Three Resolutions for 2012 to Help Keep the Game Great

By Ron Parish

You enjoy the game. Whether the economy is good or bad you golf. You play. You practice. You watch it on TV. Most likely you watch the golf channel late at night and sometimes at the start of the day. Don’t forget the perusal of the top industry magazines that are kept by your bedside.

Beside those are a few dozen instructional books that you’ve collected over the years. Five fundamentals. Golf My Way. Little Red Book. Pelz putting, and more. When the British Open is on TV in the summer you will get up at 6AM to watch it live right? Yes. You know who you are. The game is part of who you are and whether you shoot good or bad you are a part of it.

You are what we call a CORE golfer. The courses count on you. The casual golfer isn’t teeing it up right now. Things are too tight. So that makes you important to the game and to the industry. So I ask a question with an obvious answer, “Do you want to help keep the game great?” Of course you do.

So the following are three simple “Resolutions” for 2012 from your Pro here at Lone Tree. These will help keep the game great and help others enjoy the game we love:

#1: Give an invite and bring someone new to the game. Be honest,when was the last time you did this? This year? Five years ago? The courses need ambassadors to grow the game and you are a perfect fit for the job. You’ve got someone at work, next door, a family member, or friend from church, that you can easily help get into the game. It means a lot to them. They may want to already be playing but they don’t know where to start and most likely are intimidated about finding out (no one wants to look foolish). Chances are they already know you are a golfer and you can help them get going. They would love to get an invite. It can be simple:

• Ask them to come out to the range and hit a bucket of balls with you. They can find out what it is like to hit a golf ball, (often getting an “Oooo” or “Awww” experience for them which is memorable for you to be a part of). You can also give them a few pointers while you are out and pick up information about instructional programs. Lone Tree’s range has just added lights so the evening hours are an option now for area golfers to give this invite.

• Ask them to join you in a league of some kind. Couples golf, Ladies league, Wednesday games, Men’s club, Senior’s day, Junior programs (“The First Tee” at Lone Tree), or recently formed our Tuesday Night Range league. Leagues are simple and great vehicles to give an invite and get someone new into the game and meeting others who golf.

• Ask them to play in a scramble with you. What better way to bring someone in the game. Scrambles (select the best shot of all shots hit from the tee, pick up the others and play in the same manner for the next shot and until the ball is holed). This takes the pressure off of a new golfer but gets them exposed to the excitement of being a part of a team and posting a score. Usually scrambles are the format of play for many fundraising tournaments, so you can support a cause while introducing them to the game. Take a look around your golf shop or ask the Guys at the counter. They’ll know about events you can sign up for.

• Ask them to come out late in the afternoon to play a round. The course isn’t crowded at this time, and it is the perfect time for a new golfer to get acquainted. Most courses offer “Super Twilight” rates that keep this as affordable as ong to see a movie.

#2: Keep a good pace of play: Nothing makes people want to go bowling more than a 5 hour+ round. We got to pick up the pace CORE golfers because for the last few years more people have been leaving the game then taking it up. From my position of managing a golf course, only a small percentage of CORE golfers really know what it is to keep a good pace, I would estimate 20%. Some tips for the pace challenged CORE golfers to help pick up the pace are as follows, but please remember this, the number of swings don’t really matter when it comes to pace it is the habits that are in between the swings that are slowing things up.

Tips are:

• Get out of the cart. Sitting in the cart and watch your buddy hit his shot. Golfers should leave their buddy at his ball and either drive over to your ball to hit your shot or grab three clubs and walk over to hit your shot.

• Quicken the pace around the green.

o When your playing partners are putting, put your ball on your mark if it is not on his line and get ready for your turn to putt. Especially take a look at your line from behind your ball while he is putting; don’t wait until it is your turn. Figure things out while playing partners are putting and be ready.

o Story time is not while everyone is putting. Save the jokes and the quips until your are leaving the green, or while riding the cart to the next tee. There will be plenty of time to get a “zinger” in, but while on the green keep things moving and take care of business.

• Hit a provisional: For Serious competitions and you think your ball might be out of bounds or lost? Hit a Provisional ball. Declare the ball provisional to your playing partners and remember you can’t hit a provisional for water hazards. But take advantage of this rule that helps with pace of play and, if you find your original ball, guess what? You got an extra practice swing in during your round allowed by the rules of golf (hmmm J).

• Skip the honors: The Guy who hit it tight and is putting for birdie is often the last one to putt and leave the green. The first Player in a foursome to putt out should head to the cart, while the others in the foursome are putting out, find his/her driver and start working their way to the next tee. As soon as the Guy putting for birdie has hit his putt, you’re the first to arrive to the next tee and you are swinging away as soon as you are there. Let’s take the “wait” out of the game.

• Don’t mark the scores on the scorecard until you are at the next tee. Drive cart to next tee first, mark scores second. If you sit and wait by the putting green, so does your partner and you are delaying both of you.

• Put your clubs in the bag at the next tee. Out of the box here. Come off the putting green, keep the clubs in hand, and drive to the next tee. When you get the driver out at the next tee put your putter and wedges away. Seem extreme? Try it and you will start to recognize how much time is lost by the greens while golfers put their clubs back in the bag.

• Learn from Senior Amateurs and get it done with your swing routine. We host 4 different NCGA Senior Amateur tournaments per year at Lone Tree and the Senior amateurs blaze the course when it comes to pace of play. They have learned that being decisive to a target is the best thing you can do to hit a good shot. These Senior Am’s take one practice swing (some just a ½ swing/waggle), walk in briskly and set up to their target and hit. They get it done.

• Let groups play through if you can’t keep up. If you are more then half a hole behind the group you teed off behind, and you can’t catch back up so you are within a half a hole, allow following faster groups to play through and then stay within half a hole of those groups.

• Change your thinking and get rid of the dilly dally. In the USA we often think of a good pace at 4 hours, or 4.5 hours; if that is where we set the bar, then no wonder we get a 5 hour plus round when a little trouble pops up. To a degree, we have lost respect for our fellow golfers by not putting enough priority on pace. In Scotland an acceptable pace is 3.25 to 3.5 hours at most; and the Scots are generally walking. What do they know that we don’t? They take pace of play more serious and they don’t dilly dally.

I often go out in the late afternoon with an assistant from the golf shop or two, and we will play nine holes in 60-70 minutes. Yes the course is wide open, but we are trying to get our holes in and we just keep moving. Nobody is running. We have conversation. We have a good time. We keep things moving. If you are the first tee time of the day, challenge your playing partners to see if you can play the round in 3 hours. I bet you can and you will enjoy yourselves. Let’s change our thinking and it starts with the first tee time.

#3: Honor the number of players on your reservation and call the golf shop as soon as you know you have fewer players. Core golfers play with other Core golfers. It’s a great thing. And standing tee times are a common practice, that’s one of the ways the golf course honors your loyalty and patronage. But if you are the Friday game at noon and you always have three tee times, but you found out at 10:00 am that one foursome isn’t going to make it. Call the course to let them know you are only two tee times as soon as you know instead of waiting to get to the course to let them know. This really makes a difference. The same goes if you are a foursome and you are only going to have two players. The tee sheet is all a golf course has to sell and it is a limited resource. If you book four and only show two, you cost the course as much money as you made it. With technology these days, golf courses can fill vacant tee times in literally minutes. And starters keep waiting lists and field phone calls all day long as to openings that pop up. Courses in this economy are having a tough time financially so just give a call and help them out. It makes a difference for them and will probably help keep affordable golf for you.

Core golfers thank you for all you do for the game. Know that the industry needs you in 2012 and be sure to extend an invite, keep things moving on the course, and give the shop a call right away to adjust that tee times when needed. Easy resolutions that can make a difference for this game we love. Let me know your thoughts or comments at

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