Magazine article Parks & Recreation

Reintroducing the Game of Golf: Is School P.E. and Little League Golf in Neighborhood Parks the Answer?

Magazine article Parks & Recreation

Reintroducing the Game of Golf: Is School P.E. and Little League Golf in Neighborhood Parks the Answer?

Article excerpt

In today's ESPN world, a child choses his or her sports by age 8, 9 or 10. If we don't introduce golf before then, we will simply lose them to other sports. We have to get into the parks where the kids and parents are.--Jack Nicklaus

How could one of the most storied and historic sports in the world suddenly be out of favor and heading toward collapse? By some accounts, the statistics show that golf participation is down 20-30 percent from the high-water mark of slightly more than 30 million players to somewhere near 20-23 million current active golfers today. This decrease in participation is across all ages, with the exception of seniors; however, it is especially evident in the 34-and-younger age groups (see chart on page 51).

The world of sports is changing. Not the sports themselves, but how we are introduced to them, fall in love with them and what dynamic allows us to participate in them. Virtually every sport in the world--except golf--follows the three steps below.

Golf skips No. 1 and No. 2 and tries to go directly to No. 3 on the golf course, and the statistics show that this method is failing. Golf great Jack Nicklaus knows a thing or two about both golf and kids. He has 22 grandkids who all play sports, but only two play golf. They were all introduced to sports in P.E. and park leagues and that is how they fell in love with other sports instead of golf.

Teach the Sport to ALL in School P.E. Classes Grades K-12

Use Parks for Age& Skill-Specific Leagues for All

Cultivate Top Players Who "Graduate" to Full-Sized Competition

Golf is an industry that MUST step into the organized sport arena. Thirty-five million kids (ages 5-18) play an organized sport--85 percent of them are coached by a dad or mom. If you look at the huge drop of "golfers under 34 years old" statistic, it means that we have currently lost a generation in the golfing population. Furthermore, those new parents who are under 34 years old and do not golf are not going to suddenly start teaching their kids to golf. Instead, they will teach and coach their children to play soccer, baseball, lacrosse, tennis or similar sports that they themselves played as youngsters in their neighborhood parks. And, the game will likely lose another generation.

So, how are we going to introduce golf to our youth? By adapting it like every other sport and putting it in school P.E. classes and moving it into neighborhood park little leagues (with the shirts, hats, snacks and the usual paraphernalia), which then matriculates young golfers and families with skills and passion onto actual golf course play. …

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