I often feel like the Blues Brothers in that I believe that we’re on a mission from God. The mission is to change the game of golf into a sport that isn’t just for the elite. Golf can be boring, snooty and exclusive to a fault. There are many contributing factors to golf lacking appeal to the masses.
Perhaps the biggest factor that keeps golf from being enjoyed by many is the cost. It takes an investment to purchase clubs and a bag, to say nothing of the golf gear required as well as the balls, tees and gloves. It is possible to purchase used equipment as well as balls but for a person who has zero family golfing history and very limited means, spending $100 for used equipment might as well be $1,000. Thankfully, there are small ranges and even school programs that allow kids to be exposed to the game without even owning their own clubs. We are constantly looking for equipment companies that understand the importance of making their products affordable and who aren’t in business just to post huge profits. Nothing wrong with selling a quality product for a fair price and there’s no sin in making a profit but the company that plans profit margin first and then backs into a product is in the words of my Grandfather…”putting the cart before the horse”. If a person is able to overcome the initial purchase of equipment phase, there are most definitely ways to practice and play on a budget. We are economical golfers. We don’t pay $10 for a mini bag of balls at the range and we don’t pay $50 to play a typical round of golf. I’d rather eat hot dogs at a $25 course with regular folks than to munch of filet mignon at a private course and feel way out of place. This brings a story to mind. Our group was gifted into a tournament by a good friend and it was held at a very exclusive course. During the round, we came to a par 3 and a very wealthy member approached our Long Driver and asked him what our golf company was about? Without even blinking, he replied that we are anti-snob golf. It seemed to take the guy back a bit and he just stood there with a blank look on his face. The act of encouraging the non traditional golfer to swing a club is enough to be accused of blasphemy in some circles but we aren’t here to encourage those who have plenty of cash therapy to ease their pains.
Another road block to some is the pressure to conform to the old standards. I once played a round with a couple of guys who believed themselves to be tour quality players. On the 9th hole, I had a hole from hell and it took me 3 attempts to even land a tee shot in bounds. The remainder of the hole didn’t go much better. When we finished the hole, one of the other players asked what my score was? I added it up to the best of my ability and said 12. He responded by saying it wasn’t a 12 but in fact a 14 and then began to replay every stroke that I had made. Now I mostly try to remain calm on the course but this was a bridge too far and I responded by saying he could give me any score he wanted because they were both beating me by 20 shots anyway and what difference did it make? It was through many similar experiences that I began to play with others who didn’t feel as though they had to have a money match in order to compete. The better a player gets, the more they will tend to keep the score correctly but until that point, does it really matter if a person takes a maximum score or writes down a 10 instead of an 11?
Peer pressure isn’t limited to the rules but can be found in the required clothing and dress codes. I’m not encouraging anyone to be disrespectful but no golfer should be ridiculed for not having a certain name brand clothing or style of golf shoe. When it comes to clothing, the motto should be “Characters Welcome”. This is one reason why I love the sport of Long Drive. Unlike traditional golf, these players are mostly real and retain the freedom to dress in their own style and their emotions and reactions are raw and unrestricted. Many players have flamboyant nicknames and their clothing is a statement of more than the brand on the tag. Tour golf seems to offer an endless parade of vanilla clone players who look, act and speak the same and it bores the non traditional golfer to death. Long Drive also features aggressive music on the tee box and encourages the crowd to make some noise. I know some folks get really excited when they watch the stadium atmosphere at the TPC Scottsdale or when a couple of tour players encouraged the crowd to be louder at the Ryder Cup but I’m here to tell you that those are rare sites in tour golf and they pale in comparison to a good Long Drive Event. I’ll never forget David Mobley saying that the noise level had gotten too low at an event last year. He then asked what happened to the music because it had gotten so quiet that one player turned and looked back at a noise in the crowd. If I ever reach a point that your talking or position that you are standing in bothers me, I’ll know I’m too pro to appreciate the game. I’ve been scolded many times for playing music during a round or for having a thumbnail painted black or for wearing a belt or shirt with a skull and bones on it but when this happens, it only makes me want to express myself more and it always makes me look at the accuser as old and outdated. If you are a traditional player and want to grind out every shot, there’s nothing wrong with that but form a group of the same and don’t dictate your convictions onto us because I can promise that you won’t be converting us anytime soon. The next time you see someone who is different or might choose to express themselves with a brand that isn’t one of the corporate ones, be careful not to automatically dismiss them because this game is big enough for us all and they very well might use that lessor known club to blow the ball by yours. Long live Characters in golf.
Shark Attack Golf