If I Was… Thinking Of Quitting Golf
By Jim McNaney
Hard to believe, but there really are people that quit golf. Each year the National Golf Foundation releases its report on how many players have either started or quit golf and each year those numbers seem to be relatively even.
Recently, I’ve encountered several people that decided that golf just is not for them and while I would never come to that conclusion, I started to wonder why anyone would make that choice. While talking to the folks that quit, the reasons they gave were, for the most part, very personal.
One person quit because they just could not find the time anymore. Work, kid’s sports, family issues seemed to take up all his free time. Finding even two or three hours to play nine holes wound up being too difficult to make it worthwhile.
Another person quit because they really didn’t like the people they interacted with at the golf course. As this person put it, “More and more people are acting like jerks.” When pressed on that comment, they replied that what they witnessed was people treating the course like “the world’s biggest outdoor bar.” Respect for other people on the course was non-existent. Respect for the course conditions themselves was absent as well. Players driving carts on tee boxes, not filling or replacing divots (or worse, digging up more sod after a bad shot), treating the golf staff poorly were all examples of why this person left the game.
The final ex-player I spoke with had a much more internal issue. This player just did not play at the level that they wanted and, when presented with what it would take to get to that level, decided the investment in time and energy was simply not worth it.
While the last one is the most saddening to me, I can understand and respect that decision. Some people don’t want to invest in something if they cannot reach their highest potential. Hopefully someday, that person may realize that anyone can play golf and you don’t have to be a scratch player to enjoy the game.
The major golf organizations teamed up over the last few years touting the Play 9 campaign. Boosted by arguably the game’s greatest player, Jack Nicklaus, a PSA, as it were, hit the airwaves every week trying to convince people that 9-hole golf fits with the time-crunch society we find ourselves in.
While that campaign has had a small impression, it has not solved the problem. The real problem is that other things are higher on most people’s priority lists. Having experienced first hand the maddening pace kids sports has become, I can attest that if I had not been in the golf industry during those years, I probably would not have played either.
The player that quit because of the behavior of the other golfers is more of an issue in our society as a whole. It seems to me that too many things we do, whether it is going to a college football game, a kid’s softball tournament or even playing golf, have to become more about the “party” than the activity.
Don’t get me wrong, I like the addition of music on the course. Personally, I have a small portable speaker that I use while I play, but I don’t have one that can play my personal song list to people 5 holes over. I enjoy a beer when I play, but we should not see people on the course so drunk they fall over after they swing.
After thinking about why these people quit the game, I came to the conclusion of how I would have advised them before it was too late.
First, find a group or course that has the same values you do. If it’s a private club and you can afford it, join. If it’s a public facility, find a group or league that offers the type of environment you enjoy. Do you want a social group, a competitive group or a combination?
Second, talk to the Head Professional about what you want. Let them help you find the correct tees to play and people to socialize with. They will be able to steer you to the times and groups that best match your desires.
While we can’t always control the actions of others, we can choose to put ourselves in a healthy environment for us to have fun playing golf.
Finally, if I were thinking of quitting golf, I’d ask myself, “What else would I replace it with?” In my case, that list would be extremely short. Nothing could completely replace golf for me.
Guess I am lucky.