Wanting things to be better is a natural thing. There is an evolution in just about every aspect of our lives, from the clothes we wear, to the cars we drive, and the houses we live in. Technology seems to advance daily, and when you think about it, how many things from your childhood remain unchanged. It’s very few, I would guess.
Golf evolves as well, maybe more in the last couple years than in another period.
That is a good thing, but adjustments may be necessary to make the transition as smooth as possible.
Being one of the only activities allowable during the Covid-19 pandemic, golf attracted a swarm of new players. While not all of them will be retained as other activities open back up and people fall back into their normal routines, the expanded interest has been a boon for the sport.
For years prior to the pandemic there were many concerns about the health of golf. Not the game itself, but for the business of the game, with so many properties vying for consumer attention, be it for daily fee use or memberships.
For now, the surge in golf activity is helping that, but it is also creating other challenges.
Obviously, the demand on tee sheets alone is an issue many courses are having to deal with. Each golf course must handle that in keeping with the way they do business, be it as a public or private course, daily-fee, or membership based.
For most that congestion also comes with a slower pace of play, one that is often influenced by the presence of people new to the game. We NEED these new people to come to the sport as our population ages, so handling their entry into the game has to be a priority if we want to ensure they keep playing.
Experienced golfers often forget what it is like to be a new player to the game, and it shows in how some of the novices are currently being treated.
In the past, many people coming to the game may have had some familiarity with the sport and its nuances. Many in the recent infusion of players don’t have this benefit.
Therefore, they are going from a base of zero, while we have more seasoned players expecting them to understand every aspect of the sport instantly, creating some friction, especially when it comes to things like pace of play.
For the most part new and experienced golfers must co-exist so it may be necessary to help ease these new players into the game in the form of education.
Sure, we could put pressure on new golfers (of all ages) to “play faster” but that likely won’t be very helpful in making them feel welcome or allowing for their playing skills to develop.
I’d suggest an education approach. Helping golfers to understand proper etiquette and ways they can play more quickly (even if they are struggling to score) will benefit everyone. Clubs would be wise to set-up orientation sessions for new golfers for free or low-cost.
It will put new players at ease, speed up play, and potentially help the stress on the tee sheet caused by crowded courses.
It may not have been necessary in years past but it’s just one idea to help the game push forward in this new era.