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Golf is losing players too

Discussion in 'Shooting Related Threads' started by Big Heap, Feb 11, 2012.

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  1. Big Heap

    Big Heap TS Member

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    Golf May Face Two Options: Change the Game Radically and Grow, or Remain a Niche SportBy JOHN PAUL NEWPORT WSJ 2/11

    .From about 1990 to the mid-2000s, the golf industry boomed, overbuilt and overpromised. Now it's paying the price. By a couple of different reckonings, the game is losing one million golfers a year, net.


    The promise of the boom was that golf, always a cultural litmus but in numbers never much more than a niche, could break out and become a sport for the masses.


    The ramped-up industry still hopes it can. If that's to happen, however, the game at its core may have to change, or at least accommodate some tradition-defying alternatives. The deep question golf is asking itself these days is wherein lies its soul: with the ancient game itself, played as it has been for hundreds of years, or with the modern industry that has grown up around it? Two million U.S. jobs are now tied to golf, according to an industry lobbying consortium called We Are Golf, and those businesses are desperate to reverse their losses and expand.


    Golf's leadership is responding to the situation with more urgency than ever. At golf's big annual merchandise show in Orlando, Fla., last month, I sat through several state-of-the-industry hand-wringing sessions. Nobody in golf is complacent. The PGA of America is pushing a new, all-points initiative called Golf 2.0, whose goal is to make the game "more relevant" to lapsed golfers and others, especially women and minorities, it has identified as underserved. At last weekend's annual meeting of the U.S. Golf Association in Houston, the incoming president, Glen Nager, sounded downright radical (by USGA standards) in urging golf to make itself more accessible.


    From all this verbiage, one phrase from Nager's speech stood out for me as best representing the predicament for golf's traditionalists. At the end of a list of worthy goals—making golf more enjoyable to play, more affordable and more welcoming—he added that this must be done "without fundamentally changing the game itself." The game itself, of course, is different than the business practices that support the game, many of which (like poor customer tracking and feckless rangers) are indeed hidebound and need to be revamped. But Nager also stressed that the USGA's top priority is to protect golf's core values—to preserve, as he put it, "the true spirit of the game as embodied in its ancient and honorable traditions." But it's unclear if that spirit is still viable for an industry that hopes to expand its customer base, as per the Golf 2.0 vision, to 40 million players by 2020 from 26 million players now? Never mind gaining those customers, especially young ones, in an ever more time-squeezed, electronically addicted culture.


    Until perhaps 25 years ago, golf more or less contentedly filled its niche. Those who aspired to become golfers basically knew what they were getting in for and accepted the game's demands. "When I was learning to love this game, it was never seen as too hard, or too time-consuming to play, or too expensive, or too frustrating," said Susie Meyers, 51, who later played on the LPGA Tour and now teaches golf in Arizona. The course she played on with her family and friends was short and simple, but in her memories it was heaven.


    In the intervening years, the character and challenges of the game changed, Meyers said. "Whose idea was it to make courses so difficult it takes 5½ hours to play?" she asks. "Whose idea was it to say there's a perfect swing and if you come to me I'll show you what's wrong with it and fix it? Whose idea was it that you have to find the perfect club and the perfect ball and play on perfect grass?"


    There are many interrelated factors behind golf's transformation, but the housing bubble that caused so many troubles elsewhere played a lead role. It drove demand for thousands of new high-end courses to anchor developments, ratcheting up standards everywhere. The PGA Tour, fueled by big TV contracts and Tiger Woods, became much richer than it had been and more glamorous. Equipment makers poured millions into research and came up with high-price, technologically advanced clubs. Golfers always want the latest thing.


    The thrust of the Golf 2.0 initiative is customer service—to give customers more of what they want, or would want if it were actually available: set-aside times and places for families and beginners to play, more leagues and competitions, more accessible instruction, friendlier staff. An allied initiative, begun last summer and co-sponsored (unusually) by the USGA and the PGA, is Tee It Forward, which encourages golfers to play from tees that make courses shorter and more fun. Most of these solutions, and others like them, are an attempt to return golf to simpler, less fancified times—the way Susie Meyers remembers the game.


    Could these measures possibly be enough to give the golf industry the growth it desires? Maybe, given enough time and the rewiring of expectations in golfers' brains. But for those who don't think so, more extreme ideas have appeal. Among them: promulgating alternate sets of rules for players with less patience and fewer skills; legalizing clubs and balls that make the game easier; doubling the size of the hole. John Solheim, the chief executive of club maker Ping, recently floated the notion of adding two new types of balls: one that flies much farther for thrill seekers and short hitters, and a ball that is shorter for courses that are also short.


    These are the kind of ideas that terrify traditionalists, even if they might introduce more people to the game. They like to think of golf as a single church, with one set of rules and beliefs for all. The analogy may be a stretch, but Christianity faced similar renegade elements in the 16th century, resulting in the Protestant Reformation. That was extremely messy, but in the end, if yielding more net Christians was the goal, all those new, competing denominations had a positive effect. The battle for golf's soul may just be getting under way.
     
  2. Setterman

    Setterman Well-Known Member

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    Golf courses lost a ton of business memberships when the economy took a crap. With that they lost cart rentals, club house sales, and meal sales as businesses tightened their belts.

    Then the common blue collar guy got his hours or wages cut and had to cut back too.
    A lot of that going around.
     
  3. BigM-Perazzi

    BigM-Perazzi Well-Known Member

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    Can't they just move the t's back?

    Add more grass?
     
  4. Coyote 270

    Coyote 270 Member

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    I think you have to make them decide if they want their 7 or 8 iron in their bag.
     
  5. hmb

    hmb Well-Known Member

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    You must be kidding. The holes on a golf course are changed every day or two. Tees are move up and back, and hole placement is changed every day. During prime time the average wait to get out on local public courses is 2 to 4 hours. There is no shortage of golfers. HMB
     
  6. joehunter

    joehunter Member

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    HMB,

    Where is there a wait of 2-4 hours? You have to be kidding me? Even the greatest courses have open tee times like the Pebble Beach, Torrey Pines etc. They have even reduced some of there fees to get players. Golf Courses are closing and not reopenning everywhere.

    Joey
     
  7. RLC323

    RLC323 Member

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    I think that a lot of the participation trouble that faces golf, also faces trapshooting. The obvious reasons such as the financial downturn have been mentioned.

    Not so obvious is the fact that it takes a lot of effort to be any good at either sport. I am not sure that this country is turning out 20-somethings with the willingness to put in that effort. Our local course was flooded with young players during the "Tiger revoulution" until they figured out it is not as easy as he makes it look on TV. A couple years later it was our used clubs for sale rack was flooded.

    Our younger generation has a huge array of entertainment options compared with 25 years ago. My TV gets 120+ channels, when I was a young adult we got maybe 12. You can buy Tiger Woods golf on X-Box for $40 play every day and never leave the house(and I hate to admit it but it is a hell of a lot of fun).

    You have to applaud the golf industry for proposing changes and taking on the issue, and the usually stodgy USGA for hearing them out.
     
  8. cubancigar2000

    cubancigar2000 Well-Known Member

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    LOL, when I was young there was no TV, we sat in the dark and listened to "The Shadow" on the radio
     
  9. OldGoat

    OldGoat Well-Known Member

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    Gotta think "out of the box." Golf might take a "cue" from trap; make targets easier (2 hole vs. 3 hole). For example, they could start by making the cup holes about 2 feet in diameter and reconfigure the greens to take out the irregular angles by sloping all areas of the greens downward (like a saucer) with the cup holes in the center. This could easily cut lots of strokes off the "amateur" game. Drive for show; putt for gold. See, any game can be changed to attract new participants. Regards, Ed
     
  10. JACK

    JACK Well-Known Member Supporting Vendor

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    A very small percentage of golfers can use the big booming equipment available today and expanding tomorrrow. the few that can beat everyone. W ehad the same deal with trap. When everyone had model 12s the game was more even.

    I agree with buzz below. somewhat. But guns were all $300. Most of us could own the best (Model 12)
     
  11. crusha

    crusha TS Member

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    When I try to shoot handicap loads through a Model 12...and consider folks like Earl Toliver and Dan Orlich could break 500 straight with Model 12s...I just don't think it was ever as "equal" as folks thought it was.



    Another observation, when I tried to drive past Pebble Beach just to look at it a couple summers ago...it cost $10 per car just to drive into the exclusive residential area. They even had a guard shack set up on every road leading into the place, with guys in Smokey-Bear hats and uniforms to collect the money. Golf may be an open sport...but not there!
     
  12. lots of 24's

    lots of 24's Member

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    Just another sport for old, rich, fat, white guys. Another middle class past time that has gotten too expensive. And like always the rich guys dont even notice.
     
  13. Bisi

    Bisi TS Member

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    buzzy, it was worth the $10 though wasn't it? Carmel by the Sea, maybe not as scenic as the drive through Carmel,In. or around Geist, but hey everything is more expensive in CA. LOL

    Actually you can play Pebble. If you are driving past and stop and they have an opening you can play 18 for something like $275. Wanna make a tee time in advance so you are sure to get on, well to do that you have to be staying at the lodge - rooms start at $750 a night. I don't like golf that much.
     
  14. ljutic73

    ljutic73 Well-Known Member

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    They must all be in Palm Springs. Seemed like 1/2 the guys on our plane last week were bringing their clubs....with 150 golf courses in the Coachella Valley someone must be playing them....looked like more were being built too...
     
  15. spitter

    spitter Well-Known Member TS Supporters

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    My Park District just announced that Golf revenue was down 13% in 2011, but trapshooting rounds were up 6% at our year end board meeting with the district's program manager...

    Jay
     
  16. acss

    acss Well-Known Member Supporting Vendor

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    TIME--is what i lack the most!!!! week after week is a blurr---the way i see it, if you are going to put any amount of effort in trap or golf , not to win but just participate regularly-- something has gotten shorted- its my job-mowing the yard - family duties-church- helping friends who helped me some other time- cleaning the car-the list of things to get done goes on-- ect ect
     
  17. Jeff P

    Jeff P Well-Known Member

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    I think its funny...I used to play golf - before i moved to alaska - and i was good. Carried a 9 handicap - which means I broke 80 more often that not. One day (very fond memory) i was two under through 12 holes on a course that was set up for a US Open qualifier - it got me, I finished 4 over. But it was fun.

    Anyway...what I find hilarious is that all of the duffers out there who play one round a week KNOW they're NEVER GONNA BEAT Tiger Woods, or Jack Nicholas or Arnold Palmer or ANY of those guys. EVER. PERIOD. END OF STORY.

    But every trapshooter who ever toed the 16 yard line is positive he can shoot 50 or 100 birds a week and take down Kiner, Campbell, Ohye, et al...

    Why can't trapshooters accept something that's sooooo obvious to the golfers??

    I'm going to start playing golf again when I move south this summer. I've got three years to make the senior tour...
     
  18. TinMan88

    TinMan88 TS Member

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    There are a number of pastimes that we have seen slip away during our time. Record stores, stereo stores, book stores, recently video stores. Golf takes a lot of time and effort & money for play even to be a medium skill player. What we old guys grew up with doesn't always resonate with the young people that will follow their own path. I have to cough when the industry wags say that women and minoritys are under-served. What does green grass and yardage know about under-serving? Are they concerned about the clubhouse decor? Bowling lanes have tried- and died chasing gee-gaw stuff to morph bowling into something else. I feel sorry about the owners of courses that over extended during the flash years, but they might have to take their place in line with the owners of movie theaters and hobby shops. And so it goes. TM
     
  19. dhip

    dhip Active Member

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    Well,I was a weekend golfer for a short while.Cart prices and course prices rose until I found something different,Bass fishing.Now after roughly ten years of that,Ramp fees,tournament fees license fees,federal permit(free at the moment),etc.,I've cut back on how many clubs I fish(one now)),LMAO,so I took up trap shooting 3yrs. now to have some plain OL'fun,trying not to get to serious,got a loader,one gun(so far),and prices are starting to creep up also,,I think it's a government conspiracy to make our fun things to do just so expensive that we'd rather go to work,or sit down and die,either way the Government makes out.

    Doug H.
     
  20. cubancigar2000

    cubancigar2000 Well-Known Member

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    There is a new game on the horizon. It is called shotgun golf and looks like a lot of fun
     
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