Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Tour Notebook; Millennials Will Become Key Part of Game's Growth

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Tour Notebook; Millennials Will Become Key Part of Game's Growth

Article excerpt

Byline: Garry Smits

Steve Mona, the CEO of the St. Augustine-based World Golf Foundation, offered some optimistic news on the growth of the game this week at the United States Golf Association annual meeting in San Diego.

As it turns out, millions of millennials are playing golf and many millions more are saying they plan to take up the game in the future.

"This kind of sky-is-falling talk that millennials aren't playing the game, the facts belie that," Mona said at the meeting. "It would be disingenuous of me to say, though, that there aren't issues to address."

Mona cited figures from the National Golf Foundation that show six million people between the ages of 18 and 34 years old are playing golf and pumping around $5 billion annually into the industry. Another 12 million, according to the NGF survey, said they plan to play golf at some point in the future.

Since there are 25 million golfers in the U.S., that demographic is important.

"They're the next group coming along, and they're going to be the core," Mona said.

NICKLAUS TANGLES WITH FEDS

The Bear's Club, owned by Jack Nicklaus in northern Palm Beach County, is embroiled in legal proceedings with the federal government over filling in small amounts of wetlands on the golf course to move a tee box and widen a fairway on the 15th hole.

The club has filed a motion to dismiss a federal lawsuit filed last fall, claiming the wetlands area was protected. Eugene Sterns, the club's attorney, told the South Florida Sun-Sentinel that the area in question is under state jurisdiction, and permission was received.

The work on the wetlands was actually done in 2010. The government filed the lawsuit last October, just as the statute of limitations was set to expire.

"These are two minor alterations to the golf course," Sterns told the Sun-Sentinel. "The federal government should have better things to do than fool around with this nonsense."

ETC.

The Web.com Tour won't resume until the Chitimacha Louisiana Open on March 18-21, the first domestic event of the season. ... The LPGA also is off this week, with the Women's Australian Open beginning on Feb. …

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