Golf courses struggle to attract students
There’s a lot of grey on the fairways, and it’s not just the dead grass.
Golf is a popular sport with our parents’ generation, but the game doesn’t seem to be making par with university and college students.
Jason Munroe, the general manager of River Oaks Golf Course, said he believes there are many reasons why younger generations aren’t picking up the sport.
“Young people have a lot more interests,” Munroe said. “They have other ways to spend their entertainment dollars.”
Munroe knows golf is a slower game, and it often takes around four hours to play a full round. He said young people often have part-time jobs with non-business hours, and many don’t know how to play.
“Unless the student was brought up to be a golfer, they probably aren’t even thinking about golf,” Munroe said.
Not only does learning the game take time, but buying equipment can also be pricey.
Daniel Stefura, 21, works full-time as a landscaper and only golfs a couple times a year. He said he can’t afford to pay rent and buy a new set of clubs.
“All my clubs are hand-me-downs from my father,” Stefura said. “Until a year ago, my only irons were a five, a seven and a nine.”
And once you have the clubs, you still need to pay green fees to play.
“Chemicals, wages and equipment all factor into what you set your green fees at,” Munroe said.
Munroe admits another reason many young people don’t golf is because they may feel unwelcome, especially when sharing courses with more experienced — and sometimes impatient — golfers.
“A lot of those folks that need the cheaper rate also get in the way of the more experienced golfers,” Munroe said. “You have to balance your customer satisfaction.”
There are currently no golf courses in Winnipeg offering student rates.
Munroe just introduced a rewards program for golfers at River Oaks, and said he’s thought about introducing a student rate but doesn’t have the okay from owners yet.
This season, Munroe plans to use social media to attract new golfers and existing young players like Adam Litwin to his golf course.
A plumbing student at Red River College, Litwin said his father taught him how to golf when he was young.
Last year, he shot a hole-in-one at Fantasy Lake Golf Course.
“I couldn’t believe it when it happened,” he said. “Now I’m going to spend the rest of my life to do it again.”