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As we wrap up this most unprecedented year and reflect on the golf season, we have not lost sight of what is happening in the world around us and the difficulties we all face. But in this moment of reflection, what comes to mind is the overwhelming feeling of gratitude toward being able to play the game safely. The ability to enjoy this safe recreational activity for not only the physical health benefits but for the mental health benefits is crucial during an uncertain and stressful time.
Throughout this year, the Mass Golf Community became stronger. A culture of understanding and cooperation developed, and every effort was put forth to keep everyone safe. Golf industry leaders from the Alliance of Massachusetts Golf Organizations were persistent in their advocacy efforts to educate and guide the Governor’s Administration towards a safe return to the sport. Simply put, we were all determined to get our industry running again with a blueprint of guidelines that ensured the game was here to stay through the pandemic and beyond.
When golf did return in May, albeit with several modifications, the game wasn’t just a hobby or simple pastime. It was a welcomed escape.
While much was still closed, golf was deemed one of the healthiest outdoor activities that could take place in 2020. That in turn brought more people to the game than ever. The power of the invite is strong, and I know people who may have been reluctant to try the game started playing because there was no better time to get involved.
Operating a golf course within the safety guidelines is not easy, so a special thanks goes to our Member Club owners, managers, professionals, administrators, superintendents and all club staff at these facilities. In addition to welcoming us to their courses, they found creative ways to adopt these protocols and take the necessary measures to make it a safe and healthy environment.
I wanted to take some time to thank you all for sticking with us. Not only did we do our best to keep one another safe, but we also grew the game of golf at record levels, made some new friends, tried new courses and clubs, and ultimately acquired a newfound appreciation for the sport. Because of these efforts, golf did what it always has done, it brought us together.
Thankfully, we were able to proceed with most of our Championships, Tournaments and Member Days by mid-June. Although there were many modifications as well as date and venue changes, we were successful in being able to provide an enjoyable experience for everyone involved. A heartfelt thanks goes out to the Member Clubs that welcomed us onto their courses and embraced competition in a year when golf was in high demand. I enjoyed interacting with all competitors and club representatives during the season, and I encourage you to share your positive experiences with others in your golf network.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t thank our volunteers for showing up day-after-day when we needed them most. They kept a watchful eye on our players, greeted them with friendly smiles, and stepped in when they needed assistance. They are exemplary stewards of the game.
The future of the game is extremely bright! I’m encouraged by the surge in Youth Golf this year, which ultimately brought more young people and families into the game. Our Youth on Course (YOC) program saw 2,000 YOC members play in excess of 6,000 rounds at 21 different golf facilities in Massachusetts for the affordable rate of $5 per round.
Speaking of affordable access to golf, I took part in the first Mass Golf 100 Hole Hike where I played 100 holes of golf in one day alongside Mass Golfers Scott Baker, Sally DeGan, Patrick Fannon and Andrew Sklar. Together we have raised more than $22,000 to support Youth on Course! Those generous donations will go a long way in providing more affordable rounds at more courses across the state.
Our First Tee Massachusetts program was able to press on with its mission to introduce the game of golf and its inherent values to young people. Even with reduced capacities at program locations, thousands of kids statewide were back on the course learning the fundamentals from our coaches and getting a reprieve from indoor activities and virtual learning. I’m continuously inspired by their enthusiasm for learning the game.
We’re also excited to have announced our first-ever Ambassadors of Mass Golf: PGA Tour pro Richy Werenski and LPGA pro Megan Khang. Both individuals are extremely proud of growing up in Massachusetts and playing amateur golf in the Bay State. They will assist Mass Golf by building an engaged community around the sport and encouraging more people, especially youth, to play the game. Be sure to reach out and congratulate them on career seasons! Richy earned his first PGA Tour win, and Megan had her best finish (5th) at the U.S. Women’s Open over the weekend.
We hope you enjoyed following all the action this season through our weekly and monthly newsletters, social media posts and digital coverage. There is so much about golf in Massachusetts to get excited about and we don’t want you to miss out on any of it.
Everybody’s story on 2020 is going to differ a little bit, but the one thing the golf community shared was having the experience of playing golf and expanding its reach during an unprecedented era. Your passion for golf was unwavering, and that flame can never be relinquished even in the most challenging of times. If golf was a bright light for you during your personal reflection of 2020 then that is all we could ever ask for.
I’m confident that the growth in the game we saw this year can be maintained next year and for years to come.
Until then, on behalf of Mass Golf, we wish you and yours a very safe and happy holiday season!
Mass Golf Executive Director/CEO