation. Instead of playing the typical individual stroke play formats, how about playing two, three or four-person alternate shot formats. Furthermore, offer an entry-level team concept of “Club Putting Teams.” What a great way for kids to socialize, learn to play in a true team concept. A huge factor is that you would play in less than half the time of traditional individual stroke play. The kids would truly work as a team with everyone contributing and posting one team score.
The goal would be to introduce the tradition of the game by simply changing the format. This concept should be considered for high school golf or at least add it as a “Club sport” in the off season. The juniors are the future of the game, and we should be focusing on our schools to draw more future players with this slightly different approach instead of playing junior and high school golf as we have always “traditionally” done.
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Rick Price, PGA
Rick is the Director of Operations for the Southwest Section PGA Southern Chapter and is founder and Publishing Editor for Golf Arizona magazine and GoGolfArizona.com. He is a member of the Professional Golfers Association of America has over 30 years of expertise in the golf profession, member of the Golf Writers Association of America and Sports Photographers Association of America.