Golf Course Management

JUL 2013

Golf Course Management magazine is dedicated to advancing the golf course superintendent profession and helping GCSAA members achieve career success.

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President's Message by Patrick R. Finlen, CGCS The opportunity is ours It's been said that life by the yard is hard, but by the inch it's a cinch. For some time, golf has been trying to gain the proverbial yard in getting the industry back on its feet. We talked a good game about growing participation, but after all was said and done, more was said than done. But I am heartened by what has been happening recently in golf's efforts to grow the game. I am excited because the industry is providing tools to facilities so that they may attract new players and increase participation by those who already play the game. For example, thanks to a concerted effort of the We Are Golf coalition — of which GCSAA was one of four founding partners — the industry is better communicating the benefts of golf. We are now hearing about the health benefts of golf in hopes of making it attractive to a demographic that seeks physical activity. Rarely have we seen this talked about in golf. With leadership from PGA and LPGA teaching professionals, an inexpensive program known as Get Golf Ready is available to facilities so new golfers can be brought into the game. The emphasis is on fun and getting people from the range to the course as quickly as possible. We're also getting the message that it is perfectly fne to tee it forward and begin play from a point that is most comfortable for us. Superintendents are playing a role in this by adding tee markers forward of existing tees and in some cases at the beginning of fairways. Last month at the U.S. Open, the USGA announced that it was leading a collaborative effort to address pace of play — long an issue for the game. The initiative will offer support to golfers and facilities alike about how to pick up the pace and make the game more enjoyable. Although there are many organizations supporting this program, those who represent leaders at facilities (GCSAA, LPGA and PGA of America) are being asked to spearhead the effort. What is different from past pace-of-play programs is this is not punitive. In the past, golfers were beat up for not playing faster, but they were given no training or information about how they could do it. Facilities would reprimand their customers for playing slow, usually with the unintended consequence of creating frustration for golfer and employee alike. The USGA has created an online resource (www.usga.org/ 16 GCM July 2013 whilewereyoung) to help golfers learn how they can increase their pace. Facilities can also go to the website to learn what they can do to address the issue. In the upcoming months, the USGA will be surveying golfers to better understand how they perceive pace of play. It will also be collecting data at golf courses to provide the best information available to support operations such as tee time intervals and course setup. As golf course superintendents, we know our work can With leadership from PGA and LPGA teaching professionals, an inexpensive program known as Get Golf Ready is available to facilities so new golfers can be brought into the game. make a signifcant impact on pace. We also know that our programs are affected by ownership and committees. The data the USGA collects should help us have discussions at our facilities about our reasons for making certain decisions. At the same time, we do not have to wait on the USGA to begin the conversation. We know our courses better than anyone. We know what can be done to address pace. GCSAA members have a huge stake in growing the game. There are great resources out there to help. But even if you opt not to use those resources, you have the opportunity and the responsibility to attract golfers to your facility and make the experience one they will enjoy to the fullest. GCM Patrick R. Finlen (pfinlen@olyclub.com) is the director of golf at The Olympic Club in San Francisco and a 28-year GCSAA member.

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