Early in 2011, the PGA of America rolled out a golf industry initiative called Golf 2.0 and it was based on the findings of the Boston Consulting Group, the largest consumer data marketing firm in the United States. The idea of the process was to help the PGA of America identify ways to grow the game of golf and stimulate consumer participation in a sport, which has been flat from a growth standpoint for several years.
The PGA of America immediately received support from key allied associations such as the United States Golf Association and the PGA Tour. Soon after, groups such as the National Golf Course Owners Association and the Golf Course Superintendents Association jumped on board and what has evolved in 2012 is an industry wide effort to explore creative ways to do three things.
1. Stimulate the core golfers to play more rounds of golf.
2. Engage the lapsed golfers, who number 61 million nationwide, to return to the game.
3. Invite new players into golf.
You might have seen or heard about Get Golf Ready. If not, you will be hearing a lot about this $99 instructional program which offers the consumer five lessons, 1.5 hours each, with an on course component. It is not necessary to own golf clubs. These Get Golf Ready classes are taught by PGA or LPGA professionals and they can be ideally suited for all of the abovementioned players. Get Golf Ready is available at most area courses including- The Legends GC, Hickory Stick and Otter Creek. For more information, go to GetGolfReady.com.
As Vice President of the PGA of America, I have been fortunate to be exposed to several innovative programs that we are incorporating into The Legends GC this year. I feel it is my responsibility to think out of the box and explore lots of different ways that we can make golf fun, affordable and attractive.
Here at The Legends we have installed a Family Tee program on all of our Championship nines. We have two sets of tees that are identifiable in our fairways with Blue and Gold markers. The Blue yardage for nine holes is approximately 1,450 yards and the Gold yardage is around 2,000 yards. This invites beginning players, kids and seniors to the championship course at a yardage that is both fun and fast.
In addition, we have special 6-hole and 12-hole rates for these tees that shorten the game. This is the same program that Jack Nicklaus has adopted at his courses. The Legends GC offers the 6-hole Family Tee fee for $15 after 6 p.m. daily, which includes the golf car. After 7 p.m. the price drops to $10 per person. Players can play 18 holes for $30 after 6 p.m. This is perfect golf for parents and kids or husbands and wives.
In addition, The Legends has installed a 6-hole SNAG course around its pool area. SNAG Golf is a concept that uses larger plastic clubs and tennis sized balls. It is perfect for families who have never played golf and are looking for a way to spend some quality time together. The cost of SNAG golf is $5 for adults and $3 for kids. We supply the equipment.
Another unique program offered at The Legends is Kwik Golf. This concept originated in England and the idea is to play a 3-hole course and golfers earn points based on how fast they play the Kwik Golf course plus how many shots it takes to play. Adults and kids alike are welcome to Kwik Golf. This is a great activity that provides a fitness component with some very basic golf skills. The Kwik Golf course will always be set up and parents can take their kids out anytime. The Legends GC provide the equipment.
The Legends will be hosting a summer camp for Girls, Inc. in Franklin. This will be based around the PGA Sports Academy, which offers golf instruction plus a fitness component. The PGA Sports Academy for Girls, Inc. will last for approximately eight weeks. PGA instructors at The Legends will supervise the girls in a variety of exercises geared to build strength and improve golf skills. The girls will also get golf lessons. For most of these girls it will be their first shot at golf- literally.
An important component to achieving involvement in some of the growth of the game objectives was for me to hire a PGA Director of Player Development. I was very lucky to get Judy Alvarez, PGA to join my staff for the summer. It was important for me to have a great female teacher, who will attract more women to our facility. Scott Downing, the 2010 Indiana PGA Teacher of the Year, and Tony Clecak, PGA will be working with Judy and me to help implement many of the programs I described at The Legends.
Judy Alvarez is one of the most decorated teaching professionals in America. She has spent the past several years as the PGA Director of Instruction at Mariner Sands CC in Palm Beach, FL. Judy also serves as an adjunct faculty member for the PGA’s Professional Golf Management Program. She has written a book entitled “Broken Tees and Mended Hearts” which details her work with disabled veterans. She has received numerous teaching awards from both the PGA and LPGA.
All of your top area facilities have some PGA or LPGA presence, which is critical when it comes to getting quality golf instruction. Local residents are fortunate that they have many great options to improve their skills and enhance their enjoyment of golf.
Lastly, The Legends is offering a Junior Golf Fun Camp in June and July on Tuesday evenings. The idea here is to provide kids with the opportunity to be exposed to golf through the PGA Sports Academy, SNAG or Kwik Golf. But, besides the golf and fitness component we will offer fishing and swimming to broaden the experience. The goal is to show kids and parents that the golf course is a fun place to hang out. Supper is provided each night.
I would encourage you to check with your favorite area golf facility and see what it has in store for making 2012 a memorable one for golf. Golf 2.0 offers every golf course many options and depending upon what each facility has to offer, the programs will differ. At The Legends, we have many unique opportunities since we have 27 championship holes, an 18-hole par three course plus a very large practice facility.
The best part about the PGA’s involvement in Golf 2.0 has been the acceptance by our PGA members. Many have embraced these concepts that I have described. We are sharing ideas from facility to facility. Those of us in golf have come to realize that we need to do more than we ever have in order to get people to play more golf and have fun doing it!