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People can bleat all they like about certain governing bodies and so-called Foundations not doing enough at grass roots and maybe that’s true. Maybe they do lean on the PGA Pro too much and expect them to give their time for free whilst they sit in their 501c3 not for profit ivory towers, taking their big salaries and the plaudits and surveying what a great job they believe they’re doing.
That may or may not be true, but it’s what I hear all the time from other golf pros. However, the PGA Tour and LPGA offer free entry for children at many events and with the Symetra, Web and Champions Tours, there’s plenty of opportunity to get kids inspired!
But whinging won’t change anything for the better. Only affirmative action will do that. Complaining will just get you down, alienate those around you and convince yourself that you’re in an ailing industry when in fact you’re involved in a game and a business with limitless potential and to many others probably have the best job in the world.
I was inspired a few weeks ago by Michael Whan the LPGA commissioner. Michael shared with me and my fellow Proponent Group members (positive, entrepreneurial golf teaching professionals) that golf amongst girls is the fastest growing sector. From what I see out there, I can believe that. And what a great sport it is for all kids to get into at an early age. I bet most pros wish they had a dollar for every time a student has said: “I wish I’d started earlier”!
So for what it’s worth here’s what I suggest we do to build a foundation that brings more players, young and old, into golf.
Educate. Educate the adults and educate the children.
Educate the adults on the benefits of exercise, socializing and healthy competition which keeps the body
moving and the brain active. Target specific age groups by gender with tailored activities and form strategic alliances with sympathetic local business that can add value and that see a commercial benefit in their involvement.
And with golf being the inclusive game it is, look to support disabled groups including the blind, those with prosthetic limbs, autism, cerebral palsy and other conditions where we know golf helps.
Educate the parents on the intrinsic values that golf offers throughout a child’s life. Share the success of that child with the parents. Nurture, motivate and empower.
Offer classes that are affordable and fun. Keep golf simple!
We shouldn’t expect too much from our students but they should expect much from us.
We need to build their trust and discover between us if golf is for them. Once that’s acknowledged then
we need to act as independent advisors on equipment and structure the best deal for them. This is a potentially life-long relationship between teacher and student. Both should treat it that way.
Ultimately this requires effort on the part of those involved in the game. It will not be handed to instructors on a plate. People are not lining up saying “I want to learn golf”. There is no industry wide cohesive strategy, so it’s up to the vocational and entrepreneurial instructors to take the lead.
It takes considerable planning and effort if we’re to be successful for ourselves, our students and for the game.
Never be afraid to fail and always be willing to ask for help. Colleagues can be the best resource.
Whilst golf has more competition than ever before, it’s never been a better product to sell. Why? Because in addition to all the benefits, it’s never been better value!
We need to build awareness. We must create and share the opportunity. It’s not the only show in town. We really do need to sell this sport. But once involved, we know people stay in golf.
Golf truly is the best activity in the world. It’s affordable, it’s healthy, it’s family, it’s about integrity, it’s social, it’s exciting, it’s competitive, it’s for everyone and most importantly golf is for life!