- Golfer Benefits
For most of 2020, the top task for the Massachusetts golf community was to ensure the game could return safely and responsibly during the COVID-19 pandemic. Seeking a clear and unified voice in this effort, the Alliance Of Massachusetts Golf Organizations (AMGO) brought together representatives from nine golf organizations and successfully lobbied for its return.
Thanks to increased work flexibility and the inherent safety of golf as an activity played outside with plenty of social distancing, rounds played in Massachusetts in 2020 jumped 40 percent compared to 2019.
But AMGO’s efforts didn’t stop there. With golf events and gatherings fully reconvening in the past year, the alliance has met more frequently to retain the gain and share resources to solve timely issues and review important items within the industry.
“We wanted to make sure that golf didn’t go backward in any way,” said Jesse Menachem, Mass Golf’s Executive Director/CEO. “We wanted to continue the presence and interest that AMGO had by sharing the successes and bringing us together more regularly. We also started a process to identify certain topics where we could further share, review, and collaborate on best practices.”
“I’ve always taken the approach that our duty is to make people as educated as possible and knowledgeable as possible about what’s going on,” added Mike Higgins, Executive Director of the New England PGA. “Just because we don’t have those restrictions anymore, it doesn’t mean we shouldn’t get together, and I just find the calls worthwhile to connect.
This past golf season got off to a promising start with golfers flocking to courses in strong numbers come springtime, something they were unable to do for roughly the first six weeks of active golf season in 2020.
Golf Datatech recently released its “National Golf Rounds Played Report” with figures through October 2021, and the year-to-date numbers for New England showed a 2.4% increase in rounds played from the prior year. Additionally, during active score posting season in Massachusetts (April 1-November 15), there was a significant increase in 9-hole and 18-hole rounds posted at Mass Golf Member Clubs. In total, over 2.3 million scores were posted during this past active season, up from 2.09 million the year prior.
For golf operators, this has meant full tee sheets and significant increases in merchandise and equipment sales and lessons with PGA Professionals. But most importantly it demonstrates an increased commitment to golf as part of an active lifestyle.
“I think the growth has been good,” said Cyprian Keyes Golf Club General Manager Dave Frem, who serves on the board of the New England Chapter of the National Golf Course Owners Association. “We’re still seeing a lot of new golfers come out at a much quicker pace than we’ve had before. The golfers are more excited to play, so I think the mood overall is very positive.”
Added Menachem: “We have a responsibility to retain that group and keep it as strong as possible.”
Among the more persistent issues for the golf community during the active season was an abundance of rain throughout most of the state. However, Cape Cod had the opposite problem as drought conditions persisted despite a string of summer rainy days.
Don Hearn, Executive Director of the Golf Course Superintendents of New England, addressed many of these challenges of golf course superintendents and their staffs to adjust based on adverse conditions. But he has also brought forth discussions focused on employee interest and retention, both of which are paramount for every aspect of the golf industry.
“The expectations of golfers remain very high, and there’s nothing wrong with that,” Hearn said. “But we have to create an atmosphere where people really want to get into [the golf industry].”
Higgins echoed that sentiment, adding that AMGO is looking into the huge demand for golf and how to solve challenges related to workload balance for golf course staff. And while clubs may differ on how to handle it, their concerns are now being brought to the forefront through AMGO meetings.
“They’re definitely not easy conversations to have, but they are important ones,” Higgins said.
Colin McGuire, Executive Director of the Francis Ouimet Scholarship Fund, credits golfers for upping their efforts to support scholarships for the youth working at golf courses statewide.
“In 2020, a quarter of our Ouimet Scholars watched a parent lose a job,” McGuire said. “The golfers really rose to the challenge. The Bag Tag Program, our Golf Sprint, they all had record years. Members knew that the kids who are working might have families who are struggling a bit more than they are, and we were able to increase scholarships.”
With the U.S. Open coming to The Country Club in June, the 2022 golf season is already shaping into a marquee year for the Bay State. Still, Menachem said his focus in the new year is the continuation of a unified golf community that will conduct productive discussions for the betterment of the game.
“Whether it’s organizing an annual state golf day or supporting an industry-wide economic impact study, these are conversations that will happen in 2022,” Menachem said.
Added Frem: “I think it’s going to be a good year again, but we’re getting to a point now that every organization has to figure out how to leverage that. We all have to do better at making sure that our visitors are happy and that we’re able to keep growing.”
For further information, please contact Jesse Menachem, Executive Director/CEO of Mass Golf. email@example.com
The Alliance of Massachusetts Golf Organizations (AMGO) is dedicated to promoting, protecting and serving the interests of the game of golf, its facilities, administrators, employees and golfers in Massachusetts.
New England Section of the PGA of America
New England Golf Course Owners Association
Golf Course Superintendents Association of New England
Golf Course Superintendents Association of Cape Cod
New England Chapter, Club Management Association of America
New England Golf Association
Francis Ouimet Scholarship Fund