Golf Course Management

JUL 2014

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

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48 GOLF COURSE MANAGEMENT 07.14 have an interest in playing golf, too. If enough of them do, that certainly would classify as a grow-the-game option at a time when growth arguably is a problem. Early this year, National Golf Foundation (NGF) President Joe Beditz stated that about 5 million golfers have left the game in the last 10 years. According to the NGF, rounds of golf that were played in 2013 dropped nearly 5 per - cent from the previous year, and for the eighth year in a row, more courses closed than opened in the U.S. GCSAA CEO Rhett Evans understands the challenges that the golf industry has en - countered in recent years. He, though, prefers to look forward rather than back — and Foot - Golf 's ascension is a positive development. Su- perintendents are at the heart of ensuring the development continues. "I think that everyone that works in this in - dustry — superintendents, PGA professionals and general managers — knows that it is im - portant to embrace new ideas to help the game grow and fourish," says Evans, whose organiza - tion supports multiple grow-the-game initiatives such as Golf 20/20, We Are Golf and Get Golf Ready. "If something draws traffc, we're sup - portive of any initiative that makes a facility suc- cessful. If FootGolf is one of those, good." Fateley has no doubt that FootGolf will beneft more than simply course owners and operators. In fact, he is convinced it unequiv - ocally will grow the game of golf. "In a few years, you'll see people who started out in FootGolf, then at some point pick up a golf club, and eventually play both," he says. "I see FootGolf as the only grow-the-game initia - tive out there that will work. Superintendents need to fnd ways to be involved. This is one they should get behind." Growing-the-game options galore Tee it Forward. The First Tee. SNAG. Golf 2.0. The list of potential growing-the-game ini - tiatives is, well, growing. Besides those listed above, others have come along such as Hack Golf, Time for Nine and now FootGolf. Enlarging cups to as large as 15 inches has been tried. Some may consider a cup that is the size of a steering wheel to be radical. Yet almost any initiative that potentially could grow the game is worth a look, says Mike Hughes, CEO of the National Golf Course Owners Association. "Each facility has to understand it's part of their mission to do it," Hughes says. "I think there are some superintendents that see that and do contribute." Countless superintendents have taken the initiative to help grow the game, and one exam - ple of a superintendent taking charge and hop- ing to make a difference is the "Learn Golf " initiative at Monarch Dunes in Nipomo, Calif. Tom Elliott, CGCS, and PGA professional Jim Delaby launched the program almost exactly one year ago. "We have a 12-hole par-3 that just wasn't busy. It was driving us nuts," Elliott says. "I was trying to keep the course in good shape but no - body was playing it. I was thinking, 'What am I doing wrong?' We even dropped the price, but it wasn't a beginner's haven like it was meant to be. I met with Jim and we put this together. You've got a big (8-inch) cup on every hole, and we give them a little golf bag with a Left: Superintendent Kevin Fateley is pleased with the results since adding FootGolf to his Kansas course. Photo courtesy of Roger Hammerschmidt Right: Youths at Val Halla Golf and Recreation Center in Maine are part of a grow-the-game program. Photo courtesy of Toby Young "In a few years, you'll see people who started out in FootGolf, then at some point pick up a golf club, and eventually play both. I see FootGolf as the only grow- the-game initiative out there that will work." — Kevin Fateley 044-055_July14_FootGolf.indd 48 6/17/14 2:36 PM

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