Golf column: Too hard and too expensive?

I received an email earlier this month referencing a recent article at by Peter Kostis, “How Golf Lost Its Way.”

Scott Roth, PGA head professional, Victory Links
Scott Roth, PGA head professional, Victory Links

The gentleman who sent me this email was good enough to include his name, which I respect. Anonymous emails are for cowards. I would like to respond not only to his email, but also to Peter Kostis’s claim that golf is too hard and too expensive.

I have been playing golf for 35 years and have been a professional for 25 years. First off, I think the affordability of golf has never been better. It is a buyer’s market right now and has been for the past 10-12 years, Victory Links included. When you can go online with a third-party vendor and find 18-hole green fees (riding) for less than $40, purchase an MGA card and get two for one green fees and grab all the Living Social and Groupon golf deals you could ever want, how can you say golf has lost its way with regard to cost?

The rates at most all golf courses have stayed about the same over the past 10 years. Like any form of entertainment, the deals exist if you are willing to seek them out. The issue some customers run into is they want it all. They want the perfect golf course, the perfect clubhouse and the perfect food and beverage operation, but they don’t want to pay for it. They think someone else should. No one can run a golf course on $18 green fees, cart included, for 18 holes. And I get that request several times a week.

When it comes to courses being too difficult as Peter Kostis’s article suggests, I would challenge that as well. We have six sets of tee boxes here at Victory Links. It can be short enough for the executive feel and long enough to host USGA national and PGA TOUR qualifiers.

Most courses I have ever played offer tees that make the game enjoyable for every ability. You may need to play up to find the right length, but those tees do exist. And if they don’t have the right set for you, invent your own tees.

Lastly, when it comes to families and golf, I am aware of this as much as anyone. I have three kids and from time to time they have all been involved in different activities. Golf is in line with most all of the other activities they have tried. Golf is comparable to other activities like dance, hockey, soccer and gymnastics. In the Twin Cities, a junior season pass costs from $200 to $400. And at most courses that is unlimited play.

So from my side of the fence, I still see golf as about the same as it was 35 years ago when it comes to affordability and difficulty. Is it the same game as it was 100 years ago? No it is not, but in many ways it should not be the same. Most changes are for the better.

Scott Roth is PGA head professional at Victory Links at the National Sports Center, Blaine.

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