Last week, we loaded our gear and then fought through the horrible Atlanta traffic to shoot a short film with Mark Hoban of Rivermont CC. It was the usual debacle, with us wandering around lost in Doolooth and Akworth. At one point, we entered “The Buford Triangle”, a place where road names change instantly and people vanish. Relying on business signs as landmarks is impossible, because they are written in other languages than whatever it is we speak. Never trust those fantasy maps on The Google.
Anyway, we managed to arrive on time—because we always allow an extra four hours to navigate the nether world of North Atlanta—and Hoban was nowhere in sight. After some quick detective work, we determined that Mark was being filmed, interviewed and podcasted by Erik Anders Lang, a famous Hollywood producer of golf films on The Youtube.
Mark ignored Momma’s texts, so she grabbed her frying pan and went up to the clubhouse to teach somebody something. But Mark was prepared, having posted Berkeley, his vicious German Shepherd guard dog, at the entrance. (Momma won’t whack a golf course dog.) After an hour of waiting in the hot sun, knowing every minute we delayed meant the possibility of being trapped in the most dreaded rush hour on the planet . . . we left. We weren’t angry, just terrified of the giant four-hour parking lot.
It all turned out positive, even if we got cheated out of a shoot. Erik Anders Lang cranks out highly entertaining golf travel films, from the viewpoint of the next wave. (A refreshing change from us cranky old coffin dodgers of golf.) Erik is that golfer we have been trying to recruit for years. He took up the game late, is highly enthusiastic and has a contagiously positive attitude toward golf. Erik is one of the reasons I recently dragged out my clubs again. Another key point is when EAL visited Rivermont, he spent time with the Golf Course Superintendent. This is a great thing. I’m stoked. (That is the right word, isn’t it?)
Go to The Youtube and check out “Adventures in Golf” on the Skratch channel. Erik and a sidekick visit a golf course, play it on camera and have the kind of fun we all used to have . . . before we got our hineys so twisted up in building, fixing, growing-in and maintaining golf courses. Erik will gleefully play a scruffy muni as well as an old classic, all while making a short film that delivers a strong subliminal argument for what the game needs, not what the Alphabets need.
And that brings to mind a recent Dave Wilber column, “Golf Isn’t Dying, It’s Evolving”, a very timely analysis of the future. He touches on several vital areas, like “Lowering Golfer Expectations” and “The Return of The Big Mower”, along with “Just 3 Cuts”. *
*Note: Every time I bring up these subjects, I am assaulted by those accusing me of “Nostalgia”, so I am grateful Dave hit it with such force. I would also remind those flinging digital road-apples at me of this: “Negative nostalgia is the rewriting of our past to be miserable and broken, because it creates continuity with our present.”
Wilber’s message is the kind of thinking that will help the game in the future, considerably more than complex programs designed to “Grow” golf, as if it were some kind of stock market index dependent upon perpetual growth. We all know how to dial back expensive conditioning, but the question is: How do we get golfers on board? Lowering golfer expectations would have environmental, legal and economic benefits, but we should expect powerful resistance.
Maybe the next wave of golfers will listen, if the current coffin dodgers won't.
Returning the average course to the dialed back conditioning of the 1970s—when the money people first targeted golf for a big boom—runs contrary to what the Great Poobahs of Ever-Increasing Grooming Standards are preaching. They won’t give up power without a knock ‘em down and drag ‘em out saloon fight.
One way to get golfers on board would be through the new wave of golf filmmakers, like Erik Anders Lang and Adventures in Golf. Maybe the next wave of golfers will listen, unlike so many of the current coffin dodgers spoiled rotten by too many 5-Star hotels, gourmet meals and luxury golf carts. Golf was once, and perhaps will be again, an adventure.
Oh, and since I don’t have a new film this week, due to . . . logistics and technical difficulties, here’s an old film that syncs up with Dave Wilber’s message.