However, unlike many golfer friends of mine, I'm not making a single resolution about practicing more... or lowering my handicap... or three putting less... or or curing my slice. Don't get me wrong, I fully intend to do all those things, I'm just not making resolutions about them. That's because, a while back, I resolved (yes, that was a resolution of sorts) to keep golf fun. Fun, as in pure pleasure with no pressure. And I've stuck to that, all the while slowly improving my game, without benchmarks or fixed goals or...resolutions. I realize that not everyone can enjoy the game in this loose, relaxed way, but it works for me. I'm enjoying golf thoroughly.
There is however, one golf resolution I am making for 2008; I'm resolving to be a better evangelist for our sport.
And I really wish more golfers, recreational and professional, would follow suit. It should be ultra easy, right? After all, we love this game; we play it, we watch it, we read about...some of us even write about it. We should be able to engage all kinds of new players. But the fact is, growth is flat, and given the current economic forecast, 2008 will present some new and formidable challenges.
New players are vital if we want to continue to have reasonably priced, accessible courses to play on, and innovative, exciting golf products to choose from. Right now there are affordable public courses in most areas, and there are lots of smaller manufacturers coming out with awesome products. But they can't survive without customers. And once they're gone it'll be that much harder to get new players interested. Kind of a Catch-22 in the making. We don't want that. The moment is decidedly upon us, and hence my 2008 resolution. So how am I going to implement it...and how can other passionate golfers get involved? Well, I've got listed a few initiatives we can all consider:
1. Promote golf to new audience: Join a First Tee program. They operate all across the US and internationally. Contribute, participate or partner with them to bring golf to young people of all backgrounds.
2. Get the girls involved: I've got to admit, when I play it's usually with guys. Because...they're there. Yes, it's that simple; they're there and they're ready to play at a moment's notice. Women, generally, are not. It often requires more planning to play with a woman, but I'm not going to let that stop me in 2008, because female golfers are fun to play with and the fact is, they represent the single biggest opportunity for rounds and revenue growth for the industry. We've got to get them out there. EWGA is a great organization that mentors beginning female golfers. I'm a member and encourage other Golf Girls to check it out.
3. Make the newbies feel welcome: I know this will be counter intuitive to the curmudgeons who scowl at anyone who hits less than 250 off the first tee. But that's their problem. The rest of us want the beginners to come back. Again and again and again. We want them to continue playing till they're no longer beginners. That way we're building a future crop of customers for the golf businesses we like so much. It's not that difficult to dispense words of welcome and encouragement to tentative newcomers.
Wishing you all a very Happy New Year! Thank you for reading and watching and writing and commenting. See you in 2008.