The grassroots of golf don’t mirror the highest level of the game, according to superintendents.

While 20-something stars Jordan Spieth, Jason Day and Rory McIlroy occupy the top three spots in the Official World Golf Ranking, the customers many superintendents are seeing at their facilities are old enough to be the trio’s parents or grandparents. Three-fourths of superintendents (75 percent) list attracting younger generations of players as their biggest industry concern for 2016. Attracting younger workers also represents a conundrum, with 42 percent of superintendents placing this task on their list of industry concerns. Other significant concerns for 2016 include rising golf course expenses (55 percent) and unrealistic member/customer expectations (42 percent).

Who’s responsible for finding younger players and workers? Facilities (79 percent), PGA (78 percent) and USGA (77 percent) are most responsible for growing the industry, according to superintendents.

Biggest industry concerns for 2016

In their words

We asked one open-ended question on the survey: If you held an industry leadership position, what would be your first order of business? Here’s a sampling of the responses we received.

  • Stop promoting ridiculous ideas. Promote leagues for younger players of the game while including their mom or dad in it. We have to make golfers feel they are getting value for what they pay in money and time invested.
  • Direct outreach to online booking agents. Some form of code of standards needs to be established by companies using them as we are steadily "devaluing" rounds.
  • Try to find out where all those golfers went that were playing in the boom years. Have they returned to play some golf or have life changes eliminated the golf activity from their lives?
  • Increasing the profile of the superintendent in the business side of golf courses.
  • Trying to get all the golf entities on the same page to promote pace of play and course edict.
  • Mandatory documentation of all golf maintenance practices.
  • Finding a new way to introduce people to the game of golf. Perhaps by developing entry level facilities where people can be introduced to golf in a way that is neither time consuming nor expensive. The difficulty of the game, the initial cost of the game and the initial time commitment of the game all need to be reduced in order to attract more new players.
Prove that a golf oriented/trained person is the best answer for running the golf facility, not a clerk or a corporate person. Create a 401/ retirement program for superintendents conducive with equipment, EOP or chemical purchases. The PGA has one for members purchasing both hard and soft goods. Organizing entire state into one association. Start a youth caddie program an every country club and as many public facilities as possible. Ban aggressive soft spikes and re-introduce metal spikes. Getting local, state and national governments on the side of golf. Trying to change the image of what constitutes a quality golf experience. Costs (and greens fees) have been driven so high by unreal course expectations that it has become near impossible for a facility to turn a profit. Stop wasting money on bad ideas. Everyone wants to fix something. My first order of business would be: Are we reaching the masses with the right information? Then I would ask the question: Why are we doing what we are doing?

Who do you feel is responsible for growing the industry?