The sport is evolving. There’s no denying it anymore. The way DeChambeau won this past weekend at the Arnold Palmer Invitational explains it all. He's showing what's possible if you train and think like an athlete. To me, this isn't just about making golf more entertaining. He's changing the game. Yes, there's a lot of debating going on about what his driving distance does to traditional course design and play. Yes, there's no way that an aspiring young professional will make it out on tour if they don't apply a holistic approach that integrates training the mind & body to perform at maximum capacity.
His generation is changing the culture of golf too. And this has its effects for country clubs and amateur golf. While social activities formed the identity of the modern country club, fitness will be the overarching characteristic of the future club. This is what I want to talk about and yes, shine a light on my professional opinion too.
A review of the relationship between golf and health published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine concluded that "practitioners and policymakers can be encouraged to support more people to play golf, due to associated improved physical health and mental well-being, and a potential contribution to increased life expectancy."
As a facility you might already be spreading the word on golf’s physical and mental health’s benefits, promote inclusivity, safety and sustainability and offer healthy drinks or food options. That’s fantastic!
If you’re an active golfer or forward thinking teaching pro reading this, you probably encourage others to play too and I hope you walk the course if you are able.
But we need to look further. There exists an opportunity for a new direction.
Now, associating fitness and health activities with golf is one of the strategies successful golf clubs will be doing more of over the next decade. Actually, it’s more then just associating activities that will propel clubs forward. It requires actively promoting and providing those activities.
The latter, something which I have been actively involved in over the past decade, almost shames me to say but it’s currently not happening professionally enough from within the federation or policy makers. Yes, there’s some change… but it’s not enough. Yes, I have worked along side driven professionals who believed in this approach and where we were able to deliver those activities. But things still went way to slow. Too slow for real change.
That's why I'm continuing to plead for driving the golf community forward towards a healthy resilient and strong one.
It is generally well accepted that, in order to improve golf handicap and keep golfers active for longer (and thus have more members for longer), a multimodal approach is required and both club leaders and academy professionals need to consider specific physical golf routines and/or the TPI approach in order to help optimise golf performance and increase member longevity and vitality.
Especially in times like these, many clubs can give their members the opportunity to improve their health, fitness and longevity in the game. And let’s not forget, there was already a physical inactivity pandemic going on before the C-crisis hit.
And while the golf culture for a time replaced wellness as a key element of the membership experience, we are simply returning to our roots with this renewed emphasis on health. It’s why most clubs started and it will be a strategic pillar supporting their relevance and success in the future.
Providing physical movement routines as part of the membership or lesson plan can also help break down the traditional barrier to attract more young golfers. It’s something what I for see that can be achieved in the near future. Walking a golf course at the turn of the 21th century was exercise. These days, spending an hour actively training the movements and muscles needed for the golf swing is increasingly the norm.
Chances are you are a driven innovative PGA teacher, club leader, golf academy or golf club who believes in delivering results to their golfers and who wants to create a positive change in their game and life.
I highly value your responsibility to make an impact and because the golf industry is rapidly evolving, I know that your community needs you to step up now more then ever before. It’s time for the next step.
The next step begins by talking about it and voicing where the challenges and opportunities lie. Let's take that step together. Let's have a conversation.
If this is something you resonate with, are triggered by, want to talk to me about, ask questions about, give insights or ideas, share your perspective or story, you can email me at email@example.com . I’d be happy explaining more in detail the opportunities I see for your situation and how I might be able to support or help. But taking the time to listen is my main focus here.
PS. I might be on slippery slope here with this article.
So here’s a small explanation:
I didn't write this for those who are happy with the number of active members in their club.
By all means, way to go!
I wrote this for the club and community leaders who feel that their club can be more then only providing a fun golfing experience. Maybe for those who are constantly tempted by the term “golf fitness”. And for those who believe that an integral approach for the future generation of golf is crucial for sustainability and growth of the game.
Of course I also wrote this for those who are just curious about my unvarnished vision.
And that's what I give. Because I also think someone should do it and I don't hear anyone else say it. So there you go ...
Let me know what resonates? I'm curious!