Golf currently suffers from declining numbers of golf players around the world and even golf courses here and there have to close their doors forever sometimes. A positive boom definitely looks different!
But what’s the problem? What creates such a big downswing in people being interested in the game? I have my personal opinion but obviously there are regional differences. In countries like the UK, the US or other (former) British colonies golf pretty much remained a sport for everybody. OK, point taken, not all folks are admitted in upscale country clubs or snobbish suburban clubs but in general you’ll find more the average guy on the down-to-earth golf course plus some others who would (love to) consider themselves as upper-class.
If you take other countries into account, there golf always had a label as being a rich man’s sport. For good reason I have to say as in the past golf actually has been very expensive and the combination of membership fees, joining costs, equipment, training etc. made it impossible for the average (wo)man to chose golf as the next sport project.
So we have a money issue.
We all know that golf can be a frustrating game and it definitely is a huge time-consumer. For those among you who live in a close relationship, have kids, have a regular job, then you know how tricky it is to get out on the course once or twice a week for a full round of golf, for some training sessions, for some beers with your golf mates, it just takes ages. Don’t get me wrong, I love the fact that it takes so long, but family members who don’t play with you would most likely complain for you being away for so long.
So we have a time issue.
But there are other challenges as well. Golf is not a sport that you can play in your backyard, it deserves heavy practice on a range and once you’re good enough, you wanna go and play a proper golf course. There might be regions in the world where there are no golf courses but I guess it’s fair to say that mostly one course is reachable in a decent drive by car. But what about the kids, they can’t drive themselves. If parents are not willing to give their kids access or a ride to a course, wait for them a couple of hours and then take them home again, then these children won’t have much chance to start playing golf.
The closer the proximity to a course the more likely that a child is picking up the game and is staying with it. No wonder that some current tour pros, now earning millions and millions, originally grew up in families who literally lived on a golf course, when parents used to be responsible for green keeping, managing the club or any other job. Those would hit some balls after school, would find friends being interested in golf as well and so forth…
If one has no contact to the sport or knows somebody who has contact, then it could be quite difficult to get the thing started. Yes, technically it’s absolutely possible to call up the club, get a membership, get some trainings with the pro scheduled, visit the range on a regular basis, become better and better, and finally play some tournaments and get a proper handicap—all without talking to other people.
But golf is a communicative sport, people generally like being around with some other folks, but at the same time golfers are sort of their own species. Some are really nice and open, some others might be quite reluctant talking to others, probably enjoy their own little inner circle and wouldn’t let anybody else in. I understand the criticism that golfers can be very weird.
So we have a personal issue.
What to do now with people having general interest in the sport but at the same time had no contact to a club or club members before. They would probably figure out “it’s expensive, it takes ages to learn and the other club members are pretty strange”…
This statement obviously would hinder those to make the first step, to get started, get trained and get better and spend time with this beautiful sport. And this is exactly what has to change. We have to make golf attractive to anyone out there, we have show interested people that golfers are a helpful, nice and joyful bunch of athletes and that it’s quite easy to make the first steps without much cost.
If I look at the average age of a golfer in a central European golf club, I believe it’s something in the mid-sixties! So we are properly talking pensioners here! I mean it’s good they found something they can be good at, at their age, but we have to make this great athletic sport attractive to all sorts of people: young, old, tall, small, men, women, everybody.
There are so many positive side effects to playing golf which I won’t touch on here but I know that the massive majority of golf players love their sport, try to play as often as possible and simply adore everything about it (possibly apart from the fact that they have to stop playing in winter). Why does it have to be so extremely difficult to enter for new-joiners, why is it to tricky to explain the beauty of golf and why does everybody believe that golfers are rich weirdos and the sticks are super expensive?
The answer could be very easy: just break the ice, approach people and make them aware that golf is cool, that playing golf is one of the greatest hobbies on the planet, that it’s actually quite cheap to get started in terms of equipment, talk to people and introduce them to other club members, be nice, show them around, explain club house facilities and amenities, explain how easy it is to find like-minded people, to play tournaments and become better. Sounds easy? Yes it is. Sounds like much work? Well not so much.
I’m quite an open person. Yes I do have my close friends but I like spending time with others as well. Every time they ask me what I do, I tell them I golf. In most cases these people had no contact to golfers before and are super interested in how you play, how you count and whether everybody has to wear checked trousers. Seriously.
In order to bring all this to a new level, Carsten Moritz, a fellow golf blogger, initiated a golf mentoring concept. It started with collecting golfers across the country who would be willing to have their names displayed on a website being ready to be contacted by anybody out there and answer questions around golf. Could be quick questions like “how can I start, what do I have to buy, can I get a test membership somewhere”. Something like this. Not more. Just being available for people being interested in the sport and the question how to make first steps. No question that I am a golf mentor as well and no question that I try to promote golf wherever I can. Carsten further created a Facebook group, sends email newsletters across, distributes information about upcoming open days, etc.
If you live in Germany then you should have a look at the Golfmentor website. If you live somewhere else and you want to grow the game of golf again, want to get in contact to some new people, want to be as productive and helpful as possible to support prospects then you probably should think about your own little local mentoring. All your future golf mentees would love it, sure thing!