AS struggling golf clubs and the game’s administrators scramble to come up with new ways to get more people interested in playing the game, Ireland’s Shane Lowry has suggested a simple idea that got everyone talking.
Lowry, in Melbourne with playing partner Graeme McDowell for last week’s World Cup of Golf, offered an interesting take on the game that clearly hit a nerve with the international golfing public.
Asked what role he thought golf courses played in growing the game, Lowry delivered a minute long soliloquoy on the ills of modern golf.
Describing Kingston Heath as ‘one of the best courses I have ever played’, Lowry then offered his thoughts on getting, and keeping, people playing golf.
“I can only imagine how good it is to grow up playing on a golf course like this,” Lowry said.
“And you definitely produce more good golfers playing on a course like this than you would on your straight-forward parkland course. I fully believe that in this wind.”
But it was Lowry’s thoughts on how best to grow the game that struck a chord with many golfers that recalled the old adage - ‘it’s not how you get it in the hole, it’s how many’.
Lamenting the seeming obsession of many golfers in developing the perfect swing, Lowry had some old school advice for players of all levels.
“You've got guys like Adam Scott and Louis Oosthuizen and Rory McIlroy who swing the club absolutely perfectly,” he said.
“But we're all out here and we all can beat each other and we can get around in a lower score than them even though we don't swing it as good as them, and that's what the game of golf is about.
“We didn't learn how to swing the club, we learned how to play golf. I think that's what golf's all about, it's playing the game and not swinging the club.
“I think we need to teach that to kids, to let them out on the golf course rather than out on the driving range.
“That's the way of getting, growing the game of golf, I think, is just about playing golf more so than hitting balls.”
When Lowry’s one minute video clip was posted to the Golf Link Twitter account it immediately began to draw attention.
By the end of World Cup week, it had been retweeted more than 350 times and had more than 550 likes from all corners of the globe.
The same sort of enthusiasm was shared through Facebook with many agreeing golfers spend too much time on the range rather than honing their game on the golf course.
Lowry’s comments also call into question the most common golf teaching technique - getting a lesson on the driving range.
And while some professional golfers do offer on-course golf lessons, very few golfers have ever done so.
It’s hard to disagree that the best way to get new golfers into the game is to get them out playing, ideally on fun, interesting golf courses - the ones that leave you wanting to play again and again, as opposed to those that will tear you to shreds unless you’re off single figures.
We all know that it only takes one good shot in any given round to bring us back.
The thrill of sending one down the middle of the fairway, knocking one close or holing that monster putt has us talking about it for weeks and dying to get out to do it all again.
You just don’t get that same thrill on the driving range and we should take Shane Lowry’s advice and remember that when trying to entice new players to the game.