Quickly now, who were the first two women admitted into the membership of Augusta National nearly two years ago?
Chances are, you may have gotten Condoleezza Rice because she is a former U.S. Secretary of State, but did you remember that the other woman was South Carolina financier Darla Moore?
Even if you couldn’t remember one or both names, there’s little doubt that the move to allow women into the previously all-male membership at one of golf’s iconic landmarks was a breakthrough, although it didn’t quite live up to the hyperbole from Christine Brennan of USA Today here.
Of particular interest is Brennan’s claim that “girls watching from around the nation will know – perhaps only subliminally, but they’ll see it nonetheless – that someday there might be a place for them in the nation’s great corridors of power.”
It’s a lovely sentiment, but one based on the assumption that girls actually watch the Masters around the nation to “subliminally” get the message.
There are surely some, but let’s admit that girls are so caught up in other interests and it’s unlikely that most would have Rice or Moore as their role models just because they got into an exclusive golf club.
It’s those girls – and boys, for that matter – who are texting and playing video games that golf is targeting through grow the game initiatives such as the Drive, Chip and Putt, which will hold its national final the Sunday before the Masters at Augusta.
The competition is the result of a partnership between Augusta National, the USGA and PGA of America.
Like the admission of women into Augusta’s membership, it’s a positive development, but Drive, Chip and Putt could also go unnoticed by the very people being targeted in efforts to grow the game.
The event is a dream for somebody already sold on the game, with competition at the final taking place on Augusta’s practice area, clubhouse putting green and the putting surface on 18. Who among us, wouldn’t love it, right?
The Golf Channel will give the proceedings remarkable coverage as outlined here, but again, how many of the people who are being targeted will actually tune in?
It will take considerable influence from a parent or friend who is into the game for a golf neophyte to spend that much time watching.
In golf, and media for that matter, we tend to dissect every program designed to grow the game, but that’s not what this is about.
It’s more about getting the game’s message to the people who are needed to grow the game and I’ve seen little here in Canada about Drive, Chip and Putt outside of traditional golf sources of information that potential newcomers are unlikely to read.
Such a program, complete with qualifying events leading up to the national final, is an indication that golf is willing to do things differently than in the past when kids were afterthoughts.
This may be blasphemy in our circles, but Augusta isn’t a magical land to those who don’t play the game yet. The Golf Channel’s efforts may well lure existing junior golfers, but it’s preaching to the converted.
Grabbing the attention of those not paying attention is the main mission with grow the game initiatives, as admirable as they may be, but the target of the message is an aspect that can’t be forgotten going forward.