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Ten ways to change the golf model

I’ve been out on the road a good bit the past couple months. I’ve had a chance to attend both the World Amateur Handicap Championship in Myrtle Beach, S.C., and the Golf Channel Amateur Tour National Championship at TPC Sawgrass in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla.

These events have given me the opportunity to visit with a wide range of golfers and it’s been a real pleasure. In my conversations with all these golfers I’ve tried to get a feel for “the state of the game.” What I’m hearing bothers me. Participation in the U.S. is flat and it feels like enthusiasm is waning. I know much of this can be blamed on the economy, but I get a feeling there’s more to it than that. I get the sense that, for many people, the current golf model is broken. I know that many owners and operators are struggling. Many have have not survived and even more are teetering on the edge of solvency.
We need a new model for golf. The old model isn’t going to cut it in post Great Recession America. Albert Einstein suggested that doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results is the definition of insanity. We need change. I think it’s possible to to be progressive on some fronts and still be respectful of the game’s history and traditions. Golf needs to increase the “fun factor” to attract more youth, decrease the “time factor” to accommodate a stressed out and pressed-for-time middle age population, and increase the “fitness and socialization factors” for seniors. I’ve been collecting ideas that can help to accomplish all three of these goals.

I’d appreciate your feedback and any other suggestions you might have.

1) It makes no sense that recreational golfers (especially beginners) play by the same rules that professionals and elite amateurs play. Simplify rules for everyday recreational play. Would you ski off a double black diamond hill after your first ski lesson?

2) Players choose which tees they play from. They should also be able to choose the size of the hole they play to. Courses should have a regulation hole and a 10-inch hole on every green. This would have a major impact on pace of play and enjoyment.

3) Get the pros out from behind the counters. Golf can be intimidating and confusing. Pros should meet, greet and make golfers feel welcome. Let the grumpy rangers collect the cash. Quick tips on the range and advice on how to play the course should be the priority for pros. Who knows? This might even bring back pro shop customer loyalty and give those grumpy rangers more cash to collect. Golf pros don’t need to be general managers. They need to be golf pros. Deal with the golfers, not the computers.

4) Find ways to let seniors and juniors play 3-, 6-, and 12-hole loops walking. If regular play starts at 8 a.m., let juniors and seniors tee off the 12th or 16th tee at 8:30.

5) Widen fairways and lower rough cuts. Nobody wants to have an Easter egg hunt on every hole. And more importantly, nobody wants to stand on a tee watching the group in front of them have an Easter egg hunt.

6) Educate golfers on the economic reality of high green speeds. Golfers need to appreciate healthy turf more than greens that roll 14 on the Stimpmeter. Not only does this take pressure off the golf course owner but it also helps with pace of play.

7) Learn from bowling. Bowling was withering on the vine in the 1970s and early 1980s. People couldn’t figure out how to keep score and gutter balls just weren’t that much fun. Automatic scoring and retractable bumpers helped revitalize the sport.

8) Push the physical activity and socialization button with seniors. Movement and activity helps fight heart disease and diabetes. Socialization helps depression and overall mental health. Nothing brings these factors together better than golf. Especially on a golf course with less rough and a 10-inch hole. Find creative ways to get seniors on the golf course.

9) Base handicaps on scores shot in competition and on designated medal play days. Illegitimate handicaps discourage many golfers from competing. The current system doesn’t provide incentive for many golfers to take pride in their handicap.

10) Have golf courses prepped and ready for play at first light on weekends. This gives parents the opportunity to get in some golf and still have time to spend with the family. Recreational time can’t compete with family time in this day and age. And rightfully so.


MYD Golf Hired to Manage Sky Valley Golf Club

Sky-valley-golf-of-ga-photo-4-13-09

SKY VALLEY, Ga. – MYD Golf, LLC, a golf design, construction and management corporation based in Athens, Ga., has been contracted to manage Sky Valley Golf Club, the recreational centerpiece of the 2,400-acre Sky Valley Resort located in the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains when Georgia meets the two Carolinas.

Nestled into a tranquil valley more than 3,300 feet above sea level, Sky Valley Golf Club is within a 20-minute drive from Highlands, N.C., 15 minutes from Clayton, Ga., and just 90 minutes from either Atlanta or Athens. The resort is also within easy reach of upstate South Carolina’s rapidly growing Greenville-Spartanburg metropolitan area, making it the perfect mountain get-away retreat for many golf enthusiasts in the Southeast.

“The Sky Valley golf course, which was completely renovated in 2007 by Bill Bergin, will be a pleasant surprise to anyone who has not played it recently,” said Mike Young, owner of MYD Golf and an accomplished course designer with more than 40 courses to his credit. “The course is in impeccable shape, and with the torrid summer that is gripping most of the country, the cooler temperatures in the Blue Ridge Mountains make Sky Valley the perfect destination for anyone looking to escape the heat.”

Featuring bent grass fairways, tees and greens, Sky Valley was designed originally by Bill Watts and built in 1971. Bergin’s extensive renovation added some 500 yards to the overall length, stretching the par-71 layout to more than 6,900 yards. Some golf fans will remember Bergin from his career as a touring professional. In the 1984 British Open at St. Andrews, Bergin shot a tournament-best 66 in the third round en route to a top-15 finish.

Founded as Mike Young Designs in 1986, MYD Golf was expanded to offer facilities management services after more than 20 years in business. The company offers a unique and effective golf course management perspective, drawing on Young’s broad-based experience in the golf business, including course design, maintenance, ownership and operation.

“While most golf architects may not be well versed in fine dining and large clubhouse issues, there are many projects out there that can benefit from the experience an architect has inherited over years of designing and building projects that had to stand on their own,” Young explained. “And that is the customer we are trying to help.

“Today is a different day for all facets of the golf business and one must be able to adapt. We bring a different thought process to the operating of many facilities."

In addition to designing and developing more than 40 golf courses in five different countries, Young has also owned and operated a number of courses. Through MYD Golf, he said, he is able to use his understanding of the overall golf business to tailor a unique plan for each managed facility. And because MYD Golf takes on only a limited number of management clients, each client is assured of receiving personal and comprehensive attention focused on insuring success.


My Game was Realy sucking

My Game was Really Sucking

1996 was my sophomore year on the PGA Tour. Coincidentally, it was also my second to last year as a member. Heading into the Byron Nelson Classic I wasn’t exactly in top form, in fact, my game was really sucking. I made the cut by a shot so I thought I’d try something new and exciting on Saturday. The main cause of my obesity is that I skip breakfast. When you have three entrees for dinner you generally don’t get hungry until around 11am, which, ironically, is the exact time that the buffet in the locker room starts serving lunch. Vicious cycle! The food isn’t really that great, but they don’t limit the number of trips through the line (at least not officially and I’ve read the PGA Tour rules and regulations after acrid remarks from some of the emaciated players).

Anyway, let me get back to the story at hand. I was paired with Davis Love III, you might have heard of him. He is, by my estimation, a pretty good golfer. Anyone with a jet meets my criteria for the “pretty good golfer” category. Some people have different rating systems. This is mine. I was also playing with Donnie Hammond. He doesn’t have a jet and although he is a very nice person, I wasn’t particularly worried about embarrassing myself in front of him. I’m sure they were both thrilled about playing with me.

To break my cycle of poor golf, I thought I would try a big breakfast. And yes, I thought this up all by myself. The items that appealed to me were parts of three different breakfast entrees. The Salesmanship Club of Dallas (they run the tournament) has some unusual way of taking care of the food for the players. You can get as much of whatever you want and it is free. The only trick is that you have to sign the ticket. You don’t have to sign your name, just a name. This may explain why Ed Fiori’s food bill was over $2000 one year. Then again Ed may have just been hungry that week. Well, anyway, I chose pancakes, corned beef hash, two eggs over medium, white toast, and bacon. This seemed reasonable to me. Let me tell you that got things stirred up. The waiter informed me that this order was well outside the parameters of their ordering protocol and processing it would crash the system and probably bring the entire golf tournament to a grinding halt. I assured him that money was no object. Ed Fiori signed for another $37 breakfast.

After my ninth birdie of the day, the bloated feeling finally subsided. That is when the troubled started. I was playing the 7th at TPC Los Colinas as my buddy Glen Day was playing the parallel 8th. He saw that I was nine under par with three holes to play and that I had a chance at shooting 59. I didn’t even realize that the course was a par 70 until he “gently” reminded me. Then Glen asked if they were still offering a million-dollar bonus to anyone shooting 59 on tour. I honestly couldn’t remember if they were or weren’t. Somehow, I scraped three pars together for my 61. Miraculously, Glen and I are still buddies.
In case you are interested Davis Love III shot 71 that day. Let me help you with the math. Charlie Rymer 61. Davis Love III 71. Same tees. That would be 10 shots. I’ll never forget and you can be sure I won’t ever let Davis forget. In fact every time I see him, I ask if he needs 5 shots a side. He just smiles and says, “Want to ride on my jet.” Davis seems to be the only player on tour that can shut me up.

That 61, which by the way beat Davis Love III by 10 shots, put me in the final pairing on Sunday. That was the first and only time that I played in the final group in a PGA Tour event on a Sunday. Let me tell you, there isn’t much oxygen around that first tee. I was paired with Phil Mickelson who I’ll wager, even with all his accomplishments, has never beaten Davis Love III by 10 shots in one round. Anyway, when I arrived on the tee, there was the great Byron Nelson. He could sense that I was distraught and immediately came over to calm me down. He told me that the 61 I had the previous day was one of the best rounds he had ever seen. And that upon further reflection he realized that in his career he had never shot 61. At this I started to breath a bit better. I looked over at Mickelson and realized that maybe he is mortal and that on occasion he has been known to miss a short putt or two. I was starting to feel my oats; after all I had beaten Davis Love III by 10 shots the previous day. It was at this point that Mr. Nelson uttered the words that unintentionally sealed my fate as a television golf analyst. He proclaimed, “I shot 60 on many occasions, but never a 61.”


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Mike Young

Mike Young's path to course design began with studying the works of early and modern-day masters across America and Europe. Later, while working in the turf equipment industry, he was exposed to hundreds of different layout styles and learned everything about environmentally effective design and construction literally from the ground up.

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