How to Grow the Game

I hear so much about how we need to grow the game of golf.  All the statistics point towards less golfers, playing
fewer rounds of golf, and spending less money on golf equipment.  I say, “So what.  Who cares.”  It looks like to
me the real problem is that we have too many non-golfers playing golf.  Get rid of them and get people who really
understand the game and its values on the course and the system will right itself.

I played as a single a few weeks back and walked the course behind a foursome of golfers who were riding in
carts.  Now, when I go out as a single on busy days at my home clubs I expect to have a slow round.  So that
doesn’t bother me.  I hit my tee ball, have a stroll up the fairway, take my time reading putts, and things like that to
keep from constantly catching and pushing the groups in front of me.  I think this is a respectful way to play the
game.  Well, on this particular day, despite playing as slow as I could,  I approached the tee box on hole 11 as the
group in front of me made it to the green.  One guy was in the bunker behind the green on this par 3 (which is
pictured).  I was kind of standing off to the side of the tee box and a bit out of sight.  I saw the guy in question take
a swing out of the bunker.  No ball came out.  I saw him swing again.  I saw a ball trickle just barley over the edge
of the bunker and crawl through the rough and barely onto the green.  Then I saw him smack the sand with his
wedge.  Again, he smacked it.  And then again with more fervor.  And then again and again, and again.  Now he
was in an absolute rage.  He then turned towards his cart and threw his club out of the bunker towards his cart,
over the cart, and into the trees way off in the distance…maybe 50 yards from where he stood in the bunker.  
Then he grabbed his putter, which he had placed just outside the bunker, and screamed something that I couldn’t
quite make out and he hurled his putter in the same direction as his wedge.  What a disgrace to the game!  What
an absolute disgrace.  This is the kind of guy the game DOES NOT need.  

Then a few days after this incident, I was playing golf with some guys I was randomly paired up with and we
decided to play a match for $1 a hole.  The match was tight and it was a ton of fun.  Long putts were made, chips
were holed out for wins, it was a back and forth match and it was fun.  Then on a hole one my opponent’s balls
landed just off the green.  It was in deep rough and it took all four of us to actually find it.  But we did and my
opponent had a terrible buried lie.  Meanwhile, my ball had gone long and I had to go up and over a hill to hit my
pitch to the green.  By the time I went over the hill, hit my pitch, and came back in sight of my opponent with a
buried lie…his ball mysteriously went from being buried to sitting perfectly on top of the dormant bermuda grass.  
Holy cow!!  This guy was cheating me and my playing partner right before our eyes.  Before I could say anything,
he chipped his ball to within 2 feet.  I was stunned and speechless.  He went on to make his putt and began
bragging about how that was his second up and down in a row.  Wow…you should be so proud of yourself!  
UGH!!  This is another type of golfer who doesn’t need to be on the fairways, as he doesn’t seem to understand
the values of the game.  The game would be better off without him, no matter how much he spends on greens
fees, equipment, and fancy clothes.

Despite the golf industry’s cries to grow the game, I am of the mindset that this is not the way to go.  Don’t grow
the game for growth sake.  Grow the game with the right type of people and players.  Grow the game with people
who respect the game, the course, and their opponents.  Over the short-term maybe revenues will take a hit and
business will struggle for a little while.  But over the long-term, the game will be healthy and full of the type of
people the game desperately needs.  True Stewards of the game!