A wise man once said, “Golf is a game. And games are meant to be fun.” You’d be hard pressed to find anyone at the TGA who would argue otherwise. However, what comprises a “fun” experience on the course can drastically differ from one golfer to another.
For most of us, just getting the opportunity to play the game with some friends on a sunny day meets the basic requirements for fun. Others like to ratchet up the intensity. There are scores of TGA Members who love the physical and mental challenge of playing in competitive events in which every stroke is counted and scorecards must be signed and attested.
You probably won’t be surprised to learn that these competitive golfers, while immensely important to the TGA, represent a small percentage of the overall golfing community.
The truth is there are far more recreational golfers than ones who prefer playing in statewide championships. Thousands of Texas golfers – just like you, perhaps – love to tee it up simply to relax. They’re not interested in testing themselves inside the pressure cooker of tournament play. Recreational golfers revel in the time outdoors with friends and family, where they can exercise, laugh and forget about the stresses of life for a while.
That’s what our Fun Golf Series is all about.
Do you like to play new courses? How about private courses or top-tier resort courses at discounted rates? Do you want to play by your own rules – gimme putts, foot wedges and mulligans are all perfectly fine – and make the main priority of the day to focus on enjoying your surroundings and company? If you answered “yes” to these questions, then Fun Golf is for you.
The program dedicated to recreational golfers started in 2015. Since then, thousands of TGA Members have jumped on board to make these casual outings one of their primary sources for golf.
“It’s absolutely so much fun,” Jenny Turner from Richardson said. “It beats being in the office. You’re out here among all the trees, the greenery, friends, making new friends. It’s just an awesome experience.”
“At Fun Golf outings, we’re competing, too, but at a fun level. We’re trying to make a score, but we’re not grinding. We’re having fun. If we do well, that’s even more fun. If we don’t, well, we’re going to have a great time anyway.”– Former TGA President Jim Brown
Turner’s sentiments are a common refrain heard by Kelly Kilgo, the TGA’s Senior Director of Membership Services & Course Rating. Among other responsibilities, Kilgo is the caretaker and de facto Director of Operations for the Fun Golf Series, which has 17 events across Texas on the 2018 schedule.
Here’s the really great news: The TGA plans to add at least 10 additional Fun Golf events next year.
“I really think the future growth of golf is on the recreational side,” Kilgo said. “So many people want to play golf in a relaxed environment. I hear that from my Fun Golf participants every week. They don’t want to play in a rules-crazy competition. They want things to be laid-back, and they like the opportunity to play courses they don’t ordinarily get to play for discounted prices.”
All of this is not to say people who play in Fun Golf outings shy away from competition. Far from it! Many who play in Fun Golf events love the Low Net, Low Gross games Kilgo conducts. These everyday golfers still want to compete, but they want to do it in a comfortable atmosphere.
Take former TGA President Jim Brown, for example. The retired Dallas attorney and longtime TGA Board Member and Volunteer played college golf at SMU in the 1960s. These days, he still has a burning passion for the game. Brown said he gets his competitive fix every year at the Texas Shamble, a two-day, two-person team event that serves as the centerpiece of the Fun Golf Series.
“I’m now what I consider an average golfer, and to be able to feel like I’m competing is a lot of fun,” Brown said. “I miss the competition. I’m not able to compete at the elite level anymore. But the level of competition at the Texas Shamble and in Fun Golf events is perfect for me.”
Anyone who has attended one of the TGA’s statewide championships, such as the Texas Amateur, Women's Texas Amateur Championship or Texas Junior Amateur, more than likely has seen Brown hard at work as a Rules Official. He’s one of the TGA’s most trusted Volunteers, and he gets a front row seat to watch the best amateurs in Texas compete at the highest levels.
So you can believe him when he says the environment at Fun Golf events is a radical departure from what is found at TGA Championships.
“The elite competitions are work in many regards,” he said. “Those competitors are grinding away to make a score. At Fun Golf outings, we’re competing, too, but at a fun level. We’re trying to make a score, but we’re not grinding. We’re having fun. If we do well, that’s even more fun. If we don’t, well, we’re going to have a great time anyway. I’m not sure if that’s true at the elite competitive level.”
Throughout this year, we’ve taken recreational golfers – non-TGA Members are welcome at Fun Golf outings – to places like TPC San Antonio’s Oaks Course, home of the PGA Tour’s Valero Texas Open, Moody Gardens in Galveston, Old American and Lantana in Dallas-Fort Worth and Onion Creek in Austin. Coming up soon on the calendar are dates at Walden on Lake Conroe in Montgomery and Hawks Creek Golf Club in Fort Worth. The Fun Golf Series reaches its crescendo in mid-November at the Texas Shamble in Kerrville.
If playing new and prestigious courses for discounted rates with other easy-going golfers is something you think you’d enjoy, we look forward to seeing you soon at a Fun Golf outing. For more information, click here.