This was a golden opportunity to encourage young golfers and say to the older golfers, “There is a place for your game as you age.”
This is the way the world ends
Not with a bang but a whimper.
— T.S. Eliot, ”The Hollow Men”
In the August 2015 issue of C&RB, I shared what I believed to be the best idea in golf (“A Brilliant Solution”), which had been implemented at my club. The property set up tee boxes on nine of its 27 holes to create a part-time “executive course” three afternoons a week.
The idea addressed the needs of two important demographic groups: an aging population and new, young golfers that the industry has struggled to attract. It set aside a course for older golfers who didn’t want to (or couldn’t) play a full 18, and younger golfers who would need more time and not feel pressured from more experienced golfers coming up behind them.
The key to the program’s success was to make sure the membership understood that the “executive course” was to be used on specific days and in specific ways.
But alas, the concept is dying. Here are some of the reasons I think why:
1. Promotion, or lack thereof. This was a golden opportunity to announce to the membership that there was a new, exciting program that would encourage young golfers and say to the older golfers, “There is a place for your game as you age.” (Believe me, I know what that means.) Programs could have been developed and organized for both beginners as well as aging golfers. This was not done.
2. Communication to the members. Clearly communicating to members what the purpose of the program was and why it was being implemented would have prevented regular golfers from putting pressure on the pros or rangers to let them play on the course on the executive days. But this was not done either, and the presence of those golfers negated the very reason the course was designated “executive.”
3. Ennui. Because there was little or no communication to the members, the staff more or less forgot that the course was to be reserved on certain days. The special tee boxes were not regularly set up, and 18-hole players ignored the special designations. All the reasons for the program slowly dissipated. Members who were interested began to tune out, and because the tee times were not enforced, there was nothing special any more.
This was once the best idea in golf—and it is going away with a whimper.