Back in the 1990s and early 2000s, golf was on the upswing nationwide. Tiger Woods was at the peak of his prowess on the course, and many thousands of teens and young adults took up the game for the first time. However, in the late 2000s, the game began a decline due to the Great Recession, and it’s had difficulty growing as it had for decades before. There are many issues that affect the game of golf and golf courses today. Here are three.
The Cost Of The Game
While golf can be a great deal of fun, it is an expensive hobby to have. There are many costs associated with playing. First, there are greens fees. For golfers who do not belong to a specific club and play exclusively at that club, these fees are mandatory, and they can vary widely from $10 at some of the cheaper public courses all the way up to the hundreds for some of the more exclusive courses. And with more and more courses being built in protected areas with the environment in mind, there’s even a Everglades golf course now, these increased costs are being passed down to golfers.
Golf clubs cost money. The occasional golfer might rent clubs while the regular golfer might pay several hundred dollars for a set. Golf balls go deep into the woods and they sink into ponds. That costs money as well. While it might seem that lower prices might bring in more golfers, it’s actually the wealthier courses that are seeing their fortunes increase. Cheaper public courses are the ones more likely to struggle, which can lead to the next problem.
Getting Future Golfers
Some golfers in a recent Golfshake survey noted the fact that many golf clubs have a membership that’s clearly aging. There is a need to push initiatives that bring in teens and younger golfers to the course. Improving accessibility for those who are younger could increase the number of people who show up to play. Some courses have offered discounted punch cards that allow users to access a course a given number of times in a season rather than making everyone purchase a really expensive annual membership. Some clubs are also adding more amenities like health clubs and pools that might draw in those who might not be as interested in golf.
Modern life has many duties and activities pulling people in different directions. Golf tends to take quite a bit of time. On busy public courses, a round of golf can take up to five hours. This is a big chunk of time to commit to a leisure activity, and those who have to work side hustles in the gig economy will have trouble taking that time away from work. Some courses are encouraging players to get just a few holes in when possible. One public course in North Dakota has offered as many holes as a player could get in for just $5 as long as they started after 7 pm. Others have attempted to encourage people to play nine or even six holes. This could get more people to dip their toes into the water and will hopefully bring more players into the pipeline.
As a sport that’s difficult to access because of the time constraints and the cost, golf has had a very good run over the past hundred years. As more courses have shut down and as people have less free time available, it’s been more difficult for clubs to draw in new players. The key to keeping the game healthy is to reverse the aging trend that’s common among its clientele. Courses are starting to take proactive steps to ensure the game remains healthy for years to come.