EDITORIAL – TAKING ADVANTAGE OF THE YOUTH MOVEMENT

The number one player in the world is 22 years old, owns a green jacket, and is compared to a previous generation’s greatest player. Sound familiar? It seems 2016 is a replay of 1998, the year after Tiger Woods won the first of his 14 major championships. Jordan Spieth in 2016 shows no signs of going away in 2016, and many in the golf world are excited at the prospect of him clashing with fellow 20-somethings Jason Day, Rory McIlroy, and Rickie Fowler, among others.

In 1998, predictions were that Tiger would bring a whole new population to golf in the form of minorities and young people. That prediction materialized somewhat, but not entirely. How can we take advantage of the new youth movement in golf today? First, golf associations that are highly visible in the public sphere, such as the USGA, need to use their cash reserves to promote the game. It seems the only time we see a public service announcement promoting the game is during golf tournaments – PSAs that are already targeting an interested audience. Instead, how about a Super Bowl commercial featuring some of golf’s prominent young stars having fun?

Second, as teaching professionals, we can perhaps hold free clinics and camps. Right now, most all of these come at a cost, because after all, we are in the business of making a living teaching golf. I’m not talking about offering all of them for free – just a few here and there as an introduction to the game. Finally, golf courses need to let kids play for free, period. My course in Savannah, Georgia, Crosswinds Golf Club, allows kids to play free with a paying adult. That’s as it should be.

There are undoubtedly other good ideas that can help. If you have any, I’d love to hear from you at mark@usgtf.com.

By: Mark Harman, USGTF National Course Director, Ridgeland, SC

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