Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Here's a quote from Leon McNair at Links Across America (see previous post). I think he's got a point:

"There are a lot of reasons for golf's stagnant status but one reason is definitely affordability, and Links Across America is a big first step, a step forward," Leon says. "We just don't have affordability for kids and seniors. I'm a PGA member and there are a lot of programs out there, but they are primarily aimed at teaching people how to swing a club, period. That's Step 2.

"The problem is, we don't have Step 3, which is teaching people how to play golf. There are thousands of questions a new golfer has when he or she is playing golf: How to rake a bunker or why, where to stand, what to do with the pin on a green... We need someone waling around with them, or playing alongside them, so they can get answers to all those questions. When we get that piece, we'll be creating real golfers."

This is the role that dads usually play, but what do kids do when that's not an option? This is what makes golfer "creation" so difficult. You really need mentoring. Even adults who pick up the game in their 20s or 30s need a friend or colleague who performs this function.

How do we get around this?

Golf Outreach Bingo

Let's play "Golf Outreach Bingo," where we take turns naming a worthy non-profit program that grows the game. There are tons of these; every golf organization seems to have one. But how many of them really work?

Here's mine: Links Across America is part of The Wadsworth Golf Charities Foundation, philanthropic arm of Wadsworth Golf Construction. Basically, Leon McNair is head honcho and Links Across America (LAA) works with cities and park districts to identify facilities - usually short courses or nine-holers - that are worth saving and upgrading. Leon pulls in various golf industry firms, plus grassroots organizations like the First Tee and local YMCAs, to put together a plan for 1) operating these facilities independent of the municipalities; and 2) upgrading them so they can optimally serve the young and novice golfers we're targeting.

Randall Oaks West Range Teaching Facility, shown above, was our first collaboration with LAA. It will open August 2010.

Part of what makes the LAA model work is that Leon has assembled a stable of course builders, managers and architects (including Lohmann Golf Designs) who have agreed to provide services either gratis or at cost. Once the pro formas for upgrading and managing these properties are vetted, LAA and Wadsworth Golf Charities do their part by kicking in very generous grants to get these projects redesigned, built or operating. Here's how you get in touch: leonm@wadsworthgolf.com or check out the website at http://www.wadsworthgolfcharitiesfoundation.com/.

What, you have something better?