Since I started golfing I have played a lot. In two years I have played about two hundred rounds and have played 81 courses in nine countries. As I travel I have the pleasure of golfing with either the club captain, the president, the pro or the general manager and always have a golf chat about what is going on with golf in their part of the world.
I pointedly ask what do they do for junior golf and what do they do to encourage more ladies to take up the game.
Having exactly this conversation at Ballyliffin Golf Club led me to have an idea and start a not for profit called Fairways to sponsor junior golfers all over the world – but that is another story entirely.
The responses are vast and varied and while similar concerns affect all courses, each course is unique in their part of the world and all have their own challenges.
In Spain at Club de Golf Montanya, General Manager, Jordi Puig and I discussed both ladies and junior golf for hours.
Children are generally more distracted as there is too many other things they are involved in but Jordi’s biggest hurdle was football. Everyone in Spain is football mad and in the mountains north of Barcelona most kids loved football yet hadn’t been introduced to golf.
My suggestion was to start foot golf. Not dig enormous holes for the ball like I have seen on foot golf courses but install a post off to the side of the green as a target.
Run Friday Night Foot Golf for five euro a week. Encourage the family to come to the course and get active.
Before kicking off introduce the kids to golf by having putting competitions – best putt gets to kick off first. Every week you could get them playing a little game involving different aspects of golf before running around the course playing foot golf.
The members cannot complain (this is a whole other topic to write about) as you are not damaging the course and in this case, very rarely were members there on a Friday afternoon.
By starting with some golf skills you are introducing the game to kids who haven’t played it before. While they are there to play foot golf with their friends, not only do they get exercise, they also get used to being at the course. You can introduce other games to make golf fun and encourage them to try and play a few holes as the weeks go by.
While the kids are off kicking balls you can get the parents to join you on the putting green with a wine, and maybe some putting challenges for the big kids. You can help the parents understand that giving their child golf will make for a more well rounded adult.
Learning etiquette, respect, and honesty while challenging themselves and being active helps children mature and become self-resilient.
I’m sure if parents understood this there would be waiting lists for junior memberships.
By encouraging the parents to hang around the golf club on a Friday afternoon you can have family meal offers to increase revenue.
We also discussed ladies golf and getting more local women to try it and I suggested some strategies that other courses are using for eg a 9 and Dine.
You invite some local women and do a two for one first taster day. This then continues with a six week program of 9 and Dine. For a set price each week you have a group lesson with the pro then enjoy lunch / dinner with your new golf buddies.
Week one is fundamentals on the range and some putting games, week two trying different clubs and more putting games, week three warming up on the range and everyone play a hole together with the pro talking through some rules and course management, week four split into three groups and play a few holes as best ball while the pro moves between them, week five and six playing nine holes (front and back) while the pro moves between each group speaking of club and shot selection, etiquette, and answering questions.
After six weeks the ladies are completely comfortable on the golf course they have made some new friends and are relaxed at the club. Then you can offer a discounted membership that includes two rounds with other female members so they can meet some of the other women at the course.
I have been lucky to have golfed with hundreds of people all over the world and I cannot stop raving about how golf has enriched my life. So many wonderful people I now call friends all because I turned up somewhere new to tee it up and had a golf chat.
I have spoken at length and in detail to many people about their golf story and how they fell in love with it. For the people who didn’t have a relative as a golf guide, they were hesitant or felt unwelcome when they first investigated playing at their local course.
A lot of people are initially intimidated by any golf club if they or their family have never been involved with the sport as it has always been seen as an exclusive sport -a sport of leisure, only for the wealthy.
Hundreds of years ago it was exactly that and the members that stubbornly try to keep it that way may well find that there is no course for them to play at in future.
In some places golf needs to evolve, reduce some of it’s stuffiness and become more inclusive to ensure everyone feels welcome at the club.
Restricting tee times for one sex or not allowing children to play alone make potential members feel unwelcome.
There are children at my course that would outplay a lot of the senior members and do not hold up play nor are they horsing around on the course and in fact it is the drunken adults I have witnessed that are worse behaved than the children.
I love seeing children with a set of clubs and when I see kids at any course I always ask them if they golf and if not, why not.
Golf is fun and with so many other distractions (not just better organized sporting organizations) people who have never had golf in their life need to be introduced to the fun.
I am only two years in to golf and I love everything about it however it does need to move into the 21st century.
Imagine how businesses would improve worldwide if every member of the family started swinging.
Follow Tiffany Chaisson on Twitter @onerandomaussie
Tiffany is soon to celebrate her two year anniversary with golf. Golf has taken over Tiff’s life, she is unreservedly happy on a golf course and plays or practices as often as she can (preferably 5-6 times a week). Since July 2014 when she started her love affair with golf, she has golfed at 81 courses in 9 countries (and counting) and recently started a not-for-profit, called Fairways, to sponsor junior golfers all over the world. Golf just makes her smile and she spends most of her day talking golf, playing golf or writing about golf here www.fairwayfoodie.golf
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