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In 1974, my dad moved our family to a house adjacent to a golf course. As I recall, the cost of the family membership was $300 for the entire year. The course was easily walkable, and my dad, two brothers and I would play many rounds every year. It probably came out to less than a dollar per round.

Today in 2019, there are too many areas in the United States where golf is too expensive, although I can understand the course owners’ dilemma: It costs a certain amount of money to maintain, so they have to charge a certain amount or else the course will close. I get that. And the good news is that the number of rounds played continues to increase annually, which is good for our business. But too many people don’t take up the game until they’re adults, and this is the result of too many courses thinking short-term instead of long-term.

Why not let kids play for free? It is a rare course that has 100% of their tee times taken up the entire day, and most have ample times available on multiple days. Every public course should let kids play for free with a paying adult, and every public course that is easily walkable should let kids play unaccompanied if they’re capable of doing so. It costs the course nothing to do this, and imagine the benefits several years down the road: more players. It’s a win-win for everyone, and it’s time to do this nationwide.

By Mark Harman, USGTF National Course Director
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