One of the coolest things about golf is that anyone, of any age can play. Many years ago, when I was the Head GolfProfessional at the Winter Park Golf Course in Winter Park, FL, I saw first-hand, the vast generational landscape that golf is. The Winter Park course is a municipal 9-hole facility and very walker friendly. This makes it an oasis for golfers of all abilities and ages to play and enjoy the game together.
The average age of the "members" during my time there was around 80 and there was a strong contingent of folks 90+ years old. On the flip side, and what I can proudly say grew considerably during my time there, was the number of kids, ages 18 and under (and way, way under 18 in some cases!) that would play a loop on a regular basis. Winter Park was and continues to be a generational melting pot for golfers.
As I fondly think back on my time at Winter Park and remember what I witnessed, with golf being enjoyed across generations, I get excited about the future of the game. There is no doubting the fact that golf has had some ups and downs over the years, largely because of larger, societal and economic issues that weren’t directly tied to the game itself. During these downturns, golf has remained golf…meaning, it is still that sport I referenced above that can be enjoyed by all ages and for a lifetime. That fact will keep it relevant for a long time to come.
What has become very interesting about golf in recent years is how people “consume” their desire to play and participate. The advent of outlets such as Top Golf, Drive Shack, PopStroke, and indoor screen instruction and practice has changed the landscape of the sport. Golf in these forms has become more accessible, less intimidating, and even more of a social experience for people…and when I say people, I mean the masses.
Many folks that may had previously been more of a casual golf fan, perhaps watching major championships only, are now putting clubs in their hands. The entry points into the world of golf have become far less intimidating and much more enjoyable than in its traditional form. Don’t get me wrong, the tradition of golf is what makes it the special game that it is, and in my experience, as a PGA Coach, I am finding a very large number of kids, and quite frankly, their parents too, listing TopGolf, Miniature Golf, etc. as the reason why they are getting into programs on the golf course with me and our Little Linksters organization.
My point to all of this…between these new and exciting entry points, combined with the fact that golf is and always has been a family and multigenerational game, we find = ourselves at a point in the game’s history to potentially see a tidal wave of new players. Oddly enough, with all the heartache that we have been through as a society because of COVID-19 this past year, golf has not only been resilient but has exploded in many areas.
Many cool things are on the horizon too for golf, and especially in regard to the idea of it being a Family Sport. A spin off of the widely successful PGA Jr. League Golf, called PGA Family Cup, is being piloted among PGA Jr. League Coaches and Facilities across the country in 2021. This too will soon add to the many opportunities for golfers, of all ages and abilities, to get into the game!