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Real Sports with Bryant Gumble Golf Story

    • 458 points
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    I just saw the Real Sports Golf story on HBO where they discuss the decline in popularity of the game of golf in the US and I was wondering what your thoughts on the story are?

    Also, I'm sure we can all agree that the game is "the greatest game ever played" just the way it is, but if you were given an opportunity to improve the game, what would you change?

    • 1915 points
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    When people have less disposable income the less they have to spend on golf.

    • 5330 points
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    Great question Big O! Less expense and more accessibility for kids. The sustainability of the game  rests in spreading its popularity. Exposing kids to the game is essential in this mission. It is a challenge for sure given that upkeep and taxes on a course operation likely set a floor on the expense of greens fees, cart fees, etc..Financialdemocratization of the game can be a challenge...

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    The decline has many reasons. First and foremost is people have a lot less expendable income available. The "Thirty Somethings" now have kids in soccer, baseball, football, basketball and don't have the time (and extra money) for golf. Also, attention spans are shorter and golf takes a while (for most people) to learn. One other idea, many kids have grown up playing indoors and they have no interest in spending the day outside. Athletes will always turn to golf when their other playing days are over and, many young athletes quickly discover golf balls don't hit them, throw at them, kick them or tackle them. Hence, golf attracts them. Perhaps the solution is to ban video games until one graduates from high school.

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    You can't deny the stats that say the number of golfers is declining.  But I think you can debate whether the popularity of golf is declining.  It seems almost every day another article comes out talking about how golf is dying and we need to act now.  But in my opinion, we just had a small market correction.  Ten years ago developers were building golf courses everywhere.  None of them were interested in building local munis either.  They all wanted championship level courses with high greens fees.  Eventually the bubble burst and now not as many people have $100/ round to spend on these new courses.  

    The other thing I find interesting, all of this "the sky is falling" talk is coming from the very people who make money on golf, especially TaylorMade.  TM is a big corporation looking to constantly grow their profits.  But when do you get to the point where growth isn't a realistic expectation?  At some point you have to view sustainment as a success.  TM relies on golfers upgrading their full sets of clubs every year or so.  After this market correction we've seen, that's just not going to happen on a large scale.

    In my opinion, some of these large golf corporations are using an apocalyptic outlook to try to convince us (regular golfers) to help grow their business.  I don't think things are as bleak as people like Barney Adams is trying to make you think.  There may not be enough golfers to support billions of dollars in sales every year, but doesn't mean the sport is dying.  It just means corporate execs might not be getting multi-million dollar bonuses each year.