Newsday sports writer, Mark Herrmann, writes a thought provoking article about the state of golf.
First, Herrmann quotes Jack Niclaus from a recent press conference at the Masters.
“We have a big problem,” Nicklaus said during a news conference at Augusta. “Since 2006, we have lost 23 percent of the women and 36 percent of the kids. There has got to be a reason. I think most of it is cost, time — it’s the computer age — and the difficulty.”
Local golf people agree with all of those points, and still they have big hopes. “I think the business of golf and the culture of golf need some change and probably some creativity,” said Charlie Robson, executive director of the Metropolitan Professional Golfers Association. “The sport celebrates its history and traditions, so it’s a little harder for it to get out of its own way and make changes. Nicklaus speaking out adds some credibility to the fact that change is necessary.”
Next, Herrmann talks about innovative programs at, the private, Baiting Hollow Club:
John Hines, the head pro at the Baiting Hollow Club, offers an untraditional youth program on Saturday mornings. He brings the group out on the back nine, out of the way of the first members to tee off, and invites them to use the skills from their favorite sports. “They play lacrosse, so I say, ‘Bring your lacrosse sticks and see how you can throw a golf ball with it.’ Then I give them a golf club, to see which works better,” he said. “I don’t care if they come out there with a soccer ball. I’ll let them try to kick it from 30 yards, then I let them hit a golf ball 30 yards.”
He added that he teaches a women’s class on the course, not on the driving range, so they can feel comfortable with the environment. They start with 50-yard shots and work from there. The class started with four students and last year grew to 24.
“I tell everyone to look at the surroundings: ‘You’re in a park. Enjoy the beauty of the golf course,’ ” he said.
First things first, does golf need more players? Go to any public course on Long Island during the weekend and you’ll find plenty of players ready to get and play.
Assuming we should be reaching out to more players (and I believe we do). I think Jack hit it on the head. It’s about cost, time and difficulty. And, I don’t see anyone addressing these issues. How about the idea of breaking the course into three part – six holes each. In theory, that gets you on-and-off in under 90 minutes.
Drop your thoughts in the comments below….