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Future of golf - thoughts

post #1 of 20
Thread Starter 

I am sure this is an old topic but  I keep reading of foolish ides of how to get people to play golf. Bigger hole, less holes etc. This is where I see some of the problems

 

1) My wife and I love to play golf. Which means that every golf outing or trip costs me double. Recently looked at a "resort" in Florida.

    Special package $587 per person for 2 rounds and stay. Waling, 80-100 dollars for caddy per bag. So....more than $1,300 for my

    wife and I to play golf and a one night stay. It would have been easy to give discounts to couples in the past but now every two guys

    will say they are a couple

 

2) Just got a golf catalog. $70 for a pair of shorts! $189 for a pair of shoes! (Personally I think that if I am going to promote a brand with a logo they should be significantly discounted). Why should I pay $20+ for a hat with a huge Titlest or Callaway logo. Maybe they should give them away.

 

3) Too expensive for kids to play  and get good at it. If you play in a cheaper course it will be $30-40 a round. But....you need to practice  and play at least once a week to be any good. Do they want spend the money and the time?? No

 

4) In the past club memberships were great. There was not much else to do in town and they had a great restaurant and a pool.

    I belong to a club with a great restaurant. But.....there are lots of superb restaurants in town so I am forced to spend $800 a year in food so the clubs stays afloat. Am I better paying $50,000 to $150,000 to join a club and have to play their golf course forever.........................or am I better off playing different expensive $200 courses every week of the year ($10,400 per year)

for 10 years.

 

5) I do not believe in changing the game or the rules of the game but can't think of ways to improve interest

    In the summer open until 9pm so kids can play after school or work?

    Open ranges earlier?

    Rent clubs a at very discounted rate?

    Golf specials or packages for people less than 30?  (I am sure older folks would object)

post #2 of 20

Your premise is golf is expensive hence young folks don't play.  Partially true and partially false.  Golf was never for young folks, and never will be.  When I was younger, I'm still young:-D, I never understood walking around grass for hours and had to pay for that as well.  It's not a good proposition for young people who are more dynamic and energetic.  Having said that TW is the culprit of all these chatters about dying golf.  There was such a boom during high of his days where every single young boy/girl wanted to play golf.  Golf was cool, hip, and young.  That is not the case any more.  Golf is going to experience what NBA post Jordan experienced.  It will continue to search a new superstar, aka Jordan Spieth, at the same time will try to make it more fast paced game.  I don't think it will be a smooth ride IMO.  Those folks at PGA, USGA, etc already know this but nothing they can't do until the next superstar arrives.  

post #3 of 20
It's very similar to the state of the economy, in general. Most businesses are thinking short term versus long term. Investors want to see profits now, not tomorrow... And it's caught up to all of us. That type of growth isn't sustainable in the long term. Things will take time to level out.

Golf is no exception.
post #4 of 20

The idea of expanding the hours for golf and making it affordable for parents to have their kids go is exactly why golf is so popular in my area. My family of 4 can play for around $46 with two carts twilight hours (after 3:00 till dark) on a nice regulation course. There is a local lighted par 3 that only costs $7 for 18 holes from 8:00pm till 10:00pm.

 

There are also so many young children playing it's amazing. Just yesterday, there were a little over 25 toddler aged kids at the driving range, they were orderly and enjoyed hitting balls. They also had a group discount.

 

My kids went through the First Tee program, which gives them inexpensive lessons and rounds. They can learn at their own pace, and all of them have smiles on their faces. They are shielded away from many of the regular golfers. Not all the time though. My daughter had a run in with some of the "golf snobs" a few years ago, and now she refuses to go back to that course because of it.

 

Having different tiers of "golf" would really help keep people interested. Making easier courses that the family can enjoy, then move on to a more difficult course when they are ready is a really great idea. When I started we did not know that there were par 3 courses available, and there was some disdain amongst the people we asked. Whenever someone asks me about a "beginners" course, I will enthusiastically suggest the easier courses to get acquainted with the game without "golf snobs" pushing them out of the way on every hole.

 

Most of the folks I know have had run ins with the "golf snob". These are the people who complain about pace of play (not unreasonable) and tell beginners they shouldn't be playing these "real" courses. For goodness sakes, they're all real courses, just suggest an easier course and leave it at that. Everyone started somewhere.

 

I feel bad, now, because I have been guilty of being a "golf snob" myself for only one or two rounds before I realized I was a total a$$.

 

The main thing about getting more people to be more enthusiastic about the game is to make it welcoming to new players. Easier courses will definitely keep the frustration level down and let people progressively grow into the game. For the first 2 and a half years I have played, I didn't even play by the rules and bigger holes would have been nice.

 

So, cheaper rates, friendly attitudes from all the golfers, more "First Tee"-like programs, easier courses for beginners with progressively more difficult courses would really make the game a better experience for everyone.

post #5 of 20

I know one thing it is getting very hard to get permits to build a new course these days in the area I live in.  Lots of farm acts and the Chesapeake bay thing with  all the land run off issues. So I really do not see any new one popping up in the future. The issue is with a golf course is you can only put the tee times so close together and then you are maxed on the amount of paying people so only other way to make money is to up costs to play and cut cost on up keep.  So I see golf being in a real pinch in the Future. For the sport it is great to attract new players but for a course when they are full they are full.  I think one thing courses could do is try to look at tee boxes and make more options for players that are just starting out like Jr. tees and good womens tee options so the wife does not got all worked up hitting 6000 yards per round.

post #6 of 20

In a lot of ways, the issues facing golf are a microcosm of the issues facing our economy. We have an aging population with fewer young people playing. Meanwhile disposable incomes are flat to declining year after year and peoples' appetite to spend more on golf isn't there. At the same time the costs to maintain a golf course are only going up as resources become more scarce- driving up the costs of fertilizer, water, gasonline, etc. I really worry about what the golf industry might look like in the next 10-20 years. Unfortunately, my thinking is that the game will revert back to being a rich man's game in a large part of the country as the number of public courses will continue to decline.

post #7 of 20

I think a lot of the issues you addressed concerning cost and hours have been resolved in a lot of areas (certainly in my area). As Lihu mentioned, twilight hours are great for getting kids on the course, and for giving us a chance to play cheaper. There are a few municipal executive courses in my area which give me the chance to work on my short game for basically nothing ($11 for 18 holes walking, $18 riding). I have access to a lighted range with very reasonable prices. I think a lot of it just depends on where you live, but golf has never been cheap, and never will be. 

 

I was very fortunate growing up, as I worked at a nice little 9 hole course/lighted range as a cart boy. I got free golf and range access and deep discounts on gear. 

post #8 of 20

Not since the 1960's has there been fewer participants in the age group of 10-21 year olds. 21+ to 40 year olds (the so called Tiger generation) is also down steadily, just not as bad. Older guys have recently been beat up financially with their retirement plans, some have passed away, other injured or simply loss interest. The one area that show some growth was college educated women in the 35-50 year old age group.

 

1) I happen to believe that if you want to inspire  more play, golf MUST be come family activity- A club in other words. A club with restaurant, bar including casual food, activities, 3 season heated Pool, Tennis courts, Gym and Yoga room, A club that manages activities and other sport, a club with a proshop for essentials, a pro or PGA professional that promotes golf either inspired to do so or compensated, perhaps even working with the local school's physEd dept. A club with meeting & multipurpose rooms. The course it self should have no less than 5 tee boxes,  paved cart paths can be used for walking, running and cycling- (cross country skiing and snow shoeing where applicable)

 

2) the PGA and USGA needs wholesale changes to inspire playing golf rather a business as usual approach to golf. When polled an overwhelming amount of golfers could not answer what the PGA actually does for example. Most answered with "I have no idea".

 

In the 80s and 90s most of the new course were golf only, a men's club if you will. an entire generation missed the opportunity to grow up playing golf and now this is what we have.

 

Contrary to what many believe Tiger did not inspire growth in playing golf. I am no way saying that its his fault, only that there was a lot of marketing hype suggesting he was the messiah. Since turning pro participation has slid steadily year after year. Most recently the slide has been trending steeper the last couple of years.

post #9 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by Spitfisher View Post
 

Not since the 1960's has there been fewer participants in the age group of 10-21 year olds. 21+ to 40 year olds (the so called Tiger generation) is also down steadily, just not as bad. Older guys have recently been beat up financially with their retirement plans, some have passed away, other injured or simply loss interest. The one area that show some growth was college educated women in the 35-50 year old age group.

 

1) I happen to believe that if you want to inspire  more play, golf MUST be come family activity- A club in other words. A club with restaurant, bar including casual food, activities, 3 season heated Pool, Tennis courts, Gym and Yoga room, A club that manages activities and other sport, a club with a proshop for essentials, a pro or PGA professional that promotes golf either inspired to do so or compensated, perhaps even working with the local school's physEd dept. A club with meeting & multipurpose rooms. The course it self should have no less than 5 tee boxes,  paved cart paths can be used for walking, running and cycling- (cross country skiing and snow shoeing where applicable)

 

2) the PGA and USGA needs wholesale changes to inspire playing golf rather a business as usual approach to golf. When polled an overwhelming amount of golfers could not answer what the PGA actually does for example. Most answered with "I have no idea".

 

In the 80s and 90s most of the new course were golf only, a men's club if you will. an entire generation missed the opportunity to grow up playing golf and now this is what we have.

 

Contrary to what many believe Tiger did not inspire growth in playing golf. I am no way saying that its his fault, only that there was a lot of marketing hype suggesting he was the messiah. Since turning pro participation has slid steadily year after year. Most recently the slide has been trending steeper the last couple of years.

 

 

This, is in fact, the reason for the growth in my area. Many families are getting on the courses.

post #10 of 20

costs are getting out of control. for example $1,400 a week for gas (carts + few mowers I have) electric for pump station $700 a month. spraying greens( every 2-3 weeks) $800-??? depending on product. spraying fairways once a month usually $2,000 - ??? depending on product. also when courses shut down for the winter there are bills and salary to be paid but no income. and lets not forget the loss of revenue from a rainy weekend.

post #11 of 20
Thread Starter 

Spitfisher mentioned something that I had thought about in the past..

In my area golf course paths are off limits at all times except for golf carts. I imagine there is risk of people going and damaging the course after hours

But.............I don't know how many times my wife and I go out for a walk or a bike ride in the evening and have to go in the streets when

it would be really nice to go (after hours) in widened and paved cart paths. I am sure young joggers would also use them

 

Clubs could have teen camps and lower cost for students with proper ID

 

Just throwing out ideas as I write

post #12 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by rstyle View Post
 

Spitfisher mentioned something that I had thought about in the past..

In my area golf course paths are off limits at all times except for golf carts. I imagine there is risk of people going and damaging the course after hours

But.............I don't know how many times my wife and I go out for a walk or a bike ride in the evening and have to go in the streets when

it would be really nice to go (after hours) in widened and paved cart paths. I am sure young joggers would also use them

 

Clubs could have teen camps and lower cost for students with proper ID

 

Just throwing out ideas as I write

 

Our local Archery club just had a run in with the city regarding dual use of the range, the archery range lost to the runners and dog walkers. Which is another reason I am golfing instead of shooting.

 

One of the early arguments was that people don't go jogging across the fairways and driving ranges. . .

post #13 of 20

Cost is one of the main factors in limiting golf participation, but at least in the Northern NJ area, many of the private clubs that require large bonds, restaurant spending, and high annual membership fees seem to be feeling the pinch.   Most private courses are surviving (places like Baltusrol and Pine Valley need not worry) but a few have had to close down.  Interestingly, public and semi-private courses, from high end to decent executive courses are receiving plenty of play, many of them younger golfers.  Many of the people that can no longer afford $15k/year at their club are still able to treat themselves to 30 $120 high end rounds and another 30 $50 good quality rounds for a little over $5K.   Some of the private clubs are offering reduced bond and membership fees to attract members, and the golf market will respond to the currrent economic conditions.   Sure, there was some over building of courses in the previous 20 years, and club makers have to understand that golfers are not going to layout $400 every year for a new 460cc driver that they hit no better than the 460cc driver they had 5 years ago.  But the game itself appears very solid in my area and the number of young participants appears to be very robust.  The future of the game appears fine where I am.

post #14 of 20

Next year will resurrect Golf.  A young superstar in Speith that is up and coming and a healthy Tiger.  

post #15 of 20

I am sure the old game is just fine, unlike so many whiners and worrywarts. Folks have been predicting the end of the world for a long, long time. :dance:

post #16 of 20
I think instruction will improve in ways we didn't imagine. While I doubt there will be a cultural shift in terms of slow play, lower scoring will put a little dent in slow rounds. Will I see it in my lifetime? Maybe, probably not.
post #17 of 20
I don't see a problem, unless you work for an equipment manufacturer or golf course designer.

When I was a kid (I'm now a geezer), it was possible to learn golf and earn some money as a caddy.
There were not so many golfers then (or Americans for that matter ... traffic jams did not exist as a
concept). Courses were not at all crowded, and nobody complained about "slow play". It was common
practice for golfers to stop in the clubhouse at the turn and have lunch.

I think we should be discouraging people from taking up golf; there are simply too many golfers.
post #18 of 20

I like to look at it in terms of minimum wage.  When I first started working a real job in highschool in the 90s I think I made about 5 bucks an hour.  I could get a combo at McDonalds for under an hour's worth of work.  Movie tickets were about 5 bucks, also about an hour's worth of work.  Fast forward to now and you can't get those things for the same amount of work.  I doubt golf is any less affordable now than it was then.  What's a typical round cost now?  $40-50?  You think people are going to work 7 hours for 4 hours of entertainment?  Whatever, I'm just throwing out numbers.  Maybe the game was never intended for people outside the top 15 or 20 percent of wage earners, I don't know.

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