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Opinion

It’s time to sink or swim

Looking over some of the stories in this month’s issue, one thing has become painfully obvious: the tide has changed in golf. And the big wave is upon us.

The USGA and the R&A have announced their new “modernised rules” (to help the game appeal to a larger fan/participant base), while also releasing their findings about a sharp increase in driving distance (due in large part to technology advancements). Australia’s One Golf (a consolidation of state and territory governing bodies under a Golf Australia umbrella) has begun taking form, with Tasmania the first state to tee-off with the model.  Meanwhile, The Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission has announced the release of Equal Opportunity in Golf, a guide to preventing unlawful discrimination and harassment in Australia’s golf clubs. The list goes on.

Indeed, the golf industry as a whole is undergoing a quantum shift in order to stay relevant with the times. Cutting-edge Technology, administrative efficiency, gender discrimination, youth appeal and a host of other matters are all front and centre, generating major discussion.

And for those proactive and forward-thinking clubs (and members) who have had the foresight to plan ahead and make the difficult decisions to find a solution (and thus change with the times), give yourselves a pat on the back; any short-term pain you have endured (or are currently enduring) will surely pay dividends in the near future. Equal-opportunity memberships, embracing technology and new ideas, a welcoming attitude to juniors, women and social golfers, and a general open-minded attitude will serve you (and your club) very well in these turbulent times.  

For other clubs, however, who have buried their heads in the sand…well, I’ll be frank: you are the problem.

Clubs who are vehemently clinging to the relics of past—outdated membership models, treating women and juniors as unwanted inconveniences, letting inflated egos reign when it comes to merger/amalgamation proposals, etc—are destined to go the way of the many courses or clubs that have been forced to shut their doors in recent times.

It’s time to face reality. The tidal wave of change is here. You can either try to paddle against it (and potentially wipe out), or simply ride the wave safely to shore (and have some fun along the way).

The choice is yours.

See you on the shore,

Richard

By Richard Fellner

Winner of multiple Australian Golf Media Awards – including "Best Column" for his monthly Starters Box column as Editor for Inside Golf Magazine – Richard Fellner is the quintessential Golf Tragic—having played the game for over 40 years (but has never gotten any better.) He has played and reviewed courses all over the world, and has interviewed many of the great players of the game (including Jack Nicklaus, Tom Watson and Greg Norman). Richard is a member of both the Australian Golf Writers Association and the Golf Society of Australia, and he is a regular guest on many Australian "sports talk" radio shows and networks, including ABC Grandstand, SEN 1116, Melbourne Talk Radio 1377, 2GB and others.

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