Last week, most of us were glued to our televisions for some “must see TV” on Sunday at the PGA Championship. Tiger Woods was making a Sunday charge! Unfortunately, in the end, he came up short. This is something that we have all been wanting but not seen in nearly 5 years.
Some might think that it feels as if the PGA Tour, PGA of America and USGA are sitting around waiting for Tiger to save golf. Guess what, Tiger Woods is a band aid. No player has won a major after the age of 46 (See Jack Nicklaus in 1986) and Tiger turns 43 this year. By the way, if Tiger has another setback on his back, he is done!
There is no one out there right now who wants to even take the mantle like Tiger did in 1996 after he turned professional. My question to the golf world is……”What are we to do about the game going forward?’
The PGA of America seems to be the group trying the most at saving the game. Their members are going to be the building blocks that help produce the next generation. The USGA thinks that updating the rules will make a difference, but they can’t figure out how to set up a golf course properly to conduct a watchable event so should we really trust them? The PGA Tour caters to the playing professionals and while running out of players could be an issue, realistically it isn’t for them as you will still have a group players still being able to compete at the highest level. We need to worry about the average players and club golfers not the 1%’ers of the world and how they are going to grow the game.
There has been a lot of talk about Topgolf being the saving grace for golf going forward. Sure, it does a great job getting people introduced to the game. I also think that there is someone who is going to learn how to play the game at a Topgolf facility and eventually make it to the PGA Tour, but they are falling short in one area. People going to Topgolf for the first time are going back there over and over again and they are not going to the course to play.
In Florida, there are 11 golf courses closing to every 1 that opens. While you can look at the shopping malls, condos, and housing developments that are being built, there is a different side of it that needs to be considered. What about the opportunities for kids to learn the game, the PGA Teaching Professionals who are out of a job and, lastly, he habitats that are being disrupted for the ecosystem. So much for the states self proclaimed “Golf Capital of The World.”
You could say that Tiger Woods, while he helped bring people out to play golf, also damaged the game. Golf has never been so expensive. Try to buy a good set of irons, golf bag, clothes and shoes for less than $2000. Lets now talk about rates to play. Should you really have to take out a small loan to enjoy a round of golf? Apparently, there are still courses out there that think that this is acceptable. How is this helping grow the game of golf? Then add the pace of play into the mix. No one learning how to play the game wants to devote over 4 hours to anything.
I started playing at a very young age. My grandfather taught me how to play the game. I have two small children of my own, who in a few years, will be of age and I will encourage to play this amazing game. My father is having his knee replaced this coming week and after he recovers I look forward to the day that my foursome consists of me, my dad and my two boys. I hope that there will be places for us to play and enjoy the surroundings and nature along the way not just 3 story hitting bays.
I really wonder if companies like Loudmouth have it right. I saw a post on LinkedIn about the PGA Show in Las Vegas last week by Anthony Brooks, PGA Legacy Master Professional. He described the Vegas show very similar to the PGA Show in Orlando. It looked like a sea of beige pants and blue blazers. There was nothing different about the attire that golfers wear. Millennial’s today want no part of wearing the same thing that everyone else is wearing. They want to stand out and be different. Jeans are becoming the norm. Tee shirts with unique prints and puns seem to be the norm and why not on the course? Comfortable, functional and funny…..why not?
Millennial’s want to be themselves, stand out and be different. So why not? Maybe it is time to be different. Maybe it is time they mix up the PGA Show and not have it end daily at 6pm (with no alcohol handed out til 5). Maybe they need to look at making it more social and enjoyable for the people there and having some entertainment and lighten up the mood! Food for thought, perhaps enact a enact tee shirt only day for everyone working the event to add a more casual atmosphere to the day?
The time to strike is now. Football, the most popular sport in America, is falling fast. There are too many conversations about head injuries, kneeling and if a network is going to show the National Anthem. The PGA Tour has revamped their schedule next year so that they can avoid Football Sunday’s for the playoffs and Tour Championship. As for the future of football, I am not going to allow my children to play football (the head injury data is resounding) and I know I am not alone in this decision. It is time for kids to realize that, while they can play football for a few years, they can play golf forever.
In High Schools across America funding is set aside for Football, Baseball and Basketball. Unfortunately this is leaving the parents of golfers out, paying for things like uniforms and team bags. This is just another additional expense to an already expensive sport. Funding should be of equal amounts to a player, regardless of the gender or sport. Cost should not be a reason as to why they shouldn’t play.
A few years ago the PGA Tour got together with the PGA of America to put a task force together to fix the fact that America kept losing the Ryder Cup (a single golf tournament). I am here to say that we are at a point where they need a bigger task force and it doesn’t need to include PGA Tour players, the suits at the PGA Tour, or the suits at the PGA of America. It needs to be people like the CEO of Topgolf combined with some of the best instructors in the game for kids like Brian O’Neill. This year, one of Coach O’Neil’s students won the Drive, Chip and Putt at Augusta and while he displayed an amazing all around performance, his poise, composure and respect for the game during his post event interview was better than the game he displayed in winning. Maybe add Fred Ridley from Augusta National Golf Club to the group. He has figured out how to showcase a premier kids event and they are adding a junior girls event there too. I am going to suggest myself being on the list as well. Along with the messages in my blog, I also motivate and mentor millennial’s each and every day in the Theme Park/Hospitality Business in Central Florida. I truly believe that understanding the group you are trying to reach out to is important. Add someone from EA Sports to the mix. The creation of Tiger Woods/Rory McIlroy Golf did a great job in making golf accessible and “cool”! Another key contributor is Todd Bishop from Dormie Workshop. He and his brothers keep things fresh by making some of, if not, the best leather headcovers in the world! They make it fun for the students that they teach and compete in the tournaments that they run around Nova Scotia. Add also, Lock Kyle, owner of Make Golf Fun Again (I don’t think I need to explain any further why he needs to be there). This is just a start to the list. There are others that needed be added to this list as well to help the game succeed.
Dads Say So, Tiger Woods, although we would love for him to, wont be around forever to bring people to the game of golf. Something needs to be done for the future of the game. The question is, “how we can change the minds of those who think that the game takes too long to play or is too boring?” How do we make the game seem more inclusive? There are too many people in power in the governing bodies of golf who don’t have a clue as to how to fix the biggest problem that the game has faced. It is time to have some fresh faces lead the charge in growing the game and making changes going forward. If we leave it up to the powers that be, I am concerned that the greatness of the game will be lost (but they will still be in their beige pants and blue blazers). I am concerned that our future generations will not have an appreciation for all that this game offers and ultimately, I will not be able to share and play golf with my grand kids and maybe even wear some martini pants along the way.