The Pellucid Perspective - February 2014 - (Page 19)

THE LAST WORD USGA responsibility not to grow the game. Really? A review of "highlights" from the recent USGA Executive Committee meetings caught my eye, raised my already perilously high blood pressure, and caused me to wonder yet again, what in the blue-blazered hell do these people really do for golf in this country? Here's a gem from incoming USGA President Tom O'Toole's remarks to the USGA Executive Committee meeting: "So while certainly our primary responsibility is not to grow the game. It is to be concerned with the game's health." While it may be true, as their leadership has insisted for years, that their mission is not to grow the game in this country, my question is, why not? Well, we exist to protect the game, its traditions and its competitive standards, they respond. And now, according to reports from some of Mr. O'Toole's remarks, their mission includes spreading the USGA "brand" to other parts of the golfing globe. Why? You're the UNITED STATES Golf Association, and in case you haven't noticed, golf in these colonies is not doing so well lately, and further enriching your coffers and clout on other continents isn't going to help that one iota. Don't mean to break this to you, but when the ratio of U.S. golf course closures to openings is approximately 20-1 each year, and U.S. golf participation is declining like Miley Cyrus's parental approval ratings, maybe it might be a good idea to devote some of that $300 million "contingency" war chest to preserving the industry that created it in the first place. The "While We're Young" campaign was loudly trumpeted as a (long-delayed and essentially unprecedented) attempt by the USGA to make the game more enjoyable to those who currently play it, or might be considering taking it up. Unfortunately it came on the heels of the infamous "anchoring" ban, which USGA potentates continue to insist was a positive step. Positive for whom? Those who might need a little help in either getting that little white ball in the hole, or getting it out? Those who might enjoy the game more, or play it more often, or at all, if their pulse rate didn't spike every time they miraculously found themselves looking at a 3-foot putt for birdie, par, or even an acceptable bogey? No, the rule was enacted as of Jan. 1 2016 to protect "the integrity of the game." While Mr. O'Toole stated that the USGA is "supportive" of strategies to increase participation and enjoyment of golf, such as larger holes, non-conforming clubs or other radical concepts, it will not address such things in any of their It's becoming ever more obvious that waiting for golf's "ruling bodies" to supply a magic bullet [to grow the game] is a fool's errand. ever-vigilant stewardship of the "Rules of Golf " and their imposition on those elements of the game theoretically governed by the USGA. Oh, and by the way, while speeding up the average pace of play by 15 minutes or so may be an easily enough obtainable and moderately valuable goal, it doesn't come close to addressing the real problem with "Time," which is that most Gen-X, Gen-Y and Millennial customers don't feel that they have the 4 hours, 4:15 or whatever to dedicate to frequent 18-hole rounds in the first place. It may be precedentsetting in this publication to do so, but I have to give GolfNow a shout-out for their promotion of 9-hole round opportunities, as well as the PGA. Some of us continue to rail about the failure of our industry's governing associations to reverse the trend of declining participation and to help make the industry a viable business environment for the owners and operators who provide the playing fields, or who make their livings thereon. The more I read, see and hear, however, it seems that the only ones actually moving the needle forward are those owners, operators or executives like TaylorMade's Mark King who take the initiative to intuit what their current or potential customers might want, and take steps on their own to provide it. It's becoming ever more obvious that waiting for golf 's "ruling bodies" to supply a magic bullet is a fool's errand. Ask those 160 or so owners who bid farewell to their golf dreams last year how much support they got from the PGA, or the USGA, and likewise ask those who inherited their customers how much of their continued survival they owe to those same organizations? I'm guessing they're going to say they attribute their survival, if not enrichment, to their ability to market better, operate more efficiently and find a way to both generate new customers and retain their current ones. None of those accomplishments, by the way, probably originated in Far Hills, N.J. or Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., although that may be unfair to the PGA which, after all, does seem to recognize that it has a vested interest in growing the game and providing employment opportunities for its members. More people playing the game = good for golf; more tradition = Einstein's definition of insanity, i.e. doing the same thing over and over again and each time expecting a different result. Golf 's traditions haven't changed over time; golf 's customers have. Perhaps, if they truly want to be part of the solution instead of being part of the problem, the USGA in particular might want to focus less on their "brand" and more on the health of the home-grown version of the game that enables them to keep marketing that brand. -Jim Dunlap The Pellucid PersPecTive 19 http://WWW.PELLUCIDCORP.COM

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

The 2014 solution to Barter is… NGCOANow?
PGA Merchandise Show from 35,000 feet
Philosophy, sociology and epistemology lessons for Hackgolf
The way Keiser rolls
Scottsdale National owner to low-spending members: 'Go, Daddy!'
January golf weather impact: Downward trajectory from '13 continues
Developers' past excess plague DC area courses
ClubLink adds TPC course to Florida portfolio
USGA responsibility not to grow the game. Really?

The Pellucid Perspective - February 2014