Not sure where we go from here madness, perhaps we are back to one of Shanks original points.
Certainly in my sample of one case, GA spending money on elite players and associated junkets combined with a focus on the casual golfer is not increasing participation at my club.
Participation is their charter (mission statement), my view would be the elite / grassroots balance is way off. It is still not clear to me how spending on elite golf is a participation driver. I'm also the guy who bemoans state government spending on golf tournaments so perhaps its more my issue
Our goal is to raise the level of interest and participation in the game from grassroots golfers through to the elite levels, spectators, volunteers and associated industry bodies. Key responsibilities include conducting national tournaments and championships including the Australian Opens, managing the Rules of Golf and the national handicap system, and developing programs and opportunities to engage as many people as possible into the game.
Working in a commercial and inclusive manner with government, business, and community, Golf Australia ensures the value of golf is understood and supported in all policy and business decisions.
I agree with you that the elite programs do very little for the growth of the sport and they are overfunded.
I think there is a need to host professional tournaments on a scale large enough to maintain a profile in the sports sections of the media.
Where I believe Golf Australia needs to do more is to make golf more normal. We see Thor and Matt Damon at the AFL, Paris Hilton and other "style" icons at the horse racing, Will Ferrell at the tennis, Julia Bishop in the Sydney to Hobart yacht race. As much as we love Arnie and Tiger for everything they did to generate interest Bing Crosby, Dean Martin, Jerry Lewis etc also had a massive impact in making golf cool. I've been watching old footage of Sam Snead playing some of them in exhibition matches. Stephen Curry wanting to play tournament golf can only be good. I hardly ever see golf used as a cross promotion for other events in Australia.
Education is the other area Golf Australia can do a lot of work and I believe they are getting more involved on this level. Finding successful case studies and offering research findings to clubs so they can focus on better strategies to increase their membership. Golf Australia has shared some great articles in recent times, whether club boards wish to read, accept help or make a real effort is another question. A very good article, which I can't find at the moment, was "Dying Club Syndrome". Clubs that are struggling will often spend money improving the experience for current members without making any changes to attract new members. One of my pet hates is hearing that a struggling club is spending thousands of dollars to buy a new handicapping system. I have never heard anyone say they joined a club because they loved the handicapping computers! Increasing membership fees to cover increasing costs when there is not a strong demand for the product is another way clubs speed up the dying process.
Outside of promotion and education I'm not sure what else Golf Australia can do although I would like to see some suggestions.
I agree with Shanks4ever that clubs will have to close. Property developers using golf to sell land has been one of the major factors on clubland being under stress and government has no concern for the golf industry when it keeps approving these developments. The workforce has become more casualised, property prices are up to 10 times the average wage when they used to be 3 and electricity bills keep rising.
Golf Australia is not responsible for any of these things and clubs blaming Golf Australia for their plight is playing the victim.
The future of each club is and has always been in the hands of each club.