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Senior Golfer - On The Green

ON THE GREEN is courtesy of the Senior Connection Newspaper, visit their web site. The author is Jerry Koncel, a free-lance writer who lives in Schaumburg, IL.

April marks the official opening of the golf season

The Putting Green

Once April arrives, green leaves start appearing on the trees, green grass starts replacing brown, and the Green coats are ready to transform Augusta National Golf Club into the golf capital of the world. With the Masters Tournament, the golf season has officially begun in Chicago.

There are so many things one can write about golf in Chicago, but I want to concentrate on three in this column:

  • The number of great courses that one can play,
  • The opportunity to get great deals one can get,
  • And the challenge to get better at our golf games.
The three are not related topics.

Having visited several major metropolitan areas of the country, I can say with a certain amount of certainty that golfers in Chicago are blessed with an abundant number of public, semi-private and private golf courses. I am not sure the exact number of courses in the area, but someone once told me that there are more than 200 courses within a 50-mile radius of downtown Chicago.

Given the plethora of golf courses in the area, make it your goal this summer to play several new ones this year. Open your horizons to different styles of golf courses. You can play links courses, prairieland courses and tree-lined courses. You can play long courses and short courses and everything in between. Spread your wings, get those clubs, gather your buddies and head out to a new course for a new challenge-it is worth the effort.

In today's tough economic times, the golf industry, like any other business in the country, has been profoundly affected by the economic recession. Golf courses are closing and those that are surviving are changing their business habits. Those lush, green fairways, greens and rough are turning brown and natural. Golf courses are no longer content to advertise their venues and expect the playing public to ante up for a round of golf. They are eagerly and aggressively going after golfers.

Because the golf industry is facing a downward spiral, it can only reverse this trend by offering greater customer service, which in the Chicago area translates into great golf bargains. Like any bargains, however, the consumer needs to search and find them.

You can find some courses offering reduced rates for golfers playing before certain time, such as teeing off before 8:00 a.m. or after later hours, such as 5:00 p.m. Courses will be offering loyalty or player reward cards to their regular patrons, encouraging them to play more, spend more on food and drinks and receive free gifts. Some courses will be offering free lessons or a free bucket of balls with their rounds of golf.

Finally, with the opening of the golf season, raise the bar and accept my personal challenge of getting better. The golf game, as Arnold Palmer once described it, is endlessly challenging and terribly frustrating at one and the same time. If we are to get better at this game, we may need to take lessons. We may need to purchase new equipment tailor-made for senior golfers. We may need to buy new training aids that will address specific weaknesses in our games. We may need to spend more time practicing with a purpose.

No matter what it takes, make 2010 the year in which you can look yourself in the mirror and say, "Now, that was a fun golf season! I'm really getting better at this game."

ON THE GREEN is courtesy of the Senior Connection Newspaper, visit their web site. The author is Jerry Koncel, a free-lance writer who lives in Schaumburg, IL.

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