The game of golf has enjoyed a long and wonderful history. It has been the sport of choice for more than a century. Some would say that the sport has experienced a golden age over the last thirty years, as more people have taken up the game and more courses have provided access. That progress is quickly being threatened, though, as fewer golf players are teeing up now than in recent years. The trends are troubling and it looks like the game might be in decline. What are the reasons for this and what can be done about it?
The aging baby boomers and the economy
One of the reasons for this decline has to do with the natural aging process. The other has to do with the economy. In many ways, these two factors are tied together. Fewer baby boomers are working on their golf game because of crunching money concerns due to the failing economy. Aside from that, these people who have driven golf popularity over the last three decades are now getting close to retirement. For many of these people, that means having to live on a somewhat fixed income and there simply isn’t the extra money to make it out to the course with regularity. The game will need to answer this problem if it wants to remain a viable sport.
Appealing to the younger generations
Also, if the sport wants to keep its place, it needs to appeal to the younger generations. Young players need to want to work on their golf game just as their fathers did. But how can golf attract those players and keep their interest? One of the recent trends is a focus on involving inner city kids in the sport. Because golf is an expensive game to play, most of these kids are not given the opportunity to learn the sport, due to financial strains. Golf clubs, balls and greens fees all cost money. This presents a problem for young kids that want to get involved. So, many organizations have stepped up to the plate in an effort to help promote the game to these kids by sponsoring free golf days, donating equipment.
Continuing the current trend
Another important aspect of targeting this audience is promoting the fact that there are young golf athletes. The emergence of stars like Tiger Woods and now Rory McIlroy has been helpful for the game as young kids see themselves in these athletes and want to be a part of their success. If the game wants to continue to grow, it needs to get these stars out front so kids see the opportunities for a career or even a lifelong hobby. Right now, there is little incentive for a kid to play the game due to the expense, inaccessibility and little promotion about the sport in schools. Kids would rather be a football or a basketball star because those sports are accessible, promoted in school programs and on television. Let’s hope the sport can overcome these obstacles and continue to entertain people for generations.