Groups Trying to Open Golf to Young People Are Struggling Themselves

Golf has been having a boom year since courses that were closed in the pandemic reopened in June.

Even with the hiatus, rounds of golf played this year are now nearly 11 percent ahead of last year’s pace, according to the National Golf Foundation. In October, typically the end of the golf season in many parts of the country, rounds were up 32 percent over a year ago, the foundation said.

But the pandemic has also increased fund-raising challenges for nonprofit groups that are trying to open up a sport traditionally associated with wealth to young men and women in need — even as their numbers have surged this year. Through the largess of these groups, young people who could not afford to pay the course fees or buy the equipment learn the values of the sport and gain life skills.

One of the nonprofit groups, Youth on Course, subsidizes rounds of golf so young men and women can play for just $5. It has already reported a 100 percent increase in rounds this year, to over 400,000 from 205,000 in 2019. Memberships in the program rose to 100,000 young men and women from 70,000 last year.

“There are kids who are playing more frequently, and new kids are coming into the sport,” said Adam Heieck, chief executive of the nonprofit group, which started in 2006 in Northern California but is now in 40 states. “That puts a premium on fund-raising.”

This year, he said, the organization had to curtail its traditional fund-raisers, including its annual gala and several golf tournaments because too many people

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