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GOLF NOTES

Golf Leaders Set Lofty Goals for Next 20 Years

November 26, 2000|From Associated Press

ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. — Imagine golf having more fans than the National Football League, and a billion rounds played each year by more than 55 million people.

Those were some of the ambitious goals laid out last week by Tim Finchem, the PGA Tour commissioner and chairman of the World Golf Foundation, as more than 200 industry leaders gathered for "Golf 20/20: Vision for the Future."

The conference was designed to take advantage of golf's booming popularity and find ways to accelerate the growth of the game over the next 20 years.

"We should view this as more than simply a challenge," Finchem said. "It should be considered a responsibility for the long-term welfare of the game."

Finchem said data shows 96.5 million Americans over 12 years old consider themselves golf fans, a 22 percent increase over the past six years. He set a target of having 177 million fans, which would surpass the NFL fan base at its current growth level.

As for participation?

A National Golf Foundation report showed that golf was getting 3 million new players every year, but also losing that many. Finchem said the industry should figure out how to bring in 3.5 million new players and reduce the number of those who lose interest to 2.5 million. That would lead to an increase of 20 million golfers by 2020.

He also said golf should target women and minorities, already two of the fastest growing segments in the sport.

Finchem said another "Golf 20/20" conference would be held next year.

"At the end of next year, we will have come to grips with the fact that, at least on the participation side, we need some very effective short-term programs that can move the needle in the next 36 months," he said.

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LIGHTS, CAMERA, ACTION: When Karrie Webb was growing up in the tiny town of Ayr along the Gold Coast of Australia, she had to drive about an hour to get to the nearest movie theater. That won't be the case any longer.

Webb, the No. 1 player in women's golf, has been working on a project with her parents to give the town of about 9,000 its own theater.

"We're opening the theater just before Christmas," she said. "That's one of things I've had on my mind for a little while."

The complex will have two 180-seat theaters and will be called "Burdekin Delta Cinemas." Ayr is located near the mouth of the Burdekin River.

Webb said the theater will not get the most up-to-date movies, at least not right away. The features for the grand opening Dec. 14 will be "Nutty Professor II" and "What Lies Beneath."

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