The Pellucid Perspective - January 2014 - (Page 6)

PLAYER DEVELOPMENT College Golf Pass aims to close golf 's participation "doughnut hole" Organization and partner courses provide access to college students and recent grads By Jim Dunlap T he 18-40 age group has been dubbed golf 's "doughnut hole" by Edgehill Golf founder and Pellucid collaborator Stuart Lindsay and other students of golf 's participation demographics. While the Baby Boomers are doing their part to fill tee sheets, although not as robustly as their predecessors, and junior programs abound to hopefully foster rack rate customers in another decade or two, there exists a vast and basically untapped population of college students and relatively recent graduates sitting out there like wallflowers at a school dance - potentially interested in participating but unasked and apparently unwanted. While Grandad happily cashes in his senior discount at the course, and Little Brother or Sister enjoy free or cut-rate instruction and play, Joe College gets nothing but another rack rate hit on a worn-slick credit card and directions to the first tee. Enter College Golf Pass and the National Collegiate Club Golf Association (NCCGA). The brainchild of two former college golfers, Kris Hart and Michael Belkin, College Golf Pass was formed in 2011 to provide discounted access to public golf courses for currently enrolled college students and to connect college age golfers with peers through occasional CGP tournaments. In 2012, CGP merged with the NCCGA, which organizes competitive golf tournaments for collegiate non-varsity club teams and individuals, as opposed to the schools' NCAAlevel varsity golf teams. The NCCGA will run over 100 tournaments in 23 regions around the country this year. Participating courses pay no fee to either organization and set their own rates and restrictions for CGP members and NCCGA events, with discounts ranging from nominal to significant. CGP membership will cost $25 per semester in 2014, while college club teams pay $300 per semester for an 8-player team. NCCGA tournaments cost participants approximately $35 per day for the twoday events, which goes to the host course. (That does not count ancillary F&B or pro shop expenditures by the participants). Currently the CGP and NCCGA programs involve approximately 10,000 student members, according to Hart. "When we were thinking about starting this," Hart said, "we called a lot of people in the industry, and it became obvious that everyone was ignoring that college age demographic. The more we looked into it, we decided that one reason more college students weren't playing golf was about relevance, and one was that the industry was slow to use technology to help make golf accessible and relevant to college golfers. There was no real outlet for golfers in their 20's. Everybody knows about the young guys who come out on the PGA Tour after playing college golf, but as we researched it, the thing that struck us is that there are approximately 10,000 varsity golfers in college, but over 225,000 who played golf on a high school team. What happens to all those players who don't get the opportunity to play varsity golf ?" Tom Ellis, head professional at Robert T. Lynch Municipal Golf Course in Brookline, MA, for one, is happy to help. In 2012, Ellis's course hosted around 750 CGP rounds, and he said that total "pretty much doubled" in 2013. "It's been great for us, particularly where we're located with so many colleges nearby in the greater Boston area," Ellis said. His course hosted a CGP tournament in the fall of 2012 that drew around 60 players, and drew close to 100 players at the event in 2013. He offers CGP members a discount that ranges from 15 to 50 percent off rack rate, depending on the time and day of the week. Bob Beach, the PGA professional at Braintree Municipal in Braintree, MA and this year's Patriot Award recipient from the PGA of America, also welcomes CGP members. He said he charges CGP members the same rate that he charges Juniors ($18), with that rate limited only to afternoon times on weekends and holidays but good any other time. "We don't get killed with it," Beach said. "We probably do a couple of hundred rounds with it, nothing crazy, but a lot of times they bring others who aren't college age, so that helps too." Walt Lankau, the owner of Stow Acres Country Club in Stow, MA and a former president of the National Golf Course Owners Association, also welcomes CGP play, charging his junior rate of $25-$30 for the course, which is located approximately 25 miles from Boston. The brainchild of two former college golfers, Kris Hart and Michael Belkin, College Golf Pass was formed in 2011 to provide discounted access to public golf courses for currently enrolled college students and to connect college age golfers with peers through occasional CGP tournaments. 6 The Pellucid PersPecTive January 2014

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of The Pellucid Perspective - January 2014

TOC
2013: Farewell vs. good riddance – Industry bends but doesn't break
GolfNow's PMP sales pitch: Join or be stolen from
College Golf Pass aims to close golf's participation "doughnut hole"
Gender-based golf promotions carry risk
Orlando – Golf Central USA
December golf weather impact: Significant down month closes year of downs
Development restraint buoys Miami golf market
GreatLife expands business model into 3rd state
The PGA Show – just like a box of chocolates

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