I’ve developed of a bit of a reputation for beating up on some golf courses for not recognizing their responsibility in growing the game of golf. Not all golf courses are delinquent but we still have a long way to go in North America.
One campaign which has shown promise is the National Golf Course Owners Association Canada (NGCOA) Kids Play Free program.
Every year hundreds of courses (out of a total of 2300 across the country) offer free golf to juniors under the age of 16 during the week of July 6-12th if they are accompanied by an adult. For a course to participate they need to offer a minimum of one round of complimentary golf for a child.
And although I applaud those golf courses that do support the cause, I do find it sad that less than half of our facilities care enough to join and those that do only commit to 1 week a year.
Last month I saw a media release that made me sit up and say, “That’s the way to do it! Golfing for nothing ’cause the kids play free!” Canada, it’s time to look to the southwest for some inspiration on how to do free junior golf the right way!
To encourage and engage the next generation of golfers, Ka’anapali Golf Courses on Maui and Puakea Golf Course on Kauai (both managed by Billy Casper Golf), announced the continuation of its their annual “Juniors Play Free – Bring the Ohana” programs.
Kids aged seven to 17 and accompanied by a paying adult, can play or ride for free on the Ka’anapali Kai or Puakea golf courses from July 21st until the end of August 2015. That’s 6 times the amount of FREE golf offered in Canada to it youth.
An added bonus at Puakea is the “$1 per Hole” for young players for the balance of 2015. More than 2,000 rounds are played every summer by junior golfers at Kaanapali and Puakea under this program.
Add this to all the other “grow the game” golf initiatives I’ve written about in Hawaii and you start to feel some hope for golf, at least in paradise.
BCG, you’ve created another benchmark for the rest of North America to follow. Keep up the great work!
As for the rest of golf execs in Canada and the US, I can only hope that someday soon you’ll see the light on this very critical issue (and your responsibility in fixing it) before the lights go out in your club permanently.