Mike Higgins I am going to start my letter in what is technically the last month of our “season” with a couple questions. Think about each of these questions and answer to yourself honestly.
I asked these questions because of an observation I made during our New England PGA Section Championship. Side note: The reason I love the NEPGA Championship is not because it is our premier event, or because it’s our Section’s major championship, it’s because it is the one tournament a year where I get to spend time with the most PGA Professionals at one event. Plus the field is represented by players from all five states and all six chapters in the New England Section. In my pre-round conversations with PGA Professionals there was a reoccurring theme that began to surface. Unsolicited comments were being made by our PGA Professionals about how little golf they had played this year. “This is my first round since July.” “This will make my fifth round of 2017.” “This is my first competitive round of the season.” Shock, disbelief, disappointment and even pity were some of the emotions I was feeling from my conversations. Knowing some of the employment situations of our PGA Professionals I completely understood the challenges they are facing. Then there were others that have personally decided that playing is no longer a priority, and it almost seemed as though they were proud of how little golf they had played. A golfing martyr if you will. Growing up in the New England PGA
(2017 is my 20th season as a full time employee) I have witnessed a shift in the priority level of playing. This shift is my own personal observation, and one that has bothered me over the last few seasons. When I started with the Section I was introduced to PGA Professionals that quickly became my idols. Legends such as Paul Barkhouse, Joe Carr, Paul Parajeckas, Mike Wortis, Jeff Bailey and Bob Baldassari played every week and supported Section events. These were PGA Professionals that asked for the last starters time so they could cut greens in the morning, pull carts, get a tournament off at their facility and then come play in a Section event. Not only play in it, they would win it! Playing golf was a priority. And the amateurs they brought with them to events admired these PGA Professionals and were THRILLED to be playing with them. I can hear some of you talking to your computer or phone now and saying “things have changed now Higgins. It is not 1997 anymore!” I know things have changed and the purpose of my comments are not to upset anyone, and they are certainly not to get anyone angry with me. Back to my observation. We focus so much on growing the game of golf by targeting our youth that we almost forget about growing the game personally. PGA Junior League, Drive, Chip and Putt,
the NEPGA Junior Tour are all wonderful programs and are vital to golf’s future, but I think it is so important that PGA Professionals play and your members see you play. How can you ask your members to play more golf or encourage a junior to play when you are not playing golf yourself? I would love for NEPGA Professionals to make it a priority to play in more Section events, but that is not the purpose of my message. I just want you to make playing a priority...period. Play more golf. I ask those of you who I had a conversation with at the Section Championship, or those of you who read this article and said “Mike is talking about me,” to think long and hard about the reasons you do not play as much golf anymore. I even ask you to share those reasons with me if possible. Then I would like you to think about what you could possibly do to play a little more golf. Beat the pro on Saturdays at the club? Play in a pro-am once a month? Play with your spouse or child every Sunday afternoon? I even ask you to share with me how you plan on playing more golf if possible. We all got into this industry because at one point we loved to play golf. I still love to play golf and I hope that deep down you still do too.
Respectfully, Michael J. Higgins NEPGA Executive Director
Published on Oct 17, 2017