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Golf in decline?

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This is me, I only have time for 9 holes about two times per week and I get in a range sessions here and there. I play about one 18 hole round a month. Just don't have the time to get away, but man, once I retire....i mean.....if I retire....

Yep, same here. I can do 9 in about an hour and a bit if i play solo. I remember reading an article where Jack Niclaus said 18 was too mich and 12 was more a more reasonable number of holes.

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The time it takes to be good also isn't an attractive part of the sport with the younger, instant-gratification generation.

You know, I really didn't even think about this before, but that could well be a part of it. Not just for the younger people either, if something is hard to do/get good at it typically has a lot of trouble retaining interest.

Yep, same here. I can do 9 in about an hour and a bit if i play solo. I remember reading an article where Jack Niclaus said 18 was too mich and 12 was more a more reasonable number of holes.

I rarely feel satisfied after 18 holes, but that's because I'm a glutton for punishment.

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I think the biggest threat to golf (and other recreational activities, too) is still a couple of decades down the road.

I play most of my golf midweek (I have a fairly flexible work schedule, and often work weekends). I'm in my late 30s, and it often feels like I'm the youngest person on the course, by some distance. The course may be quite busy, but the matches are all made up of seniors.

Chatting to the older players, a lot of them have retired from jobs which, by today's standards, would likely be regarded as skilled blue collar (electricians, for example).

I'm not confident that when Generation X and subsequent generations retire their fixed incomes are going to allow for regular golf on even a modest, private course. There will always be wealthy seniors at the country club, of course, but they represent a small minority of golfers. It will be a huge problem for golf, if, in the future, active people in their sixties and seventies are financially confined to the treat of a monthly round at the local muni, rather than playing regularly in retirement. I think the "grey dollar" is incredibly important to the golf industry, and grey dollars are going to be in short supply in the future.

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I think the biggest threat to golf (and other recreational activities, too) is still a couple of decades down the road.

I play most of my golf midweek (I have a fairly flexible work schedule, and often work weekends). I'm in my late 30s, and it often feels like I'm the youngest person on the course, by some distance. The course may be quite busy, but the matches are all made up of seniors.

Chatting to the older players, a lot of them have retired from jobs which, by today's standards, would likely be regarded as skilled blue collar (electricians, for example).

I'm not confident that when Generation X and subsequent generations retire their fixed incomes are going to allow for regular golf on even a modest, private course. There will always be wealthy seniors at the country club, of course, but they represent a small minority of golfers. It will be a huge problem for golf, if, in the future, active people in their sixties and seventies are financially confined to the treat of a monthly round at the local muni, rather than playing regularly in retirement. I think the "grey dollar" is incredibly important to the golf industry, and grey dollars are going to be in short supply in the future.


Pretty much dead on.

It's really alarming to see just how little a lot of people will have for retirement. I've seen too many sorry stories of people losing jobs in their 50s, sacking their retirement accounts and burning through their savings.

Playing golf will be the least of their problems.

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I can see the private course industry taking a big hit, but why should we really care about that? let the rich live that life, so grey collars have to stick to public, I would have no problem with that, I know modest income seniors that bounce around all week, seems like a good thing to me, I doubt I would ever join a private no matter how much money I had, its not my style and I like bouncing around.

So for that matter I would not use private course membership as accurate data for the games popularity, that may simply be that even those with money simply don't see the value in a private course lifestyle these days, and it's a snowball effect, golf buddies flock together.

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I think the biggest threat to golf (and other recreational activities, too) is still a couple of decades down the road.

I play most of my golf midweek (I have a fairly flexible work schedule, and often work weekends). I'm in my late 30s, and it often feels like I'm the youngest person on the course, by some distance. The course may be quite busy, but the matches are all made up of seniors.

Chatting to the older players, a lot of them have retired from jobs which, by today's standards, would likely be regarded as skilled blue collar (electricians, for example).

I'm not confident that when Generation X and subsequent generations retire their fixed incomes are going to allow for regular golf on even a modest, private course. There will always be wealthy seniors at the country club, of course, but they represent a small minority of golfers. It will be a huge problem for golf, if, in the future, active people in their sixties and seventies are financially confined to the treat of a monthly round at the local muni, rather than playing regularly in retirement. I think the "grey dollar" is incredibly important to the golf industry, and grey dollars are going to be in short supply in the future.

I think this is a pretty fair description of my own situation.  I retired a year ago after 10 years of envisioning a retirement of playing 3+ times a week.  As it turns out, golf is more expensive here than where I used to live and while there are some decent deals for monthly passes, they do not include carts and my knee and ankle joints won't allow me to walk.  So I am priced out of being able to play that much.

Fortunately I have renewed an old hobby that I had dropped because of lack of availability of facilities, that has a very similar combination of difficulty, frustration, mental engagement, and addictiveness as golf, namely 3-cushion billiards.  So instead of playing golf 3+ times a week I play billiards (there is a table at our local senior center that I can play on any time for a $22 annual - yes that is ANNUAL membership). and then play golf about 2-3 times a month.  And just like 99%+ of the guys I've met on the golf course, just about all the billiard players I've me there have been good guys.  In my experience neither golf nor billiards attract many idiots.

There has also been a mental adjustment.  When i was able to play a lot it was reasonable to have expectations about my level of play and scores, and I maintained a handicap so I was focused on shooting the best possible score and I took it pretty seriously.  Now, realistically, with the frequency I am playing it would be unreasonable to have expectations of playing well for a whole round.  So I now just focus on having a good time and really enjoying the (far too infrequent) pars and birdies without worrying about the double bogeys.  Kind of my own personal modified stableford system.

I have no idea if I am representative of anything more than myself, but your point seems very plausible to me.

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Here's what I've seen lately and what I think about the state of golf 2015:

It's more of an 'activity' for many.  I've seen a lot more beginners on the course the past couple of years.  They don't grab 7:10 tee times on Saturday morning, they play at 1:00 in the afternoon Saturday or Sunday.  Great. I like seeing new players.

Two weeks ago, a group of 3 women and 2 men (all playing) let us play through.  They were throwing back pops and having a great time.  More noobs that I'm happy to share the course with.

Kids.  It's my feeling that ALL muni courses should provide free golf to kids 16 and under, provide basic club sets and a chaperone for each group 2-3 weekdays during the summer and between certain times like 11-3pm.  I'm certain this would 'jump-start' the game and provide sustainable growth to the entire golf industry.  Let 'em play and play for free!

Pace of Play:  I'll say it again and again to those who complain about pace of play: 1) buy your own golf course; 2) get the FIRST available tee time when you play; 3) play only when it rains or snows.  These are the only ways I know where a person can actually CONTROL pace of play.  For the vast majority of us, golf is a recreational activity meant to be enjoyed.

Country Clubs:  I'm 54 and not one of my close friends is a member at a club.  It's not like we can't afford it, it's more a case of that none of us are 'joiners' per se.  I do know folks who are members at high-end clubs and do it for family and business 'contacts' reasons.  They are the few who are able to write off fees/dues as a 'corporate expense.'  Other than that, no desire to join a country club.  Many of the 'cclubs' in NE Ohio have gone public over the past 5 years or so.  Their membership is dying off with no clientele coming in behind them.  You want to put golfers on the course and generate revenue, John Q Public is your only hope.  Only exclusion around here is Firestone CC.  It's pretty full up from what I hear from the few guys I know with memberships there.

Golf in NE Ohio is pretty good--other than the short season.  Lots of really nice tracks to play on weekends for not a lot of money.  My wife and I try to play 18 every Sunday and play anywhere within minutes of home to an hour or more drive.  That encompasses about 100 options, I'd guess.  So no shortage of opportunity.  We have the time and money and enjoy the heck out of playing whenever we can.

dave

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The biggest factor in the drop in number of golfers over the last several years has been the economy.  Golf was always hard (go back to persimmon woods or hickory shafted clubs), it always took time away from the family, and you could always make it as expensive as you would like by playing a 9 hole executive course or joining an exclusive country club.  Many golfers have had to cut back on discretionary spending due to the lackluster job market and slow rising salaries if you do have a job, and golf for many fits in that category.  And when jobs were booming along with Tiger the there was some over building of courses and golf communities - the good times come and go.  OEMs also expected us all to buy a new $400 driver each year at a time when the technology has been advanced to a high level with little improvement each year.

That being said, from my perspective in Northern NJ, I do see a number of bright spots:  The number of younger people (<30 years old) playing golf is as high as I have ever seen it and make up at least 1/3 golfers I see, including weekdays.  I live near a nice 9 hole executive course and it is full of young people learning the game.  My home course, which is semi-private, has more golfers playing than I have ever seen, not always a great thing but the course's financial health is improving.  Other courses and resorts in the area are also crowded, including the Crystal Springs Golf resort with 7-8 courses.  I took my 10 year old grandson to the Cascades course last Saturday at Crystal Springs and all 3 courses at that location were mobbed - and it was a cool rainy day.

It is unfortunate that some courses in NJ have gone out of business, and the golf club manufacturers have to contend with golfers not replacing clubs with similar equipment every other year.  But the game is still thriving, perhaps less so than 10 years ago, which in  my opinion was anomaly. There are still 10's of millions of golfers in the US, and at least in my region young golfers are more prevalent than in past decades.  The young people today have Jordan, Dustin, Rory, Rickie, and a others that  they can identify with - golf is still "cool" even with Tiger fading.  From where I sit the game is bouncing back along with the economy with an abundance of young players at all levels.  Now, this may not be true in all regions, but in the NJ/NY Metro area golf is in great shape.

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I think the real problem is that Golf is considered to be a Rich sport, even though it can be played by anyone and everyone. Golf needs to find a way to get more people of diverse backgrounds involved. The problem with courses down here in South Florida is that a lot of people who are buying houses and moving into the communities and have no interest in paying for a Golf membership which is forcing a lot of private courses to either go public or close. Golf and Golfers need to get more people involved in the sport, and some attitudes from players like saying that people shouldn't use carts isn't helping either, imo we should be doing everything in our power to encourage as many new players as possible.

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I hear time and time again that golf is a game in decline - that it's a game with a particular demographic and other sports are way more popular!

...what are people's thoughts on the sport as a whole?

Here are the stats...

- There has been a steady decline in golfers (http://www.statista.com/statistics/227420/number-of-golfers-usa/)

- U.S. golf course closures exceed openings for 8th year (http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2014-01-16/golf-course-closings-outpace-openings-for-eighth-straight-year)

- Except for 2012, the number of rounds have been declining on a yearly basis (http://www.golf2020.com/research/participation-reports.aspx)

2009:  -0.6%

2010:  -2.3%

2011:  -2.5%

2012:  +5.7%

2013:  -4.9%

2014:  -1.5%

Regardless of the fact that there have been declines in golf, it i still a big money business. Some 26 million U.S. golfers helped the industry generate $69 billion in revenue in 2011, according to the data from market researcher SRI International. While that's down from $76 billion in a 2005 SRI study, it tops revenue from such professional spectator sports as baseball, basketball, football and hockey combined, according to the Census Bureau.

(http://www.bloomberg.com/consumer-spending/2013-07-26/the-real-economic-impact-of-golf.html)

To me:

1) Golf isn't for everybody, and I'm glad it isn't or it would be hard getting a tee time.

2) Even though the equipment has changed drastically over the last 25 years, the game is basically the same

3) I will continue to golf until I am either mentally or physically unable to do so, and that's all that matters to me

I love this game :-P

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To me al this sounds like golf had a boom right around tiger showed up and now it is steadily going back to its original market share, together with the economy it kinda makes sense to me

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To me al this sounds like golf had a boom right around tiger showed up and now it is steadily going back to its original market share, together with the economy it kinda makes sense to me

Tiger made a comeback in 2012 and looks like so did many casual golfers.    Economy has been steadily improving albeit at slow pace.  Despite the economy growth, Golf seems to be slowly declining and I don't see the trend reversing any time soon.   Now, if Jordan keeps winning and replace Tiger as the next best thing, it may bring back some golfers.    Even that, I think is a short term medicine.   Golf is not a game that video game, smart phone addicted younger generation to pick it up as their lifelong hobby, IMHO.

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Tiger made a comeback in 2012 and looks like so did many casual golfers.    Economy has been steadily improving albeit at slow pace.  Despite the economy growth, Golf seems to be slowly declining and I don't see the trend reversing any time soon.   Now, if Jordan keeps winning and replace Tiger as the next best thing, it may bring back some golfers.    Even that, I think is a short term medicine.   Golf is not a game that video game, smart phone addicted younger generation to pick it up as their lifelong hobby, IMHO.

As a member of the smart-phone, video game addicted generation, I'd like to say that I'm going to be swinging a club til I kick the bucket.

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Diminishing returns. Not only is it pricy to play, but besides all the clubs you need you are constantly needing new balls either because you lose or scuff them.semi strict outfit. Need new shoes as they get worn down. New golf gloves. Tees ect. Even the clubs need to b replaced eventually. You cant but a set amount of atuff and go out and play infinite amount of times.

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Quote:

Originally Posted by rkim291968

Tiger made a comeback in 2012 and looks like so did many casual golfers.    Economy has been steadily improving albeit at slow pace.  Despite the economy growth, Golf seems to be slowly declining and I don't see the trend reversing any time soon.   Now, if Jordan keeps winning and replace Tiger as the next best thing, it may bring back some golfers.    Even that, I think is a short term medicine.   Golf is not a game that video game, smart phone addicted younger generation to pick it up as their lifelong hobby, IMHO.

As a member of the smart-phone, video game addicted generation, I'd like to say that I'm going to be swinging a club til I kick the bucket.


Hooray!  We have a convert.  Enjoy the game. :beer:

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Diminishing returns. Not only is it pricy to play, but besides all the clubs you need you are constantly needing new balls either because you lose or scuff them.semi strict outfit. Need new shoes as they get worn down. New golf gloves. Tees ect. Even the clubs need to b replaced eventually. You cant but a set amount of atuff and go out and play infinite amount of times.


Only problem is, the same things could be said of many other sports - soccer, baseball/softball, football, hockey, etc.  Even stricter outfits (uniforms), gear/shoe/accessories needing replacement, etc.  Nowadays, it even costs money for kids to play interscholastic high school sports (a considerable amount of money in some locations).  When I was in high school, all you had to do was make the team - the school district provided the uniforms, gear, transportation and whatever other necessities.  I used to play adult rec league ice hockey and it wasn't much (if any!) cheaper than playing golf.  Buying all the gear cost well over a thousand dollars and you periodically had to replace sticks, skates, gloves, pads, jerseys, etc. - plus league fees and ice time for practice.

I think it has a lot more to do with golf's stuffy reputation and the fact that golf is hard - something not appreciated by many in the "instant gratification" generation.  Also, our focus (as a society) on outdoor recreation has changed over the years.  When I was a kid, we played outside until it got dark and our parents made us come in - nowadays, kids have computer games, the internet, DVRs, etc. and many schools have partially or fully cut physical education classes from the curriculum.  So right from the formative years, kids (in general) aren't spending as much time outdoors being active as they used to, and that stays with them into adulthood.  And the ones who do play sports are being poisoned by the "everybody gets a trophy" mentality, so a sport like golf doesn't have much appeal....it's easy to suck at it and very hard to be good at it, and there's nobody there to pat you on the butt and tell you how great you are when you shoot a 120 round.

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I respectfully disagree. Over the course of a year if you play 2 rounds a week you are going to spend a lot more then you would on any other sport twice a week. I played baseball football and tennis through hs and expenses were minimal. Maybe 500 a year. Soccer? Really? None of those other sports cost you 30-300+ each time you "play" it and then you gotta include the additional stuff. If i want to play basketball i grab my ball and go to the court. Baseball i need a glove bat and ball. Soccer and football u just need a ball.Yea if your a kid in hs there are added expenses but thats not the demographic we are really talking about.

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I don't buy into that golf is a costly game at all - Sure when you look at brand new sets of clubs it can blow you away (a full set of Nike Vapor golf clubs made me bankrupt just looking at the prices!)

I started out by paying green fee's of £10 for 18 holes with my £20 decent used golf clubs I purchased from a charity shop. Sure they weren't the best clubs in the world but it got me out on the fairway!

Edit: Although on the other hand is it much easier and cheaper at times to buy a football at your local sports shop and find a field with your mates. With that in mind though, if you wanted to rent a 5-a-side pitch to play football for an hour or so, it is usually the same price as paying green fee's at your local golf course

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