Photo (l-r): Frank Vain (McMahon Group), Bill Frese (President, NJSGA), Courtney Chaplo (American Red Cross), John Bodenhamer (USGA), Dan Kilbridge (Golfweek Magazine)

John Bodenhamer, USGA Senior Marketing Director, Championships, Frank Vain of the McMahon Group and Dan Kilbridge of Golfweek were the key speakers at the annual NJSGA Golf Summit on Wednesdsay, April 3, at NJSGA Headquarters at Galloping Hill Golf Course in Kenilworth.

In addition, Courtney Chaplo of the American Red Cross, gave a presentation on the importance of employing cardiac arrest procedures at golf courses. Ms. Chaplo delivered an award to NJSGA Executive Director Kevin Purcell, who helped save a life through CPR at the Forest Hill Field Club last summer.

The annual Golf Summit features guest speakers who present topical subject matter currently affecting the game of golf in New Jersey. Conducted in collaboration with the New Jersey PGA Section, the New Jersey Club Managers Association, the Golf Course Superintendents Association of New Jersey, and the New Jersey Golf Course Owners Association, the Golf Summit is considered the premier event in the state for networking and discussing hot-button topics among those in the industry. Over 100 golf administrators, board members from NJSGA clubs, superintendents, PGA Professionals and executives attended the event.

Bodenhamer addressed all areas in which the USGA impacts golf and spoke specifically regarding the new Rules of Golf, implemented for 2019. He also said cell phones and digital devices will be welcomed on courses this year.

“The USGA wants to be more approachable. We are seeking engagement and we are listening and explaining the whys behind our decisions,” he said. “Frankly, I think of that as a new place for us. We need to put ourselves out there and be out in the media, including radio and TV.”

He said years of research went into the changing of the rules. He said the USGA has responded to the wishes of golfers.  

“We need to redouble our efforts, understand their concerns and share our perspectives as to why these changes were made. It was done in an effort to be fair. The rules had become quite complex.”

The next round of rules changes could come in 2022, according to Bodenhamer, “but if we need to change them sooner, that could be done as well. We’re open to that. Our game is our game because of the randomness of it. We want to keep it as a great game.”  (John Bodenhamer's presentation is available for download by clicking here)

Vain, the President of the McMahon Group, keeps a watchful eye on the future of the game through his consulting work and planning services on behalf of private clubs throughout North America and Asia. He said golf has lost 20 percent of its players since its peak of 30 million, and only 8.8 percent of Americans play golf.

“Clubs that continually evolve and enhance their offerings have a competitive advantage. The club of the future includes a lot to do on a year round basis. It will provide more opportunities to do greater things,” he said.

Vain noted that having more recreational opportunities at clubs leads to more golf members.

“Clubs must respond to family, casualness, fitness and wellness through sociable memberships with financial strategies, such as structured initiation fees,” Vain noted. (Frank Vain's presentation is available for download by clicking here)

Kilbridge spent the 2018 PGA Tour season walking every hole with Tiger Woods over 54 rounds and provided a unique perspective.

“Tiger Woods, in my opinion, is the greatest golfer of all time – although you can argue that point with me. And I think he will win another major,” he said.

Kilbridge delineated three points that set Woods apart from the others.

“He is obsessed with golf; he is one of the most competitive athletes on the planet, and he is an absolute grinder,” the writer said.

“I would not bet against him in any major in 2019,” said Kilbridge, who picked Dustin Johnson to win the Masters with Marc Leishman as a dark horse.

Chaplo stated that golf courses are the fifth most common places for sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) to occur. She said of golfers age 50 and over, 82 percent are males who are at an increased risk for SCA. She also noted that it takes between eight and twelve minutes for an ambulance to arrive after a cardiac episode – and for each minute that passes, the survival rate drops 10 percent.

For those reasons, clubs should train staff in CPR and place Automatic External Defibrillators throughout the course in areas such as the clubhouse, pro shop, halfway house, remote areas and on a roving cart.   (The American Red Cross presentation is available by clicking here)

The evening concluded with a lively networking reception which provided attendees the chance to speak with and ask questions of each presenter. An annual must-attend event, the 2020 Golf Summit will be held in early April. Information regarding next season’s event will be available in February, 2020.

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