Two heads are better than one, as the old saying goes. But how about four heads?
The CEOs of four essential industry organizations — Golf Course Superintendents Association of America (GSCAA, Rhett Evans), PGA of America (Pete Bevacqua), National Golf Course Owners Association (NGCOA, Jay Karen) and Club Managers Association of America (CMAA, Jeff Morgan) — participated in an informative, educational and interactive roundtable discussion during the Golf Industry Show in San Diego last month.
Topics of the discussion, moderated by golf writer and commentator Geoff Shackelford, included sustainability, water conservation, participation, collaboration and the future of the game. The program allowed these industry leaders to share their organizations’ specific insights on all of the challenges mentioned above, and provided them the opportunity to showcase how their organizations are working together to strengthen golf advocacy efforts and communicate with golfers of all ages.
“We’re enthusiastic about where golf is today,” Bevacqua said of the state of the game. “Golf knows it has to be proactive. We learned hard lessons from 2008 to 2010. Golf needs to change with the changing face of America, or we will be left behind.”
Part of that change involves coming up with ways to get younger people to participate in the game, a topic that came up several times during the discussion.
“We should be doing everything we can to make the game fun again,” Evans said.
Morgan, of the CMAA, said this is especially the case at private clubs, where, as he put it, “the cookie cutter model is a fading proposition.”
“We are very focused in bringing the age down at private clubs,” he said. “Also, [we are looking at] how you appeal to the family. We’re focused on membership development. We need to create an environment that’s inviting and family focused. It could be food, day care, running buses [for transportation] to teach kids golf. It’s going to be unique, not the model we think of as a private club.”
Regarding sustainability, each member of the panel preached the importance of creating and, more importantly, maintaining a sustainable culture within the game.
“Golf is going to need to be able to tell a sustainable story, in terms of the environment,” Bevacqua said in regards to projecting sustainability efforts 10 years from now.
Participation remains a constant concern within the industry, something Karen of the NGCOA spoke about. He said “a key objective is not only bringing people into the game; it’s also imperative [to] keep them involved. Another goal, he said, is to “help golfers understand that brown on a golf course isn’t necessarily bad.”
“How do we get them to understand it’s OK if [a course] is brown?” he added, specifically referring to Chambers Bay, site of last year’s U.S. Open, where brown greens took center stage.
“I actually want to see Tour players playing in tougher conditions more often,” Karen said in regards to the backlash Chambers Bay received from some players, commentators and spectators.