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Has Golf Gotten More or Less Popular in the Last 10-20 Years?

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What is the latest word on the popularity of this sport?

Are courses still closing?   Private club decline in favor of golf now?

Helicopter parenting not letting parents go play golf for 5 hours?

What has been the story the last 10 years?

Any articles you can link to?

 

LAst thread on this from 2012

 

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Here in Argentina golf is less popular than 20 years ago. 

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29 minutes ago, Vinsk said:

The NGF's annual Golf Industry Report consolidates many of the game's key metrics, providing a holistic view of...

The takeaway may be the first graphic:

Golf-Participation-Slide2x.jpg

Indoor or "screen golf" is growing pretty rapidly. Golf itself is staying about the same. Some others:

Quote

That was abundantly clear in 2018, when rounds-played dipped 4.8 percent to 434 million, a decline driven by heavier precipitation levels than normal across the country during the busiest months for golf. The reduction in rounds was more due to a lack of playable days than a lack of interest, however. In fact, participation increased incrementally for the first time in 14 years, with an estimated 24.2 million people playing golf on a course.

Beginners-Slide4x.jpg

Quote

Interest in playing golf among non-golfers is at an all-time high, with 14.7 million people saying they would like to play golf on a course, but that latent demand is not enough to celebrate. The industry needs to continue making golf more welcoming and less intimidating for beginners while at the same time embracing its steady pool of committed golfers, a core group that accounts for about 95 percent of spending and rounds-played.

 

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Based on what I have seen, talking with course managers, courses closing , and green fees dropping to get more golfers to play, my guess is this. Based on the number of potentially new golfers available, but not taking it up, I'd say golf is not as strong today as in the past 10-20 years. 

I can remember courses being busy during the week, and pretty much over crowded on weekends. I don't see much of that anymore. This, while living in a golf destination area of the country.  

Obviously the more famous courses are probably doing ok, but over all, I think golf could use more folks playing the game. There is plenty of room. 

Edited by Patch

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29 minutes ago, Patch said:

Based on what I have seen, talking with course managers, courses closing , and green fees dropping to get more golfers to play, my guess is this. Based on the number of potentially new golfers available, but not taking it up, I'd say golf is not as strong today as in the past 10-20 years. 

I can remember courses being busy during the week, and pretty much over crowded on weekends. I don't see much of that anymore. This, while living in a golf destination area of the country.  

Obviously the more famous courses are probably doing ok, but over all, I think golf could use more folks playing the game. There is plenty of room. 

So you're taking the local scene and applying it to all of golf?

Because where I live, golf is doing quite well. Today at my local but somewhat pricy public course, they have a full tee sheet until about 4pm. I was on the practice green and two foursomes of women went out, followed by some 20-something guys, and then some 60-somethings.

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In my rural economically depressed area in southern Ohio at 3 courses have closed in the last few years and the remaining ones struggle to make enough money to maintain the courses properly.

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On 7/4/2019 at 11:14 AM, iacas said:

So you're taking the local scene and applying it to all of golf?

Because where I live, golf is doing quite well. Today at my local but somewhat pricy public course, they have a full tee sheet until about 4pm. I was on the practice green and two foursomes of women went out, followed by some 20-something guys, and then some 60-somethings.

No not really a local small area, (Vegas) but an area thar could cover as much as 4 or 5 states, and upwards 20 or so golf courses. I travel alot, and can consider this my local area. I am less than 100 miles from several quality courses in NV, AZ, CA, and UT. This is where my observation comes from.

On another note, I read somewhere that a golf analytical company "Pullucid Corp" (my spelling might wrong here) stated that from 2000, to 2016 (?). the game of golf lost over 10 million amateur golfers. It went from 30 million to 20 million. They concluded that golf was not growing, but in fact suffering. I don't remember if they actually used the term "a dying sport".

Now, I also remember taking a course in college on analysis, statistics, and polls. We were taught that these were never 100% accurate. More like 75-80 % accurate. So, maybe Pullucid's numbers might be flawed alittle.

Like I said in my first post, more popular areas are still doing ok. Places like Pebble, and Bandon, out west, still have lengthy waiting lists. It's the smaller less popular courses that are struggling due to current low number of golfers available to use them. 

jmho.

 

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On 7/4/2019 at 11:14 AM, iacas said:

I was on the practice green and two foursomes of women went out, followed by some 20-something guys, and then some 60-somethings.

Fortunately, all of them subscribe to TST.😁  Iacas, have you ever run a demographic analysis on your members?

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7 hours ago, Double Mocha Man said:

Fortunately, all of them subscribe to TST.😁  Iacas, have you ever run a demographic analysis on your members?

Yes.

7 hours ago, Patch said:

No not really a local small area, (Vegas) but an area thar could cover as much as 4 or 5 states, and upwards 20 or so golf courses. I travel alot, and can consider this my local area. I am less than 100 miles from several quality courses in NV, AZ, CA, and UT. This is where my observation comes from.

It's still pretty localized.

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No stats here but...

-Boomer numbers have to be effecting rounds due to health and passing...in my community there are three residential subdivision golf courses closing or struggling...two public courses have closed. With a very few exceptions, Private courses are all offering "annual tryout deals" and are reassessing share price buy-in...folks can't sell shares so are offering their annual access on kijiji...its gonna take a while before the millennial cohort start effecting golf rounds

-mobile computing has to be effecting golf rounds in the same way it has affected or killed many industries. If you have grown up on a screen, many will play golf on a screen. Pay as you go, no weather issues, less time away from family,  job, friends and other screen activities...If I had the $$ and house size, I'd have an indoor simulator

-and I wonder, going forward, if the climate change issue is also going to somehow create a backlash against golf...water use, chemical use etc...courses may have to do a better job of environmental advertising (recognizing courses probably do a better environmental job than a multi level parking lot i.e. animal safety in cities, water retention)

-all this means, as #'rs decline in my area and while my health is still good, I'll continue to easily get my rounds in...the wife and I are probably getting +100 rounds in...we are doing our part

 

 

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Golf is in decline.  I say the answer is in marketing (I'm a marketing consultant).  What do your local courses do to encourage participation?  Do they ever reach out to the community?  Host events?  Offer incentives to first timers to come to a free clinic?  Do the courses we play at recognize and appreciate our patronage?  Have you ever received so much as a "thank you" card or birthday greeting with an offer for a discounted or even free round?  How about programs to encourage you to bring others to the game?

Golf courses are small businesses.  And like most small businesses that see their sales falling off, they do nothing proactive or, God forbid, aggressive to change the situation.  They blame the market and the "kids these days".  I say nonsense.  Get the message out.  Educate the public about the virtues of golf.  Kill the "fuddy duddy" image.  Get off your butts (course owners) and DO something.

If you need help, let me know...

Oh, and another thing:  what kind of "customer service" do you receive at the courses you play?  I rank my experiences between Indifferent and Appalling.  No greeting by the cart attendants, curt pro shop staff, a bombardment of signs telling me what I can't do, surly starters, ill-tempered rangers...  I constantly ask myself, "I paid (insert fee here) for this?"

Just recently, I was playing by myself and was accosted by a ranger telling me to "pick up the pace", then demanded to see my receipt as if I just stole the cart and tried playing for free.  There was no one in front of or behind me, and I play there frequently.  Not once have I been greeted with "Good to see you again!" or anything like it. 

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5 minutes ago, LightsOut said:

Golf is in decline.  I say the answer is in marketing (I'm a marketing consultant).  What do your local courses do to encourage participation?  Do they ever reach out to the community?  Host events?  Offer incentives to first timers to come to a free clinic?  Do the courses we play at recognize and appreciate our patronage?  Have you ever received so much as a "thank you" card or birthday greeting with an offer for a discounted or even free round?  How about programs to encourage you to bring others to the game?

Golf courses are small businesses.  And like most small businesses that see their sales falling off, they do nothing proactive or, God forbid, aggressive to change the situation.  They blame the market and the "kids these days".  I say nonsense.  Get the message out.  Educate the public about the virtues of golf.  Kill the "fuddy duddy" image.  Get off your butts (course owners) and DO something.

If you need help, let me know...

I think courses are still "old school" and working under the assumption that if you build it they will come.  Or, if it's already built, they will still come.

Where I live I think there are more golf courses (15 within 20 miles) per capita than almost anywhere else in the U.S., except for Myrtle Beach, yet none of them have closed.  Always offering 18 holes of golf, a cart, a hot dog and a beer or a wide variety of golf tournaments or other deals.  One course offers group lessons for women with a glass of wine near sunset.  I haven't yet checked out the "Wine Aficionado" rating for the wine they're offering.

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29 minutes ago, LightsOut said:

Golf is in decline.  I say the answer is in marketing (I'm a marketing consultant).  What do your local courses do to encourage participation?  Do they ever reach out to the community?  Host events?  Offer incentives to first timers to come to a free clinic?  Do the courses we play at recognize and appreciate our patronage?  Have you ever received so much as a "thank you" card or birthday greeting with an offer for a discounted or even free round?  How about programs to encourage you to bring others to the game?

Golf courses are small businesses.  And like most small businesses that see their sales falling off, they do nothing proactive or, God forbid, aggressive to change the situation.  They blame the market and the "kids these days".  I say nonsense.  Get the message out.  Educate the public about the virtues of golf.  Kill the "fuddy duddy" image.  Get off your butts (course owners) and DO something.

If you need help, let me know...

Oh, and another thing:  what kind of "customer service" do you receive at the courses you play?  I rank my experiences between Indifferent and Appalling.  No greeting by the cart attendants, curt pro shop staff, a bombardment of signs telling me what I can't do, surly starters, ill-tempered rangers...  I constantly ask myself, "I paid (insert fee here) for this?"

Just recently, I was playing by myself and was accosted by a ranger telling me to "pick up the pace", then demanded to see my receipt as if I just stole the cart and tried playing for free.  There was no one in front of or behind me, and I play there frequently.  Not once have I been greeted with "Good to see you again!" or anything like it. 

LIghtsOut - I 100% agree with your comments.  

Most of the golf courses that I play don't even have up-to-date websites or Twitter/Facebook/Instagram feeds/pages.

Golf courses should work on "selling the experience".  Nothing is more frustrating than spending $70 plus for a round of golf to feel like a second class customer by the rangers, starters, pro shop staff, etc..  However, the cart girls, halfway house staff, and bar staff are typically on point with cheerful and helpful demeanors. 

Great example, this weekend I left a gap wedge on a green.  Passing the Ranger, I asked if he could see if the group or two behind us found the lost club.  "Not his job"  The cart girl found the club and returned it to me almost immediately. Well worth the $20 tip.

Edited by Three Putts or No Putt

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1 hour ago, Three Putts or No Putt said:

Nothing is more frustrating than spending $70 plus for a round of golf to feel like a second class customer by the rangers, starters, pro shop staff, etc..  However, the cart girls, halfway house staff, and bar staff are typically on point with cheerful and helpful demeanors. 

How often do the rangers get tips vs the others listed?

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1 minute ago, Talldog said:

How often do the rangers get tips vs the others listed?

How often do rangers do anything to earn a tip? 

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Tigers success drove the mass marketing of the business of golf, and that has declined. But I think the game in general is still much more popular today in comparison to any past periods.  

I think the business of golf needs to adapt to a fundamental reality that it is a very difficult game and most people don't want to spend 4-5 hours of their day on a golf course. Especially the millennial generation who will become the games primary consumer in the next 10-15 years. Ive seen some courses be successful with three hole loops and shorter experiences like that. That kind of reorganization probably needs to become more of a trend. 

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2 hours ago, LightsOut said:

Golf is in decline.  I say the answer is in marketing (I'm a marketing consultant).  What do your local courses do to encourage participation?  Do they ever reach out to the community?  Host events?  Offer incentives to first timers to come to a free clinic?  Do the courses we play at recognize and appreciate our patronage?  Have you ever received so much as a "thank you" card or birthday greeting with an offer for a discounted or even free round?  How about programs to encourage you to bring others to the game?

Golf courses are small businesses.  And like most small businesses that see their sales falling off, they do nothing proactive or, God forbid, aggressive to change the situation.  They blame the market and the "kids these days".  I say nonsense.  Get the message out.  Educate the public about the virtues of golf.  Kill the "fuddy duddy" image.  Get off your butts (course owners) and DO something.

If you need help, let me know...

Oh, and another thing:  what kind of "customer service" do you receive at the courses you play?  I rank my experiences between Indifferent and Appalling.  No greeting by the cart attendants, curt pro shop staff, a bombardment of signs telling me what I can't do, surly starters, ill-tempered rangers...  I constantly ask myself, "I paid (insert fee here) for this?"

Just recently, I was playing by myself and was accosted by a ranger telling me to "pick up the pace", then demanded to see my receipt as if I just stole the cart and tried playing for free.  There was no one in front of or behind me, and I play there frequently.  Not once have I been greeted with "Good to see you again!" or anything like it. 

My home course is not like you described. From management on down, they treat their customers graciously. Then again they are a small town course, with lots of retirees who golf. 

That said, with all the different courses I play, I do see these pompous, arrogant attitudes, on alot of courses. 

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