The main topic on the agenda today is probably the biggest one in golf and every other sport around. For the past decade the amount of people who participate in the sport has declined dramatically and there are a number of reasons. Golf is a prestigious game and is seen by most as a ‘rich man’s hobby’, this statement is wrong on a number of levels. One being the fact if you have the right frame of mind and are willing to put the effort in, the money for membership and equipment will certainly be spent wisely and usefully. The second reason the statement is false is that no matter how much money spend on top quality equipment it doesn’t make you a better player. For some unknown reason people don’t get this. They have a bad round and they automatically blame it on their clubs, making excuses about the course and generally blaming everything apart from themselves. This then causes tantrums on the course which ultimately ends in the player giving up on golf.
Reasons why there is a decline vary and some are easy to change with the right approach.
1. Cost – This is probably the mother of all problems facing golfers today. The cost of membership, green fees, equipment, travel, food and drink and buggies (for some) is substantial. With a number of recessions over the past decade or so, times have been tough. People are needing to work longer hours just to live a half decent life never mind having a hobby like golf. The average membership now is over £500 which is a lot of money in anyone’s eyes but it is how you use your membership that decides whether or not it is expensive. With lighter nights approaching it is easier for someone to go for a quick 9 holes after work. If you play two or three times in the week and play a round of 18 on the weekend, it is cheaper to pay a sum of £500 to play as many times as you want rather than spend £20-£30 each time to play. It all adds up. Some golfers believe they can play a different courses each week throughout the golfing season and it will be cheaper than paying for a membership at one club. Yes you get to play at different course each week and yes it may be cheaper. But they are not taking into consideration petrol money to get to each course and also the amount of time needed to do this. If you have a local course and can play two or three times a week a £500 membership isn’t looking that bad.
2. Media Coverage – If there is one thing I have learnt from playing golf and most recently writing about golf is that not many people know about it. You have the main top sports such as Football, Rugby, Cricket, Tennis, American Football, Basketball and Baseball. Then you have your more low-key sports such as Golf, Table Tennis, Rowing, Sailing and even Fishing. This is because these low-key sports are almost pushed to one side when it comes to viewing time on T.V. Since I have been writing about golf I have begun to notice how hard it is to actually come across reports and updates of golfing events around the world. You have your main sites such as Sky Sports and the BBC but it is hard to come across real golfers talking about golf in simple blogs. There seems to be no interest in the sports in terms of media.
3. Junior participants – With none of the younger generation being interested or even being introduced to golf, there is no doubt that golf has a limit on its existence. With a round of golf taking up to four hours to play it can become tedious for a player of an age of 7 or 8. You don’t really hear of after school clubs involving golf anymore and you don’t hear of many schools introducing the idea either. I have recently lost my status as a junior golfer and have made the step up by becoming a full adult member. But during my time as a junior I noticed one thing that did hinder my game. Some golf clubs decide what competitions juniors are allowed to play in and which ones there are not. This is something that needs to be removed. You should be encouraging juniors to play not restricting them. The less they are allowed to play the less they will play and eventually they will stop.
4. What role model? – Tiger Woods is undoubtedly one of the best golfers to have ever played and has been a role model ever since he graced us with his presence in 1996. But a decline in his career since 2008 means there is no real international superstar to draw young players in. Such things as slow play, bad tempers and poor language have started to ruin the game. Who wants to take up a sport where the professionals they are aspiring to be are bending there clubs over their knees, throwing clubs and swearing non stop.
Many of these problems can be resolved. But where do we start?