I saw a discussion on reddit about golf dying out, and it got me thinking. I took part in discussion, but wanted to write entire post about golf’s decline and reasons behind it. Signs are obvious – for example, Nike decided to back off from making any more golf clubs. Their sales wasn’t the problem, but the declining golf industry itself.
In my opinion, there are various major reasons behind golf’s decline. Biggest of all, obviously, is the fact that baby boomers, who are very much into golf, are aging, and sometimes unfortunately dying. And even though golf is great sport for seniors, some of them give it up. I doubt it’s because of high-costs of seniors golf clubs, because older people are not usually the ones concerned with tight budget. On the other hand, video games and other distractions are keeping young people from getting into golf. Back in 80s and 90s, there was not a lot of options for spending free time on entertainment. There were few shows on TV, very basic video games and that was pretty much it. While now, with the technology and video game development, our options are endless. There is literally thousands of hours of excellent gaming material, and considering how difficult and expensive golf is, it is logical that young people choose to play games and do other things instead.
As i mentioned above, another reason for golf’s decline, in my opinion, is the cost. Prices for other sport equipment have dropped dramatically, mainly because of advancements in technology and outsourcing, but prices for golf clubs have remained high. And as the land appreciated, golf courses are becoming more expensive every year. And while these things are usually paid for by companies (considered a business expense, because a lot of business happens on golf course) it’s still expensive for individuals.
I am 25 year old golfer myself, and have been since i was 21. It is very rare for me to meet a person of my age who plays golf. And that is kind of discouraging, because golf is a competitive game that should be played with friends to bring full enjoyment. Golf is also viewed as elitist sport among the youngsters, so poor public image might be one more reason to make juniors reluctant to get into golf.
The solution, i think, is for golf manufacturers and PGA itself to realize that times are changing, and they have to change as well. If golf doesn’t start appealing to younger generation, their businesses are going down the drains. Reducing the high prices of golf gear and courses would be a good start.
The way golf courses are built need to be changed too. In the 60s and 70s, wealthy could still afford to pay the dues and go to private golf clubs, but that has changed. Another problem with the design is that it’s too complicated and made hard intentionally. No one wants to play sport that they suck at.
I don’t think it’s a question of preference – it’s what they have to do in order to survive, and i hope they realize that.