Growing the Game, One Golfer at a Time

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“Have you introduced anyone to golf in the last year? What is their name?”

This is the question posed by veteran US golf writer Bill Giering who instigated the ‘Just One’ initiative in the USA.

In a nutshell, it says if each person in the golf industry was to introduce just one new person to the game it would have a tremendous effect on the number of new players entering our facilities. Imagine the impact if every golfer in Australia introduced a new player to the game.

It is time individual golfers take an active role in promoting and ensuring the ongoing health of their sport, according to Mr Giering, who adds: “In my 30 years of golf, I’ve never met one person who had been introduced to the game of golf by a national program. It’s always a family member or friend.”

This idea hit home for me recently because for several years now I have literally taken my eye off the ball with what I had pledged to do as a PGA golf professional – to promote the game of golf! The game that helps put food on my table each night, the game that brought me to Australia and introduced me to my wife, and the game I will teach my son and daughter.

A few months ago I contacted several friends of varied golfing ability to see if they would be interested in going to the driving range for a hit on a regular basis. Since most of us have young kids and time is so precious, we scheduled every Tuesday night as our “range night” and we play nine holes once a month. It’s also a great chance to escape my day-to-day responsibilities and down a nice cold beer.

One member of our group had played golf only once a year at a corporate getaway and was hesitant to come at first and practice with more experienced players. Now after several weeks of practice, encouragement, and a little coaching he is so hooked on golf that he is pushing us to play all the time, even in the rain. He still has further to go on improving his overall game but his score doesn’t matter. The camaraderie and experience of a round of golf or bucket on the range with his mates is good enough for him and he cannot get enough.

“We hate to be called elitist, but most of us do shy away from people who don’t play when they express an interest in trying,” says Bill Giering.

When was the last time you invited a beginner to a round of golf or for a hit at the range? How many of you cringe when you get paired with someone who has a 25+ handicap or who has only played a couple of times? With worldwide golf participation rates shrinking or steady at best, the Just One initiative may be the saviour we’ve all been waiting for.

“Who best to be ambassadors for the game than all of us who work in this industry? We love the game and we know our course better than anyone else,” said Jack Crittenden, Publisher and Editor-In-Chief of Golf Inc, a leading industry magazine based in the USA.

It would be great to see the Australian golf governing bodies and the many companies that the industry supports, get behind one solid “Grow the Game” initiative such as Just One.

One company that has taken the initiative, Club Car, established its own “Lets go golfing” program for its US employees that has seen 200 employees newly introduced to the game. The company also promotes a golf league to keep interest in the game and has gone as far as compiling a “How to” DVD that they will happily give to other industry companies to introduce their own employees.

  Here are 11 other ways you could personally help grow the game:

  • Introduce just one new or infrequent golfer to the game. Invite them to the range, for nine holes, or even just to watch it on TV. Get them interested – it’s also a great way to bond with your son or daughter and can even be fun with your wife.
  • Introduce ‘beginner tees’ to your course. Create a simple tee box similar to a drop zone with tee markers: Par3   100mtr, Par4 150mtr and Par5 200mtr.
  • Make the game fun for beginner golfers. Don’t criticise them for not knowing the rules and don’t even worry about the rules. Let them tee up for every shot, throw the ball out of the bunker after two missed swings, and pick up the ball after so many shots. Just get them involved.
  • Set aside off-peak playing times for beginners. E.g. Last hour of each day, back-nine early in the morning.
  • Recognition in club newsletter for members that introduce a new player. Conduct a ‘What’s their name?’ contest.
  • Introduce a golfing club or program at your workplace. Go to the range for a hit every week.
  • Promote a nine-hole golf competition, if you don’t already have one.
  • Hold a themed “Jack and Jill” event for your members and partners. The beginner in the group only has to putt the ball once it reaches the green.
  • Conduct a free introductory beginner golf clinic monthly. Charge for range balls if you need to cover costs.
  • Hold a parent/child nine-hole event. Make it a best ball format and make sure the kids receive some kind of prize.
  • Have a putting competition with themed holes on the putting green on corporate golf days. Invite the non-playing employees of the corporation to participate.

In the immortal words of Bill Giering, “Have you introduced anyone to golf in the last year? What is their name?” I can say YES and his name is Marcus. Go ahead and introduce someone new to the game of golf and send me your stories and ways you are growing the game at your club or company.

Read below for the full story by Bill Giering.

© Copyright August 2008 Golf Industry Central  Mike Orloff

Contact us if you need any help in devising your own Grow The Game program or need to promote your progrmas to your marketplace.

 

Original story – Bill Giering

In the history of the world there has never been a better day to play golf than today. We have incredible choices of venues, transportation, and technology in equipment, instruction and even fashion. We have built a real Big-Time Industry with a ton of bright men and women leading the millions of dollars being spent by consumers every day. We have experts everywhere, boardrooms full, consultants meeting with other consultants, national golf industry shows that are so big your feet and brain start to hurt weeks in advance. We are surrounded by golf industry experts talking to one another. We love to talk to one another. Could talking to one another be the problem of golf’s present and future growth?

Have you introduced anybody to golf in the last year? What’s their name?

If you begin your answer with: “Well…” then go on to tell me about how your company has donated to some important golf events. Or, if you tell me how you and your association have supported some important program, then you don’t understand the question, you don’t get it. Please consider that some important issues like how can we grow the game of golf may not find its answers in boardrooms, conventions or huge marketing campaigns. The answer to golf’s growth may be YOU.

Global warming, drug problems, the environment, none of these real issues are going to be solved from on-high. No Drug Czar with a national program is going to save your kids from this horrible addiction. Every law enforcement officer will tell you that it can only be solved one household and with one parent at a time… That means you. It may be the same with golf. Somehow we all forgot how each of us was introduced to the game, and it wasn’t because of a PR campaign. It was our Uncle or Grandmother, maybe a friend, who took the time to share something they loved, hoping we would love it too. No golfer ever forgets who taught them the game, they recall everything about it; how old they were, where they were… But mostly we recall the encouragement and passion that our mentor had for the game. They are special memories that endure. Wouldn’t you like to be part of someone’s memory? A fond recollection of a gift you gave them, a gift they will cherish for a life-time?

Have you introduced anyone to golf in the last year? What’s their name?

Five years ago, an associate mentioned that her husband would like to play golf; “He watches it all the time on TV but never tried it.” We met after work at a local driving range, shared a bucket of balls, had an ice cream cone and talked golf. The whole thing took an hour and was a lot of fun. He hit about 20 balls and then he really ripped one … that was all it took. My niece mentioned she would really like to try golf sometime. At noon the next week we met at my club, putted for 20 minutes, had lunch, laughed and talked about family and golf. In the last five years I introduced golf to five very different people. Today, four are weekend warriors, one joined a fancy country club and my niece has started a local league for new women golfers. I didn’t share any magic message, because I don’t have any. I was encouraging and I did share with them how much I love the game. The truth is still: “When the pupil is ready the teacher will appear.” I just happened to appear. They all started playing for different reasons; health, the joy of competition, to meet new friends. One newcomer later told me she started playing because she knew she was getting a divorce and wanted to meet some new friends. We all start for different reasons, but we all continue because golf finds a way to fill a place in our hearts and souls. Share your time … share your self … not your money. Share your gift with someone.

Have you introduced anyone to golf in the last year? What is their name?

I have asked this question hundreds of times in the last few years to members of the golf industry. Most of them try to put a spin on the answer. So I follow up with: “What’s their name?” This always brings some clarity to the question. Most finally say NO, and have reasons why. But when they say YES, their eyes light-up and they can’t wait to tell me about it and how rewarding the experience was and what they learned from it. The most creative ideas in every industry come from beginners, not experts.

Like most of society, accountants talk with accountants, golfers like to talk with golfers. We hate to be called elitist, but most of us do shy away from people who don’t play when they express an interest in trying. Are there values and lessons in golf that might make your community a better place? Have you found laughter and excitement on the course that’s so rich it’s hard to explain? If we all just introduced one person to golf, would we sell more golf shirts, would we build more courses, would we sell more putters? Would we feel better about ourselves?

Do we each have an obligation to encourage one? Should we each try to inspire one? Be an example and share with one… Just One.