Nov 18, 2013 | 10:22 AM

The Secret To Golf?

Every year, the National Golf Foundation (NGF) publishes a study on how the game is doing, both the numbers of players and the reasons for the game’s growth or decline. Right now, it’s in decline: Participation slipped just a bit from 2011 to 2012 (25.7 to 25.3 million, small enough to be a statistical error), but since 2005 the game has lost 4.7 million players, a disturbingly large number. Studying those who dropped the game, the NGF divides them into two types: “Once Committed” and “Never Committed,” with the latter—who never played more than 10 rounds in their lives—the much larger group. The “Onces,” who used to play like the rest of us, cited time and money as their principal reasons for giving it up, followed by health, lack of playing partners, and other activities. The “Nevers” primarily gave up golf for other activities that were more fun. Golf, they said, is too hard, too frustrating, and makes them too uncomfortable. Not enough fun. Interesting. Think about it.

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Nov 15, 2013 | 09:58 AM

"Hey, I've Got An Idea..."

Golf has seen more than its share of initiatives designed to grow the game and attract and retain more participants: Tee It Forward. Six-hole courses that can be played in an hour. The “While We’re Young” campaign to speed up pace of play. Among others. Now, just a few weeks after a British firm suggested that golf clubs would prosper if they allowed beginners to play for free, Tiger Woods has essentially made the same recommendation. Shortly after collecting a multimillion-dollar appearance fee for an exhibition match in China last month against Rory McIlroy, Woods—who grew up playing public courses in southern California—advised facility owners to take a cue from China’s Mission Hills Haikou and offer complimentary rounds to those under 16. “I think it should be duplicated around the world,” Woods stated. “It’s definitely a model that people should be looking at.” Youngsters who’ve come of age in an era of file-sharing and free downloads might embrace the game if the price of admission (not to mention loaner clubs and lessons) was free of charge. Now, who's going to be the first on this side of the world to give it a shot?

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Nov 14, 2013 | 06:07 AM

Golf’s American Anniversary

On November 14, 1888—125 years ago today—five golfers finished their round in Yonkers, New York, and repaired to the home of John Reid for a dinner of “particular significance.” That evening, the St. Andrew’s Golf Club was formed, its first slate of officers elected (Reid unanimously elected president), and its first members enlisted. And with that, golf formally began in America. Tonight, during a commemorative dinner at the current St. Andrew’s Golf Club (in Hastings-on-Hudson, New York, about five miles from the “original” site), that history will be retold with this very entertaining video, created by current St. Andrew's member Paul Posnick. As for the rest of us, we should take a moment today and raise our glasses to the game’s American forefathers and give a toast of thanks.

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Nov 13, 2013 | 10:42 AM

Aces Wild

One hole-in-one during a club event is cause for celebration—and free drinks!—but six holes-in-one? That's cause for a news release! During the men's fall closing tournament at the Cassique course at Kiawah Island Club in South Carolina, there were six aces recorded—five on the 118-yard 5th and one on the 148-yard 16th. The record occurred on the Tom Watson designed layout last Wednesday just hours after the passing of longtime Cassique golf shop employee Tom Churchill following a long battle with cancer. “Churchie was definitely kicking them in for the guys that day,” says Kiawah Island Club Director of Golf, Steve Kelleher. “Tom was a member of the Kiawah family for more than 20 years, beloved by our membership as well as a mentor and colleague to our younger staff. This is always a special event but having dedicated the day to Tom and then recording six holes-in-one, I’m not sure you can really explain it.” (Hole-in-one club clockwise from top left: Larry Patrick, Garrett Hill, Alan Gillespie, Dale Mercer, Ken Knecktel, and Matt Cleveland.)

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