The IX: Golf Thursday with Carly Grenfell, April 25, 2019

Obstacles in growing the game — Interview with Brooke Henderson — Must-click links in women's golf

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The Most Glaring Obstacles In Growing Golf

Hello everyone! I came across a wonderful tweet (it was so good that I used it as the Tweet of the Week down below) that I want to dive into a little more here. And by a little more, I actually mean a lot more.

Anya Alvarez tweeted out to her followers asking if anyone had any innovative ideas to help increase participation and access to golf. There were a lot of really cool responses that ranged from providing childcare at golf courses for a few hours, more forward tees for juniors and beginners, giving six, 12 and 18 hole options, shorter courses, more nine-hole venues, less “private” clubs and the list goes on. But one guy essentially responded that we don’t need to change anything.

Hold up. Change nothing about a game that struggles in a lot of ways with participation? Something doesn’t sound right there. If you think about it, every sport is eventually forced to change in some way throughout its history.

For example, they changed women’s college basketball from two halves to four quarters to speed up the game. They now allow PGA TOUR players to wear shorts when they golf. Both of these examples have evolved the game in a positive way. So this mindset of thinking nothing is wrong, to me, is what holds the game of golf back. His sentiments are really the root of the issue: simply just being stuck in our ways; stuck in the past and unwilling to change or adapt to the present.

I’ve been at a lot of golf courses and interacted with a lot of clubhouse personnel over the last year. I’ve seen signs in golf course cottages that literally say you cannot wear denim, ever, even if you are leaving the property from your stay. I’ve seen people turned away at the doors because they weren’t in a jacket. I’ve heard a lot of comments with sexist undertones. I file through a lot of pictures with no diversity and no women. So, to say the least, golf has to change. I understand that it’s a sport that prides itself on tradition, sportsmanship and a level of elegance and sophistication that make it unique. But this can only carry the sport so far.

Look at Topgolf. That model has the opposite look and feel of everything I described above. That’s why it is booming with success, because it’s a different look. You can drink beer, wear whatever you want, socialize and swing a club even when you never have before. Here’s a pretty cool story about a guy who had never played golf before, decided to try it out at Topgolf, and now takes lessons and hits the links regularly. The Topgolf model is fun and interesting enough that it makes people curious. That isn’t always the case with country clubs.

For me personally, I always found the process of actually getting on the golf course intimidating. I didn’t know before how to book a tee time, where to go when I got there, what to do with my bag and who I should be tipping. I’m sure I wasn’t alone, either. It took going with other people to get comfortable and learn these things.

With women only being allowed to play at Augusta National since 2012, it’s obvious major cultural shifts take a long time. I hope to goodness it doesn’t take another 100 years to be a little more relaxed on dress code and be, overall, less intimidating.

Tradition in golf isn’t going away. I’m not suggesting to eliminate every traditional practice in the sport to grow the game or turn it into a massive free-for-all, because I truly do feel that component is important. It’s part of the experience. But the reality is this: golf right now in its purest form is not everyone’s cup of tea. So why not start to think a little differently to get more than the average golfer or golf fan (white, middle-aged men) to play and consume the sport? We can, indeed, have both.

This Week in Women’s Golf

Reminder: First, the underlined words are the links. Second. CLICK these, even if you’ve already read them. Clicks = Attention from editors, producers and webmasters. Third, if you want to push out stuff you’ve written or read, email me!

The Hugel-Air Premia LA Open is in full swing! Check out the leaderboard so far.

After her eighth career win on the LPGA, Brooke Henderson moved up the rankings.

Great read on players using family members as their caddies.

Keep an eye out for another #DriveOn segment with the LPGA’s Lizette Salas!

Here’s another take on ANA Inspiration and ANWA being on the same weekend.

LPGA and BrandForward extend their partnership to help players build their brand.

Death, taxes and Michelle Wie is hurt again.

Curious how far professional golfers can hit it with each club? Here you go.

Will we ever get to see female professional golfers play at Augusta?

Jin Young Ko is the early front-runner for Rolex Annika Major Award.

Lexi Thompson played a round of golf with President Trump on Easter weekend.

Brooke Henderson passed Sandra Post in most-career wins by a Canadian.

Golf Channel revealed the top four seeds of the NCAA Division I Championships.

Tweet of the Week

Five at The IX: Brooke Henderson

The LPGA’s Brooke Henderson made history last week after defending her title at the LOTTE Championship in Hawaii. She became the winning-est Canadian on tour, men or women, passing Sandra Post with eight career LPGA victories. Here’s her post-round interview with Golf Channel following her impressive win where she talks about the weekend and the support from her family. And in case you didn’t know, her caddie is her sister Brittany.

Mondays: Soccer
By: Annie Peterson, @AnnieMPeterson AP Women’s Soccer
Tuesdays: Tennis
By Lindsay Gibbs, @Linzsports ThinkProgress
Wednesdays: Basketball
By: Howard Megdal, @HowardMegdal High Post Hoops
Thursdays: Golf
By Carly Grenfell, @Carlygren
Fridays: Hockey
By: Erica Ayala, @ELindsay08 NWHL Broadcaster

Written by The IX Team