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Golf, alternative forms are alive and well

Golf, alternative forms are alive and well

The quotation “golf is a good walk spoiled” is often attributed to Mark Twain. Researchers are virtually certain that Twain never defamed our game with those words, but he certainly did say “it is sportsmanship not to pick up a lost golf ball while it is still rolling.” I’m awfully fond of Twain’s wit and wisdom, and one of my favorites from the great American author is “the reports of my death are greatly exaggerated.” This quotation could very well be applied to the constant reports of the death of golf.

  There is little doubt that golf has experienced ups and downs in the last few decades as clubs closed and the building of new golf clubs slowed to a crawl. There were even years when participation declined. Today, however, golf is as healthy as it has ever been. As you’ll learn in this issue, participation in golf is not only growing in traditional on-course rounds, but also in new and innovative golf experiences that are attracting people to the game who might never have considered playing golf. Entertainment venues like Topgolf and golf variations such as “FootGolf” offer a different type of golf experience that helps newcomers understand why the game is so addictive. In his “Little Red Book of Golf Course Architecture,” Tom Doak put these new golf forms in proper perspective. “… I find myself constantly disagreeing with those purists who think that golf is all about the competitive game, or at least posting your score. I feel that the purpose of golf (like the purpose of life) is happiness, and that however it makes you happy is good enough for me.”

  The GAP is at the vanguard of a new era of golf enthusiasm. Golf participation is growing and clubs are getting healthier in the GAP region. We need to continue to support the sustainable health of our Member Clubs through member services that the people at the clubs value. The GAP is intently focused on the three levers that will strengthen and grow the game: women, Juniors and public golfers. Our new Women’s Committee has already identified a series of programs to support women’s golf beginning with an exciting Celebrating Women’s Golf Tournament this May at venerable Saucon Valley Country Club. The GAP is investing heavily in two Junior programs: “Golf in Schools” to introduce young people to the game and “Youth on Course,” which provides nearly free access to a select group of golf courses for Junior players. Stay tuned in 2019 for a number of additional programs to support and encourage our public golf members.

  While reports of golf’s demise may be highly exaggerated, what is not exaggerated is the continued excellence of the GAP’s top golfers. Stories on the 2018 GAP Players of the Year and a listing of Club Champions only scratch the surface of the large collection of outstanding amateur golfers in our region. When the GAP loses a great gentleman and champion as we did this year with the passing of Ray Thompson recently, it is comforting to know his championship path is being followed by many in the next generation.

  The Association also lost a great leader in Joe Moran, a Past President from Overbrook, who died in early October. Moran served as the GAP President from 1981-83 during a period of great transition (see page 11).

  The facts are compelling. The game of golf is healthy and growing. Its death is, indeed, greatly exaggerated. That said, please bear in mind as you read this letter advice to writers “get the facts first. Then you can distort them as you please.”