The Pellucid Perspective - May 2016 - (Page 2)

HANDICAP ADMINISTRATION USGA member engagement initiative: A golden opportunity, or will the goose get cooked? By Stuart Lindsay T here is a major overhaul in the works for how the USGA will interact with their affiliated State and Regional Golf Associations (SRGAs). Outlined in a March 22 memo forwarded by one of our industry friends, this redefinition of the relationship of the USGA and the SRGAs is comprehensive and designed to harness technology to greatly enhance the services provided by the USGA and its SRGA "partners" - particularly in the area of handicap involvement and course ratings. As most of you should know by now, I am a huge fan of the USGA handicap system and the added enjoyment it brings to the game of golf. The USGA developed its Course Rating system (later enhanced by Slope Ratings) as a necessary component of its handicap process and downplays its commercial implications, but Course Ratings have become a degree of difficulty benchmark readily understood by most golfers. In fact, I would argue that the Course Rating system is the most widely used and/or referenced USGA service, in spite of the fact that many golfers don't really understand where the Course Ratings come from or why they were developed. Most of you also know that I can be a critic of how the USGA has handled many issues - anchored putters, solitary rounds and handicap "club" procedures that keep the posting of public golfer scores cumbersome in spite of repeated attempts to make it easier. They may not admit it, but this overhaul is a reflection of the USGA's finally acknowledging that handicap participation is dropping at an alarming rate. I would argue that the Course Rating system is the most widely used and/ or referenced USGA service, in spite of the fact that many golfers don't really understand where the Course Ratings come from or why they were developed. 2 The Pellucid PersPecTive Keeping my bifurcated opinions of the USGA in mind, let's start with the positives. * Efforts to expand participation in the handicap system are long overdue and the USGA's willingness to spend time and money is welcome. * The technology to develop a better system for reporting scores by "public"golfers exists - the big question will be how well the GHIN successor World Handicap System will be designed. * The concept of "revenue sharing" between the USGA and the SRGAs is also a very good concept in theory and the USGA should be congratulated for putting the concept in play. As usual, the devil will be in the details. We have done project work for several SRGAs, have had conversations with several more and have extensive familiarity with Blue Golf, GolfNet and HandiComp. Our database guru wrote the handicap code for StarPlan, which is now part of GolfNet and still used throughout Canada. His tournament scoring package is still used by the PGA of America to score the PGA Championship more than 20 years after it was adopted by both the PGA and all 41 PGA Sections. The first issue is the significant investment the USGA will be making in technological development, providing this technology to the SRGAs and marketing plus promotion associated with the project. The cost of this for the SRGAs is not necessarily financial, but the new agreements will mean greater USGA involvement and control over the activities of the SRGAs. If we look at the Wisconsin State Golf Association (WSGA), we get a microcosm of some potential issues. The WSGA is one of a few nonGHIN handicap associations (Blue Golf replaced StarPlan several years ago). Handicap participation has fallen from a peak of about 70,000 in the 1990s to under 40,000 in 2015 (-43%). In 1995, there were an estimated 748,000 golfers in Wisconsin and they have bucked the national trends with golfer growth to an estimated 832,000 in 2015. In 1995, the WSGA was charging about $10 per golfer to their May 2016

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of The Pellucid Perspective - May 2016

TOC
USGA member engagement initiative: A golden opportunity or will the goose get cooked?
Rising tide of third party management good for the industry?
Bogeys become bison, boar and deer at former Ohio course
Path to course performance benchmarking difficult, but not impossible
April golf weather impact; Giving back some of Q1 gains
Motown operators facing uphill but possible climb
From the sublime to the ridiculous

The Pellucid Perspective - May 2016

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