Is American golf in decline?
America is the world’s biggest market for golf by a big margin and about half of the golf players and courses are in the country. According to the Economist, about 30 million Americans were golfers in 2006, unfortunately, golfing has been seeing a decline in public interest since them. The Sports Techie community blog loves golf and the integration of technology such as range finders, GPS tech and apps to make the game more appealing for everyone no matter skill level or dedication to the game.
In 2013, 160 of 14,600 golf facilities closed, which also marked an 8th consecutive year of net closures and a player base of 25 million.
In this article, we are going to look at the reasons behind this decline and what actions are in place to bring iron sets back in the American people’s hands and we’ve outlined three main points of discussion:
- Golf and Modern Lifestyle
A full 18 hole game of golf can take up to 4-5 hours or more and people argue that they just can’t or don’t want to spend so much time wandering the golf course. The busy environment during the weekdays, long commutes and the need to spend more time with our families are all factors that draw people away from this wonderful game. We had a discussion who used to play and they all pointed the same flaws in golf.
America’s troubled economy makes it difficult for people to enjoy the sport. Middle and lower-income golfers that have had a decrease in their pay slips have made it difficult for them to invest in membership at golf courses. Due to the recession we’ve also seen local governments close public courses due to required budget cuts.
- Golf Difficulty
Golf designers are building, harder, tougher and longer courses in the last 3 decades in order to challenge golfers and their equipment. This combined with a rulebook made of 200 pages, make it a tough sell to new players.
In the past we’ve had stars like Tiger Woods, Arnold Palmer, and Gary Player, drawing a great number of newcomers to the sport, using their charisma and skills as well as public image to push golf in the ordinary person’s home. However they have all stepped down over the past few years with no one to take their place.
In order to appeal to the public, interested parties are inventing new versions of the sport such as those two:
- Foot golf, a mixture between football and golf
- Top golf, a game in which you need to hit gold balls onto huge targets in outdoor sports bars.
Those are two experiments, aimed at reviving golf’s popularity, but will they succeed, I’d say that it is a long shot.
Yes, golf has suffered a blow to its popularity over the past several years, yet it still holds a special place in the hearts of millions of people that still play this great game around the world. For them, it’s that long awaited rest from the world, where you can enjoy nature while doing something fun and challenging. If you are one of them, discover more on what’s trending in the world of golf.
Sports Techie, golf is is far from mainstream but it is awesome in it’s own rights.
The two national governing bodies of the sport, The Royal & Ancient Golf Club and the U.S. Golf Association both understand the need to make the game easier, quicker and more entertaining for all. They proposed reducing the number of rules from 34 to 24 after five years of idea exchanges. The new set of the Rules of Golf keeps the long standing traditions of golfing that began in 1744 with the integrity of the game in tact while lessening the amount of penalties.
According to the PGA Tour, Thomas Pagel, the USGA’s senior director of rules and amateur status, said, “The primary objective was, `How do we make the rules easier to understand and easier to apply around the world.”
Pagel added, ” I think what you’ll see is that part of this process is to evaluate all the outcomes and identify outcomes that are more reasonable and common-sense based.”
The rules changing process now undergoes six months of public feedback, then would be finalized in 2018 and finally implemented in 2019.
Tiger was America’s golden child and a superstar that helped propel the sport back to former popularity as did Arnie and Jack Nicklaus. Some purists believe Jordan Spieth might be the person to inspire a new generation of golfers. I like him because of his talent but more importantly, his commitment and love to the autism community and his sister with ASD which my son has too.
One thing for sure, if you ever played the Tiger Woods PGA Tour series from 1998 to 2013 published by EA Sports, you know how much fun, realistic and a huge impact the video game had on growing the sport. Woods was replaced by Rory McIlroy for his version of EA SPORTS Rory McIlroy PGA TOUR.
Perhaps with the surge in eSports players across the world and the United States, the powers that be might want to pour more resources and grass roots efforts into a new video game tournament in order to help grow the sport the way kids and millennials love to engage with golf.
Sorry Rory, however the new cover of PGA Tour 18 should be Spieth, just saying.
I know I’d be interested as would my boy in playing for a new million dollar, winner-take-all, golf video game eSports tournament and a chance to play against Jordan.
Wouldn’t you, America?
See y’all later in Seattle, Atlanta and around the world.
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