Golf Monthly Editor's Letter November 2013 Issue

Editor’s Letter November 2013 Issue

Two discussion threads on the ever-lively Golf Monthly website forum caught my eye recently. One focused on ‘car park’ golfers and the other on whether or not members should be expected to support the bar as a matter of course.

Both debates sparked some passionate and erudite views on both sides and the fact each thread had well over 100 replies, and the discussions were viewed thousands of times, underlines what hot topics anything to do with club membership are.

Opinions seemed poles apart. On one side were those who felt being a member entailed much more than playing golf, and that it was a member’s duty to support the club’s bar and catering operations, not simply turn up, play and go.

On the other were those who felt they’d paid their annual dues, so they could use the club as they pleased.

If that meant turning up, changing their shoes in the car park, going out to play, then getting back in the car to go home and get on with their lives, that was their prerogative.

As a member of three clubs who enjoys the social side of being a member and, crucially, is fortunate enough to have time to do more than just play a round of golf, my natural inkling is to be in the first camp.

But as someone involved in the wider industry, I know the number of golfers finding their leisure time and finances squeezed – and for whom it’s a struggle to make golf fit into their lives – is increasing with club membership and golf participation levels decreasing as a result.

In my view, the game in general and clubs in particular need to move away from the idea that golfers have to conform to accepted norms – whether it’s golf’s default format being 18 holes or subs being the same no matter how much you play – and offer options that better fit the needs of golfers.

There is no quick fix, but in the next issue we will be taking an in-depth look at the topic of club membership and offering ideas for how to reverse the trends.

So whether you’re a club member pondering whether or not to renew, a nomadic golfer considering whether club membership is for you, or anyone involved in running a club, this will be a must-read feature.

As I’ve said in the past, I’m not naturally drawn to the instruction section of the magazine, but as this season has progressed, and my golf has gone south, I’ve found myself looking more and more for tips and advice to help get my game back on track.

At the moment the advice is going in, but I am struggling to put it into practice in competition I’ll spare you the grim details of my latest disaster, save to say I registered my 11th consecutive 0.1 increase.

My handicap graph on the members’ section of the website looks like the FTSE stock market graph of the 1980s and ’90s with a relentless upward trend.

I’m now just two bad rounds away from a handicap of 8 – if that happens, I will be two shots higher than when I joined my new club in August 2012.

If you’re in the same boat as me, then I hope you’ll find a few tips and nuggets of advice here to help get your game back on track.

But even if you don’t, I’ll leave you with a tale of woe involving one of my golfing friends that will hopefully bring a smile to your face.

On the last hole of the September medal, his drive came to rest in a tricky spot behind a tree. Ever the optimist, he attempted, in his own words, a ‘particularly high-tariff shot’ round the tree.

It rebounded off the trunk, hit him, then hit his club before ricocheting into the ‘bund’ never to be seen again.

Dropping another ball, and now playing five, he proceeded to hit his next shot OOB. In the end he did well to make 11. Golf, don’t you just love it!

Twitter: @MikeHarrisGolf