Oh, The Onion. That satirical news website. I enjoy their parodies on real news and the fake news they write as well. This Onion story caught my eye:
PALM BEACH GARDENS, FL—The huge upsurge in golfing among black youth that Tiger Woods‘ success most likely initiated in the mid-1990s probably should have inspired thousands of young African-Americans, all of whom really ought to have turned up by now, professional golf officials announced Friday.
There’s a lot of truth in this story, though. The question then becomes why aren’t more African-American kids choosing golf as their sport of choice? The same reason anyone else would choose another sport or quit playing golf: it’s expensive to play, equipment is expensive it takes a lot of spare time. Programs like The First Tee (founded in 1997) certainly can help, but how many First Tee graduates are on the PGA TOUR? Web.com Tour? Playing Division 1 College Golf? Exactly. Here are my suggestions (in case anyone in the golf higher-ups wants to know):
1) Golf courses price players out of the game. Courses need to offer early morning and late afternoon 9-hole tee times. And no, they should not be charging $40 to play if the 18 hole rate is $50. That nine hole round needs to have value. If I see that a course wants me to pay anything more than 60% of the cost of an 18 hole tee time I feel like I should just play 18. And if I don’t have the time to play 18 (Pace of play at my local course is listed at four hours, twenty-two minutes) then I’m likely to not play at all. Offering these before/after work/school times gives a window for golfers (or parents of golfers) to go to the course and play. Additionally, why should a “large” bucket of about 60 balls cost $11?
2) Equipment needs to be less expensive. Of course, there are in-house brand full sets for $149.99 at the local sporting goods store, and that’s a reasonable option for beginners. There are Nike Junior sets for $169.99 at the same store. But what about the “major” equipment manufacturers with a strong tour presence? A search of the retail stores that sell golf equipment within 50 miles of my house (sportsauthority.com, dickssportinggoods.com, golfsmith.com, edwinwattsgolf.com and golfgalaxy.com) shows NO full sets of clubs from Nike, TaylorMade, Callaway, Ping, Titleist, Cleveland or Mizuno. If those companies don’t want to be in the “full-set/beginner” market, fine. But why should it cost close to $2000 for a set of clubs? (not to mention balls, gloves, shoes, etc) If I were just getting interested in golf I would much rather purchase clubs from a “name brand” that I see Pros on TV using. I am also more likely to want to use those clubs to practice.
3) As I mentioned earlier, the pace of play posted at my local course is 4 hours and 22 minutes. Why? Who at the local course needs that much time to play 18 holes? By that calculation it should take 2 hours 11 minutes for a 9 hole round. I suppose I am a fast player, I can play 9 holes in 1 hour, if there is no one holding me up. I suppose I won’t get everyone to play as fast as I do. Then how about offering more short (9 or 12 hole) rounds. It just shouldn’t take that long.
[Steps off soapbox]
Ok, I feel better now.