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Have Europeans overtaken Americans in passion for golf?


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#1 bamagator

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Posted 16 December 2018 - 09:08 PM

Okay….long story then the point of the post.  Stopped playing golf for a long time due to a factor of reasons.  Turned it ALL off prior to the 08' recession, etc.  10 years later, I decide to take it back up and turn all my stuff on and OH MY, how the landscape has changed.  Like waking up to the zombie apocalypse after a long term coma on a hospital bed in a movie change.

One striking thing in my face is the immediate perception of receding total passion and players here (courses closing, lack of iconic US players, blah blah) vs what I am seeing from the Euro side of the pond. Go on youtube and it's a good bunch of Brits and Aussies with quality channels and dialogue.  

Am I crazy?  Is this just evolution of ADD and wanting things faster, 24-7 (like video gaming), a lack of heart to work hard for mediocrity in game level (you know what I mean) OR am I dead on?  One other curiosity before you reply.  Age demographic will absolutely impact your perception of this question IMHO.  If you are an old dude like someone I know on this post, well......if you are a young gun...well. If you want to bracket your basic age dew et! (young gun, established, getting older and smarter or old/smart/seasoned/da'man

Thoughts?

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#2 golfgirlrobin

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Posted 16 December 2018 - 11:25 PM

Golf has always been a niche sport, but for awhile, during the early Tiger years, golf got cool, lots of people got into it and course design/building went crazy.  The Tiger bubble bursts and lots of areas couldn’t support the number of golf courses in their area.  Throw in the greatest recession since the Great Depression and you’re going to lose some courses.  Folks trying to keep their homes and watching their 401k’s plummet by 50+% don’t play golf.

I watch my local high school teams on the range all the time and they look pretty dedicated to me.  At the pro level, it was five minutes ago that people wondered if DJ, Spieth and Justin Thomas would ever lose again.  

I think you’re an alarmist.  For the record, I’m 54 and old enough to have realized that everything is cyclical.
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#3 bamagator

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Posted 16 December 2018 - 11:57 PM

Thanks GGrobin… not alarmist, just asking question for discussion.
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#4 Hawkeye77

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Posted 16 December 2018 - 11:58 PM

Have you watched any coverage of the Euro Tour?  Not much for crowds a lot of the time.

Those subscribers to Shiels, Crossfield, Me & My Golf, Finch aren't just locals.  

I see plenty of folks passionate about golf, sure there are same most everywhere.

I'll go out in a limb and suggest the ratio of passionate golf fans to all golf fans may be higher in the UK, for example, but total numbers of passionate golf fans? USA.

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#5 Bingo1976

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Posted 17 December 2018 - 01:41 AM

I think that you have been away from the game for so long that you have missed out the growth of golf in Asia.

European participation in golf is down from a peak in 2010, various searches on statista seem to indicate that participation rates and number of courses are also falling moderately. Likewise Australia is, or was when I was studying my golf management diploma, also suffering from falling participation rates.

https://www.statista...yers-in-europe/

If you look globally, the next growth phase in golf is likely to be driven by Asia. Golf is still revered as a past time of the wealthy, and the emerging middle classes have a large amount of disposable income to spend. I am trying to wrap up work before Christmas, but the below links may be of interest. From my decade of living in Asia, the economic growth here now seems sustainable and widespread, and whilst the US will always be the 'home' of golf, I would expect that you will see the emerging Asian markets overtaking Europe in the next 10-20 years.

https://www.prnewswi...-266202911.html

https://www.randa.or...world-2017.ashx

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#6 SixtySomePing

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Posted 17 December 2018 - 04:47 AM

First of all, as far as the pros go, no.  In the world rankings, 22 of the top 50 are Americans including #1 Brooks Koepka. Also, the passion is so great as well as the location in the US that some of the good European, and Aussie golfers choose to live here, such as Rory, Luke Donald, Lee Westwood, Greg Norman, Ernie Els, just to scratch the surface. If you look at the PGA tour roster there are also many non-Americans.

As for passion among non-pros, go to your favorite course as a walk-on any Saturday morning in the summer about 8:00 AM, good luck. Drive past any driving range, look at the equipment company ads here, meet a golf club ho, check out the First Tee programs, and for cryin' out loud, welcome, and read some of these forums on Golf WRX...

Good question for discussion btw  :)

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#7 Moxley

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Posted 17 December 2018 - 06:47 AM

A short answer is that it's no different over here, most clubs are losing members and the memberships are getting older

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#8 Ferguson

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Posted 17 December 2018 - 08:52 AM

View Postbamagator, on 16 December 2018 - 09:08 PM, said:

Okay….long story then the point of the post.  Stopped playing golf for a long time due to a factor of reasons.  Turned it ALL off prior to the 08' recession, etc.  10 years later, I decide to take it back up and turn all my stuff on and OH MY, how the landscape has changed.  Like waking up to the zombie apocalypse after a long term coma on a hospital bed in a movie change.

One striking thing in my face is the immediate perception of receding total passion and players here (courses closing, lack of iconic US players, blah blah) vs what I am seeing from the Euro side of the pond. Go on youtube and it's a good bunch of Brits and Aussies with quality channels and dialogue.  

Am I crazy?  Is this just evolution of ADD and wanting things faster, 24-7 (like video gaming), a lack of heart to work hard for mediocrity in game level (you know what I mean) OR am I dead on?  One other curiosity before you reply.  Age demographic will absolutely impact your perception of this question IMHO.  If you are an old dude like someone I know on this post, well......if you are a young gun...well. If you want to bracket your basic age dew et! (young gun, established, getting older and smarter or old/smart/seasoned/da'man

Thoughts?


What is your "unit of measure" for passion?

I hope it's not the "number of likes" tied to an overtly emotional youtube video with too many slow-mos featuring that awful Green Day song as the music accompaniment.

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#9 bamagator

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Posted 17 December 2018 - 10:17 AM

View PostBingo1976, on 17 December 2018 - 01:41 AM, said:

I think that you have been away from the game for so long that you have missed out the growth of golf in Asia.

European participation in golf is down from a peak in 2010, various searches on statista seem to indicate that participation rates and number of courses are also falling moderately. Likewise Australia is, or was when I was studying my golf management diploma, also suffering from falling participation rates.

https://www.statista...yers-in-europe/

If you look globally, the next growth phase in golf is likely to be driven by Asia. Golf is still revered as a past time of the wealthy, and the emerging middle classes have a large amount of disposable income to spend. I am trying to wrap up work before Christmas, but the below links may be of interest. From my decade of living in Asia, the economic growth here now seems sustainable and widespread, and whilst the US will always be the 'home' of golf, I would expect that you will see the emerging Asian markets overtaking Europe in the next 10-20 years.

https://www.prnewswi...-266202911.html

https://www.randa.or...world-2017.ashx

Great flag and yep...watching LPGA that was quite obvious immediately.  Great points and what I was hoping to get insight on from the question I posed.
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#10 bamagator

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Posted 17 December 2018 - 10:23 AM

View PostMoxley, on 17 December 2018 - 06:47 AM, said:

A short answer is that it's no different over here, most clubs are losing members and the memberships are getting older
Yeah, I saw a few courses here close during my sabbatical.  When I got back in, I did actually pull several articles on stats here in US and in general.  Read the same thing on aging demographic of memberships at clubs, etc.

All that said, we still have a huge amount of golfing enthusiasts in the US (25 Million I think was the number I said).

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#11 MaineMariner

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Posted 17 December 2018 - 11:55 AM

Younger people have less disposable income, more debt, work longer hours, and are moving towards urban areas. Golf requires a lot of time, money, and space. It's not a great fit.
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#12 GoGoErky

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Posted 17 December 2018 - 12:15 PM

A bunch of teaching pros using the internet to put out vintrvt to grow their business of attracting students to either in person lesson or online lessons and supplementing that income with ad revenue from online platforms imo doesn’t constitute passion.

There are plenty of American pros using Instagram to give out tips and attract more students.



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#13 bamagator

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Posted 17 December 2018 - 12:41 PM

View PostGoGoErky, on 17 December 2018 - 12:15 PM, said:

A bunch of teaching pros using the internet to put out vintrvt to grow their business of attracting students to either in person lesson or online lessons and supplementing that income with ad revenue from online platforms imo doesn't constitute passion.

There are plenty of American pros using Instagram to give out tips and attract more students.

I get it and agree.  Just curious.  Most of the 20-35 aged that I know are into video games and other non-physical stuff vs golf.  Good comments....again, not trying to get anyone riled up, just intellectually asking hence why I am on the forum.
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#14 Ferguson

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Posted 17 December 2018 - 01:15 PM

View PostMaineMariner, on 17 December 2018 - 11:55 AM, said:

Younger people have less disposable income, more debt, work longer hours, and are moving towards urban areas. Golf requires a lot of time, money, and space. It's not a great fit.


"Discretionary"

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#15 Barfolomew

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Posted 17 December 2018 - 01:31 PM

View Postgolfgirlrobin, on 16 December 2018 - 11:25 PM, said:

Golf has always been a niche sport, but for awhile, during the early Tiger years, golf got cool, lots of people got into it and course design/building went crazy.  The Tiger bubble bursts and lots of areas couldn’t support the number of golf courses in their area.  Throw in the greatest recession since the Great Depression and you’re going to lose some courses.  Folks trying to keep their homes and watching their 401k’s plummet by 50+% don’t play golf.

I watch my local high school teams on the range all the time and they look pretty dedicated to me.  At the pro level, it was five minutes ago that people wondered if DJ, Spieth and Justin Thomas would ever lose again.  

I think you’re an alarmist.  For the record, I’m 54 and old enough to have realized that everything is cyclical.

Yeah they're at my course too but they would be there dedicated to practicing anyways even if people playin was cut in half...

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#16 Golfingfanatic

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Posted 17 December 2018 - 03:13 PM

It is a difficult question. Golf is and will always be a sort of niche sport. At least in the global context. From personal experience, I'd tell you that most golfers in continental europe perceive it as a social thing and are not that passionate about the game. The only place where I've experienced genuine passion from broad parts of the population is Scotland. There seems to be a natural appreciation for the game and its history in Scotland that is unmatched.
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#17 dlygrisse

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Posted 17 December 2018 - 03:26 PM

I don't think so, golf in most European countries seems to be very niche.  Tennis has a much bigger following for example.  Any winter sport in Scandinavia, Germany, how many golf courses do they even have?  Except for the British Isles and Ireland it's really off the grid for most, even there there are a lot of other more mainstream sports.  

I think golf has very passionate fans wherever you go, no matter now small the fan base is.
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#18 Bingo1976

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Posted 17 December 2018 - 09:13 PM

View Postdlygrisse, on 17 December 2018 - 03:26 PM, said:

I don't think so, golf in most European countries seems to be very niche.  Tennis has a much bigger following for example.  Any winter sport in Scandinavia, Germany, how many golf courses do they even have?  Except for the British Isles and Ireland it's really off the grid for most, even there there are a lot of other more mainstream sports.  

I think golf has very passionate fans wherever you go, no matter now small the fan base is.

The attached is an interesting read. Participation rates are highest in Iceland and Sweden, and then Ireland and Scotland. By the time you get past England, then you are looking at sub 1% participation rates. I did find it interesting that most golf participation is in northern Europe, despite the poorer climate for outdoor sports like golf.

https://assets.kpmg....europe-2018.pdf
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#19 scruffynick

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Posted 18 December 2018 - 01:27 AM

We're losing interested people in the UK... World has changed. TV coverage on sky hasn't helped at all as no one can afford to watch it. But it will come back as membership price at clubs are coming down each year in general

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#20 Bingo1976

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Posted 18 December 2018 - 04:48 AM

View Postscruffynick, on 18 December 2018 - 01:27 AM, said:

We're losing interested people in the UK... World has changed. TV coverage on sky hasn't helped at all as no one can afford to watch it. But it will come back as membership price at clubs are coming down each year in general

I'd say it's as likely to be related to the economy as anything else. With the continued weakness in the pound, equipment will be more expensive, and you may see a rise in fees as courses try and cover costs (a death spiral, but understandable as a strategy in the short term).

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#21 Moxley

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Posted 18 December 2018 - 05:14 AM

View PostBingo1976, on 18 December 2018 - 04:48 AM, said:

View Postscruffynick, on 18 December 2018 - 01:27 AM, said:

We're losing interested people in the UK... World has changed. TV coverage on sky hasn't helped at all as no one can afford to watch it. But it will come back as membership price at clubs are coming down each year in general

I'd say it's as likely to be related to the economy as anything else. With the continued weakness in the pound, equipment will be more expensive, and you may see a rise in fees as courses try and cover costs (a death spiral, but understandable as a strategy in the short term).

Some will increase to cover costs (my own club recently put 3 choices of fee change to the membership, and all were inflation busting increases) , and a few will decrease to attract golfers, but neither will work in the long term if the demand keeps falling, as those clubs will lose money.

The courses that can offer something that works for the new generation, while still keeping the core product offering for the older generation, are the ones that can have a future. I really hope the situation can change while we still have the courses, because if we go the direction of the US (fewer courses, very high fees, 5 hour rounds etc) then there's definitely not enough passion to tolerate that.

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#22 scruffynick

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Posted 20 December 2018 - 02:05 AM

View PostBingo1976, on 18 December 2018 - 04:48 AM, said:

View Postscruffynick, on 18 December 2018 - 01:27 AM, said:

We're losing interested people in the UK... World has changed. TV coverage on sky hasn't helped at all as no one can afford to watch it. But it will come back as membership price at clubs are coming down each year in general

I'd say it's as likely to be related to the economy as anything else. With the continued weakness in the pound, equipment will be more expensive, and you may see a rise in fees as courses try and cover costs (a death spiral, but understandable as a strategy in the short term).
The equipment isn't too bad on cost mainly because most pro shops have discounts, your own book that let's you save up and you can get some brilliant stuff second hand for little.
I'm afraid my club in general is struggling in the youth area, when I was a junior is was so strong but honestly we've only got 5 at present time. That's heart breaking because they're the future.
Another thing that doesn't help is the cost of watching golf at events, the open at birkdale was £70-80!!!! I live 20 miles away and didn't bother at that cost... The British masters is at hillside next year which is next door to birkdale, be interesting to see what they charge. But the event let kids in for basically free the last 2 years

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#23 GolfChannel

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Posted 20 December 2018 - 08:35 AM

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#24 schley

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Posted 22 December 2018 - 02:30 AM

clubs in the UK are struggling as well, the model of charging 800 pounds a year for a membership isn't sustainable when your average age golfer is retirement age to boot.  Consolidation is part of any business and performs natural selection based on area demographics, interest, etc.  In the USA it was housing developments that pushed to an oversupply of courses, which needed to correct itself.  In the UK it is the pricing model combined with younger people moving to cities and having other hobbies.

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#25 scruffynick

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Posted 22 December 2018 - 03:50 AM

View Postschley, on 22 December 2018 - 02:30 AM, said:

clubs in the UK are struggling as well, the model of charging 800 pounds a year for a membership isn't sustainable when your average age golfer is retirement age to boot.  Consolidation is part of any business and performs natural selection based on area demographics, interest, etc.  In the USA it was housing developments that pushed to an oversupply of courses, which needed to correct itself.  In the UK it is the pricing model combined with younger people moving to cities and having other hobbies.
One thing my club does well is the retired rates, I think its a third off. Its trying very hard to get new and younger members but as you've said the youth in the UK are interested in other things.
One thing I've noticed this year has been at my work, I've had quite a few lads come to me wanting to buy some clubs or advice. They get to the mid 30s and they've all stopped playing footy and rugby and gone.... What do I do now for a hobby?? Golf is ticking those boxes for them, that's the age my club is doing well in.... Just needs something to help the juniors, what that is I don't know


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#26 bamagator

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Posted 22 December 2018 - 10:23 PM

View Postscruffynick, on 22 December 2018 - 03:50 AM, said:

View Postschley, on 22 December 2018 - 02:30 AM, said:

clubs in the UK are struggling as well, the model of charging 800 pounds a year for a membership isn't sustainable when your average age golfer is retirement age to boot.  Consolidation is part of any business and performs natural selection based on area demographics, interest, etc.  In the USA it was housing developments that pushed to an oversupply of courses, which needed to correct itself.  In the UK it is the pricing model combined with younger people moving to cities and having other hobbies.
One thing my club does well is the retired rates, I think its a third off. Its trying very hard to get new and younger members but as you've said the youth in the UK are interested in other things.
One thing I've noticed this year has been at my work, I've had quite a few lads come to me wanting to buy some clubs or advice. They get to the mid 30s and they've all stopped playing footy and rugby and gone.... What do I do now for a hobby?? Golf is ticking those boxes for them, that's the age my club is doing well in.... Just needs something to help the juniors, what that is I don't know
EXACTLY how I got into it in the US.  Golf was a non-contact pansies sport to me in my youth.  US football, wrestling, martial arts...then military. Screw golf.  Years later, kids, bills, and a used set of clubs and a bucket of balls and it was game on.  Range today, most gunners were old dawgs....1-2 younger dudes.

Edited by bamagator, 22 December 2018 - 10:25 PM.

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#27 scruffynick

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Posted 23 December 2018 - 08:39 AM

View Postbamagator, on 22 December 2018 - 10:23 PM, said:

View Postscruffynick, on 22 December 2018 - 03:50 AM, said:

View Postschley, on 22 December 2018 - 02:30 AM, said:

clubs in the UK are struggling as well, the model of charging 800 pounds a year for a membership isn't sustainable when your average age golfer is retirement age to boot.  Consolidation is part of any business and performs natural selection based on area demographics, interest, etc.  In the USA it was housing developments that pushed to an oversupply of courses, which needed to correct itself.  In the UK it is the pricing model combined with younger people moving to cities and having other hobbies.
One thing my club does well is the retired rates, I think its a third off. Its trying very hard to get new and younger members but as you've said the youth in the UK are interested in other things.
One thing I've noticed this year has been at my work, I've had quite a few lads come to me wanting to buy some clubs or advice. They get to the mid 30s and they've all stopped playing footy and rugby and gone.... What do I do now for a hobby?? Golf is ticking those boxes for them, that's the age my club is doing well in.... Just needs something to help the juniors, what that is I don't know
EXACTLY how I got into it in the US.  Golf was a non-contact pansies sport to me in my youth.  US football, wrestling, martial arts...then military. Screw golf.  Years later, kids, bills, and a used set of clubs and a bucket of balls and it was game on.  Range today, most gunners were old dawgs....1-2 younger dudes.
Seems to be worldwide this thought.... All our bodies in the mid 30s become knackered from other sports! I watched footy but really didn't play it but I've ran long distance since I was 10. Cross Country then moving onto marathons.... Can't do it anymore and I've had 3 operations and I'm 41! It's just golf now, and watching football

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#28 Lancj1

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Posted 25 December 2018 - 12:33 AM

There is only actually one Italian that plays golf and he just happened to win the Open, like the one German guy a couple of decades ago ;)

We worry about declining memberships in the uk continuously and debate the reasons. We had a huge surge in corses on the back of Faldo/Seve/85 Ryder cup but seems to be retracting. Ever changing.
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#29 ChipNRun

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Posted 28 December 2018 - 03:03 PM

View Postbamagator, on 16 December 2018 - 09:08 PM, said:

.... One striking thing in my face is the immediate perception of receding total passion and players here (courses closing, lack of iconic US players, blah blah) vs what I am seeing from the Euro side of the pond. Go on youtube and it's a good bunch of Brits and Aussies with quality channels and dialogue.  

Thoughts?

The course closings are part of natural contraction in the industry after overbuilding - related to residential developments - in the 1986 to 2005 era. In an early 2000s interview, Arnold Palmer blamed the golf industry overcapacity on outsiders who didn't love golf coming in for quick money and basically ruining things for golf's insiders. Our current proliferation of semi-private courses came from developers whose upscale country club facility didn't get enough high $$ memberships to stay afloat as a private-equity operation. Even some of these sites are closing.

Quote

A Golf Inc. report cites the National Golf Foundation on this.

The number of golf courses in the U.S. declined again, dropping by 190 to end 2016 with 15,014 facilities, according the the National Golf Foundation. Overall, the number of facilities is down 5.6 percent since 2006.

Link to report: http://www.golfincma...ues-ngf-reports


USA still has 15,000 green grass golf facilities which are open.

As golfgirlrobin aptly notes, golf is a niche sport. As far as Europe goes, more courses are being built than in past. When I was traveling to Europe  circa 2003, Germany had a lot of new courses being built. I can't recall, however, the resort/private and public course mix.

Although golf's niche is widening in Europe, it's a niche sport with rich-guy overtones. This past summer GolfWRX carried a link to the HNA Open de France. Begun in 1906, OdF is the oldest national tournament in Continental Europe. (Sorry, I can't retrieve the link). The writer interviewed a French tour pro who lamented that only about 10% of the 150-or-so players were French.

Possibly some of our GolfWRXers from Europe can enter the discussion?
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#30 scruffynick

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Posted 29 December 2018 - 03:28 PM

View PostChipNRun, on 28 December 2018 - 03:03 PM, said:

View Postbamagator, on 16 December 2018 - 09:08 PM, said:

.... One striking thing in my face is the immediate perception of receding total passion and players here (courses closing, lack of iconic US players, blah blah) vs what I am seeing from the Euro side of the pond. Go on youtube and it's a good bunch of Brits and Aussies with quality channels and dialogue.  

Thoughts?

The course closings are part of natural contraction in the industry after overbuilding - related to residential developments - in the 1986 to 2005 era. In an early 2000s interview, Arnold Palmer blamed the golf industry overcapacity on outsiders who didn't love golf coming in for quick money and basically ruining things for golf's insiders. Our current proliferation of semi-private courses came from developers whose upscale country club facility didn't get enough high $$ memberships to stay afloat as a private-equity operation. Even some of these sites are closing.

Quote

A Golf Inc. report cites the National Golf Foundation on this.

The number of golf courses in the U.S. declined again, dropping by 190 to end 2016 with 15,014 facilities, according the the National Golf Foundation. Overall, the number of facilities is down 5.6 percent since 2006.

Link to report: http://www.golfincma...ues-ngf-reports


USA still has 15,000 green grass golf facilities which are open.

As golfgirlrobin aptly notes, golf is a niche sport. As far as Europe goes, more courses are being built than in past. When I was traveling to Europe  circa 2003, Germany had a lot of new courses being built. I can't recall, however, the resort/private and public course mix.

Although golf's niche is widening in Europe, it's a niche sport with rich-guy overtones. This past summer GolfWRX carried a link to the HNA Open de France. Begun in 1906, OdF is the oldest national tournament in Continental Europe. (Sorry, I can't retrieve the link). The writer interviewed a French tour pro who lamented that only about 10% of the 150-or-so players were French.

Possibly some of our GolfWRXers from Europe can enter the discussion?
Probably true on the continent but certainly in the uk the people playing golf now are more working class. It's very affordable and the equipment second hand is very affordable. Compared to trying to watch footy these days, you can say in 30 years the tables have turned in regards to golf and football. However, the problem is youth... They ain't playing much anymore


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