Beating the Bogey-Man: Program Aims to Reduce Intimidation Factor for Golf Beginners

Jay Fitzgerald
Boston Business Journal
August 12, 2011

The Ferncroft Country Club thinks it’s found a way for novice golfers to get over the initial embarrassment of playing veterans at local business and charity golf tournaments.

The private Middleton course earlier this year launched a new Academy membership for golf beginners and chronic hacks to learn, or brush up on, the game’s rules, techniques, etiquette and other matters.

The logic is that playing - and behaving - well might come in handy at golf outings, where business clients, colleagues and competitors might be lurking, watching and judging one’s play and conduct.

And by lessening the “intimidation factor” of the game, the academy’s backers figure, they will attract new customers at the same time.

They say the Ferncroft program is a first-of-its-kind and designed to help nervous sportsmen perform better on and off the courses.

This isn’t your standard one-on-one series of golf lessons, which often entail hitting buckets and buckets of balls from a driving range.

It’s about getting intense, season-long instructions on all matters of the game, practicing over and over again on Ferncroft’s second seven-hole “beginner’s course,” in addition to separate sessions on club-owned practice putting greens and driving ranges.

The Academy also has classroom-like instructions (actually, sessions are conducted in the club’s bar and grille) to complement the on-course sessions.

“If you pick golf up as an adult, it can be sort of nerve-wracking,” said Damon DeVito, managing director of Affinity Management, which owns the Ferncroft Country Club.

“When you’re a kid, you don’t think so much when learning things. We’re trying to make it easier for adults to learn how to play.”

Ferncroft’s new Academy membership is primarily targeting business people who want to learn how to play the game, understand its rules and customs - and not embarrass themselves next time they’re invited to a charity golf tournament to play with business associates.

The cost is $1,250, plus an additional $1,250 to join Ferncroft as a member.

Six people are currently participating in the first-year academy program.

One is Rebecca Boudreau, a customer-service representative at a local travel and tourism company.  Boudreau, 24, never played golf until last year, when her family started to get passionately involved with the game.

She later became worried she might become a social and business outcast if she didn’t learn the ins and outs of the sport.

“I’d hate to join a group of more experienced players and not know what to do,” said Boudreau, who signed up for the Academy membership earlier this year.

“(The Academy membership) is so much different from just hitting balls off of ranges. It offers more instruction programs and really tries to teach you the game.”


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