According to the National Golf Foundation, in 2009 there were 28.6 million golfers above the age of 6 in the United States. In February 2012, the Golf Channel had its highest television viewing ratings ever during the PGA tour, and the website collegescholarships.org reports that the game is fast becoming one of the most competitive college sports.
June, in particular, is a big month for golf on the national level, with the 112th U.S. Open beginning June 11, and concluding on Father’s Day, June 17. The U.S. Open had its fourth highest number of entrants this year with over 9,000 amateurs, professionals and champions vying to compete in the game’s most democratic tournament. The event returns to the Olympic Club in San Francisco for the 5th time.
Regionally, the Northern California Golf Association (NCGA), which began in 1901 and is now one of the largest regional clubs in the world, boasts over 175,000 members from Central California to the Oregon and Nevada borders. Starting with just five Bay Area golf clubs, it now includes over 400 regular and 850 associate clubs.
Here in town, the Benicia Golf Association (BGA) is celebrating its twenty-fifth birthday this year. An NCGA affiliate since 1987, it was formed to promote camaraderie among local golfers on and off the course. The club rotates monthly tournaments at local courses such as Hiddenbrook, Rancho Solano and Eagle Vines, with flights for all skill levels. Individual golfers have the chance to excel on any given day as handicaps equalize all. To spice up the competition, the club holds yellow ball and two-man best ball challenges. In the yellow ball challenge, foursomes who maintain a yellow ball through 18 holes and have the lowest net scores compete for prizes. Two-man best ball creates the opportunity for see-saw leads throughout the day, resulting in interesting competition. Members also compete in club championship and long point competitions. Active with tournaments for local nonprofit rundraisers, BGA’s primary focus is to provide a fun and competitive environment for men and women to enjoy the game and the friendship of like-minded sports enthusiasts. There are plenty of opportunities to socialize at the nineteenth hole or at one of the club’s seasonal potlucks.