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Why have golfers left the game? (Part 4)

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“Why should I care about golf participation?” “What will increased participation do for me?”

These are valid questions that have come up consistently from readers of my series on golf participation and I wanted to address them before I get into Part 4.

I could write some esoteric stuff about less play equaling fewer courses and ultimately more expensive and more crowded golf, but I won’t. Honestly, I’m not sure if it’s true or not. Nobody has to care and it’s a choice we can discuss in more detail when the series is finished.

Part 4: Why have golfers left the game?

BABETTERGIF

There are those who say that society is the reason participation has dropped. That’s a big thing to analyze and many experts have done so. I don’t ignore society and its wide-ranging definitions, but to me the subject is just too broad to tackle in a focused effort.

Let’s use a restaurant as an example. Its location is fine, as is its attention to service, efficiency and décor. You name it and it passes. Except that it’s losing customers, a consistent pattern over the last decade.

Anyone in the restaurant business will tell you that the challenge is getting customers to come. If you accomplish that and somehow encourage them not to return you have done a miserable job. Say you investigate and a secret poll of lost customers points at one overwhelming complaint: it’s a food issue. The food is just not good enough that customers won’t try for a better experience elsewhere.

With that knowledge, would it make sense to hire an interior designer and a limo service to transport customers? Welcome to the golf industry!

In golf, we already have all the facts. The people who own courses and private clubs know that golf is “too slow, no fun” and that’s our food issue. It’s driven countless golfers away. The question is, how do we fix it and what’s the best plan to encourage the golfers who have left the game to come back?

Just a note about those who have stayed with the game. The Avid category that I discussed in Part 3, you know, the golfers who pick up 71 percent of the industry’s tab, are aging. Think of it as a foursome, same gang, just getting older. The average golfer age has increased more than 12 years over the record-keeping period, making health care one of the most positive effects on participation. We need to fill the bench so we have replacements when that foursome goes to the great course in the sky.

If we got the chance to play basketball with our favorite professional team, would we have the baskets moved up to 12 feet, 2 feet higher than a normal basket, on the end where we play offense? No? Then why do 95 percent of amateur golfers do essentially the same thing on the course? The tees that they play, while shorter than those played by professional golfers, play considerably longer and more difficult for them because they don’t hit the ball anywhere near as far as the tour pros do.

In fact, if you adjust course yardages for a tour professional’s length, you’ll find that average male golfers routinely play the equivalent of 8500-yard courses, which means they’re hitting much longer clubs into greens than professionals. About 15oo yards of longer clubs per round! And women play courses that are equivalent to a 9000-yard course.

I don’t know what ushered in the age of the overly penal golf course, and to be fair to designers they are hired and given marching orders. When did greenside bunkers (or fairway bunkers for that matter) become 8-feet deep and require not only extraordinary golfing skill to escape, but a high level physical strength to get in and out, let alone rake?

When did a “signature hole” automatically become a 460-yard par 4 with a pot bunker protecting a pin location on the right side of the green. Really? Protecting from whom; touring professionals who average an 8 iron into par 4 holes? They must be, because 95 percent of the rest of us can’t get to the green in regulation anyway.

When was it forgotten that golf is such a hard, frustrating game?

During my 30 years in the golf equipment business, I kept hearing, “Get ready. The women golfers are coming.” In fact I read it recently as one of golf’s governing organizations grasped for a breath of optimism. Well, it has never happened and without major changes it never will.

Women are smarter than men; most will not brave the weather to play what for them is essentially a 9000-yard course. Some operators have moved their tees up, all too often by sticking red markers in the fairway.

Those red markers in the fairway that scream “afterthought;” are they an attraction to discriminating female golfers? Does the average operator, private or public understand that comparably the ladies tees should be roughly 4600 yards if women are to be able to hit the same clubs into greens that LPGA Tour players hit? The course and the entire facility should make them feel welcome, because they are far more discriminating than men. If you want their business you need to market to them.

I once got a letter where someone had taken the time to list some of the early courses of the great designers: Tillinghast, Ross, McKenzie, et al. it pointed out that from the back tees their courses measured about 6800 yards. That makes them longer than what I’ll call an ideal layout today. My response was one word: water. These courses were designed well before the installation of sprinkler systems and played much shorter that their advertised yardage because they were much firmer and faster.

The solution is not about “dumbing down” courses at the expense of the accomplished player. They deserve a challenge for the hard work put in to reach their respective levels. Let’s be clear, however, that this is a golf solution to a golf issue. It’s about increasing the value of the experience. Lots of things can follow, but “too slow, no fun” has to be addressed.

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Barney Adams is the founder of Adams Golf and the inventor of the iconic "Tight Lies" fairway wood. He served as Chairman of the Board for Adams until 2012, when the company was purchased by TaylorMade-Adidas. Adams is one of golf's most distinguished entrepreneurs, receiving honors such as Manufacturing Entrepreneur of the Year by Ernst & Young in 1999 and the 2010 Ernie Sabayrac Award for lifetime contribution to the golf industry by the PGA of America. His journey in the golf industry started as as a club fitter, however, and has the epoxy filled shirts as a testimony to his days as an assembler. Have an equipment question? Adams holds seven patents on club design and has conducted research on every club in the bag. He welcomes your equipment questions through email at barneyadams9@gmail.com Adams is now retired from the golf equipment industry, but his passion for the game endures through his writing. He is the author of "The WOW Factor," a book published in 2008 that offers an insider's view of the golf industry and business advice to entrepreneurs, and he continues to contribute articles to outlets like GolfWRX that offer his solutions to grow the game of golf.

268 Comments

268 Comments

  1. Fred

    Feb 6, 2015 at 3:09 pm

    I also don’t understand why garth is commenting here. That would be the same as if I told a carpenter to quit pounding nails and take up golf, because you wouldn’t hit your thumb with the hammer…..Has anyone ever thought about the idiotic and unfair rules the Scottish came up with? Why do we put up with them? For example: If you totally miss the ball on the tee, it counts as a shot, no penalty! You missed hitting the ball!!!! What could be worse? Next, a golfer hits the ball perfectly, it flies really far, and because it’s a dogleg, it rolls out of bounds. One stroke penalty and you lost the distance. Is there a comparison? Thse are things that frustrate many golfers because it is unfair. Make golf fairer, and some golfers may come back. I’ve played golf in Scotland, and the people that work around the golf courses there, are for the most part so arrogant, that my group of 8 will never go there again. And it’s damn expensive (I think the locals only pay 1/4 of what the tourists do, although they all deny it). Why do we let them make the rules?

  2. Peter

    Oct 6, 2014 at 8:43 pm

    I think the reasons that people are giving up golf are both demographic and slow play. I actually play now more than I ever did because three of my good friends have taken it up and they love it – so we end up going out pretty much every week of the year together ( I live on the west coast). However I know many people that have cut way back and it’s for two reasons. 1) They are boomers who have more time and money to travel and pursue other interests so they spend a smaller % of their leisure time on golf 2) They find that slow play just kills their interest in being out there. My own experience is that I will almost never play on a weekend – too slow and there are certain courses I avoid completely because they are notoriously slow.

    I believe that there is absolutely no excuse for slow play – BUT – this does not mean that the new golfer has to rush either. I have played in Europe a few times and that was a real eye opener for me. In the country that I was playing in (Denmark) you had to show a card to prove that you had taken (and passed) a course that taught you the rules and etiquette of golf. As a visitor this rule was waived and they were very friendly and welcoming. The people I was playing with were all new to the game – having only taken it up the summer before. They made all of the mistakes any new golfer makes but one thing they did not do was walk around in a daze. Three of foursome (I have played for 30 years) were new golfers but not once did we hold anybody up. They simply knew what was expected of them and they did the simple things to make sure that our group played at a reasonable (not rushed) pace of play. They walked to their ball and were always ready to hit every shot (including puts) when it was their turn. We had plenty of time to chat while we were walking on the fairway etc.. but it was just a delight to play with new golfers who new what they should be doing. At the outset it may seem a little draconian to require that everyone take a course on the rules of golf and it’s etiquette before being allowed to play but I can attest to the fact that it will all but completely eliminate slow play and make for a more pleasurable experience for both the beginner and the more experienced golfer they are playing with or in front of. If you think about it, there are very few other sports where part of your enjoyment can be affected by people you are not even playing with. Simple understanding of the basic rules and etiquette would solve this problem.

    • Don C

      Feb 3, 2016 at 2:42 pm

      Amen brother. I have always thought every golfer should be required to get a license just like every driver must get a license.

  3. JDG

    Oct 1, 2014 at 10:55 am

    Pace of play. Interesting ‘term” that has been floating around for years on end. I have golfed for over 30 years, so my experience with golfer’s of various abilities is documented over those years of play. I have played with fellas who are older and hit either off the womens tee or the senior tees. I still hit off the blue tips. With that said, fellas and women usually tee from a box of their ability. Some play off those shorter tees due to physical challenges regardless of age. I

    I have found some players who disdain for golfers who take too long to find a ball or are short hitters. Golfer’s need to be aware that to exclude these players by calling them out will only destroy the game and golf will be viewed as a game for SNOBS.

    If you are playing in a tournament; USGA rules would apply. Also, those who play in these tournaments have already established a handicap according to their playing ability…..Long tips, senior tips and women tips. Thus, these players are playing golf either based on their ability or age…..golf courses have their own rulings on age based players as to what tee they will play from.

    So, with that said we come to the fellas/women who play outside of the tournaments…..that would be most of us. Most courses only have one local tournament a year for course champions in all divisions.

    For us golfers who play once a week or up to 7 days a week; give the golfer’s a break. Golf was never considered a brutal sport, get your gloves on an fight inside the fairway or greens or the club house for that matter. Golf is supposed to be “relaxed” and laid back. Look at the beauty of the course and the surroundings. I have been so drawn to some courses that I have taken pictures from the tee boxes; they have been that beautiful.

    I say that if someone wants to play fast, go to a local bowling ally where you will have your own lane; all to yourself. I played league in bowling for over 40 years and saw all kinds of play. One fella got so in a hurry that he rolled his ball before the pins were set….yep, the ball hit the rack…..and his time at the bowling alley was over. The owners of the bowling alley tossed him out.

    Is that what our game of our beloved GOLF is coming to? I sure hope not! We need to humble ourselves to those who cannot play as good as we can; our game is not going to last forever an one day we will be in their shoes….hopefully not getting yelled at for being a little slower.

    • Uphill both ways

      Oct 4, 2014 at 8:42 pm

      “golfed”? You know nothing about this game, certainly not at any level of tournament play. If you play for the next 30 years, I suggest that you open your eyes and pay closer attention to whats going on. By the way, U.S.G.A. rules ALWAYS apply. If you want to circumvent the rules, which are the very foundation of the game, you should just remain on the practice range and stay out of the way of those who are in it for the true nature of the game…………..personal challenge.

  4. Wfromme

    Sep 22, 2014 at 9:37 pm

    As a new golfer of just over one year I am often frustrated by the push from behind. I do not feel I am slow but almost always feel pushed by the guys behind me pushing and pushing like they are in a major hurry. My biggest frustration is when I am pushed, I play poorly, need more shots to get in the hole and yes that means slower. So please could everyone just calm down for a minute and give this “slow play is the problem” another look? I honestly believe that due to everyone complaining and whining about “slow play” people inevitably feel entitled to complain to their golf partners the second they come up behind anyone and then push, push, push. I have played with guys like this and do not understand it. Golfers are generally not a very inviting bunch and expect you to show up day one playing like a champion. I think this is more of a problem than the slow play complaint. I had an obvious skilled golfer tell me “if you don’t know how to play get off the course”. This was on a 9 hole city owned course where the greens fees are $8(should tell you what type of course I am talking about). I told him to piss off and play through or just wait. The more interactions I have with other golfers that are negative, the less I am interested in playing. Also $50 for a half hour lesson? really? $100/hr…give me a break. I have spent about $500 in lessons so far and it is becoming too costly to pay the greens fees and lessons fees.

    • Brad F.

      Sep 25, 2014 at 6:37 pm

      It’s not just the guys immediately behind you that you are slowing up, it’s also the guys behind them, and behind them too. Really you’re saying everyone who plays after you that day should be slowed down or delayed just for your sake. Have you ever heard of a driving range?

      And there’s usually way more going on than just the actual number of shots. It’s possible for a beginner to shoot a 200 on a par 72 AND keep up with the pace. That is if that beginner is willing to be considerate of others.

      • Larry

        Oct 4, 2014 at 6:05 pm

        What about the inconsiderate golfers that must be in a big hurry. My group usually plays in 3 1/2 to 4 hours but every once in awhile you will have a group who still gets on you. It’s usually a 3 some behind us 4. I just say. get more friends and make a 4 some or just wait. When this happens we usually will purposely slow down. Ha ha ha

        • Don C

          Feb 3, 2016 at 2:48 pm

          I think that most of the complaints are not about “being pushed” when they are playing a 4.5 hour round. The complaint is when they get stuck behind a group playing a 5.5 round and there is no course marshal to check on the course of play.

    • Jay Black

      Sep 28, 2014 at 11:13 pm

      Playing a round of golf at a good pace really doesn’t solely have to do with just ones ability. Yes a better golfer can play a round quicker with hitting fewer shots but the main reason for slow play is just not playing ready golf. Look at the guys on tour they are all at there ball ready for their playing partner to hit their shot, I can’t tell you how many people that I have played behind as well as play with that don’t go to their ball. Everyone seems to have this thing for going to 1 of 2-4 players ball and waiting for that person to hit instead eve yon just going to their own ball. And if you are at your ball if your on one side of the fairway and your playing partner is on the other then HIT YOUR BALL! Why wait, it’s not a tournament! The other day I played with some members (3 some) that I haven’t played with before, I get up to the Tee box and they were all walking so I decided to join them and ditch my cart. The course that I belong to is public, sits in a valley and is difficult to say the least (71/139). Needless to say we walked the front nine in under 2 hrs (1:45) I’m a 7 and can tell you that I have played with “bad golfers” that are fast as well as “good golfers ” that are slow.

    • Dien N

      Oct 1, 2014 at 11:21 am

      So you are why I play less golf. Slow play sucks. As one other poster said you can take 200 strokes and still keep up with the pace. Stop spending 5 minutes looking for your 50 cent ball and taking 10 practice swings. READY GOLF!

  5. TwoDogsandSanchez

    Sep 21, 2014 at 11:25 am

    I hope the golfing population does not grow by very much. The courses I play are relatively easy to get thru in 3.5-4.5 hours, walking, and carrying provided I tee off at daybreak.

    I can’t play a hot course, 85 degrees +, that way in any temperate climate forget the humid ones like Florida, Myrtle, or other east coast steam baths.

    If not teeing up the 18th by 11:00 a.m. I just won’t go because of the pace of play. If I could only play after noon, I’d likely sell the entire kit and find something else to sport.

  6. dwntnbrown

    Sep 16, 2014 at 11:43 am

    it is expensive, but I think te most important thing is SLOW PLAY everybody wants to be a pro and they play the gold tees just to say I played the champs tees.

  7. Mike

    Sep 5, 2014 at 5:30 pm

    In addition to money and time factors. People are also fatter and lazier than ever (read overworked and poor diet choices ). If it weren’t for carts, most of these people playing now wouldn’t even be there. And the people who eat and exercise have the motivation to find more rewarding activities than just golf (but again this factors money).

    • Rafael

      Sep 24, 2014 at 4:56 pm

      That’s right, Mike. I’m just learning golf to participate in company sponsored outings. Golf is too expensive and time consuming. I would rather do crossfit training or other activity where I could push my heart rate. I’m 51 years old, so maybe I’ll take it up in 20 years.

  8. Gautama

    Aug 27, 2014 at 2:09 pm

    I took an afternoon off and walked on a local muni course midweek and wound up grouped with a threesome of fairly solid, obviously regular players at that course. All a little older than me, maybe late 50s or recently retired. They weren’t particularly good or bad, but short and straight enough that they could really move along, the kind of guys you see on every course in America, regular, bread and butter golfers. We were behind some teenagers, probably high school age, who were obviously learning the game but doing pretty well and not screwing around at all. The guys I was playing with were getting after them the entire round, pressuring them to hurry, complaining that they were stuck behind these “slow kids,” etc. The whole round took 4 and half hours.

    In my opinion the reason for the decline in interest is a) there was an artificial increase in golfers during Tiger’s heyday who ultimately realized the game was just too hard and b) guys like these who bring such an entitled, elitist attitude to the course that it’s very difficult for a newer player to have fun out there without feeling like they’re being pressured. I’ve played for over 30 years, for what it’s worth, and find that it’s gotten much, much worse.

  9. Peter Amiradaki

    Aug 12, 2014 at 5:34 pm

    I live and play in australia. I am a baby boomer golfer who has seen a lot of my fellow golfers go to cycling. Why? They tell me for one better camaraderie. They go out in a bunch and at the end of the cycle will have coffee/ eat and build relationships. Also total expense it is more affordable to cycle. Thirdly greater cardiac benefit.
    Golf needs to reinvent itself. Whats with the 18 hole format? Reduce it to 12 holes. Young men/ women have no interest in spending a whole two thirds of the day ona golf course. Make the holes a little larger so you are not wasting time on greens. Drop the ‘ its your honor ‘rule, when you ready hit.

    • garth

      Aug 12, 2014 at 8:06 pm

      golf can’t reinvent itself, or it wouldn’t be golf. The basic nature of golf is stupid. Hit round ball into round hole. There are dozens of other activities and hobbies out there. For myself, carpentry is better.

    • Thomas J Coyne jr

      Aug 13, 2014 at 12:47 pm

      I like Adams clubs. I play Callaway knockoffs. I think the main reason for the lack of play and people quitting the game is money. Clubs have kept up with inflation and raised the fees. Clubs have stopped any type Men’s or lady’s clubs. Clubs have put people out on the course to monitor and push-push-push without indifference to who-what-where or why. I agree that on normal amateaur play the holes should be bigger, not so on any tournament play and the clubs have to eat it. I think clubs should do more with pro-bono teaching especially for kids. I think golf teachers (pros) should get realistic in their charges and stop trying to think the student is a moneybags.
      I think the prices of clubs has gone nuts, balls too. I’ve been playing and teaching/coaching golf for almost 50 years-$50.00 for a dozen balls-get real.
      Let the golgfers use a GPS, so what, speed up! Get rid of the illegal adjustable gold clubs. amateaurs are adjusting them as they play on every hole. Firstly they should learn how to play, not become an instant engineer on the course. And lastly golf lessons by the gurus are becoming too complex, every one is a doctor and speaking in terms no one understands. Teach basics and simple methods that are natural not twist this and twist that.

  10. larryoffthedeck

    Aug 10, 2014 at 8:02 pm

    Many great ideas here:

    1. The economy. Americans are basically broke, except for the top 5% of households. There’s just not the money for luxury pursuits that there used to be. A local purveyor of high end guitars recently lamented that he’s getting out of the business of selling $2,000 Martin guitars because people haven’t been able to afford them since 2006. If you can’t afford a $2K Martin guitar, you’re going to be priced out of the best golf gear and you’re not going to fork over $100 for a green fee 10x per year.

    2. Women in the workforce. I’ve found that they typically don’t play and therefore, don’t support corporate golf like before. It’s just not as acceptable to burn 5 hours out of the office on a new relationship.

    3. Competing interests. Our kids have become hyper-scheduled. We played 84 little league baseball games this year (double headers on Saturdays) and it killed the optionality of my golf game. There are only so many 6 to 8 am tee times and they go fast every week to the early birds.

    It’s not the slow play. Golf has always had a slow play issue.

    • garth

      Aug 12, 2014 at 8:09 pm

      Woman have a deep ability to socialize without golfing (go figure). Oh ya, those competing interests are awesome. I had competing interests and now I’m thankful for them.

      • Fred

        Feb 6, 2015 at 2:28 pm

        I spend the summers in germany (take trips to other Europ. contries).There you have to earn “Platz Erlaubnis” which means you have earned the right to play on the course. It doesn’t help much to speed up play. I think it’ stupid play that is the problem. Smart people look at where their ball is (while walking towards it!). See how far it is from ball to green, where they want the ball to go on the next shot, which club they want to use, etc, etc. I see people walk to their ball and they look like they just woke up from a nap. No clue what as to which club to use, where they want to hit to….they weren’t thinking along the way. Next, you have the good Samaritan, he has to help everybody. He leaves his bag or cart next to his ball, walks all the way across the fairway to help someone else find his ball…then walks all the way across the fairway back to HIS ball, decides waht club…..He should have hit his ball first, taken his bag with him to help look for the other guys ball (who probably found it in the mean time). They are also the same people who hit an approach shot from 30 to 50 yards, leave their cart, putt out, then run back to get their bag.This is the stuff that makes me nuts.

  11. Eric

    Aug 10, 2014 at 12:40 am

    Here are a few issues:
    1. Too many golf courses – the great courses will survive, the poor layouts will not.
    2. Too big of clubhouses – in an attempt to create more revenue by having more events, weddings, and conventions. The added overhead and expenses has transferred directly to the golfer.
    3. Food and Beverage – the worst ! Lets keep it simple folks.
    4. Service standards have gone down – pay employees less expect worse.
    service.
    5. Not enough being done for Juniors. Let kids play for next to nothing. Maybe give the parents a discount.

    Thanks, Barn

    • garth

      Aug 10, 2014 at 8:24 am

      there’s too many other things to do that give you more long term satisfaction. I enjoy carpentry and yard work way more than golfing. I enjoy the driving range way more, and found that many others are the same. There is no real purpose to golf as each shot needs immediate satisfaction. I found that once I got half decent at the game, I didn’t see the purpose of hitting a ball into a hole anymore. I’m living proof that getting better at a game doesn’t mean that you’ll like it more. There’s a reason that there’s more home improvement and cooking shows on television than golf. I find that most people would rather go through the work where the end result was deep satisfaction, then an activity where that satisfaction is very short and fleeting. If I am wrong, then so are the 99% percent of us out there.

      • Thomas

        Aug 26, 2014 at 5:59 pm

        You are not a golfer. Go bang nails instead. It’s OK.

      • Kevin

        Oct 5, 2014 at 1:04 am

        Golf is a challenging game and most people quit or stop playing because they are not getting good enough, quick enough. I’ve never heard of a scratch or single handicap golfer say they didn’t love playing the game. Practice hard at it and don’t give up and maybe you can get good enough to truly be able to enjoy the game.

    • Don C

      Feb 3, 2016 at 2:58 pm

      Modify your last suggestion. Make the last hour and a half free to kids.

  12. Justin

    Aug 7, 2014 at 8:04 pm

    First let me say I’m only speaking of where I live. Long Island, NY-hole in the earth, especially for golf! Personally I take my golfing super serious but have fun while playing. I cannot afford a private golf course for $50k+ a year which leaves me to the horrible public courses on LI. Well mostly except Bethpage which also can be slow as hell! So I’ve been playing for only 2 years and a 6 handicap. Really REALLY hard work put in on my end for that! So I usually go golfing at a craphole course called Eisenhower. The blue is badly maintained and the WORST golfers in the history of golf, so I rarely play that course. I prefer the White course which is the hardest out of the three. So, point being living in my area money doesn’t seem to be an issue with these idiots that play there. We (Yes, the good golfers) laugh at these idiots who wear jeans, come with shit*y clubs and just dirty clubs, which is whatever. HOWEVER, play from the back tees and hit the ball 100 yards left and right, wait on a par 4 or 5 till people in front are on the green putting to tee off. Are you FREAKING kidding me? Try an eight hour 18 and not loose your cool with these idiots! I WISH these people would quit at golf! Funniest part is they’re really clueless at golf. Really you cannot win over here with golf. My golf partner and I went to Eisenhower to play today and couldn’t even get a tee time because of these idiots. Its like they’re giving away gold bricks over there. I really don’t care if you can play or not, HOWEVER spend time on the range, get a FREAKING lesson and learn how to move the ball! It’s a sad joke. What I cannot understand is how fun can it be taking 28 shots to the green? Because they’re dumb narrow minded idiots that’s why. Insane-doing the same thing over and over again with same results=public golfers where I live! PLEASE LEAVE THE GAME!

    • David

      Sep 4, 2014 at 6:40 am

      That truly is a shameful comment
      Plenty of people enjoy going out and playing golf no matter how good or bad they are they play because they enjoy it.
      They have just as much right to be on that course as you do maybe your the one who needs to leave the game as your aggression is stopping you from getting Fun out of golf and that’s why it is Fun.

      • Dave

        Sep 10, 2014 at 10:48 am

        I agree that everyone, regardless of skill level, has a right to play and everyone deserves to be treated with respect. However, I think all golfers need to be mindful of their pace of play. Bad golfers don’t have to be slow golfers. Play ready golf; stop the plumb bobbing crap on the greens; dont spend 15 minutes looking for lost balls on every other hole; if you get to double the par for a hole, pick up and move on. Nothing ruins a round for me, and most decent golfers, more than playing a 5-6 hour round behind a slow group that has zero respect for pace of play. I shot 120 when I first began playing, but I never held anyone up.

        • Don C

          Feb 3, 2016 at 3:08 pm

          This is a reply to Dave, David, and Justin. I played a course in Illinois that rules posted at the check-in desk. Their most important rule was that if the course marshal passed your group (he/she in a cart) and you were a hole behind the group in front of you, they waved a red flag. The drove the course continuously, in reverse, and if they came to your group and you were still a hole or more behind, they stopped had your group gather up their clubs and follow the cart. When the group got to where they should be in relation to the group in front, they continued play from that point. Having to skip one or two holes make the group wake up to pace of play. As has been said by several posters, you don’t have to be a 10 handicap to keep up the pace of play.

  13. cmyktaylor

    Aug 4, 2014 at 1:12 pm

    In the past, it seems golf was a great way to conduct business and keep up customer relations. With so many women entering the workforce things had to change for at least two reasons: 1) most women would rather talk over lunch than over the course of 18 holes, and 2) most women wouldn’t put up with their husbands taking another woman out on the course, not to mention the mere awkwardness of it all. Result: businesses rely much less of golf course relations and therefore men don’t need to take in practice rounds to maintain respectability with their clients.

    If the USGA wants to revitalize the game, they need to find a twenty-first century engine to drive demand. If business/money is off the table, the only engine strong enough to even come close is family time. Husbands/Wives or Father/Son.

    Good luck.

    • Joe

      Sep 25, 2014 at 12:51 am

      It is actually eerily simple, the decline in golf matches, almost to the month, the decline in the middle class. Middle class, median class really, have stagnated or declined since right around 1999-2000, and almost every factor used to measure growth in golf, ie number of: rounds played, players, etc, has also declined over the same period. Economics my friends, economics. Golf used to be a right of passage into the middle class, just as country club golf was a right of passage into the upper class. It doesn’t matter how slow you play, if you can’t afford it anymore……..you don’t play. I doubt anyone with middle six figure incomes has even noticed the decline in golf, because it doesn’t effect their golf. Granted country clubs are closing, but it’s the majority are the ones that cater to middle and upper middle class clientele. Golf has lost its middle class and thus more access to the game, and it may not come back. I think in about five to seven years we’re going to be complaining about the cost of greens fees and the lack of accessibility to golf.

  14. h.kan

    Jul 30, 2014 at 9:15 pm

    Holy cow
    No one gets it?
    Hackers stop playing because they cant learn how to swing.
    Ask Yourselves WHO is responsible for teaching them?
    And why dont they teach the correct way to swing?

    Money money money, its so funny in the rich mans world

    I have taken lessons from ten different pros. None did teach me anything of importance but the all wanted me to come back for more lessons.
    Sorry to say this but I thrust a used car salesman more than a golfpro!

  15. Otto

    Jul 29, 2014 at 9:35 pm

    This is exceedingly simple economics. It’s too expensive. An 18 hole course can accommodate about 290 golfers in an 8 hour day. So the place wants to pull in $11,500 a day if they charge $40 per person. That’s way, way too much. A golf round should be no more than $25 in order to draw in the average person and encourage them to get better. Once the prices are lowered, you will get an outsize increase in volume and therefore more revenue, even with less margin. Not rocket science here.

    • Tony

      Jul 30, 2014 at 7:28 pm

      If it was strictly about economics your theory holds water, but it’s not purely about economics imo…yes, for some people the cost to play is prohibitive.

      Golf is a difficult game to be even a bogey player. It takes time to learn how to swing, time to learn the short game, time to learn the rules, and of course time to play a round…essentially it requires an investment of time AND money and most people want instant gratification or something close to it, and that’s not golf.

    • Dave

      Sep 10, 2014 at 10:54 am

      More new golfers would equal even slower pace of play. Slower play would discourage many of the current golfers. It’s a catch 22.

  16. Mark

    Jul 27, 2014 at 2:58 am

    One word. Cycling. In the last 5 years several of our clubs, and neighbour clubs lowest hcp players have curtailed, or completely given up Golf for road cycling or mountain biking. Same at work. People who used to play sports such as Squash, Football (soccer to you!) and Tennis have all gone literally mad on biking of one form or another. Personally I don’t see the appeal apart from the fitness element.

    • Gary

      Aug 4, 2014 at 5:52 pm

      Lol I gave up years of cycling to play golf. Go figure.

    • garth

      Aug 10, 2014 at 2:27 pm

      Jack Nicklaus in an interview stated that he plays tennis for fun, but he plays golf to win. That says a lot.

  17. Bill Walsh

    Jul 25, 2014 at 8:35 pm

    I applaud Barney Adams for stimulating this discussion. The issue of declining golf participation is very real but it occurs to me that much of the dialog ignores the real issue that must be addressed if we are to reverse the trend.

    Everyone is pressed for time – even retirees. The analysis done by the National Golf Foundation has indicated that one of the primary reasons people leave the game is time – it takes too long to develop a swing that allows you to play at a comfortable level of competence. Many of the existing golfers learned to play as kids and lived in an era when kids had time to spend practicing.

    Kids today have their schedules so tightly packed by their parents there’s no time to develop skills. In today’s world kids can’t be dropped off at the course in the morning and collected after work. We used to take the bus to the local muni and spend all day there. We’d comb the woods for balls so we had enough ammo to play 18 with Dad’s cut down old sticks.

    There has been much written about how long it takes to play a round of golf but I believe that’s a red herring. Perhaps the hundreds of thousands of folks who are not playing because it takes 5 hours can speak to how many more rounds they’d play if it only took 4 hours or 4:30. Sure it’s frustrating to get stuck behind a slow group but I do you believe people are giving up the game over that extra half hour?

    Experts agree that golfers’ results are 80+% a function of the quality of the golfers’ swing, 10% equipment and 10% mental. Want proof? Hand an ‘old’ guy with a great swing a set of forged blades with hickory shafts and he’ll still shoot par on a 6,600 yard course. We’ve got an 83 year old guy at our course who’s still a scratch handicap. He also has the sweetest swing you’ve ever seen.

    The club I play (6,800 yds) allows us to play as 5-somes on the weekends to create more tee times. We walk, we have wagers and presses with everyone in the group, its a great social outing and we play in 4 hours. We’re all single digit h’caps. Why do I mention this? Because I believe many of the issues facing the game disappear when players develop a better swing.

    May I ask you a question Barney? What percentage of your R&D budget did you invest in finding ways to make it easier for the regular guy or gal to develop a better golf swing? Given that equipment only affects 10% of your customer’s results it seems equipment makers are like the slicer looking for his golf ball in the left rough saying ‘yeah but the light’s better over here’.

    It occurs to me the golf community has their blinders on and is stuck in a ‘the world is flat’ mentality. No one believes there could be a short cut to developing a better/good/great swing. Most golfers don’t believe they have the time, money, dedication, athleticism, discipline etc. to groove a great swing. But what if there was a way to cut the time it takes to learn/improve by 80 – 90%?

    If every swing you took automatically mirrored the positions and sequences of the best ball strikers of all time how long do you think it would take your body to memorize THAT swing? If a raw beginner could experience the FEEL of a fundamentally sound swing right out of the chute how much less time would it take for them to become competent – proficient?

    How much more fun would the game become? How much faster would people play? How many of the 27 Million golfers who gave up the game because it was too difficult would come back? How many more people would be attracted to this great game if they could compress the time it ‘normally’ takes to become competent by 80 – 90%?

    We can reverse the participation trend AND maintain the integrity of the game. The number of avid golfers will double/triple/?? as it becomes easier for every golfer to gain the distance, accuracy and most importantly the consistency it takes to play to successively higher levels.

    The product that makes it easier and faster to learn/improve already exists. It physically guides golfers through each swing – perfectly while imposing a level of consistency on each swing that shrinks the time it takes to train the body to a fraction of the time.

    My name is Bill Walsh. I’m the President of Swing Jacket.

    • garth

      Aug 9, 2014 at 10:24 pm

      The reality is, the vast majority of people I know do not enjoy the game. For many reasons. cost, weather, time, difficulty, no real point to the game, ego centric attitudes, bad tee off times…and of course there are too many other things to do. I find carpentry, going to a good restaurant, cards, etc way more rewarding. The irony is, my game was really good, I could basically par a lot of these more affordable golf courses in my area. Then it hit me, “is this all the game has to offer?”

      • Dave

        Sep 10, 2014 at 10:57 am

        I’m wondering why you are even on this site since you are not a golfer and obviously don’t like golf. Can’t you find a home improvement site to spend you time on?

      • Steve

        Sep 29, 2014 at 3:19 pm

        Garth – That is totally ok. I think you are missing the point. This site is not about promoting Carpentry. I’m sure working with wood is fun and enjoyable. You have the same factors needed. Space – workshop / golf course tools – obviously .. it all comes down to Choices and balancing the time and investment vs. the enjoyment.

        If you have a question “is this all the game has to offer? ” then you don’t have a clue what golf has to offer. It’s not sad-but it is true. You are clueless about what golf is to those who truly love it and work to grow the game.

    • Mike

      Sep 5, 2014 at 4:40 pm

      I wonder if as an experiment a group of courses in an area could all offer free lessons. Group lessons, kids lessons, and private lessons, all free( possibly funded by PGA or something ).Then gauge the interest 5 years later at those courses compared to others.

    • Don C

      Feb 3, 2016 at 3:18 pm

      One more comment and then I’m done with this subject. The common thread seems to be slow play. The poster’s cite various reasons for this and most bear a grain of truth. However, the one point that has been ignored is enforcing a pace of play policy. Golf courses need marshals and the marshals need to be supported by the golf course. Course marshals should have the authority make groups skip holes or even be escorted off the course when/if the rules are ignored. That group might not return to that course to play but that would be no loss in the long run.

  18. Dpavs

    Jul 24, 2014 at 9:08 am

    If I understand…. what I think Barney is getting at (and Barney please feel free to correct me if I am wrong) is that there a few simple logical dots which can be connected here.

    1. Golf as an industry is supported chiefly by avid golfers. (71% 0r so)

    2. Given number 1, if you want to maintain the industry,grow it or stop the decline, you need to find ways to turn casual and new golfers into avid golfers.

    3. In doing number 2, you still need to generate enough interest to draw new golfers into the mix so that you have a ample enough farm from which avid golfers can grow.

    4. Any solution which does not account for 1-3 will likely not solve the issue long term.

    If the above assumptions are correct, logically then the golf industry as a whole (courses, manufacturers, etc.) needs to make sure that it avoids over catering or pandering to one group as any offering which does so may very well chase the other away. (i.e. catering to new golfers and chase established avid golfers away or catering to established avid golfers and lose the interest of potential new golfers).

    Further the worse tendency of all in the industry (which may be it’s current mode?)is to develop course designs, certain clubs etc.(and market these to the masses) which are only suited to that very minute percentage of golfers (PGA pros, etc.)as this will likely just frustrate and chase away both avid and new golfers.

    When you really think about this… it presents quite a paradox for the golf industry to solve and I can easily understand the significance of the puzzle to find just the right balance of fun, challenge, marketing, etc. to balance the equation well on both sides.

    • garth

      Aug 9, 2014 at 10:43 pm

      the reality is not rewarding or fun. I find that carpentry work way more rewarding. There no point or purpose to golfing.

      • Thomas

        Aug 26, 2014 at 6:05 pm

        Your comments are taken. You are not a golfer. No one cares that you like to shape wood. It is nice, but I think you are posting on the wrong forum. Why do you think it isn’t fun for me,even after 60 years.

  19. LongBall

    Jul 24, 2014 at 8:32 am

    Its a game that is slowing to a crawl in a fast paced world. The younger generation will not be content stuck behind a 4-some on a 5 1/2 hr pace. The will go knee boarding or skeet shooting before they do that every weekend. There needs to be change to shorten the round by either going to a 14 hole round or timers on carts which monitor time spent on the hole. I personally think every player should have a set amount of time to hole out…exceed the time…place a +2 on the card and move on.

  20. Steve

    Jul 23, 2014 at 9:33 pm

    I also think it is the cost of the equipment plays into this. You are paying an average of $700 to $900 for a set of irons, the $150 – $200 for a 3 and 5 wood, $100 for a sand wedge, $100 for a putter, and $300 – $500 for a driver. If you go the economy end you are buying fairly inferior equipment, that is built by reverse engineering the top of the line product, instead of creating their own designs. Playing with the inferior equipment takes the fun out of the game as well.

    Don’t overlook the effect on the economy as well. $3.50+ gas, longer commutes, less disposable income, less free time contribute to the drop in play. I used to play in a league during the week and every other weekend, but I changed jobs, that extended my commute, and ended up taking a pay cut, now if I get to play 5 times a year, I am lucky.

    Yes, the new courses are seemingly set up with the idea that they will attract a PGA event, when in reality they are setting themselves up for failure. Some courses even out price themselves for the area in which they are built.

    • chuck

      Jul 24, 2014 at 7:50 am

      all true, but there are cheap alternatives to high golf club prices. The 2nd tier people who knock off the likes of Taylor Made can save someone a fortune, and the stuff is not that bad.

    • tom

      Aug 6, 2014 at 6:00 pm

      Cheap good club? Ebay! Duh!

  21. GrnL

    Jul 23, 2014 at 2:49 pm

    I disagree with a lot of what’s said in this article. I’m typically on the other end of this, and get crap from people for playing the back tees when they are like 6,500 yards. I don’t look at tees in terms of white, blue, black. I look at yardages, rating, and slope, and then determine what’s best for me. If it happens to be the back tees, then so be it. Now I won’t go out there and play a 7,000 yard course, but I never see players playing from those types of tees unless they’re REALLY good, so I don’t get what all the fuss is about. I hit driver on average of 240-260. Which means on a 400 yard hole I’m usually left around 150 in. So I ENJOY playing courses that have some par 4s under 400, and some over 400. I ENJOY a challenge every few holes where you have to hit driver – 6 iron in. Then I also enjoy holes under 400 where if I hit a good drive, I’m rewarded with a short wedge. So it erks me when I get dirty looks from playing a 6,500 yard course just because it’s the “back tees”. So by the logic of this article, if I play a course that 5,000 yards I will literally be almost driving every green, and that’s not what tour players do. Tour players have to do exactly what I said. They get a mix of short holes and long holes. Some they can go driver wedge. And some par 4s are upper 400s where they have to go long iron on 2nd shot. And not to mention, I actually see most everyday people on the courses playing the shorter tees, ones closer to 6,000-6,200 yards. I think there is this false notion that just becase you hit a bad shot every now and then, you are automatically playing the “wrong tees”. Give me a break. Golf is a challenging sport. If you spend the time to develop a good swing, you will be rewarded with good shots. If not, you may hack it up out there. And if you can’t have fun hacking it up, then sorry but you’re playing the wrong sport. Go home. As for the issue of time, it is what it is. I will agree that some groups playing unnecessarily slow is annoying, but I also didn’t pay $50+ to play speed golf where I have to run to every shot, not talk to my friends, not stop for a dog at 9, all just to appease the grumpy old “regulars” behind me. If you want to play golf in 2 hours, go to your local chip and putt or par 3 course. Hopefully you don’t complain about the yardages there either. Or maybe you will…

    • Mike Henderson

      Jul 23, 2014 at 3:42 pm

      Simple. Golf is no longer FUN. Marketing has created unrealistic expectations and the game is meant to be played along the ground NOT like darts thru the air.

    • ken

      Jul 23, 2014 at 4:07 pm

      I cannot say I disagree with a single point you’ve made.
      I look at the stroke rating. Not the yardage.
      Now,I like to play fast, but in a hurry. If the course is full, so be it.
      What i cannot stand is people who are inconsiderate of others. Using the phone, not getting out of the cart to walk across the fairway to their ball…WITH clubs in hand. “Are you away”?…..UGH…READY GOLF DAMMIT!
      I figure 4.25 to 4.5 hrs is good for a foursome on a busy day.
      During the week, cut that by 30 to 45 mins. For a two some on a slow day 3.5 hrs max.
      The last thing is people who are beginners(men are guilty of this) playing too far back….Move up guys. It won’t kill you to play from 6,000 yds. You might just get more enjoyment out of the game. And you might become good enough to move back a set of tees.

    • Dave

      Aug 3, 2014 at 11:42 am

      100% correct. I too have experienced similar looks and mutterings from others when playing longer tees. I play to 2 HC and feel like I can play what the yardages and slope factors allow me to play. Its those who do not factor those types of decision being teeing off that do tend to slow down play but I am ok with as long they have fun. Because I can tell you, with the stress of my job I do not care if the round becomes a 6 hr. day. I just wan to be outside playing the sport. One other comment about slow play: if each player riding in a cart would simply walk to their ball after the cart pulls up to the first ball, and while to first golfer is hitting his shot, evaluate their shot and be ready to swing when the others have been played, one would be surprised at how fast a round can be played..wayward shots and all.

  22. LY

    Jul 23, 2014 at 11:53 am

    I think for weekend play, the course should eliminate the tee markers, that way players wouldn’t have people playing markers they shouldn’t be playing. At our club we noticed that during the week when the tee boxes are getting prepped for mowing, a course worker will throw the markers off to the side and the guy on the mower would put the markers back on the tee box when he was finished. About 99% of the people on that day would always go to the front of the tee box to play because there wasn’t a marker telling him where to play from. Not everyone is interested in posting a score for a handicap. They just want to have fun.

    • ken

      Jul 23, 2014 at 4:16 pm

      Yes…FUN..That’s why I play golf..I want to have a good time..Drink beer, hit shots. maybe make a couple birdies and pars.
      I play tournament golf in an organized format. That’s a little different.
      However, even in those things, once I get to know the guys in my foursome. I still like to joke around and have fun.
      Two things that bug me in recreational buddies golf….I occasionally play with this one guy who insists that even if the score is a ten, you have to hole out….I finally told the guy to back off and play his own game. I’m not going to have a bad hole and hold up the rest of the group grinding out over a putt for a 9. Im in the pocket. Let’s go….
      I do have one friend I play with regularly….I had a frank discussion with him about scoring….he is so hung up on “the legit score”…..I told him it doesn’t matter to me. Write down a number. I’m here to enjoy myself. I don’t pay attention to what I shoot. “That two footer is GOOD….Pick it up….Let’s go….”
      Golf is supposed to be fun…Not an epic battle.

  23. hoganman1

    Jul 23, 2014 at 11:02 am

    I’m 64 and play to a 7.5 index. The tees I play are about 6600 yards even though my average drive is at 225. Everything I read tells me I should be playing a 6000 yard course. How do I keep my index low. Putting is the key. I average around 28 to 30 putts per round. My point is while distance is very important there are other ways to play the game. As my grandfather used to say “it’s not how; it’s how many”!

  24. rer4136

    Jul 23, 2014 at 9:20 am

    Is there anyone participating in this discussion that doesn’t hit the ball 300+ yards? If everyone is hitting the ball so far it should only take about an hour to play 18 holes. Green fees, cart fees, concessions and equipment are way to high in a struggling economy. It seems to me that selling 30 drivers for $300 dollars makes more sense than selling 10 drivers for $400. The mark up on quality equipment is ridiculous. Another issue is the robots that work behind the counters a most golf courses. They are generally rude and could care less about the customers.
    Doesn’t make me want to come back and play again.

  25. Blazman11

    Jul 21, 2014 at 6:51 pm

    Cut the rough. It slows play down when you can’t find a ball unless you step on it. Not to mention a very difficult next shot for most people.

    • ken

      Jul 23, 2014 at 4:27 pm

      Yep….Absolutely. it makes no sense to have 3 to 4″ rough on a golf course…..
      A) it costs a ton of money to maintain it. Water is scarce. Pesticides for insect, disease and weed control are expensive.
      B) Once or twice a year get into the woods by about 10 to 15 feet and clean up the underbrush. Let us have a good chance at finding our errant shot. It not only speeds up the game, it reduces our cost to play.
      I spoke to the owner of a local course near here. This course has a tremendous local following. It’s always busy, but never crowded. He happened to mention that some of the players would complain about the rough areas having weeds and several types of turf grasses. Mind everyone, the fairways are pretty generous at this place. Anyway I told him that I think he should leave it. So what if we get a crappy lie in the rough. That’s the deal. Miss the fairway and take your chances.
      He told me by eliminating the irrigation heads that used to cover these areas and the fact that he no longer applies pesticides in the rough, he is saving a bunch of money that he uses for the fairways tees and greens and is able to keep his rates lower than the other nearby courses.

  26. Brooksie

    Jul 21, 2014 at 5:20 pm

    Lots of good and lots of very poor ideas here. I am a former club pro for the record.

    I play almost only public golf courses. I am blessed that there are several dozen within 5 miles of me (palm beach, fl.)I play mostly in the summer as the winter is very expensive, very busy and very slow. In the winter, rounds take over 4.5 hours and it’s hard to play for less than $50-80. Of course the weather is better and the courses over seeded and in peak condition.

    The summer is cheap(($15-20) and since I play mostly at twilight I usually do not have trouble with slower play. I have found when there are other people on the course they generally play the proper tees and move along pretty well.

    When I do come across slow play these are usually the reasons why:

    People sitting in their carts waiting for the others to play

    People not having the ability to discern when it is their turn to play and thus not being ready to hit.

    Poorly marked courses. GPS and radar have slowed the game incredibly because now people don’t start preparing until they get to their ball. perhaps why people are now hesitant to get out of the cart and walk to their balls.

    Other members of the group not being in sync and thus not watching other players hit making locating balls and planning the order of their next shots difficult. I believe every player should do their best to watch every other player hit their shots. In normal circumstances the farthest away should always hit first. I hate ready golf unless the circumstances call for it. Ready golf keeps every player on a different page which slows play in the end.

    Narcissistic types…this is the main problem..people unable to see how they are affecting others…they paid their money so they can take as much time as they want. Usually this is middle aged professional types, a demographic I fit in to for the record. Golf courses need to be willing to confront these persons and ban them if they don’t change their ways. I don’t give a bull hookey what a guys status is off the golf course. If you want 5 hour rounds buy your own golf course.

    Course design..there are not enough good players to appreciate and be able to handle slopes above 120. Make it easy to find the ball. Make it pretty rather than super hard. Maintain the areas around hazards and out of bounds thus making the penalties less rare. Move cart paths away from hazards and out of bounds. Avoid super soft sand in bunkers.

    Complete lack of marshaling. If there is a Marshall on the course they are usually afraid to force players to move. This is a job that needs professionalism.

    Starters not forcing singles and 2-somes to pair up. If you don’t want to play with others buy your own course or play very late in the day. Golf was created as a game for foursomes.

    Starters not explaining to each group their role in making the game enjoyable for everyone. Be ready to hit, make the turn in 2 hrs or less or be forced to skip a hole if you are behind.

    Players being on the course who have no business playing a regulation course. I know they use to have a handicap system in Europe where certain course required a minimum handicap in order to play it. I am all for that on the more difficult courses. Some in Europe also require players playing the back tees to get an “appraisal” from the staff before doing so.

    I also play in many competitive amateur events. pace of play does not exceed 4 hours. If we can do it while trying our hardest at a high level, then so can everyone else. Part of golf is making quick decisions.

    the best way to get courses to do the right things is to vote with your money. Those that want to waste their money playing at a “slow” facility can continue to do so. Myself, I refuse to go back. I live on a golf course I won’t play because they refuse to monitor the speed of play.

    • Dave

      Sep 10, 2014 at 12:08 pm

      AMEN! I have often fantasized that if I owned a golf course, I would not let anyone without an official USGA handicap play before noon and their handicap would have to be under 20. I hate it when a group of super hackers book the early tee times, play 5 hour rounds, and clog the course up for the entire morning.

  27. chris

    Jul 21, 2014 at 3:05 pm

    they are way over complicating the issue. In my opinion the answer is two-fold, increase in cost/green fees coupled with the down turn in the economy.

  28. erkr

    Jul 21, 2014 at 2:15 pm

    When I ask friends about playing golf, they say “golf is for old people”.
    That is the perception of golf. A gane for old people. It is reinforced by TV commentators, by R&A values (long putter ban etc), conservative values. Why would kids want to start this game and why would their parentes let them.

    • David

      Jul 22, 2014 at 3:17 pm

      Well, considering the many ‘kids these days’ type comments in these discussions, they may have a point…

  29. Bernard

    Jul 20, 2014 at 4:26 pm

    Today at the local municipal, it was “Championship Sunday”. Guys hitting 125 yard drives, 40 yards off line, playing at a 5 hour pace. Please. Grow the game? How about grow the competency? The golf experience would be a lot more fun, if people actually learned how to play. Let’s get real about the physics of the game and also the creative right brained nature demanded to play it well. It may not bolster the bottom line of the golf industry but it would “save” the game.

  30. rgb

    Jul 18, 2014 at 1:37 pm

    Sorry Barney. Not everything in life has to be fast. Those that don’t have time for a game of golf – find something else. Please. The notion of adjusting course size to accommodate dweebs incapable of committing themselves to an activity is repulsive, to say the least. How about implementing cellular blocking on golf courses? I’ve been delayed by idiots ahead not playing and taking calls moreso than too slow play because of lost balls or woman’s day.

  31. JS

    Jul 16, 2014 at 6:23 pm

    How to grow the game? I can’t speak for anyone but myself…opinion only here.

    Find time to teach your children, my parents taught both my sister and I and we are doing the same. If every golfing family added at least 1 golfer each generation that would be a great start. Started hacking the ball at age 4, 44 now and still going strong. I’m passing the game to my son, I work a lot like most, live in a city where its tough to get to a facility but I make it a few times each week during the season. He loves practice at the range so I make sure to take him where he is comfortable (I’d rather play and I do make sure to get him out so he knows about slow play and how to work efficiently on course with proper etiquette…this isn’t easy and is quite stressful at first but like learning your own game it passes and becomes 2nd nature). We have a great time out there, he doesn’t have my passion but I’m sure it will grow and he will pass the game on.

    Children do belong on the golf course and we adult golfers need to remember being new to the game and the learning curve it requires…patience people…these kids will be the reason we have a place to play in the future. I do agree that there is a time and a place for kids on course…not Saturday or Sunday between 6am and 12pm if the kid is new, if they are experienced and can move along with attentive parents then no problem.

    Finally, if you aren’t going to teach your children then think about teaching a friend…its time well spent socializing for most people. Same basic rules apply…don’t initiate your buddy at 8:06am Sunday morning…unless he thrives on public embarrassment at his lack of new found golfing skills. Save it for twilight, late Saturdays and Sundays or ask the guy in the shop what works best for beginners at his course.

    • JS

      Jul 16, 2014 at 7:06 pm

      My bad everyone…my previous comment is only slightly relevant to the article in the sense that I solved the problem by making my own golfer and instilling in him my expectations for the game. Maybe this is better since those who left because of slow play had more than that as their problem and weren’t going to stick with it anyway.

    • garth

      Aug 14, 2014 at 8:35 pm

      why do we need to grow the game of golf? let’s first answer that question.

  32. Double Mocha Man

    Jul 16, 2014 at 3:40 pm

    Slow play truly is an issue. Can modern technology remedy it? How ’bout a chip in your receipt? GPS tracked and linked to chip in receipt of golfer(s) in front of you. Loudspeakers hidden in trees exhorting you to “Catch the f*** up with the group in front!”

    I’m kinda serious.

  33. Chad Morrison

    Jul 16, 2014 at 9:08 am

    The issue that I have found, is the average golfer not knowing any better, and their egos. I am a 9 handicap and avg 315 yds on my drives. I enjoy playing a course at 6700 or more. However my friends that i play with do not come close to hitting the ball at my distances, but when we tee off, if i choose to play the back tees, they will also play the tips, their egos will not let them play from the appropriate tee blocks. i argue with them that its fine, if they tee off at the middle blocks, but their egos will not let that happen, so the problem begins.

    Most of the time the course becomes to long for them, and we begin to slow down. We end up switching tee blocks, because they are stubborn, they wont switch unless i do. Now we play from the whites, and it doesn’t become enjoyable for myself, but i also feel bad for the golfers behind us because my group doesnt understand about picking up the pace after having a slow hole (which happens). My hard earned dollar doesn’t want to play on shorter courses, and my groups hard earned dollar doesn’t want to pick up their ball on a hole to speed up play.

    When it comes to not knowing any better, i find that most groups on the course, do not understand the concept of ready golf, apparently all members of the foursome are required to watch every shot within the group, when did this become the norm?

    When a golfer chunks his approach shot, and hits it 4 feet, they must reset the shot over again and do full routine. (This is fine if course is empty, but not suitable for weekend play).

    • ken

      Jul 23, 2014 at 4:32 pm

      You are the better player. it is you who should make the sacrifice and play forward with your friends so that they have fun.
      Suck it up…A 9 hdcp frequently has blow up rounds in the mid 80’s….so what…..What’s more enjoyable….A day on the course with your buds and a few Buds, or maintaining your USGA index….Priorities, Mate.

      • bradford

        Jul 25, 2014 at 7:11 am

        In fact a 9hcp rarely shoots anything but mid/low 80’s. And wow, 315 avg, huh? Bubba is only 313.6. I hit my longest drives on the internet too…

  34. Mike

    Jul 15, 2014 at 6:20 pm

    “The solution is NOT to alienate the core and make changes to the game that true golfers simply do not find acceptable.”
    Read more at http://www.golfwrx.com/219819/barney-adams-why-have-golfers-left-the-game/#C57QJMKLG3xKKgyy.99

    This is it…just…please…Stop pissing off your best customers!

    I went to a local course that has wronged me in the past on a Friday night after a tough week at work. Was going to play until dark. They had a $29 special past 5 PM with a cart. Except that no one told the dumb kid at the counter. By the time I found the head pro (who was playing on his off day) I was so upset I didn’t really feel like playing and it was almost 5:45.

    Courses like this are part of the problem. Just do what you say you’re going to do and stop making me feel bad because I’m at your pro shop counter ready to spend my $$ to play your stupid course. I still have choices – you just have your course.

  35. Slim

    Jul 15, 2014 at 4:46 pm

    I see a problem with parents not giving their kids opportunities to learn the game; and it is perceived as being expensive. I’m an avid golfer, my brother is an occasional golfer. Unfortunately, he’s just not that into it. He lives in Portland, OR and prefers windsurfing on weekends. I live in San Francisco and offered to pay for his two young teenage kids (one boy, one girl) to take lessons during the summer and get them enrolled in the First Tee program. He declined I think because he foresaw an expensive hobby for them over the next few years. At one point he complained about how he thought it was ridiculous that a bucket of range balls cost $7 for a small bucket. (I kind of agree with that point. That’s what I pay here in San Francisco, at Harding Park and it irks me.)

    But my main point is that we need to get parents to let their kids learn the game of golf to grow the game.

  36. HBL

    Jul 15, 2014 at 12:27 pm

    Why people leave the game (in no particular order);

    – money

    – the game is not welcoming to the members of new the demographics (the current vote at the R&A as an example)

    – course fees

    – mandatory cart fees

    – time

    – money

    • garth

      Aug 10, 2014 at 8:30 am

      you forgot to mention that most people find it a boring game

      • Dave

        Sep 10, 2014 at 12:13 pm

        You forgot to add that we should all find something more exciting….like carpentry….LOL

  37. Russell

    Jul 14, 2014 at 7:37 pm

    This is why people have left the game….

    1. Over designed difficult courses that are taking too long to play.
    When I started golf 4.5 hours was a good round time – now on a busy day 5.5 hours. Every ex golfer who can’t play anymore wants to be a golf designer. Of course being a name the fees are millions – ie the price of golf goes up.

    2. Cart golf – courses designers are compelled to build courses with cart paths so they can charge more – and actually build courses you cannot walk. The owners think that will be great – we will get them – they will have to take carts. That is the reason they don’t go to the course.

    • Craig Sidwell

      Jul 14, 2014 at 11:56 pm

      Agree totally with you Barney!

      I am 56 and relatively fit. (and still hit the ball up to 300 yards)
      I started playing golf at around 11 years of age and played at almost a single figure handicap at 13.
      I have not been a member of a golf club for 25 years and would be lucky to play 3 round a year (although I get to practice my short game every other week)

      Why?
      Mostly because of the cost, and the ‘elitist, arrogant and snobiish’ attitudes of my local (good) private type golf courses.

      What am I now forced to do is patronise my local municipal course (which is ok), while my local ‘up market’ private course are increasingly less patronised and going bust!

      Shame really, because, like many others I really like the game of golf.

  38. Mike_the_Dawg

    Jul 14, 2014 at 3:31 pm

    Things I would do to help golf:

    Reduce 4pm-twilight tee times even more. Should be less than half of regular price… How bout 7pm-dusk for $10?

    Range balls are way to expensive. So we are telling new golfers to practice 3-5 times a week at $10-15 a pop for range balls? C’mon. Reduce bucket prices in half…at least.

    Junior prices should be dirt cheap. Always. And the courses should be available to them almost all the time.

    More par 3 courses (that aren’t cow pastures) We are lucky to have a good one close and my son and I play nine holes for $13…total. Is it Augusta? No, but its a great place for kids and women to learn the game.

    More practice facilities. I know I would spend a considerable number of evenings at one till dark (or later) if we had one closer. Practice can be fun if you have putting green, chipping area, bunker etc..

    • tony kiraly

      Jul 14, 2014 at 6:05 pm

      Folks, I think alot of you are missing the point. Look at our economy. Golf is discretionary spending. If you are having trouble making ends meet, you sure as heck are not going out to play golf with a $400 driver. Also, the game is not growing because today’s youngsters don’t even go outside, no less take 4 hours to do ANYTHING. Attention spans run ca 5-10 minutes. Can’t play golf staring at your smart phone. Lastly, golf is not easy and is not meant to be. Bottom line is that golf is not rpt not for everyone.

      • David

        Jul 22, 2014 at 3:41 pm

        Perhaps young people don’t like playing golf because they encounter too many ‘kids these days’ attitudes and arrogant types who think the game should be their exclusive domain?

        The kids where I live seem very active, lots of sports and most kids seem to participate regardless of inherent skill. When I take my kids to school they rush of to play some basketball, handball, or other games before the bell. And the economy is fine too, thank you very much (major urban area).

        To build a healthy future for the game, we need more juniors on the courses. And maybe silencing the grubby ‘get off my lawn’ types is part of that…

  39. Carl Spackler

    Jul 14, 2014 at 2:56 pm

    Guess I’m in the minority here, but I wouldn’t change a thing about the game. I play with a regular group (10 to 20 guys) at a semi-private course, twice a week. Sometimes it’s under four hours, sometimes its more. During the high season it’s $80, during low season it’s $40. No matter what, I enjoy getting out with the boys, playing for a little scratch and talking some smack over beers when we’re done. To me, that’s about as good as it gets.

    Golf, as in life, is what you make it. I have 3 young kids and work my ass off during the week, but I make the time to enjoy the game rather than making excuses about why I can’t play or why the game isn’t “what it used to be”. For me and my buddies, it’s still a mystical, often frustrating, always addictive pastime. Wouldn’t have it any other way.

  40. leftright

    Jul 14, 2014 at 2:52 pm

    Barney’s article makes me think he is running for political office. The thing people says to not to alienate anyone it might go to. Perhaps some people shouldn’t play golf Barney. Imagine escorting a blind person around a course for 18 holes. It might be great for him but I would die from horrific boredom beyond imagination. Imagine playing with a man or lady who have zero talent, no hand eye coordination and have tried for years to play. That is why guns should not be allowed in golf bags, not for them but so I won’t kill myself. Many articles on WRX speak of shortening courses, make a “15” hole, give me a break, this is all a part of diluting golf and making it another sissy sport like touch football. Ironic the older NFL players never had the problem the current bunch do, it’s because they didn’t use their head to tackle for God’s sake nor did they use head to head contact. This is what happens when a bunch of stupid lawyers run things.

    • Barney adama

      Jul 14, 2014 at 9:18 pm

      That sound you hear is my friends in hysterics at the thought of me being political.

  41. Bob Jones

    Jul 14, 2014 at 1:57 pm

    I left the game when I was 25 to raise a family and pursue my career. I didn’t have time left over for golf. When I retired, I started playing again, because I had the time. Simple as that.

  42. cigarmikl

    Jul 14, 2014 at 12:58 pm

    When I started playing golf 55yrs ago it was a 4hr round and we had less people playing then we do now. Golf is a 4hr. game with a foursome. It is possible to play a little faster, however that would only be a twilight or if the foursome consist of 5 hdcps or better. Can’t change the time element based on all of the comments. Golf is Golf and that is the way it is.

    • Jhawker

      Jul 14, 2014 at 3:29 pm

      I also started playing about 55 years ago. Later when I was in my 30’s we had a group of about 12 to 16 guy who would play at noon every weds during the “Season”. We used carts and we would play in 2hrs and 30 minutes ( given there was no one in front of us – which was true most of the time). We would then stop and have a drink and a few “salt roles” returning to the course around 3pm for another 9 or 18 holes. This went on for over 20 years without any change in the time of the rounds. We played “ready” golf. One practice swing and hit the ball. One practice putt and putt the ball. As soon was we were finished it was off to the next tee. The problem with speed is not as much the distance as it is players not being ready to hit. Waiting for their “turn”. Ready golf means just that you are getting ready to hit the ball or putt the ball while other are hitting or putting. Not like the Pros who don’t start their discussion and then routine until its “their turn”. Golf can be fun when you don’t act like a “Pro” which most of you are not. Slow play would be helped only a small about by shorter courses. The best thing would be to teach every player to be ready to hit when you have a chance. Drop the turns and just play the game as efficiently as possible.

      • David

        Jul 22, 2014 at 3:45 pm

        Being able to play at noon on Wednesdays would probably help too 🙂

  43. Don

    Jul 14, 2014 at 12:12 pm

    Biggest 2 reasons for drop: aging population. I am the trailing edge of the boomers and stopped golfing 100 rounds a year when I got bored of the game. Courses seemed to have their hands in my pocket at every turn. Biking is the new golf. The population bubble is squeezing golf.

    Reason 2. No one is developing the base of participation with kids. The push on juniors is tournaments and not every kid wants to play tournaments. Where’s the fun factor? If your friends are not in, would you be in?

  44. JEFF

    Jul 14, 2014 at 11:34 am

    Kids are lazy fat sissies! Go sit on the couch and play a useless video game for 6 straight hours then. I will take golf with less of those useless punks chewing up the course and crying about it being difficult!

    • Mac

      Jul 14, 2014 at 12:50 pm

      … and “get off my lawn!” amirite?… I remember feeling looked down upon as a junior starting golf by the older gentlemen. It’s not surprising to see this sentiment is still around. You want young folks to start subsidizing your golf game? Then stop with the condescension.

    • David

      Jul 22, 2014 at 3:49 pm

      I wish there was a way to have people like you booted off the course for that deplorable attitude. Are you also the type who feels entitled to give my son playing ‘tips’ when we play with you? And who then turns around and tells an off-color joke, not caring if he hears (he’s 7)? The worst part of golf isn’t long rounds, it’s crabby entitled old farts who ruin the atmosphere on the course.

    • garth

      Aug 10, 2014 at 8:40 am

      actually, none of my 8 nephews golf and they’re not lazy. Quite opposite, the like working out in the gym, playing ball, etc. look at how many professional golfers are fat. Inbee Park who won 3 majors in a row looks like she’s 3 months pregnant. Oh ya, they like activities that are rewarding, and get the blood pumping, and golfing is definitely not one of them. They are also smart enough that even if they got real good at the game, they still wouldn’t like playing.

      • Thomas

        Aug 26, 2014 at 6:10 pm

        YOU don’t play golf. Golfers are as fat as carpenters.

  45. luke

    Jul 14, 2014 at 11:02 am

    When net worth of middle class was increasing, there was hope for growth in the sport of golf.
    Not now.

    As inequality and poverty increases anyone think speeding up play is going to increase the number of golfers? LOL

    http://www.businessweek.com/articles/2012-06-12/american-families-are-poorer-than-in-1989
    http://www.businessweek.com/articles/2012-09-12/record-u-dot-s-dot-poverty-rate-holds-as-inequality-grows

    • Jeremy

      Jul 14, 2014 at 5:25 pm

      Exactly. It’s not a mystery. Golf, like most hobbies, costs money, and more people have less of it these days. Fix the problems responsible for widening income inequality and you’ll grow golf. Easier said than done, but it sure beats the stupid 15-inch hole.

  46. LB

    Jul 14, 2014 at 9:59 am

    The common theme here is time. By far that’s the biggest issue for the 25-55 crowd that works and usually has kids. I am 31 here with 2 kids under four – disappearing for 5-6 hours on the weekend is not happening. Even after work days, I leave at 6:30 AM and get home around 5 PM. Being gone longer is not an option. I am lucky to sneak in range time more than once a week.

    I see no solution that the game can implement to make 18 holes take less time. Or at least enough to make a big difference. I feel the solution is to make playing 9 holes more of an option.

    • steve

      Jul 14, 2014 at 10:19 am

      9 holes will never be the answer. It doesnt feel like you played. I mean shooting a great score over 9 holes isnt very appealing for me. There are no answers. Golf has and always be a niche sport, not a mass appeal sport. Golf will always be slow, expensive and hard and that is a death sentence. With the internet, cable tv, video games do kids really want to go play a game that is slow and hard? Different world today, I come from Queens, NY and parks that were packed with kids are now empty

    • Joe Mudd

      Jul 14, 2014 at 12:05 pm

      That’s it in a nutshell. The practice facility is also another often overlooked
      factor, the nicer they are, the better thought out and innovative the more they
      attract me and the more I use it the more I want to play.
      Trajectory Targets are an awesome fun thing that few driving ranges employ and they are missing out.
      I don’t “cart” I walk because that’s golf.

    • Carl Spackler

      Jul 14, 2014 at 2:32 pm

      I’m 39, have 3 kids, work full-time, and I play twice a week during the summer. Not sure who is setting your schedule for you, but you could play if you wanted to.

    • Shallowface

      Jul 14, 2014 at 5:39 pm

      When I played Little League in the early 1970s, the only adults around were the coaches and the umpires. The dads were playing golf and the moms were doing everything else. We walked to the game. But at some point, that got to be considered bad parenting. Also, it’s easier to sit around with the other parents and swap lies than it is to work at something as difficult as golf.

      You can’t ignore the changes in society. The younger crowd is used to “point, click, solved.” You’re not going to have that in golf and you never will.

      They are also used to constant air conditioning. You’re not going to have that in golf either. Where I live, the courses are the most crowded when the temps are in the 50s and the wind is blowing. It’s the closest thing to air conditioned golf. But they are flat empty this time of year. WAHHHH! It’s too hot!

      I’m afraid there are no real solutions. It is at its core a question of character. You have to have a lot of character and a very thick skin, as well as the willingness to put in the time and the money to be good enough at this game to halfway enjoy it (and make no mistake, there is NOTHING fun about playing bad golf and there never will be), and our “I’m OK, you’re OK, everyone gets a trophy” society has removed the character from much of the younger generation.

      My somewhat younger brother in law quit after two rounds because he couldn’t take his friends laughing at him, and the only reason they invited him was to laugh at him. When I took up the game in the 1970s, no one laughed at a bad shot. It just wasn’t done. Trash talking has no place in golf.

      Mr. Adams, I’m a big fan of yours and I applaud your effort here. I’m just afraid the problem isn’t really with golf, and it’s something the golf business may not be able to solve. The best solution is to support the core, even if it is aging, and we’ll try to drag some new blood along as we were dragged along in the past. The solution is NOT to alienate the core and make changes to the game that true golfers simply do not find acceptable.

      • Barney adama

        Jul 14, 2014 at 9:22 pm

        Read on I’m not done. Next segment next week

  47. GeoGolf

    Jul 14, 2014 at 7:41 am

    There is not ONE main answer.

    When I became a pro 25 years ago, the course where I worked was small, profitable, not the best shape ever. And we had maybe 20 carts, and never used them all.

    Not due to lack of business, but we didn’t need them. I had never ridden in a golf cart until I worked at a course.

    Back then, get some bad weather that kept carts off the course, and we had a group of 80 players – we might lose 10 players that couldn’t walk. Today, we have groups CANCEL if carts are out and it’s cart path only….and these are people under age 40.

    Carts always used to be for people who were older & couldn’t get around as easily. Now, as SOON as they are able to- even high school kids- wish to rent a cart.

    Golf does not HAVE to be expensive. The customers choose it to be that way. Many courses MAKE it that way. The era of the ‘upscale public’ course in the 90’s ended up being a train wreck. You have had an influx of non-golf people, own and operate facilities and watch them crash and burn. These same people think “Well we have to make some new tees and get this course to 7300 yards” (I have seen it personally twice).

    The golf business is now sowing the seeds that it planted years ago. Cookie Cutter courses, high prices, and a culture of “everyone has to ride” (slow play anyone?) Fill a golf course full of 80 people walking & see how few complaints of slow play you get.

    Equipment is a whole other issue. New drivers every 3 months…. guy in front of you adjusting the loft and lie of his driver every hole. Price, availability , buying selling trading online….

    Golf is basically in a frantic state after the Tiger Boom never happened. Not enough dollars chasing WAY too many courses. There will always be die hards. But, the recreational golfer who likes to enjoy an 18 hole walk Saturday morning is not the exception and not the rule. And the golf business made it that way- Congratulations. Short term ‘pop’ instead of long term stability.

    The best thing that could happen would be (sadly) for many courses to just vanish. But the culture of golf, the years of real tradition may be lost on all but a few.

    • Joe

      Jul 14, 2014 at 2:47 pm

      I completely agree! It is not just one thing, but an amalgamation of issues.

      I walk as much as possible. Being only 29 am obviously quite able, but believe that is how the game is meant to be enjoyed and played. And I can play faster than most people in a golf car.

      Now even kids are wanting to ride carts and using push carts. Which, personally, I think it is just ridiculous! No wonder America is becoming grossly obese.

      It is time that the game of golf got a good rinse.

      • David

        Jul 22, 2014 at 3:57 pm

        You are mostly right, but I do think that push cart are a good thing for kids. My son (7) will simply get too tired if he carries his clubs the entire round. With a pushcart he can walk faster, play better, and enjoy the game more. There is also considerable evidence that even a young teenager (12-14) shouldn’t be carrying a full bag of clubs, their bodies simply aren’t strong enough yet and there’s a risk of injury.

  48. John

    Jul 14, 2014 at 12:20 am

    There’s a lot of good comments here and many I agree with.

    I grew up in the NY/NJ area and played when I was younger. I just started back up again a few years ago (36 now). It is so hard to get out and when you do it is pricey in my hometown area of the northeast. I’m relatively successful and not married so my time and money is my own. What led to me playing again is living in San Diego a few miles away from Torrey where I can play twilight at $24. I played almost every day and was able to practice on the base in Coronado (which has grass, imperative) because of my time in the Navy. Both of these led to a best case scenario, in addition to being single, that many people could not possibly live. In regards to people playing from the tips I must say I have never seen it at Torrey as I always did and when paired with someone or multiple people most said they would stay with the white. Up until the past few years when I really worked on the game I rarely played from the tips (I realize blues are not tips at Torrey but blacks are rarely available). However, now I hover around scratch because of the practice and I guess some talent as I played professional hockey for, ahem, a few months and the move is similar. Enough back ended bragging…I feel the logic of not moving back until you shoot par front not holding water as I play mini golf with my girlfriend and hardly shoot par…joking aside we all know getting up and down is what matters regardless of length.

    What led me to comment for the first time was people’s comments about children today. Agreed they have shot attention spans, both my parents are teachers and I was over the summers in college and saw this. However, it is a cyclical argument in a way. What I mean is from 5 until 23 I played hockey almost daily but when I had an afternoon off I played manhunt in the park and the neighborhood, tackle football, and skateboarded in the bank parking lot. I challenge children to do that today. Football is out as their parents probably won’t let them play tackle in any way nevertheless without pads. Play manhunt and run through someone’s yard and the cops are called immediately, and skateboarding was even challenging at my age. And you can’t blame the person calling the cops either as if a child is hurt in their yard the first person called is a lawyer. The world has changed and it is my feeling that because of the reasons above, children are pushed indoors and then what do you do? Pick up the iPad.

    Being 36 I did not live in the Leave it to Beaver years but it was a simpler time even then in the 80’s and 90’s. At Torrey the youngest person I saw dropped off at the course was junior and seniors in high school while my old man would drop me off when I was much younger than that. I’d play with this drunk old pro who chewed Levi Garrett but shot lights out with JD on his breath. When I’d tell my father about him and some of his more colorful stories he would laugh, not make a U turn to tell the guy off. Maybe it was my old man, maybe it was the times.

    How does this apply to the topic? I don’t believe it does quite honestly except in the sense that parents have so much structure for their children these days, I’d like to chastise them for it but at the same time if they want to go to a good college you need about a million different pieces of fluff to throw down. Twenty years ago a few sports and good grades worked. Along those lines can you put on a resume or whatever they use that they played golf each day? Probably not, it won’t work.

    My personal thoughts on why Golf is dying is threefold, because it is terribly slow not because of skill but because of acting like pros. If you play ready golf and step up and hit the ball you could shoot and 11 on every hole and keep a 4hr round. In addition as I stated earlier it is cost prohibitive to most people of middle class means besides for a few drinking rounds with the boys from time to time. Finally, forget the children, I don’t think most adults have the attention span for the game and their expectations are so very high. When not met they loose interest.

    When I started playing hockey no one played it and it didn’t bother me. There was plenty of ice time and it was a very tight knit community for those who did play. It was nice. Golf was the same. I don’t see a problem except for the companies who are trying to eek out bigger margins, that’s their prerogative and they could push it as they see fit but I can’t imagine it affecting many golfers who will play no matter how many or who plays the game.

  49. steve

    Jul 13, 2014 at 8:55 am

    There are no answers. Golf is Golf and what can you do, change it? You can’t. Golf is slow, hard, expensive. If you are a average income parent with a couple of kids. You can’t afford your kids to play. Equipment, lessons, playing time will make you broke. For others they watch, become interested in trying and all they become is frustrated and give up. And it is slow, you have to dedicate a large chunk of your day to play. What can course owners do? Tell the slow players to play faster or leave? Would that be good for business? Having that money play somewhere else

  50. KK

    Jul 13, 2014 at 8:50 am

    I think the lack of family-friendly, beginner-friendly programs is a big issue. I stopped playing for a year because the few golf friends I had moved away. A few more have started and now I’m back into it.

    I think another issue is the attitude of apathy about growing the sport, those who say, “Why should I care about whether or not golf grows? My golf needs are satisfied right now and that’s all I care about.” It suggests a very consumer mentality, an attitude that doesn’t care about the future generations of golfers or sharing one of life’s great activities with others who don’t know about it. How do we address this emerging culture of ultra-selfishness/individualism? I don’t think we can.

  51. Ross

    Jul 13, 2014 at 8:39 am

    I really feel pace of play is an American Issue, I have played in many a fourball in my bonnie Scotland and struggle to make a four hour round happen, even when we feel we play slowly its almost always 3 hours 45 minutes. We are all reasonable players (handicaps of between 6-15)

  52. Terry

    Jul 13, 2014 at 12:01 am

    I have been playing golf for 20+ years and am a scratch. I feel like the pace of play is the single issue that has caused the most angst for me in those 20 years. When the kids were small the idea of leaving for 4 or more hours was ALWAYS an issue. I’m at a different stage of life now and my kids are all teenagers and I play mostly twilight golf on Mondays and Thursdays. I am a fast player and I am inevitably getting stuck behind a four-some or even a five-some who is slow (by nature of that many players) and bad and won’t let me play thru. I was bad once too – everyone is – just be fast about it. We need to teach people proper etiquette and golf courses need to not allow large groups like that. So much of the time people have NO idea what they are supposed to be doing in those situations. I enjoy playing so much and I enjoy seeing new people playing – I remember my first time breaking 90 and how that felt. I want others to experience the same types of things but we need to educate golfers.

    • Double Ace

      Jul 14, 2014 at 3:01 pm

      Golf needn’t be slow. Too many folks who watch golf on TV and pick up the habits of the pro’s. I remember playing with a guy who eould walk to the green for every approach shor under 100 yards. I asked him why he was doing that since it was unlikely he would hit the green, much kess the spot. He agreed then said” it’s what the pro’s do”. I haven’t played with him in a while but I hear he is still doing it, and has acquired the habit of stalkinv putts from every angle, because he saw the pro’s do it. A 4 hour round of golf with this guy, or with hom in front of you has now brcome 5 or more hours. It’s people like ghis who watch the tour that are slowing the game down.

      • rgb

        Jul 18, 2014 at 2:05 pm

        Agreed. On TV now, both with the pro tour and do-it-yourself golf shows, the what you see, and recommendation is always, for the player to pick an ‘intermediary target’. This is supposed to mean make a quick mental note something to aim towards and hit, not study every tree or blade of grass and compute some imaginary algorithm every shot.

  53. Andre

    Jul 12, 2014 at 11:25 pm

    Common Factors:
    1. Too much time (Maintaining and playing)
    2. Some places are too expensive (e.g. major metropolitan areas like the greater Bay Area of San Francisco – pay average $50 – $90, $10 for a small bucket of range balls: 40 count, etc…)
    3. Family commitments

    Just had this conversation during dinner with a friend and he mentioned that he would rather play tennis with his son where he only has to shell out a few bucks for a can of balls. Golf courses are businesses that will weather through highs and lows regardless of how people think.

  54. J

    Jul 12, 2014 at 9:25 pm

    I have been less inclined to golf because of the long rounds. I used to average 1-2 rounds a week. Now, it’s 1-2 rounds every 2 weeks. If I can not get in a round in under 4 hours I won’t go. I now avoid courses that I know will push the 4 hr time limit…..and it’s all those courses that set tee times 5-8 mins apart. For example, I can play tomorrow-Sunday. But, I know the course we are set to play at will push the 4 hr time, so I will instead work on the car, run some errands and have my kids with me or just chill with the family at the house. It’s a shame too, b/c I love golf and my wife encourages me to golf. But, with limited time, more then 4 hours on a course for me is a deal breaker.

  55. RAT

    Jul 12, 2014 at 7:23 pm

    Bull on a different set of rules and size holes..Play as it is to be played ,most guys I know roll the ball ,play preferred lies , inside the grip and cheat..Very few play it correctly anyway.. Get the rangers on the course and speed them up.Cost – any game cost!

  56. Brian

    Jul 12, 2014 at 3:07 pm

    I will only reflect on my own experience.

    I am a 29 year old male, married, with 2 boys ages 1 and 3. I am a 7 handicap and over the past 4 years have played, 40, 25, 20 and 8 (and counting) rounds. All public golf. Why do I play less? Time. Often, I don’t leave the office until 6 so playing 9 holes would require going straight to the course and getting home after my wife lays the kids down for bed. Weekends, if I’m the first tee time out, allow for an 18 hole round without chewing up half of my day. Not many “average interest”‘golfers are going to play at 6:30 though. Nowadays, I find myself spending a lot more time at the putting green (sometimes just me, sometimes with my 3 year old who has an 18” scotty Cameron putter, haha, and sometimes with both kids). Can be there for as long or as short as we want, which can’t be said for a 9 hole round. Our trip to the putting green doesn’t net the course a dime though. Plus, the local muni I play won’t allow kids on the course until they are 7, so I couldn’t take my 3 year old out for a round even if I wanted to. If someone has a great way to get families to the golf course mad playing rounds of golf , I’d love to hear it!

    • MHendon

      Jul 12, 2014 at 7:30 pm

      Hey you’re being a good dad, when your kids get older you’ll be able to play more. At least your boys will know what was more important to you, and that’s the way it should be.

    • Peter

      Aug 13, 2014 at 2:41 pm

      In our area, we have par 3 course with 9 holes. That is a great place to have them start playing. Bring the entire family out and make it an outing. We play 18 now but since all 3 of my kids play now (8,10, 12), my wife has been “converted” and enjoys the walk while they play. Sometimes I don’t even play and enjoy watching how good they are getting.

  57. JE

    Jul 12, 2014 at 6:55 am

    KEEP…UP…WITH…THE…GROUP…IN…FRONT…OF…YOU!!!!!!!!

    • Double Mocha Man

      Jul 12, 2014 at 4:32 pm

      THE… GROUP… IN… FRONT… IS… TOO… SLOOOOOOOW…

    • KNUCK

      Jul 15, 2014 at 5:09 pm

      Nope – fuzzy knee-jerk thinking – the group in front of you can be playing faster than your group for any number of good reasons – better players, fewer lost balls, conceded putts, fewer players in the group, etc etc etc – you get the message – the correct way to look at it is that your group cannot be holding-up the group behind you – as long as you are not doing that, your pace is OK –

  58. tlmck

    Jul 12, 2014 at 4:47 am

    We live in the digital age and golf is an analog sport.

  59. Hellstorm

    Jul 11, 2014 at 9:57 pm

    I am in the demographic that golf wants to be targeting to bring back into the game…..I am 39/married/kids. Golf in general isn’t doing anything to scare people away. Nobody likes slow play, but half the people I hear complain about slow play are the slow players. The cost can be expensive, but there are always options.

    Golf’s biggest enemy right now are the courses. I find that many of the courses are poorly run from a customer satisfaction standpoint. They do absolutely nothing to build interest. They do absolutely nothing to draw young kids and teens into the game. They squeeze too many people off the tee too fast to make a few bucks and everybody suffers. They don’t do anything to promote walking, which I think actually speeds up the game and even makes it a little easier. They don’t adjust greens fees appropriately by season. They hire the most unfriendly people as starters and rangers…positions that actually require some people skills to make things run more smoothly. Many of the courses still haven’t adopted a 9 hole option until after a certain time when 18 holes is just impossible.

    There is a lot of competition for my entertainment dollar, especially when it involves something with the kids. My two oldest kids are 7 and 8 and are just now getting into golf. Its hard to get them out anywhere though because most of the courses are just not family friendly. If they do let them on, they are charging kids the same greens fee as me when they might only play a few holes before getting bored and chasing butterflies. There is just no VALUE in taking them out.

    I love golf….I fit into the avid golfer category that was mentioned before. I play as much as I can…sometimes its once a week, sometimes 5 times a week. I just don’t see too many other peers that are like that. I think if the VALUE of the rounds were increased, my friends would play more too. Whatever these places have to do to increase their customers perception of value, that would be a big step into cultivating the seed for the future.

    • Peter

      Aug 13, 2014 at 2:36 pm

      I find that most golf courses do offer junior rates. Most of the places I’ve been to also provide free junior for a paying adult in twilight. You just need to find the right courses. All three of my kids play (8, 10, 12) and we play faster than most of the 4somes out there. Start with the range and lessons, it will help them tremendously and make the transition on to the course easy as they learn so fast and well at a young age.

  60. Dave

    Jul 11, 2014 at 9:24 pm

    Here’s my 2 cents on the topics.

    Pace of play

    Golf has always been slow when the course is crowded. When the course is empty, it is fast. The more people you get on the course, the slower it will be. I’m willing to bet that the courses that have the slowest rounds only have 6-7 minutes between tee times. If they had 10 minutes between times you’d see faster rounds.

    Equipment is ruining the game

    Is equipment ruining tennis, or bowling, or fishing? No. Then why is it ruining golf? If you believe that most of the scoring comes inside of the 100 yard mark then how much of that distance gain will effect those shots? Not very much. The distance gains are mostly off the tee. You still have to put the ball in play off the tee, no matter how far you hit it. The deciding factor there is being able to put the club squarely on the ball. You cannot purchase that in the pro shop. That is a skill honed from hours of practice.

    Golf is becoming more expensive

    My home course charges $20-$25 for 18 with a cart. If you want to play, that is certainly reasonable. However, if you have been laid off from your job and cannot find employment, you SHOULD be looking for a job instead of playing golf. This is certainly a factor, but it is a factor outside of the control of the golf industry.

    We need to teach the game better so players have more fun

    First, you do not have to play well to enjoy golf. Lots of people shoot in the 100’s and have a blast. For some it is simply a time to have fun and be with friends and the score is secondary. Others try to improve and shoot the best score they can. For those types we have never lived in a time where you have more access to all types of information. Within 30 seconds you can have the swing of anyone you can think of on the computer in front of you. Often with slow-mo breakdowns and analysis by experts. If you want to improve, there is no lack of sources for you to get that information.

    So after all of this, is participation really down or is this more of where the game would have been at this point in time had we not had a huge influx of players to the game because of the appearance of the once in a lifetime player like Tiger Woods? Who knows… Maybe we have a problem, maybe we don’t… but we can always do what we can to make the game more accessible and enjoyable for those that do choose to play.

  61. ABgolfer2

    Jul 11, 2014 at 6:18 pm

    Where are these courses where everyone plays way too far back? If someone can’t reach the fairway from the most forward tee or can’t reach a par 4 in 2, ever, well that’s what handicaps are for. As long as someone keeps up and has fun who cares? I’ve been playing for a long time and I don’t recall one person ever giving up because the courses were too long. There were people who were just plain terrible at golf from every distance, but I seriously doubt not having 8-irons into every green is what’s keeping people from playing.

    But I also have never met one single person who picked up the game because of Tiger Woods and if one reads enough threads on golfwrx.com they’ll believe that he’s the sole reason most people have ever played. Yeah that must be why so many people are playing Nike equipment. . . crickets

    • MHendon

      Jul 12, 2014 at 11:30 am

      I’ve met several people who took up the game because of Tiger but that was mostly over 10 years ago when he was dominating. I distinctly remember this friend of a friend joining up with us wearing a red nike shirt, black pants, black shoes, black nike hat and had a tiger head cover on his driver. Couldn’t help but laugh to myself. Naturally he was very new to the game and had none, probably doesn’t even play any longer.

      • rgb

        Jul 18, 2014 at 2:14 pm

        I needed a new golf bag. Took a look around GolfTown and loved the Cobra orange bag. But could I buy it? No way — far too identifiable as Fowler. And trust me, no one would confuse Ricky and my games.

    • Mark M

      Jul 12, 2014 at 7:09 pm

      The problem is not the people who can’t reach the fairway from the forward tees, if they are playing the forward tees. The problem is those that average 200-220 yards on a good tee shot (so basically your average golfer) insisting that they play the blues or tips. That and courses being set up too punitive for the average weekend player.

      Solution: white and red tees only, set the course up easier for non competitive play. Not everyone is happy to hack away at it and have to pick up on every hole. That’s not always fun. And that’s what everyone complains about : so called hackers slowing down the course.

      • MHendon

        Jul 12, 2014 at 7:34 pm

        White and red tees only? So I should be penalized for other peoples egos. That doesn’t seem very fair to me.

        • Mark M

          Jul 12, 2014 at 7:52 pm

          I don’t know you or your game first hand, so I don’t want to generalize and I apologize if I offend you. But statistically speaking, people with the attitude like yours are the problem. Nothing personal, but I strongly feel that it’s the truth.

          • MHendon

            Jul 12, 2014 at 10:29 pm

            Well I wasn’t offended until you said people with an attitude like mine. You’re assuming with that statement that I don’t have the game to play the tips. My point is I do, so why should I have to play a course so short for me its not a challenge or no fun. It’s not my fault less skilled golfers allow their egos to dictate which tees they play. Making a course less enjoyable for a skilled golfer is no better a solution than saying someone must prove their ability before being allowed on the course. As a matter of fact, Id say its worse. In parts of Europe they do make people prove their ability to be allowed on certain courses. Maybe we should try that here.

        • KK

          Jul 13, 2014 at 11:07 am

          I have to agree with MHendon. Regardless of the skill level, every overreacher I know uses the phrase: It’s not a challenge or it’s no fun playing from the whites. Is golf really less fun from the whites instead of the blues? In my few years playing and watching golf, I’ve yet to hear pros complain of courses being too short. Yet ams do it all the time.

          My question to all of you: Would you put aside your ego and automatically play one or two tees up every time you’re paired up with strangers before even shaking hands? God forbid another golfer mistaken you for a 210 yd driving, 20 HCP golfer instead of the 275 yd driving, 3.4675 HCP golfing god you truly are.

          How much are you personally be willing to sacrifice for the sake of the game?

          • ABgolfer2

            Jul 16, 2014 at 7:34 pm

            A lot of people “personally sacrifice” their enjoyment for the sake of others every time they tee it up. If someone already plays a course that only has 6 actual driver holes, why would they move up and have 3 driver holes? For the good of the game? BS. Spend some time in any group and it’s easy to identify whether or not there are any players who should move up. Sometimes it’s all 4 players and sometimes it’s zero. A player who has to constantly wait on shorter hitters in his own group and turtles in the landing area, would now have to wait even longer. Yeah that’s the way to keep avid golfers interested in the game.

        • rgb

          Jul 18, 2014 at 2:17 pm

          There is no need for blue or black on a public course. And really, is this not what the discussion is about (vs. private)? When you get to blue/black quality game, time to move on to a private course.

      • Double Ace

        Jul 14, 2014 at 3:13 pm

        I have to agree with Mark. One of the guys in our foursome always insists we play from “the tips”. I tell him when we can shoot oar from the whites i will be happy to play the tips! The real answer isn’t which tees you play as much as it is showing concern for others on the course. If you are laying 6 or 7 and still not in the green on a par 4 and holding up thr entire course, PICK Up, and move on, or ket faster players play through. I play twighlight two times a week and you would be surprised at the 4 somes that refuse to let singled or twosomes play through.

  62. terry

    Jul 11, 2014 at 3:16 pm

    newer equipment and harder golf courses are killing the game. we make new equipment to dominate a 6500 yard course. then the 6500 yard course renovates and reaches 6800. more new equipment. then the 6800 yard course squeezes out another 100 yards but this time it elevates their greens and puts bunkers in front to protect it. now you have just told 2 of the most important groups of golfers to F@ck off: the seniors and kids. retired seniors having nothing better to do than spend money and kids are the future, but since neither group has the strength to hit over obstacles and land a soft shot on the green, they find other things to do. its so dumb. we’ve obviously reached a point were technology is running out. let’s just stop and back it up. bring back the time when metal and wood drivers coexisted. and bring back metal spikes.

  63. Jonathan

    Jul 11, 2014 at 2:57 pm

    I think it is time that is the overriding factor. It is difficult to justify 5-6 hours away from your family. Play tennis, hoops, soccer, or almost any other sport – 2 hours max. That is an easy sell to a spouse staying home with the kids. Golf, on the other hand, requires substantial time commitments. Add in the expense, and slow play compounding the time commitment, and people stay home.

    I would build more 9-hole courses or offer more 9 hole options. Not kiddie par 3 courses with terrible greens, but courses that are true tests. Golfers will feel like they got their money’s worth, plus they’ll finish in two hours.

    • Straightdriver235

      Jul 11, 2014 at 6:51 pm

      I don’t know what you are talking about here. I play a lot of golf. I avoid crowds, I avoid threesomes and foursomes, I go out in the evenings. Few people are out. I walk, and I play 18 holes in 2 hours and 30 minutes on a slow day. Five and six hour rounds are for losers, who play at peak times, shill out tons of money, muck up the game. It started with the golf cart, which of course has to house two people, and for a foursome has to house four people… why heck, how natural, a foursome. I would quit the game instantly if I knew I had to play in more than 4 or 10 foursomes for the rest of my life. I don’t care what the course, Peeble or Cyprus, I won’t get near a foursome and won’t play if I see them going off… And if I see too many I won’t come back to that course. A fivesome? Maybe following or preceding a funeral or a wedding is okay. I’ll stay on the range or the putting green until that mess clears up. I play two tournaments a year, in threesomes, and play is very slow, yes, and I struggle so hard with that. Tournament golf is simply unfair to fast players, and it should penalize the heck out of anyone with a caddy taking more than 3 hours to play a round of golf. Whoever marketed the idea of a foursome as somehow normal was not thinking very well. Indeed, playing alone is generally the most fun, but an outstanding playing partner in a twosome is very damn nice.

      I keep thinking Mr. Adams confuses core golfers with golfers with money to burn. Core golfers play twilight fees, don’t ride in carts, don’t play foursomes, buy three year old equipment, they watch monitor pro golf religiously to a point and wish they showed pros struggling to make the cut but they are not confused with the marketing being shown and frequently resent Mercedes Benz, Stanley Morgan, Grey Goose and whoever else is hawking their wares and insisting we show only Tiger and Phil. Core golfers tend to know someone on tour a little bit, or who failed on tour… they take their swings seriously but are also mature enough to golf for the long haul, no burnout tempers, no weird expectations. Core golfers play on bumpy greens and don’t whine, and play the ball down even on some pretty cruddy courses, they have good short games from hardpan, they walk and carry 12 clubs and wish for the days of the caddy, they buy their golf shirts at discount outlets but they are good ones, etc. etc. They occasionally look for tour level balls when their shots land too near a hazard, and they use them if they find them and throw the Topflites and DTs into the fairway for the hackers. The golfers Mr. Adams speaks of are people from films, people I have heard about and know exist, but who core golfers stay far away from. First I saw them from the maintenance shack and observed their queer conduct. Now, with a law degree and public interest service, I meet them at parties, we both golf and would never discuss it because we don’t have anything in common. They spend money on new clubs because money has lost its meaning to them, they were never in the lower classes, or worked with the poor, core golfers are likely to have more ties with the maintenance shack than the cart barn and pro shop.

      • Barney adama

        Jul 11, 2014 at 9:53 pm

        Mr Adams has made no attempt to get inside the categories for specifics. That can be done but first things first.

      • Jeremy

        Jul 11, 2014 at 10:16 pm

        I’m not sure I’ve ever seen more generalizations packed into one comment on the internet.

        • Straightdriver235

          Jul 12, 2014 at 10:34 am

          Foursomes, 71 percent of the cost (core golfers let the rich pick up the tabs–they play around the fringes), heavily watered golf courses, signature holes, designed courses, marketing golf clubs (we all know why the “hot list” drops reviews and comments once a club is more than a few years old), client service… all this implies categories; categories for persons who golf not because they know golf intimately and love the game, but because it is something someone in their class and status is supposed to do. To your credit: limousines–they do equate with golf carts; women’s golf–I totally agree with your comments there.

      • Mark M

        Jul 12, 2014 at 7:23 pm

        So you’ve described yourself and assume that represents all “core golfers”? Wow. I normally wouldn’t respond to something like this but basically you want to tell us that everyone who does not shop, act, and golf like you is ruining the game? If anything the exact opposite is true: is the arrogant, anti social and self righteous golfers that judge people based on the clothes they choose to wear or the clubs they choose to buy that scare people away from this game. Golf is a social activity. Best to keep playing on your own and leave the rest of us out of your issues.

        • Straightdriver235

          Jul 17, 2014 at 11:07 pm

          The truth hurts, but golf is not a social game, it is the most interior of all games, save chess, but there there is an opponent, whereas in golf it is simply the course and the conditions. The demands of the game require the ability to control one’s mind at the proper times. I do not think anything posted was radical or odd… and I am not alienated or alien, I meet and see other core golfers all the time. We are at a player’s course that is public, people coming on and off this or that tour, this or that amateur event. There are always players in the cart barn, but the better ones usually come out of the maintenance shack. Serious play, for people who love the game. Let the rest quit or learn the proper game aware of who they are and who they get in the way of. There will be plenty left and golf will be better for it.

      • Rich

        Jul 13, 2014 at 6:49 pm

        WTF? Rant much?

      • ABgolfer2

        Jul 16, 2014 at 7:39 pm

        I considered myself a core golfer until I read this. My bad. Tennis anyone?

      • Dave

        Jul 19, 2014 at 8:02 am

        I’ve played golf for almost 50 years. I agree with you on every point. I play a struggling, modest private course that has lost 60-70 per cent of its members. Five years ago, unless you were part of the chosen, a morning round was impossible. Noon-3 o’clock golf, only, when a few guests would play.

        Now, I can play anytime, walking, alone or with a pal. I’ve really been spoiled in the last couple years, empty course most of the time.

        I’ve given up on public courses. The last few years, it seems singles are really frowned upon. Last year, I went to a public, paid for nine walking, and went out to the nine I was instructed to go to. Carts lined up like a traffic jam. I returned to the shop, where I asked for a rain check or a refund. Fortunately, the guy gave me a refund.

        That 9 holes would have been a 10 minute wait on every shot. And this was at 2:00 pm on a weekday. This is what golf has evolved into.

        I’ll quit golf before I suffer that.

    • John

      Jul 12, 2014 at 8:44 pm

      There have been any number of insightful comments about this issue, but some are over thinking this. Your simple post resonates fully with me. As a dad with a career and a 10 yr old daughter, you have summed it up perfectly.

      Not enough time, too expensive.

      Most of my golf these days is on a really nice 9 holer (12 bucks twilight)not far from my home, where I can get out the back door at 4:30-5 and honestly mean it when I say, “I’ll be home for dinner.”

  64. Philip

    Jul 11, 2014 at 12:55 pm

    While I agree that golf would be better off with more regular golfers, the reality is for what would be a realistic rebound in numbers the industry is overbuilt. There are too many courses (at least in some parts of the country) and there are too many equipment manufacturers. Some will have to fold in order for everything to be more healthy. Golf is not different from any other industry – too many suppliers or capacity is unhealthy. Since demand isn’t going to grow into supply, supply has to shrink. No what industry insiders want to hear.

  65. MHendon

    Jul 11, 2014 at 12:12 pm

    Seems like the biggest complaint I keep reading on here is slow play, slow play, slow play…. Well if participation is dropping off shouldn’t play be speeding up, Hmmmmm just a thought!

    • Dave

      Jul 11, 2014 at 9:28 pm

      You would certainly think that fewer people on the course would mean faster rounds.

    • Jeremy

      Jul 11, 2014 at 10:18 pm

      Seriously, I keep reading this series and wondering why we want the game to grow. I’m sure there’s good reasons, but when I’m waiting two groups behind on the third tee I’m definitely not thinking to myself “You know what this game needs? More people.”

      • MHendon

        Jul 12, 2014 at 12:00 pm

        Seriously the only people really concerned about growing the game are the people with a financial interest. More golfers doesn’t make a round of golf cheaper for you and me, hell it makes it more expensive. You know the number one business rule, supply and demand. Do more golfers make the experience better for me no, why? Do we get better conditioned courses, no. Why because new golfers are the ones less likely to replace divots, repair ball marks, follow cart rules, rake bunkers etc. Do more golfers make the game quicker for you and me, no. Why because more golfers means over crowding, means less skilled players who don’t know or don’t care about golf etiquette to let a faster group through. After all what makes them slow taking 12 shots on a par 5’s, 9 shots and a par 4’s, 6 shots on a par 3’s. They’re hitting the ball twice as often so yeah they’re gonna be slow. There really is only one argument for more golfers and it’s a pretty weak one to me. More available equipment. Considering most of the clubs in my bag are over 10 years old not to much value in that one to me.

        • garth

          Aug 14, 2014 at 8:56 pm

          the idea of capitalism is to capitalise, or take advantage of. Decline of golf=less money in the golfing industry. The golf industry uses marketing tools to manipulate people into spending money on something they don’t really want to do, then make them feel guilty when they don’t want to golf. Funny how no other industry does this…

  66. Youngen

    Jul 11, 2014 at 11:29 am

    Golf participation has decreased because of a change in our culture. Golf has not gotten too expensive. People have gotten too careless with personal finance. What is one of the biggest differences between 20-30 year olds from today compared to 30 years ago? The answer is tens of thousands of dollars in debt. Yes it is hard to golf when you have $50k in student loans, a $30k car loan, and $10k in credit cards. Golf at its current state did not cause its own decline. The people who thought they needed to live outside of their means or felt entitled to own everything they want by the age of 30 ruined their own ability to play golf. Also, those people work more than ever to pay for all their decisions. The golf industry is in a bind of trying to figure out how to attract more people to playing more often, but it is not entirely their fault that it got this way.

    I do agree that playing takes way longer than it should, but if you have any passion for our sport at all you should appreciate that those duffers are out playing. Has anyone ever thought that those guys don’t have a problem with a 5 hour round? The golfers vocal enough to complain about long rounds are the ones that fit into the “avid” category and know how fast a round can be played. And it is unfortunate for them to slow their play behind groups that take more time. But those weekender’s out there may just be enjoying that extra hour or two that they are not at home mowing the lawn, fixing things, or doing other honey-do-list items. So cut them a little slack.

  67. Dan

    Jul 11, 2014 at 10:34 am

    Here’s my take on the problem of people playing the wrong tees:

    How many players (even good players) teeing off from the blues have shot par or better from the whites?

    Shouldn’t you play the Men’s tees (White) until you can par it, regularly????? Only then should you move to the more challenging tee?

    • Jeremy

      Jul 11, 2014 at 2:55 pm

      That’s what I’ve always said. As someone who averages over 300yds people sometimes joke around with me about why I’m not playing from the tips. I tell them it just seems illogical. Playing from the back tees is literally like saying “I need all the challenge this course can throw at me because it’s just too easy otherwise.” I have certainly not earned the right to say that. Until I can beat the course from the blues I have no interest playing from the blacks.

      • MHendon

        Jul 11, 2014 at 4:49 pm

        Less than 1 in 1000 golfers will ever shoot or break par, that’s the USGA’s own statistics. So based on your logic even if I can drive half the par fours on the course if I can’t put or chip for shit I should play the up tee’s. I’m afraid I don’t agree with that one!

        • Jeremy

          Jul 11, 2014 at 10:11 pm

          I’m curious, why don’t you agree?

          My local course has 3 sets of tees, I play from the middle. I suppose by my own logic I should play from the front tees, but then my length causes problems that the designer probably didn’t intend and it actually makes the course harder. But generally speaking if I can’t put up a good challenge to the course at its easiest, it would seem to benefit no one for me to play it at its hardest. If I do it on a Tuesday evening when the course is empty, fine. But on a Saturday morning? That’s just poor etiquette, but we see it all the time.

          • MHendon

            Jul 12, 2014 at 1:23 am

            Okay here’s my point, I hit the ball about the same distance as you. Now do I shoot or break par regularly, No. Most of the time I’m in the mid 70’s. So will moving up a tee make me any faster, No, why because I’ll just be clubbing down more often then I already do to find the fairway. Where I slow down and probably you to if your around a 10 or better handicap is your short game. Why take driver out of your hand more often unless you’re really crooked with it? I enjoy hitting driver and due to my length I’m already clubbing down more than I want from the tips. If you’re a decent golfer with the length to handle the tips, shooting a few shots, hell even 10 shots over is fine. Just my two cents.

        • David

          Jul 22, 2014 at 4:22 pm

          In Europe (where I started playing), the back tees are generally known as scratch tees. Played only if you are scratch (or close to it) or in certain tournaments. I don’t know what your home course looks like, where you apparently can reach most par 4s in 1 from the whites, but if playing from the proper men’s tees makes it so boring perhaps you should ditch the driver and hit 3-wood instead? If you are a driving god who struggles with the short game, then maybe you should focus on improving that part instead of insisting on bombing giant drives?

          If you are truly at or near scratch, then you do belong on the tips, and this argument isn’t about you so why complain?

    • Thomas

      Aug 26, 2014 at 6:17 pm

      When of the best thoughts on this entire forum. Here’s another tip. Until you can break 80 leave the driver in the garage.

  68. Mike

    Jul 11, 2014 at 10:18 am

    Note, Adams is owned by Taylormade. This whole push of “golf attendance is dwindling” is a direction business correlation to “we want to sell more clubs”. Taylormade is pushing this hard. Whether people want to admit it or not, here is the reality about golf: It Is Hard.

    I have friends who don’t play golf because of the simple fact that A. Don’t want to look like a chump and buy a 200$ beginner set of clubs and B. Don’t want to practice. People don’t like things that are hard, so unless there are other factors that can keep someone interested in golf then they wont play. The “long drive contest” off the tee box is a GREAT EXAMPLE of getting people ON the golf course. It gives that person who shoots 100 or high 90s something to bark about, something that is FUN.

    But its all about the difficulty of the game. Some people buy the cheap clubs, go to the range, hate it, and never play again—human nature.

    • Barney adama

      Jul 11, 2014 at 3:11 pm

      I’m not sure about the reference but for the record I’m officially a ” has been” no affiliation.

  69. Brad

    Jul 11, 2014 at 10:07 am

    One variable i think that gets overlooked is tee times. I’m in MI and many of the local tracks have tee times 6-8 minutes apart, where in my opinion are asking to have people right on each others rears. In attempt to fill as many spots as possible to make a couple extra bucks when in reality they are probably losing more money by turning away their core audience b/c they do not want a six hour round. Once again just an added variable that plays into slow play that i think we all agree is one of the biggest factors in turning away golfers.

  70. Carlos Danger

    Jul 11, 2014 at 9:09 am

    Arent we over complicating this? At risk of repeating something you may have said in one of the “parts” of your article, the game grew at an unattainable rate due to two main factors, Tiger Woods and growing economy. While Tigers influence is still relevant and has brought alot of new people to the game along with people who would have never thought about playing, the poor economy and lack of disposable income has made the ridiculous growth of golf unattainable. Plain and simple.

    • Chris

      Jul 11, 2014 at 10:16 am

      I think we are…. Have to guess golf is growing in other parts of the world (Asia?) and with the olympics coming soon, additional international growth is to be expected…. Perhaps we need additional focus to the game in highschools and colleges, not just for the varsity team, but for the whole class, in order to keep up. Future is bright for Miura, Honma, Yonex, Mizuno and Tourstage

    • Double Mocha Man

      Jul 11, 2014 at 10:21 am

      Carlos… you are probably correct. Which is sort of sad. All the ancillary businesses involved with the playing of golf will probably suffer. Including Mr. Adams’ business, unless foreign markets are healthier. However, the good news is that the U.S. economy is now on the rise again, albeit a bit slower than pre-recession. So maybe the tide can be stemmed.

      On slow play: I love to see lots of golfers at the course. I just don’t want to see them in front of me. Part of slow play has to do with going off the wrong tees. Some courses, Pebble Beach included, make you prove your handicap is under 5 if you want to play the back tees. And it’s accordingly adjusted for the other tees.

      • Barney adama

        Jul 11, 2014 at 3:12 pm

        Double; as has been stated Mr Adams don’t got no stinking business.

  71. RG

    Jul 11, 2014 at 8:18 am

    Much like shaft flex,men always bite of more than they can handle. What man wouldn’t rather have a “stiff” or “extra stiff” shaft than a regular or god forbid ladies flex. When you call tee boxes “senior” and “ladies” you only ask a male to emasculate himself. My best friends father has been at the same club for over 35 years. He has been club champion, senior and super senior champ. He is 75 and hit 5 iron from 150. When he moved up to play from 6,200 instead of 6,600 all his “buddies” howled and poked fun. That’s the C.C mentality.
    All those buddies are beginning to pass and there grandchildren can’t take 5 hour rounds in the hot sun. They want to be home playing X-box.
    Golf has become a bangers game. Score and shot making are secondary to,” How far you hit your driver,” and “chicks dig the long ball.”
    You want to save golf Barney? Bi-furcate. Drastically change the face of the game for the beginner and high handicap amateur. Tee boxes? Play from 100,150 or 200 until you break 90. Bigger holes for beginners? Of course. Make it inclusive instead of exclusive.
    Golf was an exclusive CC sport forever. Now it’s paying the price. Golf and golf courses must adapt to the 21st century. Evolve or perish.

    • Jeremy

      Jul 11, 2014 at 2:48 pm

      To be fair, chicks do dig the long ball. Also shirtless mirror selfies and handbrake turns.

    • leftright

      Aug 29, 2014 at 9:04 am

      How’s that hopey changy working out for you. Change for the sake of change makes no sense, nor is it inevitable. Why can’t we have standard golf. Constants rule the universe. To make holes bigger, make me compete with beginners for tee times and golf time will only make things worse. We cannot change golf from itself no more that we can change our personalities or looks. The problem is 9/11/2001, that changed everything and we have a bunch of buffoons trying to fix things now.

  72. Chris Costa

    Jul 11, 2014 at 7:42 am

    Great article, Barney!

  73. ATLguy

    Jul 11, 2014 at 5:54 am

    Barney, I’m surprised you didn’t discuss the problem of golfers themeselves. Almost every time I play, I see double-digit handicappers playing the back tees at my home course, a 6900 yard/74.2 rating layout. Too many golfers think, “I paid $60 and want to get my money’s worth” or believe that skill-appropriate, forward tees are emasculating.

    • Jeremy

      Jul 11, 2014 at 2:47 pm

      I think he addressed that explicitly, and you’re both right. It’s one of the major contributors to the overall experience being less enjoyable for all.

  74. Nevin

    Jul 11, 2014 at 3:54 am

    Has interest in golf dropped off in the UK? I just spend 8 days there and it doesn’t seem to be the case. Same economic issues there and everything is expensive. However, golf is much quicker, the courses are shorter and much firmer. They are set up as hard pars but easy bogies. No 200 yard forced carries. Even Trump’s new course was relatively subdued compared to US country clubs. Minimal use of golf carts. Walking was expected. Pull carts were acceptable. I think golf in the US has become too slow, expensive and complicated. Golf course design in the US has evolved into always “one bad swing from an 8”. I think that is definitely part of the problem.

    • Andrew

      Jul 11, 2014 at 10:54 am

      I’m curious Nevin – where about’s did you play? I’m from the UK and a member at a private course and although the bar/catering side of the club is in decline (partly to due to economic forces) the level of play on the course isn’t!

      Certain times of the week/day are very busy due to the ageing population that make up a large proportion of the membership. However, the club are trying to bring in new younger members with some success also.

      The course itself is 100+ years old and testing Par 68 5700yard Parkland layout – 6 hardish par 3’s help to keep scoring interesting.My membership costs me £650 a year and that allows me as much golf as I want to play. Not too sure how this compares to US private courses…my guess would be that’s it’s considerably less!!??

      Play can be slow (4.5hrs) in major club comps; I don’t think 8 minute tee spaces help and this is something i’d change given carte Blanche! However most greens are very close to the following tee so we gain something by not having to walk far to the next hole. If the course is quiet and we’re playing well I reckon a couple of us could walk round in 3hrs!

      One of the local courses is a new ‘PGA’ style 7200 yard brut which I only play in the league (<5 HCP) as it's not remotely enjoyable enough to pay to play on at any other time…5 hr rounds and not even good shots get rewarded!

      I would imagine it's difficult for investors to justify building shorter courses in the present climate but surely allowing new members to play a shorter form of the game (Drive, Chip, Putt maybe??) would help it t grow. Professional Cricket has done this with their short 20 over format and it's been a massive, massive success!

  75. Bryant Wilson

    Jul 11, 2014 at 12:03 am

    Quick comment from north of the border in Toronto, Canada….as a 30 year old “young professional” that absolutely loves the game of golf I can say that it is certainly and “elitist” sport in Toronto. When you factor in home prices that are up to 3x what our parents paid for their houses, gas prices, and the prospects of having a family, golf is a fairly tough sport to commit to. Some private courses in the area are trying to make it feasible for people my age but it does not seem to be drawing new candidates.

  76. Max

    Jul 10, 2014 at 10:16 pm

    For me, I need 3 things to happen at the same time to play golf. Time, Money and Motivation. I do find, however, that if I have the Motivation I tend to be able to find the time and money.

    If I made better money I’d play more often. As it is, I don’t play much so when I do I want the experience to be good. Therefore, I am less inclined to invite any non-golfer/beginner friends along to spoil my me-time. I feel there must be a significant number of underpaid, under-satiated avid golfers out there like me who forego the chance to be an ambassador for the game due to lack of playing.

  77. TIA

    Jul 10, 2014 at 9:58 pm

    They haven’t left…… true golfers are still there and will always be there. Who have left are the dregs who can’t think for themselves and get suckered by advertising and some Hero-worship, thinking they can do the same. Golf has gone back to the level it’s supposed to be. That is all.

  78. Jack

    Jul 10, 2014 at 9:40 pm

    Cost, difficulty, standing around forever to hit a ball, washed out sand traps, little grass on fairways, following people that do not rake sand (if there is any sand in the bunker), rude employees at course, over crowded courses, etc. all contribute to the issue. You can avoid some of those issues if you can spend a fortune for green fees and carts.

    On top of that you have snobs that play that expect people to take lessons for hours on end. The way some of you talk, you expect somebody to spend several thousand dollars for lessons before they even play. Not going to happen.

    With a little golf etiquette knowledge, a high handicap golfer can play fast. Have a mercy rule at 8 strokes, don’t hunt lost balls in the weeds, if you have not putted out in 2 strokes you get a 3. If you are new play the short tees.

    Lower the fees and charge a fine to anyone that holds up the course and will not allow others to play through.

    The other thing that slows down play is that you cannot even warm up at a course without spending a fortune. A bucket of 30 balls or so can cost 10 bucks at the driving range on top of the other fees. Maybe some free or 2 dollar ball buckets so people can warm up a little would help.

    Some course will also build a 5 star club house, restaurant, and bar but have a course with no starters or rangers, and horrible maintenance.

  79. Tiger Woods

    Jul 10, 2014 at 9:31 pm

    Golf is on the decline because I haven’t won a major…

    • Jack Niclklaus

      Jul 11, 2014 at 8:22 am

      And with that attitude you may never again…

  80. Sean

    Jul 10, 2014 at 9:26 pm

    I’ve said this on numerous occasions in a number of threads. Golf can be frustrating enough, that frustration shouldn’t be exacerbated for the reasons we have articulated.

  81. Grant

    Jul 10, 2014 at 8:41 pm

    One word stuck out at me…”penal.” The game is penal in just about every way imaginable to a beginner. Rules, price of equipment, green fees, practice time cutting into family time, fashion …man, you name it!
    The time may have come to take dramatic steps (certainly perceived by avid folders but perhaps not so by those interested in taking up the game) in order for participation to increase….let’s just throw out eliminating par to get us started. Or how about this…designated family/beginner nights. Front and back nine starts, spread out t times, relaxed green fees. No worries about being pushed, playing through or any of those “concerns.”
    The bottom line, for me at least, is one cannot make the game something that it isn’t. It is what it is. Accept that it’s a challenge. Accept that it will take time, effort, and energy to get better. Accept imperfections. Accept limitations. Accept the game for what it is!

  82. Rich

    Jul 10, 2014 at 8:23 pm

    Cost of equipment can not possibly be an issue. All you have to do is buy used clubs a season or two old and they will be cheap as chips and work just as well as something new. Even a set of irons could be custom fit as used if you look hard enough, like pings, they would bend most of their old sets for a small fee and you can have a custom set of irons for a fraction of the cost. I think the time factor is a huge turn off for new comers. I’m lucky though, my wife knows I’m not the same without a weekly 18 holes and understands and accepts that it’s a part of me. In decades gone by, most men would only have to worry about going to work during the week, playing golf on Saturday and then mowing the lawn on Sunday. That has changed dramatically now as family roles have changed (for the better I think) which means fathers/husbands/men in general are much more involved with the family and what goes on at home. I also think that the article is spot on about female golfers. They are much more discriminating about what they do with their spare time so if the industry did set out to specifically target an increase in female participation, they would need to be very savvy in how it was done. Good article.

  83. Kroner

    Jul 10, 2014 at 8:05 pm

    There are a lot of factors to the declining golf population but I don’t believe that cutting a round of golf down by half an hour is going to fix that problem. I was speaking with our head pro the other day. He mentioned that we were nearly 50 members short and yet the number of rounds played last year was at an all-time high. It may have been the case that with the overinflated economy many people who had these memberships weren’t truly golfers. I also believe that cultural changes have affected the number of golfers. My father-in-law tells me stories about how he used to go to the golf course on a Saturday morning, play 18 holes and then play cards till 10 o’clock that night. These days I can barely get my friends to play twice a month because of family obligations. It’s not the fact of being gone either four hours or five hours, it’s a factor just not being able to go altogether. What I have noticed however is the folks that are golfing are very passionate about it and aren’t going away anytime soon.

  84. Mad-Mex

    Jul 10, 2014 at 8:05 pm

    We live in an era where more and more people don’t do anything which requires physical effort. i.e. iphones,ipads,video games, when was the last time you had to stop because kids were playing in the street? It is rare to see bikes and skateboarders add the instant gratification which many demand, a hefty dash of the 5+ hour rounds, add a pinch of snobs and arrogant players/members/staff and you have the recipe for less golf participants.

  85. Pingback: Barney Adams: Why have golfers left the game? | Spacetimeandi.com

  86. 12Golf

    Jul 10, 2014 at 7:09 pm

    There are a lot of reasons golf may be loosing popularity, many of which are mentioned above. One thing that often seems overlooked is the changes in society from 80’s-90’s to current times. Younger generations are into instant gratification, retailers realize this and studies have shown this. If you don’t catch somebody’s attention within 6 seconds you loose them, that’s why stores will often rearrange the stores inventory to make things feel new and different. Club manufactures release new clubs very year at a minimum.

    When I grew up playing sports we practiced after school and played one game on Saturday and if the family vacation, wedding etc. was on that weekend I didn’t play. I have friends & family who shlep their kids all over the state or further on weekends to play in this tournament or that one often staying in hotels and spending large amounts of money for these tournaments fees. If the kid misses a game the coach will penalize them by not playing him or her because “they are not committed” They change the family vacation because the schedule came out and there is a tournament on that weekend, cum on the kid isn’t going pro.

    For a father to take his kid to a baseball, basketball or football game costs easily as much if not more than to play a round of golf. and by the time they drive to the ballpark, park the car, see the ball game, drive home they could have played a round of golf (even if it took 4.5 – 5 hours) The difference is it’s easy and not demanding to sit and watch somebody else play a game. The younger generations like to watch and comment which is one reason why there is an obesity problem.

    Yes golf is hard, thats what makes it interesting, challenging & rewarding when you play from the appropriate tees.

    Yes it takes time to play but so does shlepping the kids around to all these tournaments or going to a ballgame.

    Yes golf can be expensive but it does not HAVE to be and it is no more expensive than going to a ballgame or the accumulated costs of kids playing in the various sports leagues.

    Could courses do things to make it more accessible, yes for instance allow people to play nine holes any time of the day. Incentify the players by offering a free beer or a rebate/discount fee coupon if they finish under 4.5 hours.

    I come from a different perspective, I think golf is what it is and has been for a long time. It’s challenging and rewarding, it takes time to get good at it and there is no shortcut. Some people are naturally better than others and so it is in every other sport. There are hard courses and easier courses, if you think the one you are playing is too hard find an easier one. There are very few sports you can play for a lifetime and occasionally hit a shot as good as a pro so take the time to enjoy it.

    Golf takes time & commitment to play and if you have < 3.5 hrs, play really early, play nine holes or find another sport.

  87. Amr

    Jul 10, 2014 at 6:49 pm

    Picked up golf 7 years ago, every time I try to introduce a friend to golf the complaint has always been cost, it’s too expensive, it’s too expensive to learn, it’s too expensive to train, it’s 2 expensive to buy clubs, it’s too expensive to play.

    oh and one more thing it’s just a frustrating game.

  88. Kirk

    Jul 10, 2014 at 6:43 pm

    Time to comment again after reading all the previous. All courses are not expensive or difficult. If $$$ are the concern, play a less costly muni course. But please understand that the course conditions can’t be the same as the more costly options. On the other hand if you can’t hit the ball 200 yards or 2 putt on small greens, don’t play a hard course. These may be simple comments but at least in my area these alternatives exist. Just to get to hit a few balls I will play a local public par 69 course. Half the par 4’s are drivable and all the 5’s can be reached with mid irons (I’m 59 years old, so not a flat bellied kid). Also it’s $25 for 18 holes with a cart after 3PM. Did I mention that I’m in the St Louis metro area. I’ve been playing for over 50 years and that includes a lot of practicing. GOLF IS A HARD GAME. Most “guys that play golf”, to make a point, hit their 7 iron 155 yards once!!! Now every time they are 155 out they pull 7 iron even though most times they can only hit it 120. The game won’t ever be fun and will take forever to play a round if you don’t practice at least enough to know how far you consistently hit each club. And if you don’t have any idea of how far or what direction you are going to hit the ball you don’t belong on the golf course YET. Take lessons or go to clinics and practice, then you will enjoy your time on the course much more. I don’t hunt but if I did and didn’t ever practice shooting the rifle or bow, sitting in a blind for hours on end, year after year and NEVER hitting anything but the ground wouldn’t be fun either.

  89. Jeremy

    Jul 10, 2014 at 6:39 pm

    I also don’t think cost is the issue, at least not directly. The game costs what it costs, and you’re not entitled to follow every dream and passion if you don’t have the income to support it. I’d love to be a pilot, but for now that’s still beyond my earning abilities. If you want to discuss cost being an issue, you’d better be prepared to discuss the much larger picture, which is the record income inequality in this country (and others). As the middle class shrinks, luxuries like golf shrink with it.

    But I do agree with much of this article as it pertains to making the game more enjoyable for those of us who love it and will continue to play often. Ego is a problem, and I think the courses should be much more proactive in encouraging players to stay within their abilities.

  90. scott smith

    Jul 10, 2014 at 5:50 pm

    Simple – i’m tired of $75 for a 5hr round waiting behind horrible players. When i lived in AZ i played 4 times a week, 3pm $25, done before the sun went down / Austin,TX. $50, 5hr round if i can find a ttime with out booking 3 days in advance, haven’t played in 6months!!

    • ABgolfer2

      Jul 16, 2014 at 7:47 pm

      It’s not fun paying more than a course is worth to wait on people who would be slow regardless which tee they’re starting from. The sense of entitlement seems worst in players who picked up the game later in life and didn’t have a mentor who had the courage to tell them when it was time to pick up their ball. Every time I read a comment by a new golfer who wants to play by the USGA or R&A rules and who feels cheated when they don’t get to hear the ball drop in the cup 18 times I cringe. Each player in a foursome should get to have an equal portion of the group’s 12-13 minutes per hole. If someone needs to take more shots they need to do it faster, move faster between shots, and be prepared to pick up before their ball is holed. They need to do this for the good of the game . . . even if they’re playing the most forward tees available.

  91. Stu

    Jul 10, 2014 at 5:46 pm

    Many good points just wanted to add a couple of broader thoughts about golf participation:

    Golf is very time consuming, very difficult to become proficient at, and can be expensive.

    Even if it is played at reasonable pace by a foursome at four hours by the time one has left for the course until the time one gets home it is probably a 6-8 hour day (driving time, warm up, drink after, etc).

    Even if you skipped warm up after round drink golf takes at least 3-4 hours to play plus time to get there and back.

    This leads to my next point i did not have the time (did have the funds) to begin to play until i was in my 40s when my career was established and my son was old enough to not require constant supervision. Even then i could only get out 1-2 days a week since i worked 5-6 days a week. Now that i am retired i can play 5 days a week without a second thought.

    How many people in their 20-40s have more than two days a week to play if they work 5 days a week? Its not all golf’s fault its just life, work and family are time consuming activities that limit younger people (excluding juniors who have the luxury of their parents getting them into golf at a young age) who are busy working and taking care of their families.

    Perhaps golf should seek ways to get more retirees into the game as well. As mentioned repeatedly forward tees, etc but our population is aging and these are the people with the time and money to play even if it for only 10-20 years before they can no longer play.

    I would also like to mention i find many people lack the discipline and commitment to get to the point where golf is FUN. Golf is an extremely difficult game and most people do not have the patience to practice and become somewhat proficient to the point where they become hooked and fall in love with the game. People want instant success and performance and golf is the last game to give anyone either of those things.

  92. MHendon

    Jul 10, 2014 at 5:21 pm

    Clearly we’ve changed course with this article and find ourselves again concerned about attracting the new golfer. True once the avid golfer dies off someone must replace him or the game its self will die. Still I believe cost is the biggest deterrent for all levels of golfer. However if its not fun no matter the cost a new golfer is less likely to keep playing once they give it a try and that’s where course design comes into play. First of I’ve stated this before and I’ll state it again, golf course architects can’t design around the male ego without making the game much easier for the avid golfer. A lot of men see the pro’s playing from the tips and want to compare themselves to them. But length alone isn’t the only issue. Here’s what I mean and I’ll use my home course as an example. From the tips it measures 6,592 yards which is considered to be an ideal length. However to my knowledge no PGA tour player has ever shot lower than 69 on it and the course record is a mere 64. So how can that be on such a short course your probably wondering. Well first of it’s in the mountains of western North Carolina so the course has some significant elevation changes. But here’s the real problem no less than 9 of the holes require 150 to over 200 yard tee shot to reach the fairway and that’s from the men’s tee’s not the tips. 9 of the holes have up hill approach shots and the ones that aren’t up hill are surrounded by rough and bunkers. Lastly the greens have Augusta national like undulation (thankfully not the speed though). This is how not to design a golf course, the length is good but everything else is way to tough for most golfers. If you want to make things fun for new golfers get rid of forced carries, flatten out the front of greens and make it so the ball can run up and don’t make a course to penal on the right side. Give it plenty of length to challenge the advanced golfer with several tee options and everyone can have fun.

  93. Phat

    Jul 10, 2014 at 4:49 pm

    Cheers Barney. Ditto what everyone else is saying. With most parents working and sharing parenting these days, getting free time is a real mission. This does not bode well for all the overlong courses and the way equipment design has changed the game. Golf still has the potential to capture the media’s attention, as evidenced by the reaction when Wie or McIlroy win a tourney. What this says is that if top level golf was a shotmakers game once again, we would sooner or later have a new generation of regular winners and therefore attract more sporting kids back to the game. For the rest of us, courses should try to adapt to the modern world, for example adjusting play times to suit families (e.g. weekly club day tee times from first light).

  94. Marc

    Jul 10, 2014 at 4:26 pm

    I think the big thing not being talked about is how society has changed. I’m 52 now, and gave up the game not long after my first daughter was born. I picked the game back up 2 years ago after being away for over 20 years. My youngest daughter had gone off to college and I now had time that was mine – empty nesters. My dad never played less when I was born, and my grandfather certainly didn’t.

    The simple fact is that the way we raise kids has changed. We are now involved with all of our kids activities and the expectation is to be there for all of them. If you aren’t there for all the kid activities, you are considered a bad parent and feel guilty. When you add in the time required to complete a round of golf compared to the last few decades, it’s just not possible for someone to be an avid golfer, and what society considers to be a good parent.

    Cost had zero to do with me walking away from the game for 20 years. It was all about time and priorities. Society does not allow dad to go to the club for all day Saturday, etc. I see this all of the time with my younger coworkers who have children at home still. I invite them to join me in a round of golf, and it’s always “we have a soccer game, volleyball tournament, gymnastics meet, etc”. Parents simply don’t spend that amount of time on themselves anymore.

  95. ca1879

    Jul 10, 2014 at 4:11 pm

    Barney,

    I was critical of some of your earlier pieces because you seemed to be focusing on peripheral issues, but you’ve brought the focus back where it needs to be. We’ve created a modern game that is fun for a very small percentage of us, and ignored the players that are really paying the bills and the people we hope will take over those payments in the future.

    The players at our club who have the most fun are the ones in the Ladies League. The organizers have them in interesting and different formats every week, most having nothing to do with standard stroke play. They accept the newest and most inept players without question, and support them and find ways for them to participate. It’s all about fun and has become the most successful women’s league around. The spin-off benefits for our club and local golf businesses has been terrific, and our juniors are booming because mom gets the kids involved in a sport she’s enjoying.

    By contrast, our men’s league, while successful, is full of people who beat themselves up on a tough course, playing the same old stroke play game from tees that will let very few of them threaten gross par scores, and complaining if the greens aren’t running at 12 on the Stimp meter. We often have a different idea of what constitutes fun than our wives do, but really, is there any mystery why we have a hard time selling this masochism to potential golfers as fun?

  96. 3 putts

    Jul 10, 2014 at 4:04 pm

    I was a pro at a very nice course in VA that has hosted a US Senio Open and AJGA tourneys. It was built for the owner of the course with his style of play in mind by Tom Fazio. Very fun but challenging layout. When it was first built David Duval(pre-implosion) was invited to come play it to bring attention to the course and test how it would stack up in a PGA event. He shot low 60’s first time he saw it and it was settled then that it wouldn’t hold a PGA event bc it was too easy. It is an honor to have a golf course hard enough for a PGA event or even more so a major, and comes with a premium price tag. So the incentive for designers and course mngmt was to have a difficult course with fast conditions cause they could charge a premium price. This is still happening. So it was the market that created this. Golf equipment companies catered to the change in course design. Not that they are innocent in the decline but to my knowledge haven’t put any money into longer tee boxs anywhere I’ve ever played. It’s the delusions the we as amateurs have that we are just one to two swing changes away from the worlds best and we need to pay to play the same courses as the pros.

  97. nicklaus

    Jul 10, 2014 at 3:49 pm

    the notion of ready golf doesnt exist. we are too stuborn to make the play. let the gaurd down and be honest with yourself, the green is 260yds away and you hit your drive 220. easier said than done.

    changing gears here… the phrase look good feel good play good comes with a hefty price. i know not everyone is caught up in this mindset, but i know for me, it works. getting fitted with apparel and golf equipment can be overwhelming. i started with clubs from Big 5 and a golf wardrobe that was reminiscent of happy gilmore. after a while i hated playing in the same collar shirts, one funky pair of golf shoes and fadded shorts. but low and behold, i hit the golf shop and saw the jaw dropping prices on all of the goods. it was as humbling as shooting in the 90’s after breaking 80. im not saying that everyone is enamored with style or new equipment, but the point is clear, this is a sport that is targeting a specific demographic.

    young people drink and party on friday and saturday nights. getting this crowd out to the course will always be challenging. add to the fact gas, rent,(a mortgage) food, and green fees are rising and its easy to see why young people arent golfing. they cant. most amateurs almost never seem to walk the course either. “heck, my buddies are riding and we have beers… lets get a cart.” add $14 to the bill. when its all said and done, the occasional round for certain amateurs can near $100. add to the fact they stopped keeping score after the 58 on the front 9, and the reflection on the day might leave a foul taste.

  98. Tony

    Jul 10, 2014 at 3:00 pm

    Time is the biggest issue amoung my group of friends 30-35yo. Getting 5 hours on a weekend as a father of small kids is impossible. And most of my friends are so frustrated by how hard the courses are that spending 5 hours to get pissed at yourself and shoot a 110 is not as much fun as going to a baseball game.

    • James

      Jul 10, 2014 at 3:21 pm

      Hence my comment as course design being part of the issue. First off, many of the newer courses are designed where it is damn near impossible to walk them. Why? So the course can generate more revenue from cart fees. Two, the courses are made so difficult it is tough to get around them in a reasonable amount of time. Three, most courses aren’t very well marshaled even if they have marshals out there. Four, too many tee times an hour creates a log jam from the get go.

      Simpler yet still challenging designs would make it easier and less expensive to maintain many courses, assist in speeding up play and should reduce costs to the player since less maintenance is required and they could be walked saving 15-20 bucks a round in cart fees.

      • Steve

        Sep 29, 2014 at 3:22 pm

        Until the PUBLIC demands changes the courses will continue to charge unreasonable fees for carts that actually slow down Play.

  99. Chip Hunt

    Jul 10, 2014 at 2:45 pm

    I can only use my personal experience and locality as an example. Here in Louisville we have a metro parks system (city owned). The park system has five 18 hole courses and three 9 hole courses. The 18 hole courses are decent, especially the top three. One has hosted a ton of tournaments including some Hooters events. I am a first generation golfer in my family and I didn’t grow up in family with a lot of money. To play any of the metro parks courses when I was younger was $85 a year for junior pass (around $100 now). The daily greens fees are currently $12-$15 a round to walk. After 6pm it’s $8 to walk. The courses are filled with young high school age players all the way up to seniors. Without these metro courses there is no way I would have ever started playing the game. We currently have a group of about 10 guys who play grew up playing together and we still do. We all belong to a country club now, but without these parks courses growing up I doubt any of us would be involved with the game. Since the Tiger Woods boom the metro parks courses are busting at the seams. Waves of players go out one after the other and 5-6 hour rounds are not uncommon. Rangers or starters are non existent. Louisville has a ton of other courses, but they are almost all country clubs or $50-$75 to play. Half of the country clubs are under water to the tune of millions. This main issue here is there is no in between public/daily fee golf courses. It’s either wait every shot and pay $15 to play or go to another course and pay $50+. What would truly grow the game here in Louisville in my opinion is courses that are $20-$30. Also, it seems most of the daily fee courses outside of the park system here make riding carts mandatory on the weekends. The green fee may be $35, but the $17 cart fee is mandatory. So even though I prefer to walk and I can walk/play faster than 95% of the players on the course who ride, it’s not even an option. Instead of trying to grow the game, it’s as though the industry is trying to suck the players who are still around completely dry, and prevent someone who may be interested in playing from ever getting a start.

    • MHendon

      Jul 11, 2014 at 5:03 pm

      Chip that’s a pretty unique system of city owned park courses you have there in Louisville. Pretty lucky to have that for the average guy. I remember over 15 years ago playing the one course you mentioned that had hosted hooters tour events with my father when he lived there. He was impressed enough with it to want to take me there while being a member of Big Springs.

      • Steve

        Sep 29, 2014 at 3:24 pm

        Why is it less expensive foro Kids? It’s almost like a Dope Dealer giving you a DIscount til you get Hooked.

  100. Ben

    Jul 10, 2014 at 2:34 pm

    Golf is supposed to fun. When the fun element of golf sucked out of it then it is just an expensive hassle. It is not just slow play. There are numerous reasons adding to decline golf industry.

    • garth

      Aug 14, 2014 at 9:03 pm

      where did you come up with the idea that golf is suppose to be fun? it’s not anywhere I read.

      • Steve

        Sep 29, 2014 at 3:25 pm

        It’s a Hobby. If it’s not fun, why would you do it?

  101. Chris

    Jul 10, 2014 at 2:20 pm

    Even though cost is a factor, I don’t agree it’s the top reason for decline in participation. You dont have to play the top course at peak time using brand new top of the line equipment to have fun. Perhaps marketing campaings make golfers feel they cant compete unless they spend more $$$ on the latest and greatest.

    If a golfer is concerned about cost there’s alternatives… Great deals in used clubs, twilight fees, walking vs riding etc etc…. Not saying they are all available for everyone everywhere but there are enough options out there where you dont have to settle

    Slow is no fun but dont blame the golf course or the tee box… The game is dificult enough and I think new golfers venture out to the course too soon, well before they are ready. They get discouraged and shift their attention elsewhere…. Perhaps its our fault (avid golfers) for not taking the time to coach or mentor the newer generation of players to let the game slowly grow on them….

    I think time is a big factor for the decline, but more like new golfers not allowing enough time to properly learn the game and the ettiquete and current golfers not putting the time in to teach it.

  102. JmDayao

    Jul 10, 2014 at 2:19 pm

    I’ve read and understand everybody’s complaints and there is no wrong answer. I think everybody forgot to mention that the courses nowadays are trying to get to many golfers out there at the same time. they need to spread the tee times much further apart in my opinion instead of the 10-15min starting time. for every group that has a slow player they need to tell that player or need to understand that they don’t have all the time in the world. I don’t think some guys just understand pace of play. I have a in law who seems to plays like that and I have to tell him to pick up the pace. Group awareness is part of the game for us hacks. Just because nobody is behind your group doesn’t mean to slow down.

    • Steve

      Sep 29, 2014 at 3:32 pm

      There is no Right answer either. People are stubborn. Look at the Ryder cup. You have a Formula for success, but everyone wants to do it their own way. Same reason Watson disagrees ith PHIL is the same reason at youth and old people don’t gel well in a Tournament pairing of beingin front or behind one another on a Weekend Round. I play with a group of gys who 90 % used to Carry the clubs. I like to carry my Clubs regardless. I want to walk. I lke it. I do not think it is fair for courses to come up with a different cost structure than used to be standard. I agree that most peope like to play 18, but on a weekday I do not have that kin dof time. Ifi tee off at 7 am and want to just pay forwhat I will “use” I should have that option. But it’s a $60green fee where I play. I cango down the street and play for $14. NO different game. Same kind of greens. Competition will eventually come into play here. People need to stop paying for carts willingly. Get in bette shape and SUCK IT UP AND WALK. NO ONe can afford caddis, but they cn affrd a cart that most of the time will give you no yardage or any help

  103. Joe S

    Jul 10, 2014 at 2:12 pm

    Keith, you are right on!

    We are waaaaaay overbuilt, period. Golf is as cheap as it has ever been, relatively speaking with GolfNow, ebay for clubs, and private clubs allowing people to join for next to nothing.

    Too many neighborhood golf courses built to sell real estate DO take too long to play. They are unwalkable with too much distance between holes. You can’t play 4-5 holes and walk in because hole number 5 and 14 are often the furthest point away from the parking lot.

    …and I would agree, courses are too long, too narrow, too penal for the average 18 handicap. They want to have a good time, not be depressed after their round.

    We don’t need more players, we need less bad courses.

  104. Keith

    Jul 10, 2014 at 1:45 pm

    I still do not understand why this is such a great debate…the sport is not growing because it refuses to evolve…evolution does not need to dumb the game down…maybe we should start teaching it better.

    Lesson structure is broken,there is no incentive for a golf pro to make you better. If you get better the cash flow stops…it’s a numbers game. Instructors need to create action plans and goals like any other employee and be held accountable for those goals. 1 hour and then disappearing for a week with a band-aid fix simply does not work…it is impossible to retain the information.

    This issue is solved with more accessibility to technology…does Trackman need to be $20k+, there is no reason any instructor is using fee, swing models and their eyes to give lessons. If these types of systems could be had by amateur golfers it could create a constant dialogue with the instructor. Having an issue send them your numbers and a video, problem solved.

    IMO this is the root issue, it’s insulting to make the game easier. It’s been played this way for quite some times and with tech the game should be getting easier. Maybe the golf professionals need to take some accountability for what and how they teach.

    • nicklaus

      Jul 10, 2014 at 2:50 pm

      to an extent i understand what youre saying about golf instruction. many students of the game simply dont put in enough time to better themselves through the instruction they reveive. whether the golf instruction is too generalized or complexly in depth, its very difficult to place responsibility on player or teacher for the evolution of the students game. golf is a game that is played by individuals. ok duh… but its relative to the idea that all of us have different mind sets, thought procesees, physical/mental capacities, and bandwith to absorb golf lessons. ive been playing for almost 10 years now and recently took my first lesson about a year ago. there is a difference between listening to a golf lesson and actually comprehending a golf lesson. there is also a difference between comprehending a golf lesson and physically being able to emmulate the motions of the lesson and incorporating it into your swing. the average golfer shooting in the 90’s or 100’s is probably lost in the lessons they recieve and more so than not, cant physically shake their bad habbits.

      i can also garuntee that most amatures never get golf lessons anyways. and the ones that do get lessons, only practice twice a week. one of which is the day they meet with their instructor. its painful watching some of these lessons… i witnessed a few these last two weeks at the range. this game takes dedication, patience, and skill. a lot of amatures struggle immensely with any or all of these. what a battle. i feel like i can go on forever about this… thanks for firing me up on a mid thursday morning.

      • Keith

        Jul 10, 2014 at 3:22 pm

        I understand and completely respect the point about not putting in the time, because that does happen. I also feel like a good portion of golfers now go to Youtube for lessons because they do not feel golf pros are accessible for one reason or the other…which causes a lot more harm than good.

        I don’t necessarily agree with the limitations because the game is science. At the end of the day it’s math…there is no guessing. There is cause and effect, so when a golf pro says… “Chronic Slicer, you need your face angle to be x degrees to your path” it would be a hell of a lot more beneficial for Chronic slicer to plop down his Trackman and with his swing…not a swing models, get his numbers to do just that and stop slicing.

        The need for the golf pro to put you in positions needs to be a thing of the past, they need to be educators of the science of the golf swing and bio-mechanics so amateurs can understand the why behind the instruction, that is how you get better.

        • MHendon

          Jul 13, 2014 at 12:07 pm

          You can explain the science and bio-mechanics and the why all day long, but the majority of amateur golfers don’t have the athletic ability to make their body move in those proper sequences. Contrary to what a lot of people think golf is a very athletic sport. Case in point a fellow joined up with me last week on the back nine. During our conversation I found out he was a former professional soccer player, in other word a very skilled athlete. He had been playing golf just two years and was already a .8 thats right .8 handicap. He hit all nine greens with me and shot even par. Let me tell you this guys mechanics were far from perfect but he was still able to play that well. Bottom line if your not a good athlete You’ll never play golf at a high level.

          • Thomas

            Aug 26, 2014 at 6:29 pm

            It takes an athlete to play golf. Golf takes athleticism to a higher level than most will accept. Some cannot accept that golf takes coordination,skill,strength,balance,and mental discipline.

      • j.a.

        Jul 10, 2014 at 4:33 pm

        I started playing golf 3 years ago. I took classes with different coaches as I felt that some they were sucking my money for a bunch of band-aids. I asked to one of them to fix my long game and the guy insisted in chipping because chipping is the same as hitting a driver, go figure. Finally I found a coach with a plan, setting goals, working in my flaws an fixing them. He doesn’t have a Trackman as he can’t afford it but he uses an IPad plus a lot of signs and markers on the range. My swing changed positively and alhought there is still a long road ahead, my cards says that I’m improving. I wish I could practice more but regretfully I don’t have enough time on weekdays to go to a range. Nevertheless I have a reduced length iron that I use at home to practice my swing and I putt on the carpet quite often.

        My home course is perfect for beginners, inexpensive, flat, wide fairways, mid to easy greens and a layout that allows you to play 2, 4, 6, 9 or more holes as you wish. We are 200+ members, so it is not that busy, especially in the afternoons. Good chipping, pitching and putting practice area. Lovely club house. But, yes, there is always a but, it is closing down on this July 31st. A new road is taking it.

        Another nearby course is been affected by a highway expansion which will take 3 holes of the current layout.

        People who plays with me are seniors, mostly retired averaging 70 years but with plenty of love for the game and great skills. They play and compete around 4 times a week. Most of them are concerned as they can’t afford the high fees from other clubs. Some of them are becoming social and eventual players while a few are seeking a new home club.

    • Mike

      Jul 11, 2014 at 5:57 am

      I have to disagree. Being a bad golfer because of poor or no instruction does not justify someone playing 7000 yards. I see people playing from the back every time out where at least one member of the group cannot hit it to the next tee box. If they play the tees their ability dictates they may have more fun, but all the people behind them will have more fun because they won’t be on the course for 5 hours.

      • MHendon

        Jul 11, 2014 at 5:09 pm

        Course architects can’t design around the male ego.

  105. travis

    Jul 10, 2014 at 1:41 pm

    Slow play is killing my love for the game.
    More people need to play ‘Ready Golf’! When you are at your ball–> hit! Of course, make sure no one is hitting at the same time, but why do I have to wait for the farthest guy to hit if I am ready. Same goes on the green! If you are ready—>PUTT!

    Riders! If you are a passenger, have the driver drop you off at your ball and then go to his/her ball. You hit and then walk towards the green or the cart. Driving to both balls and watching each other hit is nonsense! You can watch him hit, if you so desire, from your ball.

    Tee-it-forward! PLEASE! If the green is 425 yards away from the tee box and you can’t hit the ball >250yards. Move up so you can have a reasonable approach shot! Of course this rant is not for GolfWrx crowd…425y is 3w->SW->Putt. HAHA!

  106. Adam

    Jul 10, 2014 at 1:31 pm

    Most of the comments are true to some extent but the biggest detractor to bringing new players into the game is that there are a million other activities these days that fight for their attention, their time and their money. Golf used to be one of several entertainment / sporting options available to most. Today there are so many activities, so many options, so many things to do that dont take 5 hours, dont take years to learn and dont cost nearly as much as golf. Its no wonder that we’re losing players.

    There are a lot of other reasons but the general idiocy of the common man who thinks they can hit the ball 300+ yards is one of the biggest issues for slow play. 4.5 hours is just too long and that’s the target time for most courses regardless of the fact that they can and should be played in <3.

    Bottom line is that most golfers suck and its the golfers who both suck and are slow that are the ones who cause all the problems. But as long as the equipment manufactures continue to push distance, as long as people think they're better than they are, we will have a slow play problem.

  107. Kirk

    Jul 10, 2014 at 1:04 pm

    Sorry, but I don’t agree that golf is slow. We play year round in the midwest, six and sevensomes playing in 3 1/4 hours per 18 holes. PLAYERS ARE SLOW and that won’t change until something is done about the pros on TV taking 5 1/2 to 6 hours to play a round of golf. As far as making the courses shorter (around 5500 or even less yds) and/or making the hole bigger will only drive “golfers” away from the game and only leave “beer drinkers” on the course. And the other reason often given is cost, here in my area many courses can be played with a cart and lunch for $40-50 and clubs can be purchased for $200 or less. That’s no more than diner out with a movie, usually less. I may have $2500 tied up in equipment including shoes and specialty clothing etc. If I was to get into fishing at the same level it would cost $60,000 or more. truck, boat and trailer etc. Hunting is the same way, multiple types of guns and bows, 4 wheeler and trailer, truck, blinds etc. GOLF IS VERY HARD, it won’t always be fun. I’ve been playing for over 50 years and I now tell people that I’m beginning to like the game but I have always been passionate about it.

  108. Johnny

    Jul 10, 2014 at 1:03 pm

    Chuck and Cash Banister are right on with their comments. Everyone knows that courses are too long thus making the game more difficult. To fix it, you have to address the role that equipment manufacturers and the USGA have played in that happening.

    Quite simply the equipment manufacturers have made it all about how far the driver goes and the USGA let the size of the driver and how far the ball goes get away from them.

    But, as Tyler says, it’s also a cost issue. Again, thanks to equipment manufacturers.

    I’ll keep reading what you have to write and hope to see you address the role of equipment manufacturers in all this. I hope you don’t avoid that issue.

    • Barney adama

      Jul 10, 2014 at 3:49 pm

      One full column about equipment in the hopper first things first. ( one on slow plays, too)

  109. Martin

    Jul 10, 2014 at 12:59 pm

    Second comment, it cost the four of us $440cdn to play as well.

  110. Martin

    Jul 10, 2014 at 12:58 pm

    I agree with the comment about the classic courses designed by Donald Ross etc, in Canada that means Stanley Thompson. When you play his courses there are lots of blind shots, very undulated greens, these being on courses built in the 30’s up to the 50’s.

    They were never meant to have stupid fast greens, I played the famous Canadian course of Highland Links which is on Cape Breton Island in Nova Scotia which has a very severe winter climate.

    I was very surprised by how slow the greens were, but as I went around the course I realized from 6100 yards or so, they would be just about impossible if they were 11 on the stimpmeter. Blind shots from very undulated fairways, big greens with huge undulations, I realized we were playing the course the way Stanley Thompson intended it to be played and had a great time.

    Yesterday I played a local course designed by Rees Jones, a links style of course, the wind was blowing hard, up to 50km/hr. I played great until I made a couple of tiny mistakes which the wind just blew up resulting in a double and a quad on two par threes surrounding a par 5 which I birdied. With the winds we have been getting lately a full wedge would bounce 10 feet in the air on a green, I ended up shooting 39-48 and quite frankly was done around the 15th hole, no mas. Two of us were avid golfers, me a 10 the other guy a 7, our partners would be described as hackers. Fairway bunkers all the way up the sides of fairway that are 4 feet deep, superhard fast greens with punitive 6-8 feet deep bunkers all around, narrow openings in, way to hard for a 20 handicap even to enjoy

    I like a challenge as much as the next guy, but I think we have made golf courses way too hard for all but the avid category of golfer.

    Two of u

  111. West

    Jul 10, 2014 at 12:54 pm

    Not sure golf course design is a major contributor to the waining numbers of golfers seen since our recent economic depression. There have been difficult courses since the begging of the game. What golf needs is: “excitement.” We don’t need to change the game by making bigger holes, or speeding up play. It’s actually why I continue to be a golfer, because I like the challenge and being out in beautifully manicured outdoor environments for extended periods of time. Basically what golf really needs is another Tiger Woods to inspire the masses and remind people that golf is hard, and frustrating, but worth the time, effort, and money. Rory McIlroy is awesome, but he is not the “star” Tiger was. All I see now are these 12-14 y/o asian phenoms playing in pro tourneys every now and again. All it does is remind me that some young kid can master the game, but I never will the way they have. Just not the uplifting/inspiring message golf’s marketing campaign should be sending to its audience. We need a hero, nothing more, nothing less. God Save Tiger Woods! 😉

    • Thomas

      Aug 26, 2014 at 6:35 pm

      Tiger didn’t produce any significant number of minorities to the game. He isn’t the star any longer and he certainly isn’t isn’t a hero.

  112. James

    Jul 10, 2014 at 12:48 pm

    Like I said in another comment on another topic, use ONE single men’s tee of about 6500 yards. Giving the option to play further back when they shouldn’t is what most men will choose to do.

    But, slow play is just one of the reasons people leave the game. Economics is the primary motivator. Golf is very expensive. Always has been and probably always will be. Costs a lot to maintain a course, equipment costs a lot, and time costs as well. On the latter, until the Tour actually does something about slow play, slow play will exist in the amateur ranks because too many amateurs emulate what they see. The USGA tried but never pushed the ESC. After your handicap’s max number of strokes, pick the ball up and move on. Costs are driven by a host of economic factors. Right now, the big driver is energy which means the cost of everything goes up including course maintenance.

    Course design has played into it by costing more time looking for balls in tall grass, bunkers, etc. Fact is the game is different at the amateur level and always has been. Always will be too. Building courses too difficult for amateurs makes no sense yet it is done all the time.

    Golf needs to play up the time on the course as spent with friends and family but also encourage must faster play. In the 70s, 3.5 hour rounds were the norm. Nowadays, it is 5 hours. Most of that time wasted on courses designed much too hard for amateurs and people piddling around on the course because they see Tour players do that. Crouching down and reading a 2 foot putt doesn’t help speed things up. Maybe the USGA needs to allow in the leather gimmes as ok for handicap rounds. Maybe the USGA needs to reconsider other rules like stroke and distance penalties for OB and play them as a lateral hazard.

    Sorry this is so long but the fact is economics and slow play are the bane of modern golf and there are a host of reasons why.

    • Jackson

      Jul 10, 2014 at 1:42 pm

      Bull about people emulate what they see on television, as far as slow play goes. Do pros go out there and bunt a tee ball to the ladies tees? Do pros then hit their second shot dead left? Do pros then follow up their second shot with a shot dead right OB? NO. Part of the problem is people do not hit the range and actually practice. I am never one for telling someone how to spend their money, but some days when I am behind a slow group, I think to myself “they should have just lit a $100 bill on fire.” However, its their money and they can do what they want with it. It all boils down to etiquette. If you are slow GET THE F OUT OF THE WAY! Courses have slowly been getting rid of rangers to save money. The problem with slow play is etiquette, pure and simple. The first thing the starter or pro should tell people who are knew and they don’t know is “if you are slow, let others play through.” Our pro never tells hacks this, thus the reason many of us are leaving and have left. They let every Tom, Dick, and Harry play because it generates money and I get it. One day its going to come back and bite these courses.

      • James

        Jul 10, 2014 at 3:16 pm

        I see it all the time where people do what the pros do in setting up their shots. This is what I mean. People taking numerous practice swings, people reading putts from all sort of angles and so forth. It slows down play and, again, I see this every time I am playing. They get this from watching Tour players doing the same on TV.

        • Daniel

          Jul 11, 2014 at 9:01 am

          Yes, people emulating the pros is part of the problem, but it’s not the major one.
          We talk about how quickly the rounds took years ago, and of course that’s partly nostalgia talking and not reality, but think about modern course design vs old school. Many courses built in the last 25 yrs have been built as part of a housing development which tries to give as many homes as possible “golf course views”. Which means you have to spread the holes out. At the club I used to work at, it was 200-300 yds from the green to the next tee on most holes. Playing as a twosome on an empty course it still took 3.5 hrs to finish. But that same twosome could go over to a course built in the 60’s where all the tees are close to the previous greens and finish 30-45 min quicker.
          I think most people don’t even think about this factor.

  113. Heath

    Jul 10, 2014 at 12:46 pm

    .. i feel i have a little insight into this. I started playing around 4 years ago and because of an injury that stopped me undertaking my old hobby i put all my effort into golf. I was really enjoying playing at local courses and trying out various deals at other courses within a 50 mile radius.
    Then i did the worst thing … i joined my local club. This meant that i felt obliged to play as much as possible on that course because i had paid a lot of money to do so … after 10 months as a member it suddenly occurred to me that i was bored with the same 18 holes. And also I had others things to do again so spending a total of 6 hours either playing, travelling to play or having a drink in the bar after was far too long. I didn’t re-join the club.
    Now i have played 5 rounds so far in 2014, at different courses and enjoyed them all again … but when i wanted too and had the time. Plus i have saved a fortune in club membership fees.
    The game is too long and costs far too much for the average jo these days.

  114. kevin

    Jul 10, 2014 at 12:31 pm

    i think some big reasons not mentioned is cost to play, too many courses built, and economy recession.

  115. Tyler

    Jul 10, 2014 at 12:17 pm

    I agree with everything you’ve said thus far about making the game more accessible and appealing. However, I don’t think it’s right to skirt the cost issue. Cost has got to be the most prohibitive barrier to new golfers and female golfers. Women can go to the grocery store with a handful of coupons and get a week of food for $60. They can buy an entire outfit including shoes for $60. Why would they spend $60 on golf? New golfers are going to most likely be younger folks living off student loans or paying them back. $60 is a whole week’s food budget for them. The also get intimidated walking through a pro shop with $500 drivers and $100 shirts to pay for their round. Make golf cheaper and more people will play.

    • Dave

      Jul 10, 2014 at 12:44 pm

      I feel the same way. Cost is a major issue. Why would parents get their kids into golf when they can play different team sports for cheaper, ie. soccer, volleyball, baseball, etc…

      You also have to realize that we live in an environment where time is valuable and free time is hard to come by. People are too busy to take 5 hours and go play golf. Golf is supported by those who LOVE the game, not those who just want to try it out but then don’t bother because of time and money constraints.

    • Double Mocha Man

      Jul 10, 2014 at 12:57 pm

      Tyler, with all due respect, when I first started playing golf my Dad’s Chevrolet cost about $3000. That same Chevrolet today is about $30,000.

      Back then I could play 18 holes for 5 bucks.

      So the inflationary pace of a round of golf is about ten-fold. Today I find myself putting about $50 on my credit card for 18 holes.

      The “Too expensive to play” argument is a dog that just doesn’t hunt.

      I just think there are more entertainment options today that are competing for our discretionary bucks. And our free time, in this more hectic society, has tightened up. That is the reason for fewer golfers playing the game these days.

      • rkristopher

        Jul 10, 2014 at 1:09 pm

        It will hunt, actually.

        The people golf should be courting (twentysomethings/thirtysomethings) don’t have the income you’ve built up since golf cost you $5 a round.

        I’m 40, gainfully employed as a professional, and I can’t pay $50 a round. I don’t see how most people ten years younger than I could, particularly when they have student loan debt, career/life start up costs, etc….

        • Double Mocha Man

          Jul 10, 2014 at 3:12 pm

          I think you’re mixing up what you want to pay with what you have to pay.

          The pro and the assistant pro want to take their salary and go out to dinner with their families once in awhile, just like you. The greens superintendent and his crew want to go to a pro football game now and then on their salaries, just like you. The kid picking up balls on the driving range wants to buy that sparkling new set of Taylormade irons with his summer savings, just like you.

          To make your round of golf less expensive we’d have to fire most of these folks or cut their paychecks. Then where does that leave us?

          At your job would you be willing to take a hefty pay cut if your customers were complaining about the cost of the goods your company sells?

          • tyler

            Jul 10, 2014 at 10:28 pm

            Is it not widely known that course pros and superintendents make their money from the pro shop, lessons, corporate tournaments and receptions? The best thing a pro or superintendent could do is build a beautiful clubhouse with a nice pro shop and slash greens fees to get new customers through the door. “Thanks for coming to play our course sir, by the way did you know we do receptions and corporate outings? Let me give you a brochure.”

          • Double Mocha Man

            Jul 10, 2014 at 11:07 pm

            Tyler… the “slash greens fee” theory is corrupt. It sounds to me like you’re just cheap.

            Where I live GolfNow was prevalent at 90% of our courses last year. It is all but gone now; the courses not renewing their contracts. It turned out that a lot of golfers just went for the “Hot Deals” with low, low greens fees to “check out” a new course. But they never returned to become regulars or pay the regular greens fee. They were just deal chasers. GolfNow was not helping the golf courses attract new players.

            So, in short, slashing greens fees attracts the cheapies, but they don’t come back at regular prices. And a permanent slashing of greens fees (as you’re suggesting) results in what I put forth in the above post.

            How about you Tyler, would you take a pay cut at your current job if customers wanted to pay less for what you produce?

          • rkristopher

            Jul 11, 2014 at 6:59 am

            If I had to pay $50 a round (and luckily I don’t) then I couldn’t play golf–it is as simple as that.

          • Tyler

            Jul 11, 2014 at 10:58 am

            I’m not suggesting that we slash costs to the point of putting courses out of business so I can save a buck. Why would I want that? I love this game and I want more of my friends and family to participate. But the reality is that unless courses change their paradigm to accommodate younger players and “cheap” people they’re going to be in trouble and probably take a pay cut in the form of a lost job.

          • A Golfer

            Jul 14, 2014 at 4:06 pm

            Double Mocha Man…

            Your first sentence tells me that you are a little out of touch. As a customer, I decide what price I pay for the perceived value of my purchase. I don’t “have to pay” anything!! Sorry!

            Your last point makes even less sense. I wouldn’t be given a chance to take a pay cut, I would simply be fired/laid off. If my company’s customers decided that our products were too expensive they simply wouldn’t buy them and the company would ultimately fail. That’s just how it goes.

            Barneys last column focused on the fact that golf’s avid/core (ie. public course) players are leaving the game in droves. If I were the powers that be in the golf industry this fact would be a huge red flag. Not only are we not attracting new customers, we are losing our current ones. Yikes!

            This really hit home with me because I have been an avid golfer for over 30 years and am considering other ways to spend my entertainment dollar.

            Lets face it, the avid golfers that are leaving the sport know the deal. They know how much time it takes to play, how frustrating, and generally how much it costs, yet they are still leaving the game in large numbers. Why?

            The short answer is Greens fees.

            Lets look at it:
            Avid players know how frustrating golf can be but still love the challenge.
            Avid players know the time commitment to play and yet still find the time.
            Avid player know the basic costs of the game and still pay the portion of the cost that are “under their control” willingly. (Controllable cost items being equipment, clothing, transportation, etc.)
            Golf is losing avid players due to the one “fixed cost” that is out of their control.

            Greens fees.

            I’m a Midwest/Rust Belt golfer and if we are to believe what the National Golf Foundation is saying, the number of rounds annually are down and golfers are leaving. But, at the same time here locally at least, greens fees are steadily rising. ($50+ currently weekend rates) How can this be???

            Hey course owners, wake up! Your customers are making an economic decision with their entertainment dollars and you are pricing yourselves out of the market.

            I no longer attend most pro sporting events(NFL,NBA,MLB) simply because of the cost. Its not because I cant afford to go, its because I just don’t see the value in spending $300+ to take my family to a game. We now go to the local high school games for a fraction of the cost and really enjoy the experience. Problem solved. The same type of decision as this is being made every day by avid golfers.

            Its amusing that in most of the golf publications/media, the focus is on other factors in golf’s decline yet the cost of greens fees is rarely mentioned even in passing. If it is mentioned, it is dismissed quickly.

            Strange…

            Rant over

          • Double Mocha Man

            Jul 15, 2014 at 1:57 pm

            A Golfer, as an avid golfer, would you pay $500 to play the mecca of golf in America, Pebble Beach, just once? Before you die?

          • Steve

            Sep 29, 2014 at 4:16 pm

            Simple economics.

            if the customers won’t pay $40 they definitely won’t pay $50 … what I see is the decline in Players means they raise the rates to make up that extra revenue. Just my opinion….

            One course I play dropped the green fee due to poor conditions. I was applauding that, but saw that more people came in and played and they actually kept the rate there cause it seemed to work out. I am not in the golf business, but I do have to admit I don’t understand how you Price things … the course is there. the costs are fixed. Why do the prices go up? cartt fees have a mixed blessing. Did you ever think about how you are Paying the Manufacturer for a way to help your Patrons to be Less HealthY ? Way to Go PGA Profesional working as a GM cause you need the extra bucks ! Go teach. Build your Brand. Work on what really gets people to buy into you. Become a good Pro instead of one that pushes people out on the course in 15 minute increments. Build it as a business … where the Customer is key, not the investor.

    • lambo428

      Jul 10, 2014 at 12:59 pm

      I agree plus it’s $66 for Harding Park (San Francisco) with a $40/year resident card; without the card it costs $100 for weekend play without a cart. It also takes 5 hours to play from the regular tees. In Bakersfield, CA it costs $35 for a new public course with a cart and a hot dog/soda (weather is 110 degrees in the summer though). Just can’t win.

  116. Robert Carlson

    Jul 10, 2014 at 12:16 pm

    I currently play a private country club that is par 70, at the tips 6000 yards long, never a flat lie, blind shots and fast greens. Zero hcp players come in and see the yardage and laugh on how low they will go. I laugh at the end of the round when I see that 82 on the score card.

    • paul

      Jul 10, 2014 at 9:16 pm

      They need to play the course a second time. Always several strokes better the second time.

    • MHendon

      Jul 11, 2014 at 5:16 pm

      I honestly find it hard to believe a true scratch golfer shooting 82 on a 6000 yrd course unless the greens are very undulated and like glass.

  117. Chuck

    Jul 10, 2014 at 12:14 pm

    Barney, I think that Geoff Shackelford and Tom Doak have anticipated a lot of the questions that you raise in this installment.

    Why are recreational players now struggling with courses that are extremely long in comparison with tour players?

    You write: “In fact, if you adjust course yardages for a tour professional’s length, you’ll find that average male golfers routinely play the equivalent of 8500-yard courses, which means they’re hitting much longer clubs into greens than professionals.”

    I think we know why that is. The cause is modern equipment technology, and particularly the multilayer solid-core urethane balls used by tour players. (Also used, to little advantage at all, by aspirational recreational players. Most recreational players don’t use such balls and probably wouldn’t get much advantage anyway.)

    Tour (and other elite) players have gotten extremely long. Course designs have tried to keep up with those elites.

    Course designs have also had to contend with decreasing-quality real estate choices in many cases. I can think of lots of punitive carries that exist solely to protect wetlands and other untouchable features of the land.

    To your great credit, Barney, you allude to a golf solution to a golf problem. We could play an enjoyable, traditional game of golf on old-design golf courses left in the condition (firm and fast) as originally intended. But to do that, we’d need some radical equipment-rules revisions from the USGA and R&A, unless of course they want the gap between elites and recreational players to continue to grow.

    • RG

      Jul 11, 2014 at 8:27 am

      Exactly. All they need do is install a set of rules for competition and a set of rules for amateurs. Then they could reign in the pros and the ball and the equipment while giving the amateur the benefit. But equipment manufactures will never allow this to happen. There greed is hurting more than it is helping.

  118. cash banister

    Jul 10, 2014 at 12:10 pm

    Most golf courses have become so long and difficult that they’ve drastically reduced the enjoyment of golf. Besides that, I’ve become a feeble old fart whose skills are largely diminished and can’t keep up…it’s really that simple.

    • Adam

      Jul 10, 2014 at 5:30 pm

      I for one spend more time waiting while the group in front of me spends fooreeeever, looking for their ball. Instead of designing cute heads and crazy long club shafts (ie unplayable), design a tracking system for the ball. Keeping the ball moving forward will save a bunch of time.

    • MHendon

      Jul 11, 2014 at 5:20 pm

      Best bet for you cash, up tee’s, hybrids, and high lofted woods. Oh and the long putter, who cares what the USGA says your not playing tournaments.

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Gear Dive: Fixing my broken body with Michael Dennington of GolfWOD

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In this Coaches Edition Episode of The Gear Dive brought to you by Titleist Golf, Johnny discusses his physical decline and chats with Michael Dennington of UK based GolfWOD on how to go from broken to a golf warrior.

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Mondays Off: Golf Hall of Fame resumes—what does it take?

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We are back from last week, and Knudson is finally a father! Steve asks what it takes to get into the Golf Hall of Fame, how much do majors count? Knudson talks about his last round and how much fun he had. Finally, we talk about the Rory and Keopka beef that is starting to play out.

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The Wedge Guy: Getting more out of your wedges

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When I started SCOR Golf in 2011 and completely re-engineered the short end of the set, I took on “the establishment” and referred to our line of clubs not as “wedges” but as “scoring clubs”—I felt like the term “wedge” had become over-applied to clubs that really weren’t. While I’ve tempered my “respectful irreverence” a bit since then, I still think we are shackled by the terms applied to those high-loft clubs at the short end of our sets.

Think about this for a moment.

It all started with the invention of the sand wedge back in the late 1930s. This invention is generally credited to Gene Sarazen, who famously had metal welded onto the bottom of a niblick to give it bounce, and introduced the basic “explosion” sand shot. Over the next few decades, the sand wedge “matured” to a loft of 55-56 degrees and was a go-to staple in any serious golfer’s bag. In his 1949 book, “Power Golf”, Ben Hogan described the sand wedge as a very versatile tool “for certain shots” around the greens, and listed his maximum distance with a sand wedge as 55 yards.

Even into the 1970s, the pitching wedge was considered the ‘go-to’ club for short recovery shots around the greens. And because the typical pitching wedge was 50-52 degrees in loft, it was very versatile for that purpose. I remember that even as a scratch player in the 60s and early 70s, I would go days or weeks without pulling the “sand wedge” out of my bag—we didn’t have bunkers on that little 9-hole course so I didn’t feel like I needed one very often.

Fast forward into the 1980s and 1990s, people were hitting sand wedges from everywhere and the wedge makers began to add “lob wedges” in the 60-degree range and then “gap wedges” of 48 degrees or so to fill in for the evolutional strengthening of iron lofts to a point where the set match pitching wedge (or P-club as I call it) was 44-45 degrees typically. Along the way, the designation “G”, “S”, “L” and “P” were dropped and almost all wedges carried the actual loft number of the club. I think this was a positive development, but it seems we cannot get away from the pigeon-holing our wedges into “pitching”, “gap”, “sand” and “lob” nomenclature.

So that history lesson was a set-up for suggesting that you look at all your wedges as just “wedges” with no further limitations as to their use. I think that will free you up to use your creativity with each club to increase your repertoire of shots you have in your bag…more arrows in your quiver, so to speak.

For example, long bunker shots are much easier if you open the face of your 50- 54-degree wedge so you don’t have to swing as hard to get the ball to fly further. You’ll still get plenty of spin, but your results will become much more consistent. Likewise, that super-short delicate bunker shot can be hit more easily with your higher lofted wedge of 58-60 degrees.

When you get out further, and are facing mid-range shots of 40-75 yards, don’t automatically reach for your “sand wedge” out of habit, but think about the trajectory and spin needs for that shot. Very often a softened swing with your “gap” wedge will deliver much more consistent results. You’ll reduce the likelihood of making contact high on the face and coming up short, and you can even open the face a bit to impart additional spin if you need it.

Around the greens, your lower-lofted wedges will allow you to achieve more balance between carry and roll, as almost all instructors encourage you to get the ball on the ground more quickly to improve greenside scoring. For the vast majority of recreational/weekend golfers, simply changing clubs is a lot easier than trying to manipulate technique to hit low shots with clubs designed to hit the ball high.

Finally, on any shots into the wind, you are almost always better off “lofting down” and swinging easier to help make more solid contact and reduce spin that will cause the ball to up-shoot and come up short. Too often I watch my friends try to hit hard full wedge shots into our all-too-common 12-20 mph winds and continually come up short. My preference is to loft down even as much as two clubs, grip down a bit and swing much more easily, which ensures a lower trajectory with less spin…and much more consistent outcomes. It is not uncommon for me to choose a 45-degree wedge for a shot as short as 75-80 yards into a breeze, when my stock distance for that club is about 115. I get consistently positive results doing that.

So, if you can wean yourself from referring to your wedges by their names and zero in on what each can do because of their numbers, you will expand your arsenal of shots you can call on when you are in prime scoring range and hit it close to the flag much more often. And that’s really the goal, isn’t it?

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