Just when it seemed the storm clouds over golf
couldn’t get much darker, Jack Nicklaus
laid a factoid on us last week that is truly alarming:
22 grandkids, only one, 9-year-old G.T.,
son of Gary Nicklaus, has more than a
passing interest in the game.
If the greatest golfer of all time, whose
grandkids presumably enjoy every advantage and opportunity to get dawn into the
game, aren’t hooked, what is the future of golf?
I heard this discouraging bit of information
from Nicklaus himself last week at
the PGA Merchandise Show in Orlando,
sitting in on a roundtable discussion on the PGA of America’s latest initiative, Golf 2.0.
PGA president Allen Wronowski
began the session with an upbeat but less than convincing opening remarks on
why Golf 2.0 will be any more
effective than earlier well-meaning but largely failed programs.
Then, Wronowski turned the microphone over to Nicklaus, who cited his own family to paint just how bleak the
picture is.Here’s a little of what
We've lost 23 percent of the women in the
game since 2006 and we have lost 36 percent of the kids in the game since
2006.That's not a good stat.
it's not something that we are proud of.When we finally kept looking at this thing and saying, we need to do
something, The PGA of America with their 2.0 program, it's the most
comprehensive and complete and well‑thought‑out program and I think
it's something to get behind. That's what I'm here to try to help do.
You know, this relates to my own
family.I had three of my kids that
became golf professionals.They
stopped playing to golf, all three of them have got their amateur status
back.Steve is not a pro but he's a
pretty good player and he doesn't play much anymore.I play about once a month.My wife doesn't really play.
The grand kids ‑‑ I've got
22 grand kids, and I've got ‑‑ they all play a little bit, but
I mean, a little bit ‑‑it's really a little bit, they play less than I do, and that's not very
Other sports are grabbing attention and time
from our kids.The parents are
being dragged to the parks and the park systems and they are playing soccer,
lacrosse, football, baseball, basketball, you name it.And they don't have the time to play
golf and the kids are not being introduced to it and that's exactly what you
were just saying.
sons don’t play much.For crying
out loud, Nicklaus himself only
plays once a month.He’d rather
fish -- or hang with his posse, I suppose.Or design golf courses that are too hard for 95 percent of today’s
If you want to read more
about Golf 2.0, click here
make too much of the Q&A video
with fans that Tiger Woods has
posted on his official website, but I don’t think it’s good news for golf or
for golf fans.
that the 15-minute, 19-question video is b-o-r-i-n-g. More concerning, it is
further evidence of a growing chill between Tiger and the media and his desire insulate to himself from nosey
scribes with pesky, embarrassing questions.
background.At most tournaments --
all majors and anywhere he is defending champion -- Tiger goes to the media center for a 30-minute pre-tournament
sit-down with the assembled media.
knows those interviews can be boring, too, often full of softball questions or
rambling non-answers from Tiger.Tiger, after all, has never been one
to spill his guts about anything.In fact, if you read Hank Haney’s
book, The Big
Miss, Haney confirms that Tiger derives much mystique and power
over other opponents by revealing nothing, letting no one inside his head.
since his personal life crack-up, Tiger’s
cordial but arm’s-length relationship with the media has deteriorated to the
point of open hostility.Monday, at
the Wells Fargo Championship in
Charlotte, Tiger declined to do the
usual press conference and instead posted a video on his website of himself
answering fan questions.
wrong with that?Nothing, per
se.I have read a few blogs by
people who think the media is getting its comeuppance and deserves the
stiff-arm from Tiger.I won’t argue that point one way or the
will argue is that if this is what we are going to get from Tiger from now on, he might as well go
into exile.Did you get a load of
the questions he hand-picked to answer on the video?
have you been working on since the Masters?
is your favorite trophy of the four majors?
line, if Tiger adopts a new
communications policy of going straight to the fans, avoiding the media
whenever possible, allowing only softball questions to penetrate his personal
space, no nobody benefits.
think he does, but he doesn’t.What’s good for golf and good for Tiger
is him being compelling.That
fan video he posted is not compelling.
I’m a little embarrassed that it took a column
by Jim Nugent at GlobalGolfPost to make me sit up and say,
"Good point:Why isn’t Jay Sigel in the World Golf Hall of Fame?
What makes it even more embarrassing is that I
vote every year on who gets picked for the Hall.
pointed it out, however, I hadn’t given much thought to the fact in my time as
a voter, no amateur’s name has ever made it onto the ballot.That is determined by strictly pro credentials:
At least 10 years on the PGA Tour, two major titles or 10 PGA Tour wins.
Of course, in this day and age, who remains an
amateur long enough to deserve consideration for the Hall?With so much
money to be made on the PGA Tour, any amateur with a fighting chance turns pro and
chases the pot of gold at the end of the golfing rainbow.
Come to think of it, the last truly good
amateur I can recall not making the leap to the pros was Texan Trip Kuehne, who lost to Tiger Woods in the finals of the U.S. Amateur in 1994.Kuehne thought he had a better chance of making it as a investment
banker, and he has.Although he is
still active and competitive, Kuehne’s
amateur career pales in comparison to Jay’s.
Kuehne and Jay were the last of a dying breed: career amateurs. As we all
know, by the time Jay turned pro at 50,
he had fashioned an amateur record that ranks him alongside Bobby Jones and Tiger Woods.Only after his amateur legacy was firmly
in place did Jay decide to measure
his game against the pros on the Champions
Tour.Eight wins and $8.6
million later, it’s starting to look like a good idea.
But make no mistake, it’s Jay’s career as an amateur for which he will be remembered and for
which he belongs in the World
Golf Hall of Fame.
For a couple of days there, I was following the
latest chapter of Steve Williams Is A
Dumbass, shaking my head over how golf had managed to embarrass itself once
again. Or how he had managed to
Then, suddenly, out of nowhere, the Penn State Scandal erupted.It makes you realize just how tame
golf’s blunders are by comparison.And
At a time when hardly a week passes that we
don’t hear rumors about buzzards circling overhead of some club or course in
the area, Trump National
– Philadelphia must be doing something right.
Since high-flying tycoon Donald Trump took over the erstwhile Pine Hill GC on Christmas Eve 2009, Trump National –
Philadelphia has added 200 members, for a total of 360 full golf
members.The goal is 380
members .To hear GM Eric Quinn tell it, business is so
good, they’re planning to add a giant pool that overlooks the Philadelphia
skyline in the distance.They also
planning to bump the non-refundable initiation fee from $15,000 to $25,000.
In the current economic climate, that’s bold.
"The key is the Trump brand," GM Quinn
told me Tuesday, after a round to show off some of the changes to the course
and the clubhouse."That and the
fact that Mr. Trump has sunk
millions into the club since he took over."
Most of the changes to the course didn’t affect
me, because they are new back tees on a half dozen holes that stretch the
course by 500 yards, to 7,409 yards.Back tees are in my rearview mirror. (Naturally, the back tees are now called
the "Trump" tees?) The one change to
the course that did affect me and all golfers is at the par 3 5th,
where a large tee-to-green waste bunker has been replaced by a lake.
Inside the 43,000-square-foot clubhouse, Trump has taken the interior from a
dark, almost casual Adirondack style to a more formal, white-linen look that Quinn describes as "a statement of elegance."The locker rooms have also been
Here is a
background story on the sale of the club.
Given the dreadful state of the economy in
general and golf in particular, the real story here is how Trump National –
Philadelphia seems to be thriving while most other private clubs and daily
fee courses are happy to be treading water.
Quinn attributes Trump National –
Philadelphia’s newfound success to a couple of things.First, he says there is no
mistaking that the Trump name is a major
drawing card.Potential members
like the swashbuckling upscale style the they believe the Trump name connotes.Quinn hears itfrom members they are luring from other
clubs around South Jersey; he also hears it from business executives who move
to the area and begin searching for a club to join.
Quinn also points to Trump’s ability to pour millions into
improving the club while so many other clubs are dealing with defections and
member revolts over costs.
believes more and more people favor the concept of the non-equity club, where
members aren’t constantly worried about being hit with assessments for course
improvements, clubhouse improvements or various shortfalls.
"In our industry, people are saying, ‘I want to
go some place that is going to be first class and at the end of the day, I know
what I pay – no bill at the end of the year,’" said Quinn.
Trump’s well-established ability to create a buzz about any project he
undertakes, it’s impossible to know what is fact and what is hyperbole.But I can tell you that the five-year
member of Trump National
– Philadelphia that we got paired with on the first tee approves of
the changes under Trump.Plus I
bumped into another guy I know who has joined since Trump took over.He
also had nothing but good things to say.
You won’t hear it from my business partner, Craig Ammerman, but he is busting with pride because his little sister, Dr. Karen Ammerman,
was nominated today to join the Executive
Committee of the U.S. Golf Association.
Craig is proud for a couple of
reasons: First, as a former member of the Executive
Committee (2002-2007) himself, he knows the kind of hard work and
accomplishment it took to receive the nomination.Second, Craig is proud because he and Karen
will become the first siblings in history to serve on the USGA’s top panel.
Here’s a short bio on Karen from the USGA
There are four newly nominated
candidates for the Executive Committee for 2012: Karen S. Ammerman,
M.D., of Webster, Mass.; William E. Fallon, of Pittsburgh, Pa.; Mark P. Reinemann, of Pewaukee, Wis.; and Gary R. Stevenson, of
Ammerman, 56, is a board-certified
staff physician at Reliant Medical Group in Worcester, Mass., where she
specializes in obstetrics and gynecology. She holds a medical degree from the
University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry, and conducted her
residency at West Virginia University Hospital. Ammerman has served on a variety
of hospital and corporate boards, including Fallon Clinic, Central
Massachusetts Insurance Company and Massachusetts Assurance Company. Since
has served on the USGA Senior Women’s
Amateur Committee. She has also been a member of the Women’s Golf
Association of Massachusetts since 1993, serving on the organization’s Rules
Committee since 2000. For the past 25 years, Ammerman has been a member at
Pleasant Valley Country Club in Sutton, Mass., where she has been women’s club
champion five times.
also announced that Dan Burton,
former president of the Golf Association
of Philadelphia, was nominated as a vice president of the Executive Committee.