Can we stop the rot?

By Anthony Barkley
NZPGA Professional

I now spend a lot of time in an office which is a bit of a change from the shop looking out over the golf course. But it has allowed me to have conversations about golf and a couple of former golfers talked about their experience..

It was interesting to hear why they gave the game away. This one person decided to get right into golf so went on the offensive. After many golf lessons and practice, she was out playing in tournaments around the province and loving it.

Golf improvements were noticeable and she did very well. Work and lifestyle changes meant golf started to suffer.

After a while enjoyment dropped and finally she gave up.

I think if we ask many who gave up golf; the frustration of not playing well decreases the overall enjoyment of the game for the individual. Certain people will stick with it and their golf will improve after a while but when you play on a casual basis its normal to fluctuate a fair bit in regards to scores. But many will just decide to move on and do something else which is concerning. With other sports such as mountain biking, bad days are not so obvious and frustrating. A fewmore injuries though.

What this shows is that golf needs a certain amount of maintenance as well as a lot of patience. You need to put time into your game to see improvement meaning a visit to your local PGA pro is likely needed to keep you in the game. Nobody ever maintains form for super long periods, even the professionals so club golfers should expect similar patterns.

The second person talked about giving up because of family which was a very common reason over the 10 or so years I was in a golf shop. Saturdays are a day that parents are so involved in sports so club days at most (not all) clubs suffer. There is kind of a cycle, people join and play. Family grows and becomes more important so less play. Then they keep the membership for a year or so but realise that value for money is questionable. Then they stop playing altogether. I have seen this many times and once a person stops its often hard to get them back.

I don’t have answers to how to stop these patterns but do like the NZGOLF She Loves Golf Promotion. I think there needs to be a similar one for men but would likely need more of a beer and bite type feel but I am sure they have one up their sleeve.

I will now outline some other reasons people have given up from experience of working around the country and maybe the clubs and members who read this need to think about these.

• People who have high positions don’t want to be nagged by as one person called it, grumpy old men or women during a round. They are there to play and get away from stress, not make more.

• Give your club managers and green keepers a break if you play with them. It’s not your opportunity to tell them your opinion of the course or club policies. Let them enjoy their game and talk with them in working hours where they can fully focus on the matter.

• Welcome new players into the club and groups. Over the years I have seen clicky groups at clubs which makes new players feel like it’s harder to fit in.

• Personality clashes is a big one and very difficult for a club captain etc to manage but often leads to players leaving clubs. 

• Obviously the costs and time are a big issue so their needs to be value for money if someone joins a club and also for the members partner and kids.

It’s my opinion that we need to take some responsibility as golfers to bring people back to the game or introduce them to our fantastic sport. It’s not just up to the national body or the local pro, but golfers as we know how good this game is. The question I ask is how many golfers have you introduced to golf in the last 5 years?