When you’re looking for active, outdoor fun, a game of golf isn’t necessarily the first thing that comes to mind. Playing 18 holes -- or even just nine holes -- takes quite some time and can be quite expensive.
“The golf industry’s not doing a great job of getting more young people engaged,” said Kris Hart, founder and operator of CollegeGolfPass, a local startup that offers college students discounts at New England golf courses for a $40 annual membership fee. “It’s a big topic in the golf industry now.”
Hart, who played on Bryant University's varsity golf team during his first three years of college, found that he didn't golf too much during his senior year “for the sheer fact of, it was too expensive,” he said. Inspired by that experience and a discount pass program for college skiers, Hard did some research and came up with the idea for CGP.
“College kids are perfect [for golf] because they have time,” Hart said. “Cost may be a prohibitive factor, but they have enough money to play when [the price is] $10 or $15; they just can’t afford $50 or $60 once or twice a week.”
Beginning last September, CGP offered its cardholders discounts at 15 Massachusetts golf courses during the school year (September-May). After signing up over 100 members, the company decided to expand their partnerships to include year-round discounts at 53 courses across New England. Any student from any school can sign up for the program; “you just have to physically get the pass and show your pass and a valid ID at the course,” Hart said.
CGP also helped start golf clubs at Bryant and Holy Cross, Hart said, and is working to offer its members sponsored tournaments and discounts on equipment -- “anything we can do [that’s] golf-related,” Hart said. Last weekend, CGP hosted the Holy Cross 1st Annual Invitational golf tournament at Pine Ridge Country Club in North Oxford; thirty-eight students from six schools participated.
“Our goal isn’t to make money,” Hart said. “The whole goal really of the company is to grow the game of golf....We want to get new people to play, we want to get people who play to play more, and we really want to keep getting more kids out there.”
The company hopes to eventually expand nationwide. They’re already working to grow into New York and New Jersey, “hopefully by the summer,” Hart said. “We’re very excited about it.”
For Hart, CGP is a company built on a passion. The lifelong golfer believes the sport offers plenty of benefits to those who do pick it up.
“It’s helped shape who I am as a person now,” he said. “It’s competitive, it’s fun, and it’s a challenge. In the Northeast at least, it’s a game of honor....You learn a lot about people and character.”
Photos courtesy of CollegeGolfPass
About Angela -- It's "Ang," if you please -- or, alternately, Bill, Penny Lane, or (begrudgingly) Angus to some. I've been with TNGG since the site started and am now the TNGG Boston editor for Boston.com. I graduated from Boston University's College of Communication in 2009 and am a huge fan of live music, hockey, and Thai food. I'm also a bit of a klutz, but that's only because my mind and body are always going in approximately a zillion separate directions. Twitter: @amstefano988
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