Local Knowledge

September 2019


One of the most significant and talked-about changes in the new Rules of Golf for 2019 was the introduction of an alternative to stroke and distance penalty for a ball that is lost or out of bounds.

Implementing Local Rule E-5 at your course can improve pace of play by eliminating the need for golfers to walk back to the spot of the previous stroke to play under stroke and distance. Additionally, it allows golfers to play by the Rules and post a legitimate score even when they unexpectedly lose a ball or find that their ball is out of bounds.

The USGA suggests Local Rule E-5 be used in all casual and general play. It would not be appropriate to use in competitions that are limited to highly skilled players, such as professional or elite amateur competitions.

There is some room for judgment here as there are certain types of club-level competitions where the Local Rule E-5 might be appropriate to use. It is up to the Committee in charge of that competition or the golf professional staff to make that decision.

At the club level, a golf course may elect to have Local Rule E-5 in effect for general play, but then decide to not have it in effect for the Club Championship or other tournaments. When this is the case, it is important that all players in that specific competition be made aware of this change before play begins. LEARN MORE


The First Tee of The Piney Woods in Longview brings joy and excitement to more than 400 local junior golfers every year. The program’s dedication to growing the game through junior golf was recently recognized by the Texas Golf Association Foundation. The First Tee of The Piney Woods was awarded both the Bill Penn and Winners’ Program Grants.

“These mean quite a bit to us,” said Jay Blint, Executive Director of The First Tee of The Piney Woods. “We’ve been really fortunate to be able to expand to two program sites, so the extra funding goes a long way in helping us continue to expand.”

The Winners’ Program, now in its 11th year, is a golf-and-grades initiative of the TGA Foundation in partnership with the LPGA/USGA Girls Golf of Texas Chapters. The program was created in 2008 to promote achievement in golf and in the classroom. Girls are encouraged to make good grades and turn in their report cards throughout the year. Over the years, each of the six chapters, including Piney Woods, has been a recipient of a Winners’ Program Grant.

The Bill Penn Grant, established in 2003, supports golf-related community outreach programs. Named after the TGA’s first full-time Executive Director, the Bill Penn Grant is awarded annually to eligible programs that provide local-level instruction, develop golf skills for juniors and introduce disadvantaged kids to the game. By making the sport more accessible for young people, Bill Penn Grant recipients serve the mission of the TGA Foundation by ensuring that the game of golf grows and prospers.

The First Tee of The Piney Woods is a shining example of the types of organizations that the TGA Foundation regularly looks to support. READ MORE


When it comes to running a golf club effectively and efficiently, there is no bigger expense than staffing. Wages and benefits make up about 50 percent of the average club’s operating expenses, surveys show. In some cases, they can run as high as 62 percent of operating costs, according to the consulting firm Global Golf Advisors (GGA).

And for many clubs, controlling those costs is becoming more of a struggle, given the hikes in the minimum wage in many states and the nation’s currently low unemployment rate. Employers are being forced to compete more aggressively for workers. One way they do so is by offering more money.

“It’s been challenging,” said Bradley E. Pollak, CCM, CCE, general manager of Park Country Club in Buffalo, N.Y. “Labor costs are going up, yet members still expect quality service.”

That’s the rub. It’s difficult for clubs to make significant cuts in staffing, given how important customer service is when it comes to a club’s success. It’s not as if club employees sit in cubicles. Most interact with members daily. Think of golf shop and outside staff, wait staff, bartenders. Cooks may be off in the kitchen, but they are vital, given how much members rely on club dining facilities. So if you’re not attracting quality employees, it will be noticed. And quickly.

In his article for CMAA Magazine, author Mike Stetz looks at some of the strategies clubs are implementing to cope with the job crunch. READ MORE