I think it depends on who tells the story and how they want to manipulate / tell it. I watched HBO Real Sports last night which addressed the declining state of golf in the USA and featured Mark King as "Chicken Little". According to King, the USA has averaged 130 course closings per year over the last three years. There was no mention to how many new ones were built during that time other than Jack stating in his interview that his company is not contracted to build any new courses in the US and is focused on building new courses outside the US. There was also no mention of how the real estate / mortgage collapse impacted golf course communities and closed courses due to the neighborhood failing rather than the golf course.
King cited expense, time and difficulty as the main causes for golfs downturn, yet seems more than happy to keep it expensive (based on TM pricing of equipment) and instead focus on making it more fun and less time consuming, i.e. hackgolf.
I don't like King (great marketer though) and I was 100% against hackgolf and the larger holes but after seeing the piece on Real Sports I've softened my position. If Hackgolf will attract kids and lesser skilled players to the game, then it can act as a gateway sport to golf though King's involvement in it is purely self serving and a means to simply sell more golf equipment to more people. If this is going to be a real initiative the golf community takes on I'd like to see the USGA take the reins and lead the charge with it, not King.