I’d Play more Golf If…

Doug loves golf. Used to play to a 2 handicap, looked forward each year to his annual pilgrimage with pals to Myrtle Beach and when he needed to improve his bunker shots, dug up a corner of his lawn and filled it with sand (his cat loved it.) Then Doug got married and was blessed with two children, now ages 8 and 10.

“I have no time any more,” he said. “Ally has soccer two days a week, I’m coaching Ben’s baseball team and my wife likes to see my face now and then. And by the way, starting this new business really cuts into my golf big time.”

Sound familiar? It should. Doug is totally in tune with the majority of 50 plus golfers who participated in a GolfNow survey at the recent PGA Merchandise Show in Orlando, FL, following up on the concern voiced at the show by Joe Beditz, National Golf Foundation CEO that, “We’re leaking golfers.”

Overwhelmingly time constraints were listed as the top reason why many avid golfers didn’t play much any more. Eighty percent would play more golf if there were faster rounds and it didn’t take five hours while 25% would prefer to choose the number of holes they played. Who said courses had to be nine or 18 holes. Why not 12 or three loops of six?

Jeannie Young, a 24 handicapper and jewelry designer from Syracuse, NY, said, “If they had 14- or 16-hole courses, I would be all over it. Playing 18 is too long; nine too short. About the 12th hole, I start to glaze over and think about my next project.”

Kay Fagliarone who winters in Bonita Springs, Fl, concurred. “I start to fade the last few holes. By the time I get home, I’m bushed. Twelve holes would be great.” (We suggest those looking for shorter courses check out the deals on GolfNow’s “Play Nine” program allowing golfers to play less and pay less).

Tied for second in the survey was golf interfered with family commitments and high green fees. Bob Young from Syracuse said, “I would play more if it weren’t so expensive. We just returned from Naples, Florida, where rates were typically around $100. I’m not going to play a lot of rounds at those prices.”

Although family commitments may be out of the golf industry’s control, certainly the cost of playing has a better chance of benefiting from some creative thinking.

Bill Cuebas, a retired police officer from the Bronx, now living near Tampa, FL, is known in social media circles as the “Golf Father.” A reviewer on GolfBalled.com, Cuebas is so high on how much money GolfNow saves him, he has become a self-proclaimed cheerleader for the site.

“With GolfNow’s hot deals I can sometimes save more than 80%. It’s a no brainer. The more money I save, the more I can play. One round turns into two or three rounds.” Cuebas says a friend of his came to visit from New York. “Instead of paying $37, he got his round through GolfNow for $11. I can’t see why everyone wouldn’t use them,” said Cuebas who plays to a 12-13 handicap. “I spread the love. It’s all about growing the game.”

Cuebas booked so many rounds through GolfNow in one year—600— he along with two other top bookers, earned a free round at Lake Nona Golf Club with pro Graeme McDowell.

“It was an incredible day,” said Cuebas. “After golf McDowell took us to his restaurant just around the corner (from the course) and treated us to dinner. His wife even came and joined us. We had a great time.”

But with Cuebas, it’s not just about the price. “GolfNow has always been the better deal, but their service is what sets them apart. If I book a tee time and it starts raining on the second hole, I call them up and get an instant refund. No questions asked. They have the greatest customer service.”

Some of the folks noted they would play more if they didn’t have so many aches and pains and then there was the guy who said he’d play more if he got free beer. Perhaps he should tee up at the Mystical Golf courses in Myrtle Beach where golfers can get a free lunch and beer each day. Don’t tell Claude Pardue, owner of these courses, there is no free lunch.

One of the women surveyed said she would play more, “If the golf clubs were more welcoming to ladies. “ She cited arriving at a club to play with her husband on a weekend only to be told rather curtly, “You’ll have to come back during the week. Women can’t play on weekends.” It was the way the guy handled it rather than the fact the club had rules that got her steaming. “If he had been more cordial, more courteous and friendly, I would have felt a lot better about it,” she said.

Other ideas receiving slight nods included building a roof over the course, providing daycare and being able to wear jeans. Cold and rainy weather was plugged in there too but then we can’t do much about that one except move. And some said the game was too hard and they weren’t any good. They’d play if the game were easier. We say what about lessons?

More than one said they would play more if they could bring their dogs. That would work in England. For example at the Royal West Norfolk Golf Club in Brancaster, pooches simply follow their owners at a respectful distance, don’t howl when their masters shank a ball, don’t chase golf balls or players wearing plus fours. But then they are after all, English canines: properly behaved. And although not exactly a trend here in the United States, in Marin County, California, San Geronimo Golf Course and Indian Valley Golf Club, allow players to bring their dogs along on their rounds subscribing to the belief that having their dogs along “leads to happier golfers.”

Note: In the survey group, 60 percent were married and ages were about equally divided between those up to 45 years old and golfers more than 45 years of age while women represented approximately 25% of the total mix. Only 30% belonged to a private club. All but six had heard of GolfNow.

Golfers can share their ideas on how to grow the game through Hack Golf, a new initiative sponsored by TaylorMade. Post your thoughts on HackGolf.org and Twitter, @HackGolfOrg up to April when Hack Golf will cherry-pick the very best notions.

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