Women's Golf Month a good time to mentor new golfers: one-shot events just don't work
June is Women’s Golf Month. Although you need no excuse, this can be a time you get serious about encouraging someone to take up the game. How many times has someone said to you, “I’d really like to get into it, but I never seem to find the time.”
Time certainly is a big factor. Once when I asked Annika Sorenstam what she thought was the biggest deterrent to women playing the game, she replied, “time constraints.”
That’s true. I keep hoping someone will design a layout in the shape of a clover with three six-hole loops and the clubhouse at the center. You could play six, twelve or 18 holes depending on the time you had. But that’s another old saw.
First, new golfers need motivation and encouragement, and I’m not convinced the one-shot clinic routine – be it a Play Golf America, LPGA-sponsored event or a local get-out-the-troops kind of day – works. In the long run, getting into golf and staying with it requires much more commitment. It requires having a cheerleader in your corner on a consistent basis.
If you believe as I do, that golf is an enriching experience, a game where you can share laughter with good friends and enjoy the rest of your life, do yourself and a friend a favor by introducing her to the game.
Golf writer Bill Giering, who has written a great piece, “Just One” about increasing the numbers of golfers, said “Somehow we all forgot how each of us was introduced to the game, and it wasn’t because of a PR campaign. It was our uncle or grandmother, maybe a friend, who took the time to share something they loved, hoping we would love it too.
“No golfer ever forgets who taught them the game, they recall everything about it; how old they were, where they were… But mostly they recall the encouragement and passion that their mentor had for the game. They are special memories that endure.
“Wouldn’t you like to be part of someone’s memory? A fond recollection of a gift you gave them, a gift they will cherish for a life-time? Have you introduced anyone to golf in the last year?”
Giering then asks, “What’s their name?” It’s the ‘Ah Ha’ moment.
What about you?
I am taking this seriously. Today I made a call to three friends who have expressed an interest. One even enrolled in the Stratton Golf Academy for a three-day session five years ago, but didn’t stay with it. Another has clubs but they are gathering a thick layer of dust and probably need to be re-qripped.
We’ve set a date for a girls’ getaway at my cottage in New York’s Finger Lakes. We plan to hit a few balls on the range, play a nearby par 3 instead of my club which is long and can be intimidating for beginners. We will shop, swim, go kayaking, hang-out, cook out, sip a few margaritas and just have three or four days of fun.
Wish I could find a pitch n’ putt in our area, but they are mostly a thing of the past. Too bad. They did a lot to introduce the game to new golfers at one time.
The “hook” is the golf. I may set up a clinic for us with our pro and we’ll have some putting and chipping contests, some goofy prizes. We won’t keep score, at least not the traditional way. I’ve made up a Par Point game with special score cards where points are given for feats like hitting the fairway on the drive, taking two putts, getting out of bunkers in one etc.
After the weekend? I plan to keep encouraging them. The follow-through is key.
I’ll let you know how it goes. If any of you have any ideas, let me know.
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What I struggle with though is that I don't want to force golf on her, I want it to be fun. She seems to like being outside but it's a frustrating game for beginners. I just hope she leaves each session with a few encouraging shots, might take her to a group clinic once a week for "Women's Golf Month" - had no idea there was such a thing!
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