Thursday, February 20, 2014

Golfing in the USA

They are 26 million golf players in the US which is approximately 8% of the population!
Despite the recent slight decrease in the number of golf players, this ratio is still much higher than the average percentage of golf players in Europe. 

A clear distinction exists between private golf courses where you need to be invited to play, and public golf courses open to anybody. Yep, anybody who has a golf set! Public golf courses are indeed open to any players, advanced or beginner and you don't even need a golf handicap/index to play. This is very different from Europe as the requested average golf index is +36 over par. 
Some private golf couses membership fees are really crazy expensive...I was really curious to know what was the approximate price to join Plainfield, the Barclay's venue (see previous posts of the blog) so I asked...$100,000 entry fee plus the annual playing fee...and on top of that a fix amount of $25,000 to be spent at the restaurant of the club-house... so you arrive at the restaurant, order, spend a great time with your family and say good bye to the waiter, "you'll deduct this from my account, Sir, thank you..."

Golf is sometimes a bit funky on public courses as it is not rare to see golfers driving golf carts while drinking is for everyone here, it's a relaxing hobby which is less competitive than in Europe where you can have two competitions in the same week-end ! I have tried to find local competitions on local public courses and I can tell you it's really complicated...    
Because of this lack of competitions on public courses, every golf player has to upload his score on a system after each round played. This process is of course only for those who wants to maintain an official golf index which is not always the common practice in the US !
As the public courses are open to everyone, the pace of play is sometimes slow, very slow... long discussions and slow play brings up the time spent on a golf course to the maximum (un)acceptable level... sometimes 5 and an half hours or 6 hours spent out there... insane ! I had to leave the golf course once after three hours spent for barely 9 holes... this was nerve racking!

(Copyrights: USGA website)

Pace of play became such a big issue that the US Golf Association released a national campaign called While we are youngto speed up the pace of play including a few key recommendations to pledge:

a) "Give it forward tee a try" 
...don't consider yourself as a Superhero...that's right we see too many average players playing from the back tees...

b) "Embrace opportunities to play 9 holes".
...Yes, but where ?

c) Play "ready golf".
...honestly, I would really love to !
The day these rules will be implemented, the golf in the US will grow again !
I love the typical US lunch at the turn (between hold 9 and 10) including a juicy burger and a bottle of cool water (no beer while playing for me, thanks!) that you eat while playing. Let's push on the button and order, now !  

OK, you have to be very dedicated to play golf on pubIic courses here and find solutions to play this great game but trust me it's still possible !



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