In an interview with The Guardian newspaper Steve Mona (pictured), chief executive of the World Golf Foundation (WGF), has said that golf clubs must change their stances on dress code, mobile phone use and drinking alcohol on the course.
“The headlines ‘golf in crisis’ are overblown. We have a healthy number of core golfers,” Mona said. “But we do need to attract new and younger players. Each year about 500,000 leave the game because of death or the physical inability to play, and so every year we have to replace them.”
Mona said the WGF, which partners with golf national associations across the world, has been working hard to make golf more appealing to younger people and minorities, but real change must come from the clubhouse.
He said clubs should ask themselves if their rules need to be as strict as they often are. “Can you go out on the golf course with your shirt untucked? Can you wear your cap backwards? Can you play music in your cart? Can you bring your mobile devices out there? Can you drink beer while you’re going round? Millennials are used to being able to do all those things in their recreation. We need to make it the same for golf.
“Clubs have to have something to please young people,” he said. “It’s a tricky problem. Someone like me wouldn’t think of engaging in social media on the course, I’d only be thinking of the next shot. But young people want to be on Facebook and Instagram between shots.”
He warned clubs that refuse to relax their rules and put all their chips in with baby boomers: “I’m telling you in eight to 10 years when they start ageing out, you’re going to be in trouble. What does it really matter if you’re in your regular foursome, and the group in front of you has golf boards and are playing music?”