PAUL Gow [below] has never been short of an opinion.

Who could forget his verbal lashing of Robert Allenby in the aftermath of the 2011 Presidents Cup: “I have said it before – I think he acts like a five-year-old when he plays golf.”

But the former US PGA Tour player-turned Fox Sports Golf Show host admits he’s had to harness the fine art of biting his tongue when it comes to some of today’s pressing issues. Like the hot topic – in media tents – of player managers: are they more of a help or hindrance, Gowie? “Next question.”

However, where Gow differs from your everyday armchair expert – apart from being a former player at the highest level himself – is he’s prepared to get off his backside and help find solutions to golf’s glaring problems. On top of his sprawling media commitments, Gow continues to pour time into his coaching and corporate appearances while keeping his eyes open in his secret role as a talent scout for Nike Golf. He was, after all, the man who tipped off Nike about Aussie young gun Ryan Ruffels, who recently turned pro and joined the land of the Big Swoosh alongside Rory and Tiger.

“I first spotted Ryan when he was about 13 and knew straight away he was on another level,” says Gow.

Perhaps Gow’s biggest contribution to date, though, is his innovative work at Lynwood Country Club in Sydney’s northwest. Initially charged with redesigning some of its holes, Gow has since taken a lead role in introducing some landmark initiatives he hopes will catch on at other clubs around the country.

“We’ve built a petting zoo, so mum and dad can bring the kids out to the club and play with animals,” says Gow. “We’ve also launched a tradies’ bar to encourage a new crowd in the area to come in for a few drinks after work.”

Gow said Lynwood’s clubhouse and dining facilities had been refurbished in an effort to make them a focal point for the community to visit and have a great social experience.

“What all this is doing is bringing new people to the club and exposing them to golf,” he says. “Whether they leave with the golf bug straight away isn’t really important. What is important is they leave with a memorable experience and with a desire to return.”

Gow is adamant clubs can no longer rely on golf as a single source of revenue, and “ignorant committees” not understanding this is where they are going wrong.

“We know we have an ageing population in Australian golf and we know we are not picking up new members … but why? I believe it’s because there is a real lack of warmth shown to visitors by golf clubs,” says Gow. “They say first impressions stick. When people are made to feel unwelcome by being told to pull up their socks or lectured on all the rules and regulations of golf, naturally they won’t come back. What we’re doing at Lynwood is removing these barriers and making our club a place for the entire family to come out and enjoy, regardless of whether they’re golfers or not.”

Paul Gow
Paul Gow

Cape Wickham debuts with a bang
“SO how good is it, really?”

It’s the question I’ve had to answer the most during the past few months and the overwhelming verdict on Cape Wickham Links can be seen in our biennial Top 100 Courses ranking [starting on page 53]. But before you turn the page, here are a few mind-boggling stats to give you a clearer picture.

1. Cape Wickham debuted at No.24 in Golf Digest’s World’s 100 Greatest Courses after only being open for three months

2. A host of visiting American course judges claimed it was the most spectacular course they’d ever seen, with some even putting the experience ahead of playing the world-famous Cypress Point on California’s Monterey Peninsula

3. If we were to take conditioning out of our ranking criteria, Cape Wickham would have actually finished No.1 ahead of Royal Melbourne as Australia’s best course

4. As it happens, on the conditioning criteria alone, Cape Wickham didn’t even rate in the Top 100 courses in Australia

In short, Cape Wickham is good … seriously good … and can only get better with another two years of maturity under its belt. The hard task is making this seriously exposed Bass Strait links playable 365 days a year, not to mention making it more affordable to get there. Add it to your to-do list in 2016.

– Brad Clifton Editor-in-Chief @bradcliffo