It doesn’t have to be either/or when it comes to determining whether you’re going to focus on attracting newcomers to the game or doing everything you can to maintain the existing golfers, who are more used to the traditional game with its rules, etiquette, etc.
It doesn’t have to come down to catering to the newcomers with 15-inch cups and music in the background and expecting somebody who has played golf for 30 years to come out and play in that situation.
If an operator decides to use 15-inch cups or a different type of golf, it doesn’t mean it’s forever as some people have made it out to be in their objection to these methods of luring newcomers to the game.
I remember when my little guys went to play tennis, a friend of mine who runs a tennis stores said I should try tennis balls that are more like big sponge balls.
I’m not a tennis player, so if I’m playing tennis with my little guy and a regulation tennis ball went by me, it would bounce a long way and the same if I got a shot past my little guy. The sponge balls, on the other hand, didn’t go far at all. It’s the beginning of the introductory process.
I’m not saying we would always use the sponge balls, but it helps introduce people to tennis.
In golf, the 15-inch holes aren’t for me. If I’m going to play with three friends, we want to play regulation cups, but the person who has never played golf can’t get their putts into the smaller hole, but hits it okay, might start sinking 20-footers because the hole is so big.
It’s a way of introducing people to the game and keeping them engaged in the game. We don’t have to implement these methods at every country club, but if an operation is using such methods, they can set it up for after 5 on a specific night when people can bring their youngsters out.
I understand that a two handicapper doesn’t want to play under those conditions, but if you open it up at a specific time to introduce people to the game, it’s the first step in saying the final product is a wonderful product and it’s here to stay.
It isn’t an attempt to change the game. It is the first step in a progression to the game that long-time players have enjoyed for a good part of their lives.