Number of rounds down

Rounds played volume in the U.S. was down 16.7 percent in April 2011 vs. April 2010, according to the National Rounds Played Report, a joint effort of Golf Datatech, the National Golf Foundation, PGA of America and NGCOA. Year-to-date rounds are down 5.9%.


In attempt to attract more golfers, the USGA and the PGA have promoted a "Tee It Forward" program.

I like to razz my older brother about playing from the pink tees. He is 75-years-old, in good shape and once played to about a 7-handicap. However, he no longer can reach the par 4s in regulation from the white tees so he did something about it.

He moved up to the next set of tees, playing from less than 6,000 yards. He and his buddies play in far less than four hours and his wife says he is in a much better mood when he returns home, especially when he breaks 80.

The fact is that his group is taking a suggestion from the USGA and PGA.  Their "Tee It Forward" program encourages every golfer to move up one tee box.   Jack Nicklaus says that if your average drive is 220 to 240 yards you should be playing somewhere around 6,500 yards.

Many times I've played behind younger golfers who insisted on playing from the tips and watched them spray it all over the course.  Plus, it took them 5-plus hours to do it.

To me, time of play is the No. 1 problem facing the golf industry.  Only retirees have time to spend 5 or 6 hours on the golf course.

But there are other solutions. Last year, when Nicklaus visited The Concession to draw plans to make the course easier to play for the members, he suggested that golf needs to cut the number of holes to 12. That is a radical change and probably will never happen.

"My grand kids are all playing soccer or lacrosse or basketball, not golf,'' he told The Concession members and guests.
 Since then, Nicklaus has talked to PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem about the problem, telling Finchem that every sport you play can be played in two, maybe three hours  --- except a round of golf.

However, I found that speed of play doesn't necessarily equate to more golfers. Last week, my group walked nine holes in the late afternoon in 1 hour and 40 minutes. There was nobody on the course. And that's a huge problem.

Area courses should promote the "Play It Forward" program.  They may just find that golfers, who "Tee It Forward," may play more often.  Birdies are more fun than double bogeys.



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