Is Golf dying in America?
A quick Google search will turn up mixed messages to this question, and depending on your love (or hate) for the game, you are likely to find the same varied responses among individuals. Sadly, the tough truths surrounding golf vastly outweigh the more intrinsic positives of the game for most average joes.
• In an article from Golfsmith, it was shown that “the average cost of an 18-hole round was $42.70 at courses built prior to 1970, $48.33 for courses constructed between 1970 and 1990, and $60.55 for courses built in 1990 or later.” (source: http://golftips.golfsmith.com/average-cost-round-golf-20670.html)
• Over 50% of golfers are aged 40 and older (source: http://www.statisticbrain.com/golf-player-demographic-statistics/)
• It is well known that the average round of golf takes around four hours to complete.
• Finally, a fact that needs no source if you have ever picked up a golf club: the learning curve is immense, and a majority of people do not have the time to commit to becoming a good player.
So what do these facts suggest about the sport? Without figuring in the cost of clubs, it is an expensive sport. If you are below 40, you will be hard pressed to find peers who enjoy hitting the links with you. Unless you are not currently a workaholic like most Americans (http://www.businessinsider.com/r-checking-work-emails-at-home-its-part-of-the-job-for-most-americans-2015-7), having four hours of free time would be a gift from the golf gods. And most importantly, the game has arguably the hardest learning curve of any skill based activity.
Is golf a dying sport? All of this would lead one to say “yes.”
If that’s the case, why are there 29,000,000 golfers in the United States – with it only growing in popularity (http://www.augusta.com/masters/story/news/golf-numbers-show-game-rise). While there are simple reasons such as family tees becoming more popular, tracks like Tiger Woods’ short course recently opening, or it simply being a great source of exercise, there are also many intangibles that keep golfers coming back for more.
There is no better feeling than hitting that one perfect shot; the one that feels like nothing yet it reverberates through your body. You will never feel more at peace than when you are strolling through a sea of green accompanied by a chorus of bird songs, thwacks, and random expletives from your fellow golfers. And there is no better view than witnessing the early morning sun rise over the first fairway with sun refracting through dew drops yet to be squashed by spikes. The escape from everyday life, the emotional roller coaster of making a triple bogey and following it up with a birdie, or, if you’re lucky, making a hole in one in front of your Sunday foursome. As a game of honor, golf teaches kids and adults how to be better; and how to funnel your emotions into a deep focus not easily achieved off the course. Yes, it’s frustrating, it’s expensive, it’s typically played by older generations, and it’s time-consuming. But from these hard truths arise: perseverance, providence, amiability, and patience – traits that should be sought by any man or woman, golfer or not.