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WSJ OpEd - Whoever Said Golf Was Supposed to Be Fun?

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Gimmicks to appeal to young people send the wrong message. Face it, the sport is cruel.

Today's golf elitism comes down more to individual temperament, and part of that is shaped by the age in which we live. Technology has made acquiring equipment and absorbing information easier than ever. But it may also have eroded our collective willingness to take up long-term challenges, since, for some, learning golf will be the equivalent of enrolling in 10 years of medical school. Is golf hard? Damn hard, but today's taskmaster is more likely Father Time than Old Man Par.

http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052702304632204579339231167199684

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I wrote an article for Thrash Talk where I talked about how the youth today are going to struggle with golf because of their short attention spans. My basic premise is that if a game is not as easy as Angry Birds to learn then kids today won't be interested. I never finished it, so it was left as a draft. After reading this I should go dust it off and publish it.
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Not to make this a referendum on today's youth, but there needs to remain places where instant gratification is not the ultimate goal - which has become pervasive with the Millenial generation.  We hire kids at work who come in with a marketing degree and think because they've been told since the day they were born that they were special and got good grades in school that they are going to come in and run a multi-million dollar marketing campaign from day 1.  No, you're actually going to get coffee for a while and when you prove you can do a menial task like that, you'll be given more responsibility for actual work.

But enough of that rant.

I do see room for getting more youth into golf.  As mentioned in the article, using simulators is a good idea.  I also think there can be things done around the course as well.  I actually like the idea of having a "beginner" area where there are 3 short holes with giant cups so it's easy to get the ball in the hole.  I also like the idea of adding 6-hole loops so you can go play in an hour and half without having to commit to at least 2+ hours for 9 holes.

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Unfortunately I can't open the link to the WSJ article but I'm pretty sure I can guess at the general content. As the father of a 9 year old, 11 year old, and a 14 year old I can definitly say that kids in that age group have short attention spans. The counter, however, is that I don't believe their attention spans are any shorter then when I was that age. I think the bigger challenge for golf these days, however, is that children have sooooooo much more in the way of activities (good and bad) competing for their time these days that unless the parents are really into it then the kids would likely not get exposed to the game. Once exposed, I would bet most kids love the game (mine have so far). The hard part is (at least in my houselhold) isn't so much about getting the kids to put down the video games as it is putting away the lacrosse sticks, soccer balls, basketballs, skis, art classes, guitar/drum/violin lessons, etc. etc. (oh yeah, and homework...haha!).
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The way to read WSJ articles that are only for subscribers is to search on the headline from Google and then open the link to the article in the search results page.

So search on "Whoever Said Golf Was Supposed to Be Fun?" and click on top link.

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Thanks, the article makes a lot of good points. As much as I enjoy the game, it's certainly not for everyone. I've often wondered if the decline in participation the last few years isn't a bit misleading. My sense is a large number of people came into the game "post-Tiger" if you will only to realize how much work (for lack of a better word) the game really is and those folks have slowly left. To really enjoy the game (IMO), it does take time, dedication, $$$, and a certain personality so it's definitly not a sport made for the instant gratification crowd (and, hopefully, that never changes).
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I think it may be more about demographics.  Who are the one's that have the most disposable income, and enough time to spend it? The boomers. That generation is now moving through the "growth" phase.  The following generations are not nearly as large, and do not yet have the income necessary (or the desire) to spend loads of money and time on golf.  Thus, courses are not being built, real estate developing has slowed and fewer people are taking up the game.  The Tiger effect was negligible, even though it made good copy for the golf publications.

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True, I've seen this first hand where I live. We moved into our neighborhood 14-15 years ago and there were 2 very nice private courses within walking distance of our house (and each other). At the time, it was a much older community. As the area changed and become much younger (30 somethings with young kids), the membership levels dropped significantly. One of the clubs went semi-private but still couldn't sustain itself and eventually sold the land to developers (who still haven't done anything with the property), the other is still around and went semi-private a few years ago and appears to be doing ok. It still amazes me that there was a time when the area had enough golfers to sustain 2 courses that close to each other. That may change as the neighborhood ages again and folks start having more discretionary time to play.
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Not to make this a referendum on today's youth, but there needs to remain places where instant gratification is not the ultimate goal - which has become pervasive with the Millenial generation.  We hire kids at work who come in with a marketing degree and think because they've been told since the day they were born that they were special and got good grades in school that they are going to come in and run a multi-million dollar marketing campaign from day 1.  No, you're actually going to get coffee for a while and when you prove you can do a menial task like that, you'll be given more responsibility for actual work.

But enough of that rant.

Please keep ranting! Seriously...could not agree more with what you are saying here. I work in an industry that attracts a lot of young people hence we have many interns, hire young people straight out of college etc. It's quite comical to witness their entitlement complex, which they carry around with no credentials or experience. Sometimes it's necessary to remind them that they are lucky to even have a job, especially right out of college. OT, I know but thought I would give ya a big thumbs up lol

I wrote an article for Thrash Talk where I talked about how the youth today are going to struggle with golf because of their short attention spans.  I never finished it

That is ironic ;)

(im sorry I just had to do it!)

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