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Golf: An Inside Look at the Past, Present, and Future of the Game

February 25 @ 6:30 pm - 8:30 pm

Monday, February 25
6:30 reception, 7:00 program
Club members and their guests will be invited to join the panelists for a special dinner before the event (starting at 5:30, not included in event cost, limited seating)
$10 for members, $20 for guests

Golf has grown to become one of the world’s most popular sports since its emergence on the coast of Scotland more than 600 years ago. With an estimated 50 million golfers and 35,000 golf courses worldwide, golf is today one of the ten most popular sports on the planet. In the United States alone, golf is an $84 billion industry that touches one in 75 American jobs. That’s more than twice the size of the global film industry.

Many outsiders view golf as an immutable game deeply rooted in tradition and the past. Yet the true history of the sport is far from static, reflecting instead constant innovation and technological change. Moreover, over the past 140 years, the golf community has been a mirror of American society, constantly evolving in reaction to economic forces, social change and cultural evolution. Indeed, some of the most turbulent economic times in American history have been the very times when golf has evolved the most.

The sport today is evolving more rapidly than ever in response to global economic challenges, shifting demographics, changes in societal values, pressures on discretionary time, environmental regulation and climate change. Building a sustainable future for the game is a substantive and critical challenge for the game’s global governing bodies and their leaders.

Past: The 1930’s was the period in which golf took on many of the characteristics that have come to define it today. It was the decade in which golf was democratized, when private club golf gave way to public course golf & the face of the game changed.

Present: This panel will examine four trends that are redefining the golf experience: changes in course architecture; innovations in the golfer experience, including the remarkable growth story of TopGolf; diversity & inclusion initiatives, both on the course & in the boardroom; & golf’s embrace of “big data.”

Future: Finally, there will be consideration of the future of the game & the two challenges most likely to have significant impact on golf’s future: demographics & water.

Panelists: Senior Managing Director of Public Services for the United States Golf Association, Rand Jerris (Williams ’91; Princeton PhD. ’99) is tasked with creating a sustainable vision for the golf community. After high school, Dylan Dethier Williams ’14 spent a year traveling the US, living out of the back of his Subaru on a quest to play a round of golf in every state in the lower 48. This became a Scribner’s hardcover, 18 in America. After college he turned professional. Upon “retirement,” he took a job as an Associate Editor of Golf Magazine. Erika DeSanty is in her 5th season as Princeton’s head women’s golf coach. For five years prior to coming to Princeton, DeSanty guided Williams College to top-10 finishes at the NCAA Division III championship in each of her five seasons.



February 25
6:30 pm - 8:30 pm