The leaders of five major golf organizations in the United States shared a refocused, collaborative approach to grow, protect and perpetuate the health of the game during a press conference today at THE PLAYERS Championship in Ponte Vedra Beach, FL.
The LPGA, Masters Tournament, PGA of America, PGA TOUR and the United States Golf Association, as well as the World Golf Foundation and their allied golf industry leaders, are working together on a number of initiatives aimed at bringing the game to young people and new golfers, as well as to tell the story of the positive impact of the sport.
In the spirit of collaboration, these organizations are working with each other to focus on four major areas of developing the game – bringing the game to young people; improving player development on an adult level; accessibility to the game and retaining golfers; and sustainability.
To help support a healthy game, the industry has committed to supporting the following initiatives:
Sustainability is a commitment shared industry-wide to support the long-term health of the game by delivering solutions to address key barriers to participation. It is focused on four key factors; the costs associated with the game, the time it takes to play the game, the overall quality of the golfer experience, and resource management, particularly water.
Drive, Chip and Putt is a joint initiative founded in 2013 by the Masters Tournament, United States Golf Association and The PGA of America. The Drive, Chip and Putt Championship is a free nationwide junior golf development competition aimed at growing the game by focusing on the three fundamental skills employed in golf. By tapping the creative and competitive spirit of girls and boys ages 7-15, the Drive, Chip and Putt Championship provides aspiring junior golfers an opportunity to play with their peers in qualifiers around the country. Participants who advance through local, sub-regional and regional qualifying in each age/gender category earn a place in the National Finals, which is conducted at Augusta National Golf Club the Sunday before the Masters Tournament and is broadcast live by Golf Channel.
Get Golf Ready, which offers golfers five lessons for $99, had nearly 99,000 participants in 2014, a 15% increase over 2013. Over the six-year history of this program, Get Golf Ready has attracted 358,000 students through the more than 4,400 GGR certified facilities across the country. 62% of students attending the program in 2014 were female, triple golf’s overall female participation rate of 20%. In their first year following participation in GGR, students are being retained as players at a rate of 82%.
LPGA-USGA Girls Golf, which introduces the game to girls up to 14 years old, has continued to get more girls involved in the game. LPGA-USGA Girls Golf has grown from 4,500 girls per year in 2010 to an estimated 50,000 girls per year in 2015.
PGA Junior League Golf, for boys and girls ages 7-13 playing a 9-hole Scramble in three-hole segments, saw a 500% growth from 2012 (1,500 kids) to 2013 (9,000 kids). In 2014 the numbers nearly doubled (1,425 teams and 17,500 kids) compared to 2013 (740 teams and 9,000 kids). Estimates are that 100,000 girls and boys will participate by 2020.
The First Tee, which introduces young people to the game and the values inherent to it, reached more than 4.1 million young people in 2014, the most since its inception in 1997. It also has doubled its participants in the past eight years compared to its first eight years of existence. Since the program’s inception in 1997 through 2014, more than 10.5 million young people have participated in The First Tee programs. Programs are delivered at golf courses, in elementary schools and at youth centers. In 2013, Scott Langley became the first participant of The First Tee to become a PGA TOUR member.
To share this message of collaboration, the golf industry worked together to create a PSA which will begin airing in this week’s PLAYERS Championship telecast. To view the PSA, please click on the following link: www.joingolftoday.com.