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Culture on the Course—the evolution of change

In the 1940s many courses were closed to women on Wednesdays for “Men’s Day.” Some still are, but most have figured out they need to change with the times and allow anyone to play whenever they can. But that 1940s culture still remains at some clubs…even if it’s changed a little along the way.

Golf rounds are declining; that’s no secret, but what can courses do to earn your business?

Larry Hirsh from golfprop.com asks “Is Golf’s ‘Culture’ the game’s worst enemy?”  Hirsh feels golf’s popularity is declining for three reasons: takes too long, costs too much, and is too difficult.

Here are 5 things you might not know about golf culture and how it’s changed.

  1. Golf does take awhile to play if you play 18 but you don’t have to. An 18-hole round of golf should take roughly 4 to 4.5 hours. But you can play 9 holes easily in 2-2.5. In fact, many golf fundraisers are switching to a 9-hole format so more people will participate. Take your short game out for a couple hours, then go home and do your chores. You can do both!
  2. Golf courses have to cover their costs and some courses have more costs than others. A high-end exlusive course or Michigan resort could run you $80-$120 for 18 holes with a cart. But how many times are you playing at resorts or country clubs? Small, locally owned courses have daily specials including men’s day, women’s day, twilight, early morning, fall season and other discounted rounds at non-peak times. Also check out couponing or discount golf sites for less expensive greens fees.
  3. The rules are complicated, true, but you don’t have to play for score! Take a lesson from your area PGA Golf Professional or join a group lesson to learn the basics, but most foursomes aren’t going to know exactly where/how to drop a ball after it lands in a hazard, so agree on what to do amongst yourselves and keep playing. No one else is keeping track; you can do whatever you want within reason.

Here are a couple more things that might be important when choosing where to spend your time on the links:

  1. Dress codes. Yes, it’s still considered good form to wear nice pants/shorts and a collared shirt at country clubs or private resorts, but your average neighborhood golf course may have relaxed those old standards significantly. Courses are within their rights to limit footwear to “no heavy work boots” but otherwise, there may not be as much of a dress code as they once were. Call or check the website for appropriate dress.
  2. Phone bans. Yes, most courses don’t care if you use your phone on the course! GPS, yardage markers and even music. Yes, it’s poor manners to blast Jay-Z from your Bluetooth speaker as you traverse the course, but a little cart music isn’t out of the question any longer at most courses. Use a little common sense and realize not everyone may like YOUR music, plus they may just want to hear their OWN music. Some carts now have usb charging ports even!

Real golf isn’t like what you see in the movies anymore. If the only golf you see is on TV and consists of the PGA Tour or Caddyshack, you may have the wrong impression of what golf is all about. Golf courses WANT you to play. They don’t care how WELL you play (well, unless you hold up the pace of play).

Check with your local course for their policies then go out and hit the ball around the course for as long as you want! No one else is watching/caring and if you’re the one always fighting with that little white ball …well, then just don’t keep score. It’s ok. It’s really ok.

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