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Why isn't golf attracting more new players?


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  1. 1. What's the major reason golf isn't attracting many new players

    • Economy - disposable income is down
      78
    • A round of golf just takes too long these days
      27
    • Bad image - people think golf is for the old and rich
      14
    • Tiger isn't playing as well as he used to
      5
    • Rules are too complicated
      2
    • Golf clubs are too expensive
      14
    • Greater time demands from family and job
      18
    • USGA is taking the fun out of golf - Anchored stroke ban
      2
    • Golf is too hard and frustrating to play
      23
    • Not enough qualified instructors for kids
      0
    • Lack of public courses in your area
      4
    • Not enough golf ranges in your area
      2
    • Insufficient coverage by mainstream media
      2
    • Fear of playing as single or with strangers
      2
    • Golf is doing fine, there are no problems with it.
      31


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MHO, it's all about time.  Golf is a very time consuming activity, from the actual playing of a round to practice.  With all of the demands a family and a job put on an individual, there is little time left for an activity like golf.

I was somewhat fortunate, my wife is a school teacher with summers off, so I was able to play golf in the summer time without putting much of a strain on family time.  Plus I would find time when "other" activities were going on that I wasn't needed, like attending mass.  I would get up early on Sunday mornings, have a 6:30am tee time, be home by 10:30am and they would just be getting home from church.  But once school started, my golf was over, I would feel lucky to get in 2 rounds of golf after September 1st.

I also found alternate ways to practice, after I took my son to football practice I would practice sand shots in the school play ground area or while my daughter was at volleyball practice I would hit partial wedges in the school yard..  All that said, I still took time away from family and it was not easy making it work, so I can understand why people would not be drawn to the game.

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Although the economy is tough on  everything, golf has been stagnant or declining well before the current recession. Golf is competing for people's time with a host of other time demands.  As a

The question was about "new players."  Dude's a 1 handicap, so I don't think he qualifies as "new."  And I think he's very right.  That is absolutely one answer you'll get when you ask non-golfers for

I'm probably a case study.    The reason I never wanted to even try it & waited until I was 46 years old to play (guilted into playing an outing by my boss & thats all it took) was that I knew

Originally Posted by meenman

Of course we need new golfers. Every day we are losing golfers due to age, financial situation or time.

Many courses are close to being not financially viable.

Without new bodies, there will be fewer places to play and costs that will make it prohibitive for more people.

I see some courses that can't pay the bills, but just as many (if not more) where you couldn't get a tee time 2 weeks in advance, and when you do you can expect a 6-hour round.  Golf courses are changing, becoming bigger, tougher, and more complex, and as a result more expensive.  But these are the courses most folks want to play.  The older courses in a lot of areas are dying because many more modern courses are being added and the older courses haven't kept up with the expectations of modern golfers, not because player numbers are dwindling.

Another problem might be us--at least if you're like me.  I am approached by a co-worker once a week at least.  They own a set of clubs, have played 2 or 3 times a year, hear some of the regular golfers in the office telling golf stories, and can see themselves playing golf more.  At least every other month someone who I'd qualify as a beginner hints that they'd like me to take them out to the course and show them a few pointers.

I should probably be doing my part to help some newbies, and it's the older simpler courses where they should be playing.  But I don't.  I guess I'm selfish.  I only get to play around 5 rounds per month, and usually those are sunrise rounds on Saturday so that I can get home early and spend time with the family.  And when I go, I don't want to play a beginner course.

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Originally Posted by dak4n6

I dunno, in my neck of the woods, it seems supply and demand are fairly balanced. We had a bunch of new courses built about 20 years ago (I count 6 within a 30 mi radius) and all are still healthy and alive today along with the older established courses. And, getting tee times is still difficult and courses are backed up and it's hard to find a spot on the range. I find myself somtimes wishing golf were not so popular..

Its definitely regional ... I've only been playing 2 years, and during that time, 4 courses have closed.     Still have a dozen or more within an hours drive, so I'm not complaining, but it is discouraging when I see some nice tracks close.     Coinscidentally(or maybe not), those courses that closed would NEVER use golfnow ... it's just a suspicion, but seems to me that so many more golfers today are looking for deals at the courses that use golfnow, and those that refuse simply don't see the traffic (maybe it's to a far lesser degree, but it still seems logical that using golfnow would be a viable factor in a courses success today).

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Originally Posted by newtogolf

You make some fair points, I know when I started playing seriously I was very self conscious of the time I took, but that's the nature of golf.  You can't expect to hold up the entire course while learning how to play, that's why there are driving ranges and Par 3 courses to practice at.  If you play ready golf and pick up at double par you're likely going to maintain pace if the rest of your group has decent golfers in it.  If you understand going into a round that pace of play is important you set the expectations that if your group falls behind the group in front, you will just pick up the ball and drop where your cart mates next shot is from.

I agree here.  There is a  line between having patience and being respectful to players of all abilities.

I think it takes the pressure of newbies to start with a rule that limits the max number of strokes on a hole.  And teach newbies "ready golf" which isn't the same as "speed golf".  You can still have a relatively leisurely round while playing ready golf.

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Its definitely regional ... I've only been playing 2 years, and during that time, 4 courses have closed.     Still have a dozen or more within an hours drive, so I'm not complaining, but it is discouraging when I see some nice tracks close.     Coinscidentally(or maybe not), those courses that closed would NEVER use golfnow ... it's just a suspicion, but seems to me that so many more golfers today are looking for deals at the courses that use golfnow, and those that refuse simply don't see the traffic (maybe it's to a far lesser degree, but it still seems logical that using golfnow would be a viable factor in a courses success today).

There is a fine line to walk with these deals. A course will never survive giving out those rates all week long. However, when used occasionally to fill empty slots, it can be a cheap way of advertising if the course is in good shape. I do not see my club as sustainable as a private course. Luckily membership has remained relatively flat for years, but the spending inside has dropped considerably. They have tried to compete with the chain restaurants price wise - which works the night of the special, but destroys business when things are full price. Bottom line, if they opened up to the public, the tee sheet would be jammed with people that couldnt play the course previously and outside weekend tournaments will generate more revenue than membership does. At the same tine, they will take fron their sister course down the road that is public.

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Originally Posted by meenman

There is a fine line to walk with these deals. A course will never survive giving out those rates all week long. However, when used occasionally to fill empty slots, it can be a cheap way of advertising if the course is in good shape.

As for the golfnow thing ... from a purely uninformed standpoint, if I were running a course, I would rather have the tee sheet filled at $25 a head, than have it more than half empty at $55 a head.    So many places just won't do it though ... which is where bottomfeeders like me get pi$$ed & will never pay full price to play their course, when all the others in the area use golfnow.     Not using golfnow seems like an elitist thing to me ... maintaining some sense of exclusivity by ALWAYS charging the higher rate with a more than half empty course, rather than filling it up with more reasonable prices for the average golfer... hey, it's their perogative, but they shouldn't be surprised when the bank comes knocking when most computer savvy people are playing somewhere else  ...

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Originally Posted by inthehole

As for the golfnow thing ... from a purely uninformed standpoint, if I were running a course, I would rather have the tee sheet filled at $25 a head, than have it more than half empty at $55 a head.    So many places just won't do it though ... which is where bottomfeeders like me get pi$$ed & will never pay full price to play their course, when all the others in the area use golfnow.     Not using golfnow seems like an elitist thing to me ... maintaining some sense of exclusivity by ALWAYS charging the higher rate with a more than half empty course, rather than filling it up with more reasonable prices for the average golfer... hey, it's their perogative, but they shouldn't be surprised when the bank comes knocking when most computer savvy people are playing somewhere else  ...

I don't think golf courses actually get the full amount of money you pay to golfnow.com.  The course only gets a percentage of the charge for each time..way less than what they would make for a walk-in golfer.

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As for the golfnow thing ... from a purely uninformed standpoint, if I were running a course, I would rather have the tee sheet filled at $25 a head, than have it more than half empty at $55 a head.    So many places just won't do it though ... which is where bottomfeeders like me get pi$$ed & will never pay full price to play their course, when all the others in the area use golfnow.     Not using golfnow seems like an elitist thing to me ... maintaining some sense of exclusivity by ALWAYS charging the higher rate with a more than half empty course, rather than filling it up with more reasonable prices for the average golfer... hey, it's their perogative, but they shouldn't be surprised when the bank comes knocking when most computer savvy people are playing somewhere else  ...

what you have to realize is that a course will not survive on a day full of 25 dollar tee times either. there is nothing wrong with a course using golfnow to fill in some empty slots when play is slow. But a course needs to to make sure it is generating revenue during peak times. If a course is using 1 of the services to fill weekend morning tee times its future is bleak it best.

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I use golf now often to get on some of the nicer courses for 50% or better off. You just need to be flexible and willing to take 11:56 or later tee times and having weekdays available really helps. Some courses will only post one spot a day and others every hour will have spot. Win win for all. I've taken some noon tee times in the heat of summer and literally been the only guy on the course. But heck, I work in that heat wearing a bulletproof vest so golfing in shorts and dry fit shirt is like being in the a/c.
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okay i have heard time and money seems to be the obstacle for new players or retaining existing player. i like to fish (this will lead up to why i started golf or  one of the many reasons LOL) okay initial investment, Boat, depends on what or where you fish, i have a 21 ft bayhawk 01 model does what and where i want to go, 16 18 k, now you need to "fit" the  boat (sound similar) PFD's fire exstinglisers ect. 1k o boy. Now your first trip, fuel, 40 gal tank at $3.70 gal round that up $160, bait $25 fishing licenses $70, food drinks $100, and hell that's just getting ready the day before the trip, time you spent just on that 4 hrs. Load the boat get tackle poles pistol etc loaded 2-3 hrs okay now looks like about $355 and you haven't hit the water, time to get to this point 6-7 hrs. okay day of the trip o chit forgot to fill the truck another $75 plus morning breakfast tacos coffee ye gads another $20, okay trip to the boat ramp some fees might apply depends where you go, state park, national seashore another $10 -20 chit we up to $470 and haven't dropped the boat off the trailer, again time another 2 hrs, we up to 9 hrs. okay finally fishing after a 1 hr boat trip fish for 8 -10 hrs loose tackle break a pole stick a hook through your finger etc. maybe catch your limit or not. now boat ride home clean the boat, gear put chit up that day alone 14 hrs if your lucky o and don't forget IF you caught fish you need to clean and package. that one reason i went to golf. lots of money and time, o and hopefully your fishing partners pitches in a benji to help out on occured expenses hell just for him he is out a benji plus what he brought. i usually spent a good part of 3 days getting prepped and getting un prepped. now golf initial investment $300-$600 for some halfway decent sticks some balls gloves what ever suits your fancy maybe 1k each round of golf 30- 95 bucks depends on where you go (usually $35 with cart) plus small incedentals maybe $75 plus 4 + hrs damn big difference. to put up with slow play meh run the beotches over and play on

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Golfnow is great for the golfer, not the course. If the course gets anything, it is a small percentage. One head pro told me (not sure I believe him) that they get nothing other than a warm body that hopefully buys drinks. I do know that when I have used golfnow, the courses are adamant about not offering the price without my copy of the email.
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Originally Posted by el shanko

okay i have heard time and money seems to be the obstacle for new players or retaining existing player. i like to fish (this will lead up to why i started golf or  one of the many reasons LOL) okay initial investment, Boat, depends on what or where you fish, i have a 21 ft bayhawk 01 model does what and where i want to go, 16 18 k, now you need to "fit" the  boat (sound similar) PFD's fire exstinglisers ect. 1k o boy. Now your first trip, fuel, 40 gal tank at $3.70 gal round that up $160, bait $25 fishing licenses $70, food drinks $100, and hell that's just getting ready the day before the trip, time you spent just on that 4 hrs. Load the boat get tackle poles pistol etc loaded 2-3 hrs okay now looks like about $355 and you haven't hit the water, time to get to this point 6-7 hrs. okay day of the trip o chit forgot to fill the truck another $75 plus morning breakfast tacos coffee ye gads another $20, okay trip to the boat ramp some fees might apply depends where you go, state park, national seashore another $10 -20 chit we up to $470 and haven't dropped the boat off the trailer, again time another 2 hrs, we up to 9 hrs. okay finally fishing after a 1 hr boat trip fish for 8 -10 hrs loose tackle break a pole stick a hook through your finger etc. maybe catch your limit or not. now boat ride home clean the boat, gear put chit up that day alone 14 hrs if your lucky o and don't forget IF you caught fish you need to clean and package. that one reason i went to golf. lots of money and time, o and hopefully your fishing partners pitches in a benji to help out on occured expenses hell just for him he is out a benji plus what he brought. i usually spent a good part of 3 days getting prepped and getting un prepped. now golf initial investment $300-$600 for some halfway decent sticks some balls gloves what ever suits your fancy maybe 1k each round of golf 30- 95 bucks depends on where you go (usually $35 with cart) plus small incedentals maybe $75 plus 4 + hrs damn big difference. to put up with slow play meh run the beotches over and play on

Wow - I thought I was the only one.     I've always had bass boats (including glass tournament versions with big V6 outboards) ... as for cost, golf is childs play by comparison, considering the investment, fuel needed to run 70+ mph on the water (~ 2 nautical miles/gallon when you really start grinning & the skin starts peeling back off your face at speed - you'll easily go through 2-24 gallon tanks per day of a 2 day tournament) & you need a V8 truck to pull it on top of everything else.      My whole life I heard you can't fish and golf - which is why I never tried golf until middle age.     Only thing is that nobody told me golf was so much fun (I'm done with tournaments & my boats have barely got wet since I started playing 2 years ago - gotta even it out a little this year) ...

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Originally Posted by k-troop

Another problem might be us--at least if you're like me.  I am approached by a co-worker once a week at least.  They own a set of clubs, have played 2 or 3 times a year, hear some of the regular golfers in the office telling golf stories, and can see themselves playing golf more.  At least every other month someone who I'd qualify as a beginner hints that they'd like me to take them out to the course and show them a few pointers.

I should probably be doing my part to help some newbies, and it's the older simpler courses where they should be playing.  But I don't.  I guess I'm selfish.  I only get to play around 5 rounds per month, and usually those are sunrise rounds on Saturday so that I can get home early and spend time with the family.  And when I go, I don't want to play a beginner course.

You don't have to put yourself out I don't think, but you can help them become keen on the game, give them pointers to those cheap and easier courses. Tell them about each other so maybe they can get a beginners group together etc. If you don't mind hanging out with them, you could also go to the range with them, no harm to you there? You are also in the prime position to help them understand the aforementioned unwritten rules about pace of play etc that beginners just don't know when they get out there.

Just a though tho.

In response to whether new players are needed at all, I guess people might not care what happens when they can't play anymore, but to keep the courses and game going, every sport needs to fill the attrition rate with new blood.

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Originally Posted by inthehole

Wow - I thought I was the only one.     I've always had bass boats (including glass tournament versions with big V6 outboards) ... as for cost, golf is childs play by comparison, considering the investment, fuel needed to run 70+ mph on the water (~ 2 nautical miles/gallon when you really start grinning & the skin starts peeling back off your face at speed - you'll easily go through 2-24 gallon tanks per day of a 2 day tournament) & you need a V8 truck to pull it on top of everything else.      My whole life I heard you can't fish and golf - which is why I never tried golf until middle age.     Only thing is that nobody told me golf was so much fun (I'm done with tournaments & my boats have barely got wet since I started playing 2 years ago - gotta even it out a little this year) ...

my boat has been sitting idle for a couple of years, go figure money and time lol. kids are grown and off the payroll. except for the stables and volunteering for every damn thing that comes up i have plenty of time and a very little bit of money. might be a little off topic but its funny "hearing you all" or proper "typing" about all the little or big rules about golf, your swing plain(sp), yada yada, sometimes i develop a headache by looking at that and my head starts spinning i kind of laugh, golf is a fun sport dont get angry about all the small things of the game. heck mentioned i bought a new "stick" holy crap i cant hit the broad side of a barn with it, but last night after our round i went to my private driving range LOL i found a couple small mistakes i was making, my ball placement on my stance lo and behold i started to have better ball striking and distance well tonight (even with a stiff 40+ north wind) at me i will tee a couple off in the farmers field and see if i did correct some thing, i sure hope i will.

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Originally Posted by meenman

Golfnow is great for the golfer, not the course. If the course gets anything, it is a small percentage. One head pro told me (not sure I believe him) that they get nothing other than a warm body that hopefully buys drinks.

I do know that when I have used golfnow, the courses are adamant about not offering the price without my copy of the email.

I've heard the exact same thing from the people at my home course...they get little to nothing from a golfnow tee time booking.

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Originally Posted by inthehole

As for the golfnow thing ... from a purely uninformed standpoint, if I were running a course, I would rather have the tee sheet filled at $25 a head, than have it more than half empty at $55 a head.    So many places just won't do it though ... which is where bottomfeeders like me get pi$$ed & will never pay full price to play their course, when all the others in the area use golfnow.     Not using golfnow seems like an elitist thing to me ... maintaining some sense of exclusivity by ALWAYS charging the higher rate with a more than half empty course, rather than filling it up with more reasonable prices for the average golfer... hey, it's their perogative, but they shouldn't be surprised when the bank comes knocking when most computer savvy people are playing somewhere else  ...

This is where the elitist mentality comes from because some courses don't want to attract the golfer looking for $25 rounds.

If a course usually charges $55+ per round it's likely doing a decent business at that price, if it wasn't it would be forced to drop it's price.  At that price they probably don't get a lot of annoying drunken golfers that hack up the course and ruin it for the more serious golfers.  When you have a Golfnow charging half the price it attracts not only the budget conscious serious golfers, but the drunken hackers too, which could in turn cause the regulars to look for another course to play.  In that case, not only is the course getting less than their $55 per round, but they risk losing $55 / round customers because of the bad element the lower green fees potentially attract.

Part of marketing is to set the price for your product so that it's attractive to your target market.  Some golf courses set their prices higher to give the appearance they are a higher end course in order to attract more serious and higher income golfers and catering to that clientele is more important to them than having all their tee times booked.

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