Golf’s big chance?



Golf’s big chance?

Increased play during Covid is helping grow the game.

Usually getting my daughters, aged 14,13 & 11, interested in playing golf is… well, let’s just say challenging. For so many reasons….

Lack of diversity for one (‘it’s just for boys Dad’) definitely too many rules, and then there’s the whole clothing conversation. And compared to tennis, well ‘it’s just not as much fun Dad’ But, for the past couple of months, even my kids wanted to play.

Pandemic presents new opportunities for golf

When golf reopened during the second month of stay-at-home schooling (I use that term advisably), starved of any sort of physical stimulation, an invitation to play a few holes with the ‘old man’ at our local club was met with surprising enthusiasm. Clubs that were long forgotten Christmas presents suddenly appeared and we’re out on the course. They may even admit to actually enjoying it.

Our local course has seen both a spike in rounds played and new members. Anecdotally, this is happening all over Ireland and throughout the UK. The NGF reports rounds played up by 20% in the US also. I’ve found myself setting a reminder to grab a tee time for next week, where I see either names I haven’t seen before or people who haven’t played for quite some time. By all reports, they’re rediscovering the game and remembering why they played in the first place.

Golf normally gets a bad rap in the media for all its pomp, but now we’re hearing of its virtues. The stories of a game in decline have been replaced with reports of fairways full with working-from-home golfers with a little extra time on their hands. Covid has been horrendous, but it has created a set of circumstances uniquely suited to golf’s resurgence: the need for fresh-air, the need for socially-distant sport, more spare time due to no commute, the need for stay-close-to-home activities, the renewed interest in being active and being outdoors, the mental health benefits of that and just the simple pleasure of socialising with your mates. All provide a healthy distraction, and a reset from ‘covid fatigue’.

Interestingly, golf has been at its best through this period too. The game has gotten quicker. Walking only, no rakes, leave the pin—it’s all trimmed the minutes and kept rounds moving along. Golf is more efficient and we’re more focused on the game itself. I’ve found I don’t mind changing my shoes in the car park and paying prior to arrival is easier too. And my wife really likes me getting home a little earlier—there’s no pressure to mill about the bar post-round which means more time for home. TV ratings for live golf have been up also.

So, if the golfers and the viewers are back, what happens when we get back to normality (whenever that is)? We are playing golf for the simple pleasure of the game. For the walk, the conversation, that feeling of watching a drive launch straight down the fairway.

Let’s hope Covid turns out to be a positive force when it comes to our game, reminding us not only of the simple joys, but showing us what was really needed to ‘grow the game’… a fairway in front of us and a fresh Seed in our pocket.

“I would propose that it is up to those of us who consider ourselves ‘golfer’s’ to make sure golf doesn’t miss this opportunity. Let’s not forget what those new golfers came for:
Fun. Friendship. Escape. Exercise. Fresh Air.”

Article written by Dean Klatt.

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