I have heard the statement "golf is a dying sport" more often than I care to admit over the past few years. I've heard in articles published by very credible magazines, from the weekend golfer who has read these articles and adopted these views as absolute truth and I have even questioned it myself at times. These articles site reasons such as lack of time, high costs, difficulty and lack of interest by youth due to the fact golf "isn't cool" for the decline of golf. Is it really declining and are these reasons valid?
Lack of time? Yes, I suppose that could be an issue but why is it an issue now and not in the past? I am not a parent myself but I can definitely see the difficulty in trying to get some time to yourself with everything that kids have the opportunity to be involved in in today's world and the demand that puts on the parents. A welcome demand but a strenuous one none the less. But it isn't like children/parenting is something new to this world is it? How did parents find time in the past to play golf and somehow cannot now? ...If you're looking for me to answer that question in here you'll be sorely disappointed because I am genuinely asking! I know a lot of parents that golf along side me once a week in a men's league. They have found the time but maybe they are the fortunate ones? This excuse is valid in many cases but if you genuinely want to get out and play golf, there is a way to manage your time and do that. Easy for me to say, I know but consider this. There are 168 hours in the week, I set aside four hours on Monday night and three hours on Thursday to play golf in leagues that are a lot of fun and relieves the stress of the work day/week. Yes, despite the odd curse and occasional lightening of my wallet, yes it does relieve my stress because its fun, sociable and quality exercise even if you're riding. I suggest everyone finds time to spend the same 2% to 4% of their week to have time to themselves and have some fun! Doesn't seem like much when its broken down that way does it?
High Cost? Inflation. I could end the discussion right there and feel like I've justified my answer but I will elaborate and force you to read more of my rambling! As the cost to operate a course goes up so will the green fees and memberships. Gone are the days of $5.00 minimum wage and $0.51 gas, although as I write this that last one is within shouting distance. It plain and simple costs more to operate a golf course these days and in our area we should be very thankful it costs as much as it does. Big name, high end golf courses charge a lot to play their course because they offer a high quality customer experience, course conditions, and hospitality, and people pay for that. If people didn't pay their $250 green fees they would have to cut costs in order to lower the green fee. You do not have to pay exorbitant amounts of money to play golf, but if you want quality, you pay for it and I don't believe that is any different from any other aspect of life from buying a car or to buying clothing. You get what you pay for. To touch briefly on the cost of golf in the Westman area, it is fantastic! If you don't believe me I will put you in contact with my friends in BC, Alberta or even down the road in Winnipeg where $700 to $800 memberships within a 30 to 45 minute drive would be very welcome.
Difficulty? I will concede this one. Golf isn't easy. Of course its more enjoyable when you are playing well and making those long putts to beat your playing partner but is it completely necessary to have a good time? I know a lot of guys who head to the course prepared to shoot in the triple digits and lose by an easy 15 shots to their competitor and they have a BLAST doing it. You are out in the sun, away from the hectic schedule of life and possibly enjoying a few beverages from the beer cart. Would playing well make the day perfect? Probably, but there is a good chance you aren't going to shoot a course record that day so enjoy everything mentioned above because there are a lot of people struggling to get out of the house and into the seat next to you in that golf cart. I also know a guy who gives lessons and fits for clubs that make the game a whole lot easier and more enjoyable.... Go see your local pro! We all take great pride in making this game enjoyable for you!!
Golf isn't cool? You mean Rickie's high top shoes and flat brim hats aren't cool?? I'm cancelling my order right now then! Yes, it is a constant battle to get kids into the game of golf today. With the option to play hockey, soccer, baseball or any other sports that are now offered year round, a lot of kids are as over scheduled as the parents. Not to mention the fact that Xbox and PlayStation have taken over the free time they do have. While it is great to see kids out playing other sports, the benefits of the game of golf cannot be ignored either. Individual sports such as golf teach kids to be self motivated, compete at their own pace and compete directly against their own personal goals. However, during their free time the youth of today don't see the golf course as a "cool" or fun place to go and that is truly unfortunate. Again, it appears as those the days of kids chipping around their parents yard or the golf course itself have been replaced with video games. This isn't always the case but more often than not, it is.
Is golf missing Tiger Woods? Let's put the scandle aside and think about the effect he had on the game over the past 20 years. Flashback 15 years or so every young golfer on the PGA Tour including Rory McIlroy, Jordan Spieth and Jason Day are 7 to 10 years old and are all watching Tiger DOMINATE the game of golf and making the game look "cool". They idolized him, went to the golf course to emulate his success and worked extremely hard at it to get to where they are. Now they are the ones carrying the torch and are in the spot light for kids today. Do they have what it takes to have the same affect on the youth of today as Tiger did on them? My guess is no and that spells trouble for our game. Maybe in another 20 years we will see a Tiger Woods in the game and have the same affect but today, we are struggling to find the star power that he brought to the game to influence some many young players to take up the game.
Maybe this post has left you with more questions than answers about the health of our game but I hope it has better informed you of some of the questions that should be asked. Golf is dying because it is too time consuming. No more than it ever was so why the panic now? Golf is dying because it costs too much. I strongly and respectfully disagree. Golf is dying because it is too hard. It is a lot easier then it was in the days of persimmon drivers and lack of technology in the clubs and balls. Golf is dying because its not "cool" and kids aren't playing. Drag them and yourself away from the TV and have a fun family night at the course once a week. Golf is dying because Tiger Woods isn't dominating like he used to. Maybe, but did you see Jordan Spieth's season last year? I'd look up to that performance! Golf is not on life support yet, but it is aging and we need your help to inject some youth into the game!
Golf only dies if we let it.