Over at Golf Digest, John Feinstein introduces Harold Varner III. If golf executives are actually interested in “growing the game,” they should take note of Varner’s story:
[Varner] grew up outside Charlotte and played as a kid at Gastonia Municipal Golf Course (now Catawba Creek) for $100 a year.
“Could play anytime I wanted to, Monday through Friday,” he says. “When I started to get good, the members would invite me to play on weekends.”
Varner is a firm believer that one of the ways to get more minorities and kids from middle- and lower-income families involved in the game is through programs like the one he benefited from at Gastonia Municipal.
“I’ve spent time working with The First Tee,” he says. “They do good work. But the program really isn’t set up to get more kids to grow up to be good golfers. It’s more like a daycare program; teach kids right from wrong. That’s all good. But the sport is still too expensive. You need more programs where you can go out and play for free, or for 100 bucks a year. If you do that, all you really need to teach a kid about golf are the basics. Then, if he or she has the desire and the talent and the access, they can get good at the game. That’s what I did.”
Varner seems to be a hell of a player; he just won the Aussie PGA with a final-round 65. I’ll be rooting for him this season.