Ah yes, the fuddy-duddy image of golf. Lots of old people in clothing of questionable taste spending their time fussing over manners and etiquette and who belongs in the club and who should be classed as riff-raff.
You still see this rubbish in the media. Fingers are pointed at Muirfield as the perfect example. It has to be said that Muirfield is the exception rather than the rule.
Today, 99% of clubs are more welcoming, more friendly, more alert to opportunities than ever before. And that’s as it should be. If you want to attract new members and even new participants to the game you have to adapt to the world we live in – and not just on the membership and green fee front, but how you manage the clubhouse and its accessibility to visitors, too.
Galway Bay is an example of a club that has stepped things up. Yes, OK, they are very lucky with their location and the lovely clubhouse views, but the food is also very good and there’s not a whiff of stuffiness about the place. Galway Bay is just one golf club where offering very good food is seen as vital to the club’s success. As the popularity of the bar has faded so the importance of food (and social events) has grown.
As for clothing, well that’s all a matter of taste. Under Armour or Loudmouth (John Daly’s choice of clothing), you decide, but until clubhouse dress rules relax and golfers and visitors can wear what they choose, there will always be a whisper of elitism. Personally, I’m not a fan of ripped jeans and wordy t-shirts but that’s my inner fuddy-duddy coming out… and it’s what I grew up with.
But times are a-changing and golf clubs need to relax… and become environments where everyone who wants to come will feel welcome. It’s just one way we can grow this beautiful game.