By Bruce Meadows
Golf is on the rise . . .
The game of golf, which has had its ups and downs over the years, has definitely gotten a boost recently.
I work in the Pro Shop at Fairgrounds Golf Course, and from the time we re-opened (May 4), we have experienced an increase in rounds of golf and golfers using our lighted, covered driving range.
We are not alone. Hardly.
Every golf course I talk with has had similar increases, and there is no shortage of speculation as to why this is happening.
I agree with a lot of others who feel the pandemic is a major reason.
Many people who had never played golf have apparently decided to take it up, in part because it is one of the few recreational activities that has not been severely limited by rules and restrictions.
You can obviously walk and run and hike, but as far as engaging in an actual sport – apologies to hikers, walkers and runners — golf is definitely one of the few outlets readily available.
When I become aware that golfers coming to our course have not played in a while, or not played at all, I like to ask them why.
Those who have never played echo the sentiments earlier expressed that it is a relatively wholesome, safe way to get some exercise and have a little fun and spend time with friends, maybe make some new friends.
We have been limited by restrictions as far as providing rental sets for new golfers, but most of those people have either purchased a set or borrowed a set from a friend.
As far as buying a new set, I often suggest golfers invest in a good-quality used set if they are first-time players. For the same price as you might pay for a mediocre set of new clubs, you can often get a used set of better quality clubs. Better clubs and they usually last longer and can certainly produce better results.
A shop such as Strong’s Golf in Santa Rosa always has an ample supply of quality used clubs and the prices are reasonable.
Or you can “shop” online or go to garage sales, etc. It’s amazing the good deals you can find.
I’ve even seen outstanding sales in local thrift shops. The people running those charity operations get golf donations for various reasons and often – and unfortunately – don’t always know the value of what they are putting out on the floor.
You could be honest and actually tell them the price they are asking is far below what they should be asking, but that’s up to you.
I can recall checking out garage/estate sales, particularly at Oakmont. Often a surviving spouse, usually a widow, will include golf clubs, carts, bags, etc. among the things they are attempting to sell.
And because a spouse might not know the actual value of what they are selling and have had not had help from friends and relatives, there are some definite “steals” when it comes to golf equipment.
Again, let your conscience guide you as far as what you offer for the golf equipment.
In addition to golfers new to the game, there are a number of players I speak with who have perhaps not played in a while – a long while in some cases – so maybe they dug through their garage, found their old set of clubs and decided to return to the game.
Or a golfing friend talked them into coming out of “retirement” and hitting the driving range or the local golf course.
I talk to a surprising number of golfers who fit that description,
They ask for a basket of range balls, explaining that “I haven’t played in 10 years so this should be interesting,” or something of that nature.
When they leave, many say it wasn’t as bad as they expected and they hope to keep hitting balls and actually return to the course soon.
I would like to hear your thoughts on why golf is on the rise and will that continue, and will try to answer any golf-related questions you might have.
Email me at email@example.com
Greg Anderson, a local guy who most recently was GM and head pro at Oakmont – OK, it’s officially Valley of the Moon but it will always be Oakmont GC to me – has done a little research on the increase in play.
“Golf was up nationwide by 14% in June, 20% in July and 28% in August,” according to Greg, currently providing instruction out of Windsor GC. “I’m sure you all know golf is booming.”
The Cardinal Newman grad goes on to say, “with limitations in recreational alternatives with Covid-19 social distancing, golf is taking a commanding lead in small group activities. Some astounding facts stand out from the National Golf Foundation, noting that in California, rounds of golf were up 18% in June, 23% in July and 30% in August.
“It happens to be the first time in eight years that we are currently looking at a nationwide 10% increase for year-to-date rounds of golf. We have had all this demand and we still have more PGA and LPGA majors to be played,” he explains, closing by adding, “as we see new players getting into the game, I think it’s great timing to get into a lesson program that gets one started on a good path.”
You can view Greg’s Golfvino Academy at Windsor at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 707-696-1621.
Junior Player Development . . .
| The Junior Golf Player Development Program is small group sessions designed to skill build all aspects of the game, according to LPGA pro Jessica Reese Quayle.
Topics will include putting, chipping, pitching, sand, full swing, and driver. The last session will be on the course. Ages 9-13.
Social distancing will be enforced, which means limited enrollment. Class is limited to 12 with a 6 to 1 student ratio.
All classes held at Santa Rosa Golf and Country Club and taught by Jessica. 707-321-9791.
Youth on Course, Operation 36 combine . . .
Youth on Course is a program that has made it possible for a lot of youngsters who might otherwise not be able to afford playing golf on a regular basis YOC had put out information about joining up with Operation 36, an innovative golf-learning program.
Here’s what they say:
“Youth on Course, the non-profit organization “dedicated to opening doors, supporting dreams and transforming the lives of young people through opportunities on and off the golf course – has partnered Operation 36, a player development program teaching new golfers how to play, to provide a youth led initiative instilling confidence and gradual growth on the golf course.
“Through this partnership, Youth on Course members across North America have the opportunity to become “YOC Guides”, bringing new players with them to the golf course to teach them how to play, utilizing the Operation 36 curriculum and app. New golfers will be offered a temporary Youth on Course membership, including five rounds of golf for $5 without an initiation fee. Additionally, Operation 36 users who currently play in Divisions 3 through 6 will participate in a service project, requiring each golfer to bring a new player to the game, playing 9 holes with them in the first Division at 25 yards.
“We are constantly looking for ways to enhance offerings and provide comprehensive experiences for our members,” says Michael Lowe, vice president of programs for Youth on Course. “Partnering with Operation 36 was a no-brainer; they’ve developed and now implement an effective methodology allowing novice players not to be intimidated their first time out on the golf course, ultimately making golf more enjoyable.”
“Used by over 40,000 golfers around the world, Operation 36 provides a less intimidating alternative to learn golf, starting new players at 25-yard holes and allowing them to graduate to the next Division by beating a score of 36 (even par) through nine holes. Along with the on-course advancement, Operation 36 offers classes taught by professionals, private lessons and more.
“More often than not, those that start playing golf are guided into the game by someone else. Why? Getting started with golf can feel a bit overwhelming and even intimidating at first,” says Ryan Dailey, Operation 36 Co-Founder. “Having someone by your side to help you can be a big relief to someone new to the game. We are delighted to partner with Youth on Course to bring to life a service project for players that helps them give back to the game. We look forward to measuring the impact of this program in years to come.”
“Committed to making the game more appealing, inclusive and accessible to nurture the next generation of lifelong players and lovers of the game, Youth on Course helps 100,000 young people across North America succeed. The organization offers its members access to play golf at more than 1,400 courses across the U.S. and Canada for $5 or less. Member lives are put on a different trajectory, benefiting from personal and professional growth learning opportunities including paid internships, a scholarship program and caddying jobs.
“Fueling the golf industry, Youth on Course subsidizes rounds for members and puts money back into the state organizations and courses. The organization’s structure helps golf courses fill typically unused tee times and garner additional revenue with more than 40% of members playing with paying adults. The amount reimbursed back to participating courses has almost doubled in the past year reaching close to $400,000 this year alone and totaling nearly $8 million dating back to 2005.”
For Youth on Course information, call 831.625.4653 or go to youthoncourse.org
About Youth on Course
The core purpose of Youth on Course is to help young people grow and succeed both on and off the course by providing opportunities to play, learn, grow, and build relationships through affordable, inclusive access to play. Members play thousands of courses for $5 or less, benefit from career opportunities through the caddie and internship program and receive college scholarships. Headquartered in Pebble Beach, Youth on Course is a 501(c)3 organization that began as the charitable arm of the Northern California Golf Association. Since 2006, more than one million rounds have been played by Youth on Course members and nearly $2 million has been awarded in college scholarships. Across North America, Youth on Course serves Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Washington, Wisconsin and parts of Canada.
About Operation 36
Operation 36 is the most effective developmental program to teach beginners how to play golf. All new players begin on the course, and instead of starting on the tee box, they play from 25 yards away from the hole. Once the player shoots par (36) from 25 yards, they back up to 50 yards, and so on, until they are shooting even par (36) from the full tee box. Participants engage in weekly classes taught by golf professionals and all progress of the golfers is tracked in the Operation 36 Platform.
The Operation 36 mission is to create 1 million new golfers over the next five years, and they want to help coaches with introducing new golfers and retaining them for the long term.
Both these programs are worth checking out.
For example, while we charge $6 for juniors to play nine holes, the cost is just $1 for YOC members. Fees change at different courses but the most a course can charge a YOC member is $5.
Let’s hear from you . . .
Thanks for your comments, questions and suggestions. I appreciate getting them and would like to get as many as possible. If you have information about anything golf-related, including upcoming clinics, activities, tournaments or sales, let me know. And if you have questions, complaints or compliments about golf in our area, I want to hear them.
If you have a golfer – pro or amateur — you know who you think would make an interesting story, tell me about it and I will take it from there. Having trouble with your game? Let me know what it is and I’ll try to get an answer for you from a local pro.
We would be proud to include you as one of our sponsors – thanks to Bill Carson at Wine Country Golf for his continued support – so if you care to get some details about being a sponsor of GOLF 707, email me at email@example.com