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Friday, May 1, 2015

Brynwood Grows the Game

Bringing new golfers into the game isn't just the responsibility of the USGA, PGA of America, and other national organizations. In fact, it's going to happen much more rapidly when local clubs and organizations implement programs to make the game more comprehensible, enjoyable, and fun for non-golfers.  That's why the folks at Brynwood Golf & Country Club in Armonk have undertaken a comprehensive series of initiatives to get more people into the game.

One of the many steps the club is taking is to encourage play by newbies (or just those looking for some fun on the course) by adding an 8-inch cup to each green on the front nine for tee times after 12 noon one Sunday each month. It will be cut in addition to the 4.25” cup, so families and other foursomes with experienced golfers can play together.  Brynwood head pro Michael Mercadante says, "Many of our members have tried the 8-inch cup on our chipping green and found it gave them confidence and lent excitement within the game."

As we all know, even beginning golfers can get from the tee to the green in just a few shots but then their score (and frustration level) balloons when they take just as many if not more strokes to get the ball into the hole. Where's the fun in that?  The club isn't destroying any traditions here, they're just easing the way into the game for those folks who haven't yet mastered the intricacies of reading green contours, grain, and speed.

Another great initiative is the Family Course, which enables golfers of different ages to play together while giving everyone a course suited to their age and skill levels.  Brynwood is using the US Kids and PGA of America system of Level 1 and Level 2 tee plates for kids and adult beginners along with course markings and a scorecard to encourage use.  The program recently earned the club honor as a "PGA Family Course."

In addition to the regular tee boxes, there are now two additional sets of tee locations with cart path plates to show players where to go and fairways tee markers to tee from. The first hole, for example, plays as a 391-yard par 4 from the Black tees, 369 from the Silver, and 314 from the Red.  The Family Gold tee, though makes it 212 yards and the Family Blue a manageable 120.

In another move to make golf more user-friendly, Brynwood has designed three separate "short course" loops of four, six, and twelve holes in addition to the regulation nine and eighteen.  The "short course" layouts enable players with limited time (or attention spans) to enjoy some golf without devoting an entire day to it.

Mercadante points out that the short loops are great for new golfers. "Would you rather be introduced to golf by playing just a few holes," he asks, "or be faced with the daunting feat to try and conquer all 18 holes?"

Another benefit, of course, is that the "short course" encourages families to play together. Not only can they play just enough golf to experience all the wonders of the game in keeping with their age and attention span, but they can also utilize the forward tees to improve their experience. "We are allowing golfers of all levels to be exposed to the golf course," Mercadante says. "Golf is many things to many people."


Among many other books, Dave Donelson is the author of Weird Golf: 18 tales of fantastic, horrific, scientifically impossible, and morally reprehensible golf

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