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PGA of America faces scrutiny on growing the game

Associate editor Dave Berner has a few issues with the PGA sections. He feels they are missing an enormous opportunity to boost the association's status in the eyes of everyone who truly wants to see golf remain a healthy sport and pastime in America. Among other things, Berner says the group is currently misguided and continually misses opportunities to make strong, viable connections with the weekend hacker. Here's a sampling of the reader feedback we received.

As Past District 6 Director of the PGA of America, and 2-time President of the Illinois Section, I was interested in your perspective. Golf needs promotion and growth to stay in the forefront of recreation with its great values and traditions. There is no better atmosphere for young people or business people to share leisure time and enjoyment.

To insinuate that the PGA member is not trying to do his share is off the mark. Aloof? Arrogant? Hiding from responsibility? My 35 years as a PGA member and the hours of public service to charities, inner city development, Maryville Academy, and Pro-Am fund raisers away from my job plus the hours of free lessons, daily encouragement and interest in my players while working 60 to 80 hours per week is a drastically different picture. It is easy to take pot-shots but real reporting takes some research! If the radio show (your business) is such a great idea,why can't you get sponsorship and use the expertise of the PGA as the hook? The PGA is not in the radio production business.

Is the PGA perfect? No. Are they trying to make golf a better game? If you look deep enough you'll discover a sincere effort. Is the effort succeeding ? We'll find out, but negative writing is not the answer.

Paul A. Reinking, PGA Professional, Kankakee, Ill.

Dave, did you hit it on the nose. Look outward, what a unique concept. I think there are truly two issues, one is that the PGA should be providing an education program that truly mirrors what real life is in the business world for the young professionals who want to make golf a profession. My experience is, they really can't help a club be profitable they simply don't know how, consequently, their association it a club is short lived. Plus, how do you raise a family on 25k or 30k a year?

The problem! When nothing changes, nothing changes. Everyone in golf has the same mother, nobody is looking outward. How can you be innovative, living and operating in a vacuum. Next your point, if the PGA encouraged young professionals at the green grass level and provided education and support, these young professionals could and would create programs that could truly help and involve the 27 million of us who regardless of handicap, love the game. Golf is not growing as it was; it's become stagnant. It's really sad that because of the lack of looking outward, we will lose both players and the professionals who really are the future of golf.

Marty Friedman, Sunset Beach, N.C.

Excellent points, although your relationship with the Illinois Section may suffer. For an article on a true rebel "recovering golf professional" Tom Shea, see edgehillgolfadvisors.com. You should be commended for your courage.

Stuart Lindsay, Mequon, WI

You are right on. It is up to the individual sections to make this happen and they focus too much attention away from promoting the game of golf.

Danny Dolan, Morristown, NJ

I was a 20 year member of the PGA, past section president, and national rules committee member. No longer in the golf business. You are right on the money. I could tell you some things to back up your claims!

Tom VanHaaren, Harbor Springs, MI

Your remarks were right on the money. I call on golf pros and superintendents and find the super's much easier to deal with. Even when they don't buy, they listen. Most pros say NO before you open your mouth. They seem to play with a select group of friends at their club. I give my retail business to the outgoing pros.

J. Brian McGuigan, Laguna Niguel, Calif.

A 25-year PGA member and past participant in the PGA governance process, I also object to the statements that are negative to the PGA of America in terms of growing the game. The PGA of America is MORE than the national headquarters and the programs represented therein. It is also represented by the efforts and programs that WE, the members of the PGA conduct in our daily lives. Our challenge is quantifying and communicating those efforts which comes down to a local thing. There is NO organization represented by more efforts towards promoting the game of golf than the PGA of America. PERIOD.

Kim J. Brown, Pause Golf, Inc.

Very good article. I have been a FULL TIME golf teacher for 20 years. I have ALWAYS wanted to be the very best. I became a PGA Member in 1989, but I learned to teach on my own and with the help of The Golfing Machine organization and my teacher, Ben Doyle. I am as knowledgeable as anyone you will ever talk to about the golf swing, equipment and why players improve or don't and sometimes quit. I won PGA Section Teacher of The Year in Kentucky in 2003.

Here is my point: I have figured out a LOT of answers. I can FIX ANY slicer and I can get a group of beginners to make a better swing, as a group, in about 6 hours, then anyone that ever lived. Oh yeah, I gave three days of lessons to a guy that won a MILLION dollar tournament THE NEXT WEEK last year, so I am NOT a "hacker only" teacher by any stretch. Even with THESE ANSWERS, answers that I am willing to SHARE with other pros, or give away to average players if the PGA would throw a few hundred my way, the PGA would rather not.

There are no "Star Search"es for teachers, no AMERICAN IDOL for instructors. For ALL of my work, I still haven't come CLOSE to speaking a PGA Teaching Summit. Can't audition either (or for the Golf Channel, for that matter). They would rather not FIND OUT that one of their 24,000 is BETTER at growing the game and teaching players to improve. If they identified such a person (might be me, might be some lady in Kansas) they would GIVE AWAY far too much power to that person.

Now, they will let me do what ever I want on a small scale, but they will NOT try to find the answers and the people with the answers to this 'problem' of a shrinking game. Teachers are second class citizens in an organization that is primarily a CLUB PRO association. The answer to fixing the game is simple...find the BEST people at teaching NEW golfers and FIXING hackers and give him or her the ball.

Brian Manzella, PGA, G.S.E.M., Louisville, Ky.

If your objective was to have the PGA stop reading your travel golf stuff, and forwarding it to our members, than your writer succeeded. Who needs the PGA anyway, just let everyone run their shops like American Golf. I am VERY disappointed with this; I am board member of a PGA Chapter, a First Tee Board member, and play in tons of charity events with poor golfers everyday. I can tell you I have just spent another 5 hour round helping golfers feel better about their game; your assessment of our importance is wrong. To write what was written, was done to sell papers. Just like any other bad tabloid. I think you owe the PGA, and golf an apology. You should be ashamed to have let this go out.

Cass Colbourne, PGA

The PGA of America should be more interested in making golf affordable to the over 1 million people who have played and put their clubs in the closet because they no longer can afford the game. The PGA is only interested in themselves, as is obvious with the amount of PGA Class A's they pump out each year. They have saturated the market with golf pros who no longer can find jobs, and those that do work at minimum salaries.

The profession is in the dumper, the PGA continues to get wealthier while the Golf Pro struggles to make a living. The PGA of America is not representative of the thousands of golf pros but a minority of wealthy (1%) golf pros who continue to run the organization. Check out the leadership and show me one person who has an income under $35,000 while the average salary these days of the majority is under that. The wealthy get wealthier, the average golf pro works longer and gets paid less. Greed, Greed, Greed, the Professional Greed Association.

Dana Bennett, Cary, N.C.

You and most golfers obviously do not know that the "Organization" that runs the PGA is the same one that runs the "Teamsters." This racketeer operation took control over golf by using "Teamster" Funds and 'milked' golfers to satisfy its mercenary ends. IMG is another one of its 'Operations' as are most golf publications. It has well hidden controls in Advertising, Real Estate, Equipment Manufacturers (Wilson)? The PGA was offered a positive way to improve the overall Standard of Golf (after they had fully tested it publicly and clearly proved that it provided far better Golf Swing Instruction than any PGA Teacher), yet regardless of its proven superior teaching ability that definitely guarantees vast improvement, they decided not to use it! With the lame excuse, "The PGA could not insist their Members use it". When the truth is; the PGA 'dictates' exactly what its Members MUST DO to remain a PGA Member.

Not only have they prevented this Teaching Method being demonstrated at Golf Courses, they refused to allow the publication of its Bio-mechanically proven superiority over 17 Years of Testing Tour Pro's Swings! If the IRS could unravel the true financial income of all the PGA "Organizations Dealings" Golf would soon be cleansed of a huge Parasite that has cleverly pretended to be providers of; Integrity, Service, Progress. A Logo it once used, which it changed to "These guys are Good"! The Tour Players do not need the PGA they could and should run their own Tournaments. And the rest of the world's golfers would be a lot better off without the added Costly Burden that PGA Club Pro's Salaries and Shops have inflated costs to Members of all Golf Clubs, just as their 'cut' has increased the Cost of all Golf Equipment (Manufacturers have to pay a tidy sum to these Club Pro's to get any Sales support), if they don't 'sweeten the pot' they get no Sales. PGA's corruption has made the USGA a mere 'yes sir' puppet and now virtually holds the 'strings' over almost all USGA Decisions.

Ironically, the USGA provides Millions to the PGA for Golf Instruction in a supposed hope to further Golf ignoring the fact that there has been no noticeable improvement in the overall Standard of Golf Handicaps from before the advent of the PGA until the present, 65 years later. Whereas Equipment Manufacturers and Golf Courses have made huge advances to help Golfers improve, but the self assumed 'Authority of Golf Instruction' has made no improvement yet has grown extremely wealthy at the expense of Golf and its enthusiasts!

There are many nice Club Pro's who enjoy their assumed (Directors of Golf?), special positions and who wouldn't, when you spend most of your time at a Golf Course? Making money out of Golfers who have to pay to play. The "PGA Organization" is a disgrace to the game of Golf and its true Integrity. We golfers don't need the PGA!

Mike Humphrey, Florida

PGA Members are a vital element of the game's future. if it were not for the PGA Professional, the game would not exist today, the problem is commercialization of the sport that is detracting what the PGA Professional means to the game. I bet you take a poll, and 90% of the people you talk to have no idea what it takes to become a Master Professional, they are just worried about bringing a cooler full of beer, talking on their cell phone, and bitching about slow play, when they are the root of the problem in the first place. But heaven forbid, I, as a PGA Professional, say anything to a customer, who, "I paid my money, I will do whatever I want". The perception of the game has become too commercial, and in my humble opinion, is going down the tubes. People don't know the passion for the game, and nor could they care, it is just an excuse for them to get out of mowing the lawn, they have no more business being on the golf course than I do running for senate, but it comes down to money, and how can you turn that down?, It just pains me that it has gotten to a point that a Golf Professional has to see some slob with a couple of bucks and a cooler full of beer, ride down the first fairway, only worried about where his 50 cent golfball went, not worried about the $1000 worth of damage he just did to the golf course, and then bitch about how much it costs next time he plays, because it took so much time, effort, and money, to fix the donut he did on the 3rd fairway because he was "having fun".

David Campbell, via email

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