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Pope Of Slope

Thanks, USGA, on behalf of the Kids!

OPINION
GOLFWEEK, May 25, 1991
EDITORIALS, 19th HOLE, ALMANAC, COLUMNS

Thanks, USGA, on behalf of the kids!
CHARLEY STINE

A modified par system for juniors is the latest effort of Dean Knuth, the USGA's director of handicapping. 1t's one of those little things that go unnoticed when they happen, but long-term may become significant.

Junior Par System, as it's called, is another step in the USGA's transition from conservancy to being an advocate of the game. And it's a building block in the National Golf Foundation's master plan of golf promotion.

Much junior emphasis too much, in the opinion of many is directed at the nationally ranked phenoms. Junior Par System, conversely, is designed to give an incentive to play for the average beginning boy or girl.

It gives an achievable goal to keep them from getting discouraged before they learn to play well. Girls and boys under l8 have a realistic benchmark for measuring their score.

A four-page folder explaining Junior Par System is being sent to all USGA member clubs. It contains two sets of charts, one of which categorizes children as beginner, intermediate or advanced golfers. Boys and girls have separate charts, and both may be categorized by either age or handicap. The other charts establish the junior par for each category from seven different yardage categories. Junior par goes up to par nine on some holes.

The folder suggests that clubs have inexpensive junior scorecards printed so that juniors see their goal of par. It goes on to explain that Junior Par System handicaps can be kept the same as adults', including equitable stroke control. Juniors will turn in adjusted scores, along with the adult course rating and slope rating of the forward tees. All junior play, both boys and girls, is accepted as being from the course's shortest recognized set of tees.

Junior handicaps will be calculated like adults', with a handicap index being established and converted to a course handicap for the course being played.

There are still other areas of the game that need serious think-tank addressing. Speed of play, assimilation of beginners into the game, and cost of course building are among the most important. But the Junior Par System is a nice step in the right direction. A bouquet to the USGA For identifying the need and directing its efforts to the project.

Remember last December's Forbes magazine attack on the National Golf Foundation and the golf industry in general? It was followed early this year with a trade journal ad on Forbes' great "exposure" of the myth of the golf boom.

Now Forbes is backtracking. Those Foolish people in the golf industry have a lot of business they'd like to have.

Forbes recently directed an advertising solicitation letter to golf executives. It said "nearly 46 percent of our subscribers regularly test their skills on the fairways. ...throughout the year Forbes FYI features distinctive and informative editorial on golf, America's FASTEST- GROWING and most ardently played sport . . . there's a great many tees, balls, bags, gloves, clubs, and holidays to sell!"

Gee, fellows, and I thought you didn't like us!

Why are Japanese or other foreign investors willing to pay more for an existing American course than it would cost them to build a new one? Why don't they start from scratch?

"For the same reason that I wouldn't go over there and build one," the owner of a new course (who has had offers to buy) told me. "I wouldn't know what to do over there in terms of permits and bureaucracy. I might waste a lot of money and then find out l couldn't do it. By buying an existing course, the potential may not be as high, but they have a sure thing. They start realizing return immediately."

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