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Golf's future: 'Time and format can be looked at relatively easily' [ The BBC]


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This piece quotes a lot from a marketing guy at HSBC and is more of a warning shot from sponsors with money to the people running the R&A; but the comments at the bottom are interesting

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People playing golf once a week, every week, in England

Year 14-25 year olds 16-25 year olds All ages (16+)

2009-10

95,700

860,900

2010-11

73,100

833,200

2011-12

55,900

850,500

2012-13

61,400

52,400

751,900

http://www.bbc.com/sport/0/golf/30871412

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I think the numbers reflect the economy in general. Discretionary spending is down. I think with today's global economy, I see the trend continuing.
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I agree.  The US economy is picking up and I think so will the US golf industry.  The EU is still struggling, but I think that will come back too.

In my area, there really hasn't been a down turn.  The courses are full for the most part.  I talked to a retailers who said they really didn't see much of a drop over the last 7 years even with the recession.  But Massachusetts wasn't hit as hard as other areas.

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I agree.  The US economy is picking up and I think so will the US golf industry.  The EU is still struggling, but I think that will come back too. In my area, there really hasn't been a down turn.  The courses are full for the most part.  I talked to a retailers who said they really didn't see much of a drop over the last 7 years even with the recession.  But Massachusetts wasn't hit as hard as other areas.

I am curious, because I am in golf industry in New England and this goes against everything I have ever heard. Maybe I mis understood your statement, were you speaking to golf independent retailers or golf courses? Or pro shops at golf courses? inside of Rt 128 or 495 you are really talking to a highly populated, maximum income area of the Northeast ( in line with other areas such as Fairfield county, and Long Island. ) Massachusetts was not immune to the economic conditions, the affluent were impacted less, it was middle (<75K & low incomes that were most effected. with many being private courses and the few that are not are semi private catering to the upper 10% of the income levels- which is much higher than other parts of the country. Last years rounds in New England were down big time, more so than previous years which were also down, Last year obviously due to the weather and course conditions, inventory levels were way up. Just golf balls sales alone were off 25%. Everyone who plays golf, buys golf balls.

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I think focusing on the economy is wrong.  I'm sure that plays a role, but there are deeper changes in society.  Time is a big one that other sports, like baseball are also dealing with.  I think people's lives become more and more complicated and busy, the role of men in the household has changed, and young people are growing up in a faster paced, digital world that is the opposite of golf.

Unfortunately, the changes that I think are necessary if you want to grow the game would be complete turn offs to the traditional crowd--myself included.  Maybe the answer is just to accept that participation will be lower in the future?

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I think focusing on the economy is wrong.  I'm sure that plays a role, but there are deeper changes in society.  Time is a big one that other sports, like baseball are also dealing with.  I think people's lives become more and more complicated and busy, the role of men in the household has changed, and young people are growing up in a faster paced, digital world that is the opposite of golf.   Unfortunately, the changes that I think are necessary if you want to grow the game would be complete turn offs to the traditional crowd--myself included.  Maybe the answer is just to accept that participation will be lower in the future?

I will continue to play until I become priced out of the market. I don't see that happening because I'll play lesser courses if they're cheaper. I don't like goat tracks, but they don't have to be pristine for my game. What bothers me more is the price of beer at the courses. I can't pay $4 for a beer when I can bring my own for less than $1. Sorry cart girls. They're the ones I feel bad for.

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I think that somehow we need to find a way to make the point that people can play the same game as the Pros without imitating the Pros.  The weekend golfer doesn't need to make every drop perfectly - unless he's playing in a competition, he just needs to know the basics.  He doesn't have to analyze every stroke from all angles, or plot a perfect curve for his 40 yard slice.  He doesn't need to take 3 practice swings for every stroke.  He doesn't need to take 5 minutes to search for a ball that vanished into 3 foot deep grass and brush - golf balls are meant to be lost, and if you can't afford that then buy cheaper balls.  He doesn't need to stalk every putt from the 8 cardinal compass points.  He doesn't need to mark and lift and polish his ball unless it actually has something on it that would impair his putt, or it is in a position to interfere with another player's ball.

There are a dozen or more little things that don't seem like a big deal individually, but when all put together turn a 3½ hour round into a 4½ hour round.

My idea:  Hit the ball.  Go to where that shot landed, and hit it again.  If you don't find it within a minute or so, drop one and hit it ( I know, that sounds wrong for a so-called rules guy, but....).  Lather, rinse, repeat.  Let's get the game moving again.

Quote:

Originally Posted by dsc123

I think focusing on the economy is wrong.  I'm sure that plays a role, but there are deeper changes in society.  Time is a big one that other sports, like baseball are also dealing with.  I think people's lives become more and more complicated and busy, the role of men in the household has changed, and young people are growing up in a faster paced, digital world that is the opposite of golf.

Unfortunately, the changes that I think are necessary if you want to grow the game would be complete turn offs to the traditional crowd--myself included.  Maybe the answer is just to accept that participation will be lower in the future?

I will continue to play until I become priced out of the market. I don't see that happening because I'll play lesser courses if they're cheaper. I don't like goat tracks, but they don't have to be pristine for my game.

What bothers me more is the price of beer at the courses. I can't pay $4 for a beer when I can bring my own for less than $1. Sorry cart girls. They're the ones I feel bad for.

Poor excuse.  On most of the courses I play, you would be ejected for bringing your own.  The course pays a high premium for expanding the liquor license to include the course under its umbrella along with the clubhouse, so they are not about to allow you to sidestep that.

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I think that somehow we need to find a way to make the point that people can play the same game as the Pros without imitating the Pros.  The weekend golfer doesn't need to make every drop perfectly - unless he's playing in a competition, he just needs to know the basics.  He doesn't have to analyze every stroke from all angles, or plot a perfect curve for his 40 yard slice.  He doesn't need to take 3 practice swings for every stroke.  He doesn't need to take 5 minutes to search for a ball that vanished into 3 foot deep grass and brush - golf balls are meant to be lost, and if you can't afford that then buy cheaper balls.  He doesn't need to stalk every putt from the 8 cardinal compass points.  He doesn't need to mark and lift and polish his ball unless it actually has something on it that would impair his putt, or it is in a position to interfere with another player's ball.

There are a dozen or more little things that don't seem like a big deal individually, but when all put together turn a 3½ hour round into a 4½ hour round.

My idea:  Hit the ball.  Go to where that shot landed, and hit it again.  If you don't find it within a minute or so, drop one and hit it ( I know, that sounds wrong for a so-called rules guy, but....).  Lather, rinse, repeat.  Let's get the game moving again.

Agreed.  This is how I play.  When playing by myself (with a cart) on an open course, I can play 18 in less than 2 hours.

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Personally I will keep playing regardless of the economy. Watching my stocks, commodities, and what the money market is doing says the economy is improving, but not by very much, and definitely for not for most of the work force. It's the old white collar vs blue collar economics. My wife has a cousin who in addition to other works of law, is a bankruptcy attorney. He's still a very busy guy. His business has grown every year for the past 9 years. He expects the same this year. A very major hotel casino in Vegas, Caesar's Palace just file for chapter 11 protection. No there is still lots of room for improvement in the over all economy.

For golf to get back where it was during it's boom, will take a lot more of the blue collar work force getting back into the game. Demographics also comes into play.  It could be said that there are more folks not interested in golf, that are  now occupying the work force than there was 10-15 years ago. These folks will spend their hard earned money on other sports, other than  golf. Sports that interest them more.

I was at my grand daughters' basketball games last night. Talking with some of the younger parents, it was apparent they were quite satisfied that their children were playing less expensive, team sports. A $50 pair of shoes, and $25 league fee for 15 games is pretty affordable. One coach, while talking with my grand daughters made it known to them that they were his future, as a womens' basketball coach  when they get to middle school (Jr High). Golf is no different  than any other sport. It's future lies with today's children getting interested in it. .

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Quote:

Originally Posted by boogielicious

I agree.  The US economy is picking up and I think so will the US golf industry.  The EU is still struggling, but I think that will come back too.

In my area, there really hasn't been a down turn.  The courses are full for the most part.  I talked to a retailers who said they really didn't see much of a drop over the last 7 years even with the recession.  But Massachusetts wasn't hit as hard as other areas.

I am curious, because I am in golf industry in New England and this goes against everything I have ever heard. Maybe I mis understood your statement, were you speaking to golf independent retailers or golf courses? Or pro shops at golf courses? inside of Rt 128 or 495 you are really talking to a highly populated, maximum income area of the Northeast ( in line with other areas such as Fairfield county, and Long Island. ) Massachusetts was not immune to the economic conditions, the affluent were impacted less, it was middle (<75K & low incomes that were most effected. with many being private courses and the few that are not are semi private catering to the upper 10% of the income levels- which is much higher than other parts of the country.

Last years rounds in New England were down big time, more so than previous years which were also down, Last year obviously due to the weather and course conditions, inventory levels were way up. Just golf balls sales alone were off 25%. Everyone who plays golf, buys golf balls.

I live near Boston.  None of the courses I play have had much issue with numbers.  One private course, Georgetown, went public due to the downturn, but they have been busy.  Even some of the smaller courses have been doing well.  The courses I play in Rhode Island are doing fine as well.

I spoke to the manager at Golfer's Warehouse in Danvers after Dick's decided to get out of the business.  He used to work at Dick's but had been at GW for 6 years.  He said business has been steady even in the recession.

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Golf is just ridiculous expensive.. any way you slice it up. Money and Time. I know more golfsmith stores recently closed too. Courses are constantly closing. There are hardcore golfers like the folks who come here and it won't change, but casual and new golfers has been declining for some time. I have friends who used to golf, most dropped off suddenly, and play other sports leagues. Adult soccer or softball is $45 for entire summer... That is one damn greens fee for golf...people are moving away from killing an entire day golfing and dropping so much money every single round... and getting snickered at cause they still stink or their hcp stays at 18 at best. It takes SERIOUS devotion to be a low handicap and a lot of money and time....
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Golf is just ridiculous expensive.. any way you slice it up. Money and Time. I know more golfsmith stores recently closed too. Courses are constantly closing. There are hardcore golfers like the folks who come here and it won't change, but casual and new golfers has been declining for some time. I have friends who used to golf, most dropped off suddenly, and play other sports leagues. Adult soccer or softball is $45 for entire summer... That is one damn greens fee for golf...people are moving away from killing an entire day golfing and dropping so much money every single round... and getting snickered at cause they still stink or their hcp stays at 18 at best. It takes SERIOUS devotion to be a low handicap and a lot of money and time....

But most people can have fun without all of that.  Golf can be a lot cheaper.   My new home course, even without an annual membership, is $29 to walk 18 holes, and $12 to walk 9.  I'm on a fixed income (social security and investments), but I'm not about to let that keep me from playing.  I think that the reason more young people don't play has little to do with expense and more to do with time and interest.  Kids that have grown up during the computer age want more excitement than golf seems to offer.  Even though they may have what I view as a rather sedentary lifestyle with video games and such, there is still an adrenalin rush that comes with doing battle on screen that they see as being absent in golf.  Adrenalin is actually undesirable in golf because it messes with your thought processes and swing tempo.  My brother didn't take up golf until he retired because he had too much else on his plate (cycling, backpacking, kayaking, downhill and cross country skiing).  Now he's about as hooked on the game as I have been for 40 years.  I still don't think that the current downtrend is a death knell.  Lifestyles change, and recreational pastimes change with them.

I also feel that not everyone is driven to be a low handicapper.  Most golfers just enjoy being on the course, outside and having fun with friends, playing the best that time and talent allows.  In the last 6 or 7 years my handicap has gone up about 6 strokes, but I still love the game.  I love the challenge to try and get back as low as I can, even though there is little chance that I'll ever see the 70's again (except my age :doh: ).  You don't need $1500 clubs and $4 balls and a $10,000 club membership to get out and enjoy the game.  Only if you do become addicted like most of us does any of that really become a factor.  Even then those costs can be minimized by buying used clubs, playing the local muni or equivalent, playing TopFlite instead of Titleist, etc.

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I think focusing on the economy is wrong.  I'm sure that plays a role, but there are deeper changes in society.  Time is a big one that other sports, like baseball are also dealing with.  I think people's lives become more and more complicated and busy, the role of men in the household has changed, and young people are growing up in a faster paced, digital world that is the opposite of golf.

Unfortunately, the changes that I think are necessary if you want to grow the game would be complete turn offs to the traditional crowd--myself included.  Maybe the answer is just to accept that participation will be lower in the future?

I agree, the economy is a cop out excuse to avoid mass panic and provide hope to the industry that once the economy improves so will golf participation, it won't.

As you state, there are a lot more demands for our time these days.  Men are working longer hours, becoming more involved with family, have 1000 channels of entertainment on their big screen televisions, plus Netflix and the internet.   The net impact is less available time for golf.  Less time for golf means less practice leads to greater frustration on the course, it's a downward spiral.

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I agree, the economy is a cop out excuse to avoid mass panic and provide hope to the industry that once the economy improves so will golf participation, it won't. As you state, there are a lot more demands for our time these days.  Men are working longer hours, becoming more involved with family, have 1000 channels of entertainment on their big screen televisions, plus Netflix and the internet.   The net impact is less available time for golf.  Less time for golf means less practice leads to greater frustration on the course, it's a downward spiral.

I've got two toddlers at home. If this were mad Men days, I'd still play twice a week and tell my wife to watch the kids and have lunch ready when I got back. Instead, I beg and plead and play once or twice a month.

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I think that somehow we need to find a way to make the point that people can play the same game as the Pros without imitating the Pros.  The weekend golfer doesn't need to make every drop perfectly - unless he's playing in a competition, he just needs to know the basics.  He doesn't have to analyze every stroke from all angles, or plot a perfect curve for his 40 yard slice.  He doesn't need to take 3 practice swings for every stroke.  He doesn't need to take 5 minutes to search for a ball that vanished into 3 foot deep grass and brush - golf balls are meant to be lost, and if you can't afford that then buy cheaper balls.  He doesn't need to stalk every putt from the 8 cardinal compass points.  He doesn't need to mark and lift and polish his ball unless it actually has something on it that would impair his putt, or it is in a position to interfere with another player's ball. There are a dozen or more little things that don't seem like a big deal individually, but when all put together turn a 3½ hour round into a 4½ hour round.   My idea:  Hit the ball.  Go to where that shot landed, and hit it again.  If you don't find it within a minute or so, drop one and hit it ( I know, that sounds wrong for a so-called rules guy, but....).  Lather, rinse, repeat.  Let's get the game moving again.

That's why I don't play your courses. :-) Actually, I don't drink and drive. I wait until the round is over. Also, I know it's the economy with some of the geezers I know. As for kids, I don't know.

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I will continue to play until I become priced out of the market. I don't see that happening because I'll play lesser courses if they're cheaper. I don't like goat tracks, but they don't have to be pristine for my game.

What bothers me more is the price of beer at the courses. I can't pay $4 for a beer when I can bring my own for less than $1. Sorry cart girls. They're the ones I feel bad for.

Man! don't ever come here in Oz for golf then... price for a beer is a way above! 9-12$ for a bottle at the bar. Oh and no beer on the cart since you need to drink in licensed premises.

Back on topic, What we need is better junior programs, here in Oz you can play cricket, surf, Oz rules, soccer.... list is endless, and they all have very good juniors programs.

Golf has almost nothing, maybe few players' kids in their clubs but that's it. Without good juniors programs, the sport won't grow.

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Quote:

Originally Posted by newtogolf

I agree, the economy is a cop out excuse to avoid mass panic and provide hope to the industry that once the economy improves so will golf participation, it won't.

As you state, there are a lot more demands for our time these days.  Men are working longer hours, becoming more involved with family, have 1000 channels of entertainment on their big screen televisions, plus Netflix and the internet.   The net impact is less available time for golf.  Less time for golf means less practice leads to greater frustration on the course, it's a downward spiral.

I've got two toddlers at home. If this were mad Men days, I'd still play twice a week and tell my wife to watch the kids and have lunch ready when I got back. Instead, I beg and plead and play once or twice a month.

That is a tough time in life, but worth it.  My son is twenty now, so I'm passed that.  I recommend getting your toddlers plastic golf clubs and create two new golfers!

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I have two toddlers as well and have a very lucky arrangement. I can shift one day at work to have a free morning and I go play then in season. Then my wife and I basically split our weekends in 4 parts. One for me, one for her and two for the kids so that we do a lot with them and get some time to do things we want. So I get to usually play twice per week in season which is very lucky. My wife and I also resolved to get into shape. It's perfectly acceptable where I work to go to the gym during the workday as long as you get your work done. If I meet my fitness goals I am going to turn gym time into practice time once the weather gets better. But I basically make the golf work by not doing anything else for myself. Although what else is better than golf?
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