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Sooooo, is golf dying?


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#631 North Butte

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Posted 19 June 2017 - 08:41 AM

At the local level, I must say there seems to be an uptick in participation this past year or two. I really think my local golf "market" took until around 2015 to start digging out of the 2007-era downturn. I don't play much at public courses but have heard a few stories recently of people not being able to get prime tee times or they get a tee time and endure a 5-hour slog on a course packed with one foursome every 8 minutes all morning long. That was the norm 15 years ago but until fairly recently those same courses were racing each other to the bottom in term of GolfNow pricing and still with far less than full tee sheets. A couple of courses did close during the worst of it but I'd say total rounds played must be back to at least 70-80% of the early 00's historic max.

And the various charity scrambles and so forth (which tend to attract other than "core" or "avid" golfers, to say the least) are getting remarkably popular again.The one thing that has not recovering is the corporate outing. Twenty years ago that was a huge source of revenue for public and private courses but it's just a fraction of what it once was. Also private-club memberships are still far below their peak (which to be fair was already declining here locally before the 2007 financial crisis).

Speaking of which, I hate to admit it but my own club seems to have turned around its membership trends by going very aggressively after 30-something incoming members with or without families. The reason I say "hate to admit it" is while I appreciate the stabilizing effect on the club's finances we're talking a very different demographic than what I've been used to over my years at the club. If the trend continues, I suspect the club's culture will inevitably change. For instance, hardly a soul among them would ever even consider walking instead of using a cart. I can only hope it takes a long while before my club gets snatched away from me by the "carts required on weekends and before 11am" culture that seems to be the prevailing paradigm nowadays. And there's the concomitant music blaring from carts (I literally never once in more than a decade heard that while playing at my club, over the past couple years it has now been almost an every-round encounter).

So who knows, I was quite pessimistic about the medium-term future of the game (next 10-20 years) up until recently. Now maybe I'm a bit more sanguine about the game surviving in something remotely like its current form. But I'm getting old enough that I feel that old Grandpa Simpson bile rising up in the back of my throat every time some no-sock-wearing 35-year-old frat boy comes carting by me with rap music playing (who are they trying to impress with that anyway?) while I'm trying to play my same old, sedate round of golf.

Life is like the ocean. It can be calm or rough, but in the end it is full of salt and dead animals.

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#632 stlouismark

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Posted 19 June 2017 - 09:09 AM

Final round numbers are in......3.6 rating is the 2nd lowest tv ratings of all time (2014 was lowest at 3.3):

http://twitter.com/A...789643114676224



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#633 klebs01

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Posted 19 June 2017 - 09:23 AM

View PostNorth Butte, on 19 June 2017 - 08:41 AM, said:

At the local level, I must say there seems to be an uptick in participation this past year or two. I really think my local golf "market" took until around 2015 to start digging out of the 2007-era downturn. I don't play much at public courses but have heard a few stories recently of people not being able to get prime tee times or they get a tee time and endure a 5-hour slog on a course packed with one foursome every 8 minutes all morning long. That was the norm 15 years ago but until fairly recently those same courses were racing each other to the bottom in term of GolfNow pricing and still with far less than full tee sheets. A couple of courses did close during the worst of it but I'd say total rounds played must be back to at least 70-80% of the early 00's historic max.

And the various charity scrambles and so forth (which tend to attract other than "core" or "avid" golfers, to say the least) are getting remarkably popular again.The one thing that has not recovering is the corporate outing. Twenty years ago that was a huge source of revenue for public and private courses but it's just a fraction of what it once was. Also private-club memberships are still far below their peak (which to be fair was already declining here locally before the 2007 financial crisis).

Speaking of which, I hate to admit it but my own club seems to have turned around its membership trends by going very aggressively after 30-something incoming members with or without families. The reason I say "hate to admit it" is while I appreciate the stabilizing effect on the club's finances we're talking a very different demographic than what I've been used to over my years at the club. If the trend continues, I suspect the club's culture will inevitably change. For instance, hardly a soul among them would ever even consider walking instead of using a cart. I can only hope it takes a long while before my club gets snatched away from me by the "carts required on weekends and before 11am" culture that seems to be the prevailing paradigm nowadays. And there's the concomitant music blaring from carts (I literally never once in more than a decade heard that while playing at my club, over the past couple years it has now been almost an every-round encounter).

So who knows, I was quite pessimistic about the medium-term future of the game (next 10-20 years) up until recently. Now maybe I'm a bit more sanguine about the game surviving in something remotely like its current form. But I'm getting old enough that I feel that old Grandpa Simpson bile rising up in the back of my throat every time some no-sock-wearing 35-year-old frat boy comes carting by me with rap music playing (who are they trying to impress with that anyway?) while I'm trying to play my same old, sedate round of golf.

I'm in my early thirties and returned to the game last year. My private club went after younger members and gained about 40 members under 40. Maybe more. You are right that the members are different. For us it's mostly hardcore golfers rather than families that was a social scene. Unlike your experience though almost all of our younger members walk unless forced to ride in events or with guests.

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#634 North Butte

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Posted 19 June 2017 - 09:28 AM

View Postklebs01, on 19 June 2017 - 09:23 AM, said:

View PostNorth Butte, on 19 June 2017 - 08:41 AM, said:

At the local level, I must say there seems to be an uptick in participation this past year or two. I really think my local golf "market" took until around 2015 to start digging out of the 2007-era downturn. I don't play much at public courses but have heard a few stories recently of people not being able to get prime tee times or they get a tee time and endure a 5-hour slog on a course packed with one foursome every 8 minutes all morning long. That was the norm 15 years ago but until fairly recently those same courses were racing each other to the bottom in term of GolfNow pricing and still with far less than full tee sheets. A couple of courses did close during the worst of it but I'd say total rounds played must be back to at least 70-80% of the early 00's historic max.

And the various charity scrambles and so forth (which tend to attract other than "core" or "avid" golfers, to say the least) are getting remarkably popular again.The one thing that has not recovering is the corporate outing. Twenty years ago that was a huge source of revenue for public and private courses but it's just a fraction of what it once was. Also private-club memberships are still far below their peak (which to be fair was already declining here locally before the 2007 financial crisis).

Speaking of which, I hate to admit it but my own club seems to have turned around its membership trends by going very aggressively after 30-something incoming members with or without families. The reason I say "hate to admit it" is while I appreciate the stabilizing effect on the club's finances we're talking a very different demographic than what I've been used to over my years at the club. If the trend continues, I suspect the club's culture will inevitably change. For instance, hardly a soul among them would ever even consider walking instead of using a cart. I can only hope it takes a long while before my club gets snatched away from me by the "carts required on weekends and before 11am" culture that seems to be the prevailing paradigm nowadays. And there's the concomitant music blaring from carts (I literally never once in more than a decade heard that while playing at my club, over the past couple years it has now been almost an every-round encounter).

So who knows, I was quite pessimistic about the medium-term future of the game (next 10-20 years) up until recently. Now maybe I'm a bit more sanguine about the game surviving in something remotely like its current form. But I'm getting old enough that I feel that old Grandpa Simpson bile rising up in the back of my throat every time some no-sock-wearing 35-year-old frat boy comes carting by me with rap music playing (who are they trying to impress with that anyway?) while I'm trying to play my same old, sedate round of golf.

I'm in my early thirties and returned to the game last year. My private club went after younger members and gained about 40 members under 40. Maybe more. You are right that the members are different. For us it's mostly hardcore golfers rather than families that was a social scene. Unlike your experience though almost all of our younger members walk unless forced to ride in events or with guests.

Ours seem mostly families, so kind of the opposite. I guess when the club casts a big old net out into the ocean of potential members it's hard to say what kind of fish they'll catch!

But seriously, it's not all or nothing. We've certainly gained more than a handful of young guys who are both golf-minded and who fit in with the older, mostly walking, friendly dogfight type of culture. So even "my type of member" has benefited from the membership uptick. But we gained a *lot* of the other types. The family members (where the kids use the pool, dad plays golf, mom pops in for lunch once in a while) and the cart-riding young golfers both of whom were pretty rare for quite a few years.
Life is like the ocean. It can be calm or rough, but in the end it is full of salt and dead animals.

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#635 Break81

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Posted 19 June 2017 - 06:48 PM

View Poststlouismark, on 19 June 2017 - 09:09 AM, said:

Final round numbers are in......3.6 rating is the 2nd lowest tv ratings of all time (2014 was lowest at 3.3):

http://twitter.com/A...789643114676224
   Number of reasons but I think part of it was no big names were in the hunt, and it didn't feel like a US OPEN. About the same feel as the Travlers Championship, or any other average event.  No Phil, No Rory, No DJ, No Day, Speith wasnt a factor, nor Bubba, nor Kuch, and Fowler faded away.

Hard for people to watch something with names they aren't familiar with.

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#636 North Butte

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Posted 19 June 2017 - 07:05 PM

People tune in to watch "names" not courses.
Life is like the ocean. It can be calm or rough, but in the end it is full of salt and dead animals.

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#637 Golfnuck

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Posted 19 June 2017 - 08:34 PM

View Postkizell, on 18 June 2017 - 02:23 PM, said:

This is a great topic

I don't think golf is dying but it is certainly changing.

There are younger people wanting to play golf than ever before, but almost none of them have resources to join a private club like their parents.  Thus we will see a shift from dying private links to improved public trails.

Golf technology has kind of priced out manufactures.  I've been using the same clubs I bought in 2009 with no need for changes.  Most of us are not going to spend that much money when the advancement is minimal.

Golf course design is also changing with lower revenues being collecting.  Architects are now designing courses with little tree cover to make maintenance easier

Just my 2 cents

"There are younger people wanting to play golf than ever before, but almost none of them have resources to join a private club like their parents." - Isn't this the case for all generations? I am a Generation X'r. When I was under 35 I certainly did not have the resources to join a private club. Even if I had the resources I certainly did not have the time to golf on a regular basis. Raising kids and moving ahead in my career dominated almost 100% of my time. It should be normal that younger person would have less financial resources than their parents?

As a part of my work I read a lot of marketing research. While most of them are "BS" there is a common theme and that is to watch what the "boomers" desire or need.

The boomers have a significant impact on everything. IMHO they had a bigger impact on golf popularity and the build up of courses than Tiger Woods.

My personal opinion only but I think we will see a surge in Private Memberships when the Millennials reach their 40's and 50's. Millennials will acquire a massive amount of wealth when their boomer parents or grand parents (older boomers) pass away. It is kinda like an echo of the impact of the boomers.

Edited by Golfnuck, 19 June 2017 - 08:41 PM.


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#638 jslane57

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Posted 19 June 2017 - 09:38 PM

View PostGolfnuck, on 19 June 2017 - 08:34 PM, said:

View Postkizell, on 18 June 2017 - 02:23 PM, said:

This is a great topic

I don't think golf is dying but it is certainly changing.

There are younger people wanting to play golf than ever before, but almost none of them have resources to join a private club like their parents.  Thus we will see a shift from dying private links to improved public trails.

Golf technology has kind of priced out manufactures.  I've been using the same clubs I bought in 2009 with no need for changes.  Most of us are not going to spend that much money when the advancement is minimal.

Golf course design is also changing with lower revenues being collecting.  Architects are now designing courses with little tree cover to make maintenance easier

Just my 2 cents

"There are younger people wanting to play golf than ever before, but almost none of them have resources to join a private club like their parents." - Isn't this the case for all generations? I am a Generation X'r. When I was under 35 I certainly did not have the resources to join a private club. Even if I had the resources I certainly did not have the time to golf on a regular basis. Raising kids and moving ahead in my career dominated almost 100% of my time. It should be normal that younger person would have less financial resources than their parents?

As a part of my work I read a lot of marketing research. While most of them are "BS" there is a common theme and that is to watch what the "boomers" desire or need.

The boomers have a significant impact on everything. IMHO they had a bigger impact on golf popularity and the build up of courses than Tiger Woods.

My personal opinion only but I think we will see a surge in Private Memberships when the Millennials reach their 40's and 50's. Millennials will acquire a massive amount of wealth when their boomer parents or grand parents (older boomers) pass away. It is kinda like an echo of the impact of the boomers.
Of course you're correct. So the question needs to be asked, why should golf try so hard to attract the kids? Being turned off at a young age due to affordablity may be worse for the sport long term than hooking older folks who are finally ready for golf...

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#639 youraway2

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Posted 20 June 2017 - 07:36 PM

Most efforts I've seen to grow golf, are really efforts to put money in the pockets of those trying to grow golf.

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#640 bobfoster

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Posted 23 June 2017 - 06:23 AM

If golf was dying I wouldn't still be doing 5 hour rounds on weekends.


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#641 baaron008

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Posted 23 June 2017 - 06:44 AM

Every course I play in Alabama on weekends you have to get a tee time at least a week in advance to tee off before 11 am. And even when you do, a group tees off every 7 minutes so the round takes 4.5 to 5.5 hours.

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#642 uitar9

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Posted 23 June 2017 - 07:42 AM

View PostGolfnuck, on 19 June 2017 - 08:34 PM, said:

View Postkizell, on 18 June 2017 - 02:23 PM, said:

This is a great topic

I don't think golf is dying but it is certainly changing.

There are younger people wanting to play golf than ever before, but almost none of them have resources to join a private club like their parents.  Thus we will see a shift from dying private links to improved public trails.

Golf technology has kind of priced out manufactures.  I've been using the same clubs I bought in 2009 with no need for changes.  Most of us are not going to spend that much money when the advancement is minimal.

Golf course design is also changing with lower revenues being collecting.  Architects are now designing courses with little tree cover to make maintenance easier

Just my 2 cents

"There are younger people wanting to play golf than ever before, but almost none of them have resources to join a private club like their parents." - Isn't this the case for all generations? I am a Generation X'r. When I was under 35 I certainly did not have the resources to join a private club. Even if I had the resources I certainly did not have the time to golf on a regular basis. Raising kids and moving ahead in my career dominated almost 100% of my time. It should be normal that younger person would have less financial resources than their parents?

As a part of my work I read a lot of marketing research. While most of them are "BS" there is a common theme and that is to watch what the "boomers" desire or need.

The boomers have a significant impact on everything. IMHO they had a bigger impact on golf popularity and the build up of courses than Tiger Woods.

My personal opinion only but I think we will see a surge in Private Memberships when the Millennials reach their 40's and 50's. Millennials will acquire a massive amount of wealth when their boomer parents or grand parents (older boomers) pass away. It is kinda like an echo of the impact of the boomers.

I like this: Boomers vs Tiger

Those millennial are a big group. Many industries are going to benefit/rebound/be created from that life cycle.

Like another poster wrote, '07'08 was detrimental on disposable income. Now its the impact of the energy slump. 100's of thousands  are unemployed everywhere. Golf is not on their radar. Another area that may effect golf in the medium term is the  "eco snob" syndrome. (I'm not suggesting we throw effluent on the streets) But the water issue because of lawn style grass will have an impact limiting course creation in the country club style.  

I don't know why we expect golf, an expensive activity, to not be effected by the results of changing demographic economics.

Having said that, if I wait two hours past a booking time opening I do not get a time I want

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#643 EKELLY

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Posted Yesterday, 09:20 PM

If it's actually true that men over 50 spend over 70% of all golf revenue, it doesn't take a degree in math or accounting to spell out what happens when that group is gone. It spells the a major problem. Golf might not be in decline NOW, but it IS coming.......

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#644 MGMiller

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Posted Yesterday, 09:25 PM

It's dead........now get off my golf course!!!!
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#645 Break81

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Posted Yesterday, 09:33 PM

View PostEKELLY, on 25 June 2017 - 09:20 PM, said:

If it's actually true that men over 50 spend over 70% of all golf revenue, it doesn't take a degree in math or accounting to spell out what happens when that group is gone. It spells the a major problem. Golf might not be in decline NOW, but it IS coming.......

  Not true - there is an endless supply of men who will pick up the game to get away from their wives for 6-7 hours at a time. Once you hit 50 and been married 20-25 years, golf fits right in.  Especially for those who kids are out of the house.  Hell I am not yet 43 and I love golf not only for the sport, but the distraction is can bring from having a stressful career and balance of being married.

    My wife found a hobby too, it's called shopping for crap we dont need, but I tolerate it as she tolerates my golf. :golfer:

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#646 2putttom

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Posted Yesterday, 11:46 PM

View Poststlouismark, on 19 June 2017 - 09:09 AM, said:

Final round numbers are in......3.6 rating is the 2nd lowest tv ratings of all time (2014 was lowest at 3.3):

http://twitter.com/A...789643114676224
I streamed it at work
W I T B
The Same Damn Clubs I had Last Year.
However the bag and balls are different

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