Let's face it, golf is not an easy sport to get into. Never mind playing the game, even if you just want be a fan, there's so much to take in. The equipment, for example. The basic Wikipedia entry for golf clubs is over 3,500 words and full of long winded links. And what about the "playing field"? Well golf is the only major ball sport that doesn't use a fixed standard playing area, but widely varying, often sprawling, parcels of land. Then there are the rules. Lots and lots and lots of them.
What I'm trying to say is...getting new players and fans into the game, which is vital its future, is never going to be easy, and is going to require effort, creativity and openness. Agreed?
Well, that's what brings me to the Curmudgeon Factor. My recent forays into the comments sections on popular golf blogs, as well as the golf channel's message boards, seem to have confirmed my suspicion that a frighteningly large percentage of the current golfing population are, in fact, Curmudgeons. Webster's defines the word Curmudgeon thusly : 'a bad-tempered, difficult, cantankerous person, full of resentment and stubborn ideas. Usually applied to a man, especially an older man.' Doesn't sound too endearing, does it?
On these golf forums, the vast majority of contributors are male, and many of the comments are distinctly tinged with self righteous, exclusionary negativity. The entire subject of women's golf seems to be looked at with veiled disdain. These guys resent the pretty players for "selling out by marketing themselves as eye candy", and at the same time malign others for being too masculine, aggressive and uninteresting to watch. Of course any mention of Michelle Wei is sure to provoke a tidal wave of venomous commentary on these boards. A number of these lads seem to long for a world where private courses are the personal playground of the wealthy male who plays well and public courses, the bastion of the blue collar male who plays well...and everyone else should just forget about golf.
At a time when it's so important to attract young, exciting, diverse players and fans to the sport, the Curmudgeon Factor is something to think about...and I'll step off soap box now, I'm beginning to sound like a bit of a curmudgeon myself.