I still can’t believe that this is real.
But increasingly a victim of its own image and hidebound ways, golf has lost five million players in the last decade, according to the National Golf Foundation, with 20 percent of the existing 25 million golfers apt to quit in the next few years.
People under 35 have especially spurned the game, saying it takes too long to play, is too difficult to learn and has too many tiresome rules.
Many of golf’s leaders are so convinced the sport is in danger of following the baby boomer generation into the grave that an internal rebellion has led to alternative forms of golf with new equipment, new rules and radical changes to courses. The goal is to alter the game’s reputation in order to recruit lapsed golfers and a younger demographic.
Keep reading. I’m serious. It gets worse.
If the golf industry is really serious about attracting new players, I have a hard time believing that the real issue is the difficulty of the game. That sounds like an unproven “millennial”-patronizing theory by grumpy old white men. (Surprise.)
If I had to guess, golf’s biggest problems are both from its tight relationship with country clubs and other expensive private courses:
- Fewer people are able to afford country-club membership. Sorry, rich old white people: you, your corporations, and your politicians mostly did this to yourselves by your policies and practices over the last few decades.
- The few younger people who might be able to afford to play golf and/or join country clubs are choosing not to, probably because of the culture of racism, sexism, artificial elitism, exclusion, and pretension that have dominated the golf world for decades. That entire world is out of style, and good riddance to it.1 I can’t think of a worse way to spend money than a country-club membership that might, someday, grant me the “privilege” of playing golf on their course. Oh, and you better be wearing a suit jacket in the clubhouse so you look proper for the guy at the next table who’s talking about how Obama is taking all of his money and giving it to lazy poor people. Sounds like a great place to spend all of my time and money!
Huge holes and free mulligans won’t fix either.
I’m trying to picture a bunch of programmers going to WWDC a day early so they could play golf together at a posh private course. I can’t even imagine that, nor can I imagine the response anyone would get, and how they would look, if they tried to arrange such a gathering. ↩︎