On July 23, HBO Real Sports aired a show titled, “The Future of Golf,” in which host Bryant Gumbel, an avid golfer, had Jack Nicklaus and Taylor Made executive Mark King as his guests.

They painted a picture of the golf industry that was not pretty. It showed closed courses and a variety of gimmicks which are supposed to get more people interested in playing golf.

So it begged the question from a Maine golf standpoint: “Is Maine golf in trouble?”

Nancy Storey, executive director of the Maine State Golf Association, recognizes the challenges her organization faces.

That many young adults feel golf is too difficult to pick up as a recreational sport, in her opinion, “…is a sad reflection on current society.”

“It’s a dilemma,” she said of the MSGA’s situation. “We serve only competitive golfers. How do we become relevant to social golfers?”

King has recommended that golf courses cut their greens with cups 15 inches in diameter, and to that end it may be a way to get youngsters and new adults interested in golf.

“That’s fair,” Storey said, “but it isn’t really golf.”

A regulation golf cup is 4¼ inches in diameter, and there is talk at some courses about experimenting with a bigger cup, possibly eight inches, on each green. In other words, two cups per green — one for novices and beginners, and one for serious golfers.

“The larger cup can be used as a learning tool,” Storey said. “It would be less frustrating for beginners.”

Ron Bibeau, executive director of First Tee of Maine, does not take a negative approach to the future of golf. If anything, he is extremely optimistic, and with good cause.

He does not see golf becoming a sport for country club players only, and his many programs for children throughout Maine are evidence of this.

“All of the First Tee programs are designed to get kids to play golf for life,” Bibeau said.

Since Bibeau became First Tee of Maine’s executive director, programs for children during 2013 and 2014 have prospered throughout the state. They have attracted hundreds of kids, and there is a First Tee location waiting list of at least five.

“Parents are telling me that we are on the right track,” he said. Maine Junior Golf, Play It Forward and First Tee are succeeding in involving thousands of youngsters in the sport.

Bibeau said that he thinks golf is going in the right direction among children in the 5-18-year-old demographic, and that adults over 60 are playing often. The age group of concern is 18-35, because young adults become impatient about their rate of improvement on the links. They also find the sport too expensive.

That said, there is no shortage of players 18-35 playing in professional or amateur golf tournaments. So, perhaps the future of the industry is not a bleak as the Real Sports program presented it.

States like Florida and South Carolina overbuilt golf courses during the 1990s, and because of that there are course closings, reportedly one every other day in the United States.

In Maine, however, the greatest golf concern isn’t an abundance of courses in the state. The No. 1 worry on the minds of people in “Vacationland” should be and always is — the weather.

Junior achievement

The MSGA held its annual junior championship at Val Halla during the past week with 100 players competing from throughout the state.

Will Kannegieser of Minot and Martindale (70-74 — 144) was the overall champion for the second consecutive year. He will continue his season playing this weekend in the Foon Cup on Cape Cod. From there he is in this week’s Maine Match Play Championship at Sable Oaks.

What is interesting about Kannegieser is the fact that he likes to ski more than he enjoys golf, and more than one source has said that the Gould Academy senior is a better skier than a golfer.

Evan Glicos of Martindale, son of Martindale pro Nick Glicos, finished second in the 12 & under flight (43-45 — 88), three shots off the pace.


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