When I see that the number of rounds played are down and the growth of our game is stagnant, I know the main reason: It's the economy, stupid.
However, there's another reason that more people aren't playing golf, and that's one we can fix. We need to start making golf fun again.
I want you to start your season by listing three things that would make golf more fun for you. If you're like most people, your list probably looks something like this: 1. I would have more fun if I could afford to play more; 2. I would have more fun if a round didn't take so long; and 3. I would have more fun if I shot lower scores.
Let's tackle the third point first. When I'm working with my Tour players, we work on a lot of swing mechanics. But once we're done with the mechanics, I encourage my guys to move forward one or two sets of tees. Then they go out and shoot 63 or 64. The funny thing is that when they go home, they don't remember playing from closer tees, they only remember their score, which helps build their confidence.
For your next round, instead of banging your head against the wall from the back tees, move up a tee box or two. You'll score better and have more fun. Challenging yourself is a great part of the game, but don't always be a martyr out there. Give yourself a chance to go low every third or fourth time you play. It will do wonders for your confidence and your game.
When I hear people complain about slow play, I think about what Mark Twain said about the weather: Everybody talks about it, but nobody does anything about it. Start 2011 by doing your part to speed up play. First, get yourself an early tee time when there won't be a lot of people in front of you. And second, make a pact with your foursome to play ready golf with pace of play in mind.
Finally, you'll make your dollar go further if you explore the munis in your area. Embrace the challenge of going out as a single and meeting new people. Munis are not always perfectly groomed, but that's a chance to test your game from tough lies. You'll be a tougher player, and you might find you had a little more fun than you expected.