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Time To Promote Casual Golf?

I know I’ll get some negative feedback from the purists on this one, but it’s definitely time to ask the question, “Is It Time To Promote Casual Golf?”.  Everywhere we turn all involved in this industry are looking at ways to “grow the game”. We’re making significant strides in my opinion in many areas. How far do we dare venture from the core of the game to…grow the game? In my opinion, we (at least) consider venturing as far as we need to in order to attract more golfers to the game. Our tendency is to market to those who already play, rather than to those we would like to consider taking up the game.  Removing as many obstacles as possible along the way would certainly improve our chances of attracting new golfers.

Some of the courses here in the Myrtle Beach area have relaxed the “normal” golf attire (dress code) much to the chagrin of the purists. In our studios, we hear quite often, “I can’t believe they’re allowing them out there on the course in a tee shirt and jeans. That’s just going too far!” I do think the courses that consider to “publicly” promote casual golf cold increase their numbers. Should we go there? I’m not saying that the higher end courses and country clubs should allow folks to dress down at their facilities, but I do believe there are opportunities to “grow the game” by further relaxing some of the standards at certain courses.

Recently True Blue Golf Club broke a standard by introducing golf boards at their facility. Great move! We’ll see others follow suit, I’m sure. I played golf with a couple from Switzerland last Sunday, and they were more than a little surprised that I would dare to play music in my cart during the round. They both said, that would NEVER happen at their home course, but admitted they enjoyed it….after getting over the shock. Meadowlands Golf Club introduced FootGolf to their course last year. This has indeed brought folks to a golf course who may not have ventured there without the soccer element. Other courses around the U.S. have introduced shortened round deals. I’ve heard of 3 hole, 6 hole, and 12 hole round deals added to the somewhat standard (but not promote enough)  9 hole option.

I remember back in my teens being invited to play golf for the first time by one of my friends. When I said yes, I’d like to go, he told me I’d have “dress up” to come play. I didn’t go, and didn’t get to a golf course for several years after that. But, I did fall in love with the game on my first visit. The two questions that come from this from both sides might be. 1. From the purists…”Is it asking too much for someone to at least wear a collared shirt and some decent Bermuda shorts to play this game? 2. From the other side…”How many people might try the game and fall in love if it did not appear to be too ‘stuffy’ for their tastes? You might be surprised.

Here’s an idea. Offer a “casual” day of golf that includes a beginners quick (grip, address, and swing) lesson with a rental set of clubs. Summer would be a great time to test out the idea. The root of the problem is this….We’re trying to grow the game, but we’re only marketing to those who already play the game. The junior golf programs are a great focus, but we need to think outside the “core” of the game to attract new golfers. So, ask yourself is it time to promote casual golf at certain courses?

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