Defining how much of a golfer you are

August 10, 2012

President Barack Obama celebrated his 51st birthday Aug. 4 in much the same way as thousands of other 51-year-old Americans do - he played golf.

The president, who carries an alleged handicap of 17 or so, completed 18 holes at Joint Base Andrews outside Washington, D.C., before leaving for the rest of his birthday weekend at the presidential retreat at Camp David in Maryland.

The press corps noted this birthday round was the 104th time the president has played a round of golf since his inauguration in January 2009.

According to the definitional standards adopted by the nation’s golf associations, therefore, President Obama is an avid golfer.

Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

The Golf 20/20 Executive Board consists of many of the grand poohbahs of golf, such as the CEO of the PGA of America, the PGA TOUR commissioner, the head of the National Golf Course Owners Association, the LPGA commissioner and the CEO of the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America. This executive board agreed on a series of terms relating to both the business and the game of golf.

It might not surprise you that the industry grades golfers’ interest in the game based on how many rounds are played per golfer. What may surprise you is how few rounds it takes to be considered more than a merely occasional participant.

The NGCOA website notes that playing a single round of golf per year means that you are a golfer. The official definition of an occasional golfer, however, includes those who play less than eight rounds annually.

Core golfers, on the other hand, play 8 to 24 regulation rounds per year. The truly avid golfers among us, by definition, play 25 regulation rounds or more annually. If one divides the 104 rounds since January 2009 by 3.6 or so, President Obama easily meets that avid standard.

Surprisingly, there is no official definition that goes beyond avid golfer. This means that one’s own definition of a golf nut has no logical limits, other than the number of official rounds of golf that could be played during the roughly 4,500 hours of daylight we enjoy each year.

For all one occasionally reads about the troubles in the golf industry, these definitions should have provided a clue or two.

The industry estimates there are approximately 26 million golfers in the United States. Those millions include all of the golfers of the once to eight times per year variety. Among that subset, how many can be convinced to buy a new driver every year, at a cost of up to $500, or a new set of irons, at about $400? How many of these golfers will put up with a five- to six-hour round of golf at a public course after plunking down $75 to $100 for that dubious privilege?

It’s no wonder that so many segments of the golf business are struggling in the current recession.

On the other hand, it is also probably a good thing that the president is doing his part to buck up an important part of the nation’s recreational industrial base.

Local club competition results

The Kings Creek Ladies 18-Holer group played a T and F tournament Aug. 2, in which only the scores on the holes beginning with Ts and Fs would count.

Luanne Zabytko took first place in the first flight, followed by Tricia Ritthaler in second place. In the second flight, Nadine Carrick won first place, with Carol Simon coming in second. Mary Mezger earned first spot in the third flight, while Prabha Karapurkar finished in second.

Anita Pettitt’s approach shot finished 16-feet-11-inches from the fifth hole, winning her the closest to the pin contest for the day.

On Aug. 6, the Kings Creek Ladies 9-Holers played an individual Stableford tournament. Carolyn Shriver won the event, with Mary Beth Merolla coming in second and Judi Pezone coming in third.

Evelyn Vanderloo won the closest to the pin contest on the 11th hole, with a shot that ended 4-feet-4-inches from the hole.

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