Long winded-rant warning…
I have been totally obsessed with golf for the last 2 years, and I find the whole thing a bit perplexing. The multi-faceted culture and norms and evolution of the sport are so complicated and I have many questions about the world I’ve entered. I spent most of my years being into skateboarding culture, so when I transitioned into golf I’ve found it hard to find parts of the game I identify with. I love playing, I love golf courses, I love watching golf, but I find it a bit difficult to relate to other golfers. I don’t know where to start this rant so I’m just going to start babbling.
So what do I mean by a snowboarding moment? Well I’m sure most of you are familiar with the counter-culture movement that snowboarders brought to ski-hills and the backlash that came from the establishment of ski culture. As just a very recent observer of golf culture it seems to me that an alternative golf movement is underway and is coming from many different outlets/capacities. NLU, The Golfer’s Journal, The Fried Egg, etc. are presenting a different view of the game than the big mags, the PGA Tour, or what people generally believe the game is about. My non-golfing friends think golf is for old, rich, white men. Of course you know these stereotypes. The alt-golf media knows that the game doesn’t have to be like that and are trying to share a more positive side of the game. So what are they tapping into? Roughly, I believe it is centered around the idea that golf can be and should be really fun and there are many ways to get there.
The Golfer’s Journal/Tom Coyne are sharing stories about community golf and various working class golf experiences, but at the same time they are writing stories about super exclusive, luxurious golfing experiences. The Fried Egg highlights courses that are the best Bang for Your Buck and praises community golf success stories like Winter Park, but the majority of the time the content is focused on courses that we will never set foot in. It seems we are mostly taught to worship golf course architecture from behind a window. NLU produces Strapped and films episodes of Tour Sauce at Adare Manor/MPCC. NLU crew wears gear for a private-club that doesn’t exist yet. Additionally, the hardcore golf nuts who consume this alternative media often display items to indicate they are into this scene by buying expensive boutique brands such as Seamus headcovers and Shapland golf bags. The game’s relationship to money and wealth is inextricable, but we also want it to be accessible to the youth and low-income households. So what is the message that alternative golf media is trying to sell?
Sweeten’s cove, Bandon, Sand Valley have brought world-class, fun golfing experiences to anyone willing to travel there. You can play 36 holes of truly world class golf at Bandon for $200 if you can get there and are willing to endure the elements. I don’t mean to make this about The Buck Club, but Zac Blair seems like another figurehead of the alt-golf movement that puts a lot of positive energy into game, but wants to create a walled off club. Fried Egg Andy tried to summarize this movement with this article. I find the article incredibly thought-provoking, but I also don’t know how we as golfers who buy into this golf culture can rally around these ideas if they aren’t presented in a pure way. Surely there are fellow-kindred spirits that see the problem with TGJ/TFE/NLU’s current two-sided approach to covering the alt-golf movement. Just to be clear, I love all of these alt-golf outlets and people, it just doesn’t resonate with me completely. I know it’s not their job to save golf and I don’t think they want to, they are just putting out great content. I’m not writing this as an attack on anyone, just that I find some aspects of alt-golf media unrelatable.
I’ve thought about starting my own thing that is more openly against the exclusionary aspects of golf/ golf architecture and more into celebrating the accessible, achievable, common experience. I’ve thought about doing some interviews with Andy and others in this movement to discuss this kind of stuff and produce additional content. Ok, I’ve more than thought about it, I have a name for it, a logo and a mission statement written out already. I know everyone here cares about this side of golf, but would probably, gladly drop all of these principles for a membership at Augusta. I could’ve given this post better flow and structure, but I have to mow my lawn and get back to work now to be honest. Thoughts?