By Paul Gueorgieff
Editor, Golfer Pacific NZ
Golf clubs have been in the news over the last few months.
Some clubs have closed, some are are on the brink of closing, some are considering merger and some may need to close because local councils want their land.
New Zealand Golf says golf club membership has dropped 20,000 in 10 years. Membership numbers were 124,000 in 2007 but last year it was down to 104,000.
I heard television newsreader Peter Williams on radio last month speaking on this very subject. Peter is a long-time golfer with much knowledge about the game.
I agreed with some of what he said and disagreed with some of what he said.
But what annoyed me more than anything were the comments made by an Australian correspondent that immediately followed Peter on the radio.
The Aussie was to comment on another sport but said he found the golf discussion interesting.
He then offered the following.
“Maybe if they were to open it up, let kids wear whatever they want to wear, when they want to play and not have all these ridiculous rules that they like to keep at these fancy golf clubs and people might embrace it mate.’’
I thought what is this guy talking about?
Let’s dissect what he said. Let the kids wear whatever they want to wear.
Are they going to turn up in a singlet and jandels? I would highly doubt it. New Zealand weather rarely lends itself to wearing a singlet and kids would know that jandels are not going to assist them when it comes to swinging a golf club.
Most kids, if not all, would turn up in casual clothes and if they haven’t got a pair of golf shoes they would wear sneakers. I would suggest there would be very few golf clubs, if any, in New Zealand that would turn away children in such attire.
Next point from our Aussie mate was let them play when they want to play.
The busiest time at my golf club is a Saturday morning. If I was a kid I would certainly not want to join a Saturday morning group which would mean playing with all those old guys. I would want to play with my friends of my age.
When I was kid I hardly ever played on a Saturday. That was the day when I played rugby in the winter and tennis in the summer. Oh, and by the way, when I played rugby I had to wear a uniform and had to wear rugby boots. I didn’t need to be told that a singlet and jandels were unacceptable.
But there was still plenty of time to play golf. In summer we would be on the practice range on or the golf course until the sun went down at about 9pm. In other words we had plenty of time to play golf. If was not unusual to be at the golf course most of the day.
The final point from our Aussie mate was all these ridiculous rules they like to keep at these fancy golf clubs.
I presume he was referring to a dress code. I would suggest almost all golf clubs are fairly relaxed about dress.
Our Aussie friend could also have been referring to golf’s rules. When kids are playing amongst themselves they can play to whatever rules they want. But if they start to show some ability and wish to play in tournaments they need to learn rules, just like we all do. That’s no different to when you play rugby or tennis — there are rules.
The final point from the Australian correspondent was in reference to fancy clubs. When I was a kid I never played at a fancy club. My parents couldn’t afford it.
Today I hardly ever play a fancy club. I am more than happy playing my home course, which I consider very good and very tough. I get to other courses in the region during interclub matches and I more than happy with that.
So to summarise the comments of the Australian correspondent, I believe they were totally misguided. And that’s unfortunate.