If I started learning to play golf today, by the time I am able to break par will there be golf courses still around I can afford to play?…. Why should I shell out $50 for a ticket to a professional golf tournament and Tiger is not there? ….If the owner of my country club is not interested in investing in updating the facilities, clubhouse, parking lots, cart paths..and so forth, for the next generation of golfers then why am I a member and paying all of these monthly dues? ….If the normal round of golf at my local golf course is 6 Hours long why should I bother to even play golf?
All of these questions are being asked, and an even larger number of statements are made, everyday by thousands of golfers. Are these concerns being addressed? One can only hope.
There are answers to the woes of golf, but does the golf industry as a whole want to make the changes needed to keep millions of golfers interested in play golf? OR, will the denial my the golf investors of yesterday keep golf on the track to demise it is currently is on?
Bold action has to be taken and needs to be taken right away if golf is to survive for the next generation. Solutions to the situations that are pulling golf down are out there to take. What is it going to take to get those who are part of the problem to walk away so those who are capable of managing golf take ownership of its future? I guess we all will have to see.
Where are the problems and what are the solutions?
Outside of the high start-up costs the problem golf has is its steep learning curve. People give up learning to play golf due to the difficulty and complexity of mechanics involved with just hitting the golf ball. The average person also does not have the patience to understand that learning golf is not done overnight. Compound all this with the rules and etiquette of golf and most new golfers stumble out of the gates of getting started with learning only what interests them the most about golf instead of learning all about golf.
Club manufacturers and golf gadget inventors all would like to claim that their equipment makes it easier to hit the golf ball, but cannot. The fundamental premise of hitting the golf ball is not in the swing or the equipment it is in the muscle coordination needed to orchestrate all of the body movement needed to hit the golf ball. The golf swing is not natural to humans so learning the swing is just the beginning.
Bringing new golfers into golf is now more important than ever to keep golf going on into the future. Junior golf helps and is tremendous to to getting golf into kids lives. However, its once they become adults and the burden becomes theirs to sustaining themselves financially is where junior golf cannot help.
Developing complete programs golfers can easily enroll in and afford that teaches all about golf would be just one of many possible solutions to lessening the steep learning curve of golf.
Professional Tours Held Hostage
Who is going to take Tiger’s place? Since 1995 when Tiger Woods took stage as the US amateur winner, playing golf became the thing to do for millions upon millions of men and women around the world. When Tiger turned Pro and was on TV almost every week, the game continually grew.
Now that Tiger has accomplished almost everything in golf he wants to accomplish he has pulled back his scheduled to do what He wants to do and when He wants to do it. Nothing wrong with that with the exception that those millions who came into golf because of Tiger are now leaving golf because they no longer can see Tiger play.
What takes place is people find other things to do beside play or watch golf. When that takes place fewer people attend professional golf events or watch golf on TV. The sponsors of these events see no value to their advertising of their products at these venues and pull back their sponsorships.
Closing down tour events not only cuts off the only access many people in the effected region have to see golf played LIVE, but the closing of the tour events also cuts off billions of dollars of revenue to the local economy and employment. Negative attitudes of golfers build over these incidents starting a negative networking of word of mouth that eventually trickles down to reflect poorly on anyone who plays golf or has anything to do with golf. This is not good for golf.
So, there goes the professional golf tour unless GOLF finds a way to get the message out to the world that there is more to golf than Tiger and there are more just as skillful golfers playing on the PGA and LPGA tour than Tiger. The question has been asked many times..where would Tiger be without golf?
Golf sure needs more Tiger Woods.
Cash Strapped Private Clubs
Along with the Tiger craze came the increase interest in playing golf in a more controlled environment such as private golf clubs and country clubs. As the Tiger wagon rolled by literally thousands of investors jumped on to develop golf courses to accommodate the millions of golfers who were coming into golf. Thousands of golf clubs were built with huge investments in property around the golf courses.
This increase in popularity drew golfers to country clubs and private golf clubs around the country. Truly the hay day of country club and private golf clubs had just begun when golf’s popularity peaked with Tiger.
Unfortunately, the New Clubs over invested in developing lavish homes around their golf course and the older clubs under invested in rebuilding their infrastructure during the peak period of golf. Today, both now cash strapped ventures are now working against golf’s survival.
The high membership dues and initiation fees to cover the ROI the investors are demanding is pushing their membership to question the validity of their membership. In both cases where the investors over committed in their expectations of the market and the older club’s management failing to invest in new clubhouses the members are asking..why do I want to pay their bills and not getting what I need out of the deal.
The solution is tough. Yet, what will have to take place in order for these golf facilities to survive is the investors are going to have to take the bullet, as they should for the risk they took, and just walk away from the millions they invested in the golf clubs. The older clubs will have to rely upon the loyal members who are left in the club to buy out the club from foreclosure and reinvest in the future of the club by reconstructing it image as a pillar of the community.
Its tough, but is one of the only ways golf in the private sector will survive. Members of private golf facilities often have a choice to be a member or not. If they choose Not, it is not the end of golf for them. They can continue their golf at public venues. However, the question then would be..how long will they last at public courses after playing at private venues? What will they have to deal with they are not use to dealing with…?
Pace of Play
The last coffin nail to the existence of GOLF is pace of play. On one hand, as the economy tightens and fewer affordable golf facilities remain open golf is going to be forced to be played by millions on non-work days or weekends. This one factor is going to naturally force the courses to be overcrowded.
As the pace of work picks up the interest in playing long rounds of golf is not going to be tolerated.
On the other hand, it is where many weekend golfers get what the Pace of Play should be. Many amateurs cue on what the tour professionals due on the golf course as what they should do out on an overcrowded golf course. So,the tour golf professionals need to understand their position in golf for setting the example for all golfers to follow for the proper pace of play. The tour professionals have to be conscious of their responsibility to helping solve the problem by showing millions how the pace is to be set. Not show how slow golf can be played.
What is the root cause of slow play? The answer to this question completes the vicious circle of the issues golf is facing today. In over 85% of the cases of slow play, skill level is a factor. Even in the professional ranks. The confidence to make the most skillful shot needed at the highest level of golf competition makes a player think twice or three times on what they are about to do. If they had the confidence in their skill they would not be hesitant to quickly pull off the shot.
In the amateur ranks, the skill level factor considers what a golfer should have learned when he began leaning to play golf, which was the rules, etiquettes and from what tee box he/she should be playing.
The remaining 15% was a collection of issues mainly related with attitude towards life and other social deficiencies highlighted by lack of concern for others. All of these are part of the education a golfer should have received when learning to play golf which is part of why so many people feel is a deterrent to learning to play golf.
Again, the golfers of the world will be not be tolerable of slow play. If they are confronted with slow play frequently it will force many into making yet another tough decision. This time it comes down to..do I play golf? or NOT?.
Unfortunately, faced with all the things wrong with golf, today’s golfers, who are dealing with the current economic environment to spending more time securing their and their families future, are going to choice NOT to play golf. This is not good for golf.
Alternatives to golf’s survivability are going to have to be invented. More education of what golf is about and not about is going to have to be part of any solution. A round of Golf can be turned into a One Hole outing if that is an individual’s decision, but if it takes longer than 20 minutes to play that ONE hole because someone ahead did not know what golf is about, then the pace of play still plays part of the problem golf has to deal with.
If people are faced with difficulties in learning the game properly from their introduction to golf and then once they advance enough in their learning to take what they learn to the golf course only to find the months of learning leads to hours of time on a golf course, these people are not going to make it to the avid level of interest needed to become a member of a private country club.
If the most skillful tour professional golfers are not going to be frequently available to demonstrate the skill level of golf that makes the game entertaining then the interest level for tour event sponsorships and TV advertising will wane resulting in blocking golf fans access to seeing any of the highly skilled golfers who play the tours. These tour events generate purpose and interest in millions of people to go out and learn the game of golf. Eliminating frequent access to seeing how golf is played at the top level is not good for golf.
Skill level enhancements, initial education,unprecedented enforcement, impeccable management, drastic cross the board cost cuts and unwearied professionalism at the top levels of the GOLF is what it is going to take to place golf back in shape for the next generation to carry on. There are solutions to golf survivability..is GOLF ready to make those decisions or will the millions of golfers around the world make it for them?
Let me know how I can help.